Welcome to my latest blog about my new book. My name is Matthew Mckenzie a former mental health carer who cared for his mother who suffered from a form of schizophrenia.
I have decided to highlight chapter one of my book “Experiencing mental health caregiving”
The first chapter explores what unpaid mental health carers feel about their identity. Each chapter of my book asks several intriging questions about mental health caring, which of course focuses on unpaid carers e.g. families and friends caring for someone close suffering mental ill health.
The first question I asked carers on chapter one, which is “Carer Identity” was “What does it mean to be a mental health carer?”
You can see the video of this below below
The reason I asked such a question is that those who suddenly find themselves providing care might find some of the answers useful. Perhaps even NHS professionals or social workers might find the answers important.
I will pick out a few responses that I found highlighted the importance of carer identity.
One carer responded as
“I think that it’s difficult. Often nobody other than the carer can see the disability with the person that you’re caring for. And so, they go unnoticed. Plus with mental health, it fluctuates and dramatically as well.“
Another carer felt
“For me to be a carer of a mental health patient has turned my world upside down completely. This is different when you caring for somebody outside your family, but when it is someone in your family then it is an application of emotional attachment.“
Another carer summed up
“My own identity disappeared in the beginning of my caring journey. It also means getting acknowledgement from healthcare professionals that I am an important person in my loved one’s care“
What I thought was interesting is how difficult it was starting out caring for someone suffering mental illness, notice the responses all mentioned how tough it was when they first started out caring. Although certainly take note, I have only shown some of the responses here as others in the book might be different. One thing to note is some carers might find the role gets easier depending on their knowledge of the illness or the support they may get from services, community or other members of their family. This might not be the case for all unpaid carers.
For chapter one I asked around 8 other questions regarding carer identity and if you are interested about mental health carers, you can buy my book on the video link description.