Hi, my name is Paul and I have a problem.

I’m not very good at sharing.

You know that old expression, a problem shared is a problem halved?

I think its right, but I’m just not very good at putting the theory into practice.

I’ve been struggling with various things for the last 18 months, all of them revolving around a familiar problem – that tricky juggling act of career and carer.

My instinct is always to stay home and offer Rachel whatever support I am able. She is my priority, nothing else comes close.

But in the real world I need to make sure we can maintain a roof over our heads, pay bills, eat, drink and survive. We need money for that and so I need to work.

Thankfully we don’t need money to laugh and joke – that has always come naturally to us.

But the “real life” stuff has become something of a chore in recent months. Actually, it has become more than a chore. It has become a real struggle.

me

I am guilty, however, of typical male bloody-mindedness. So whenever anyone asked how things were going, I would give a convincing reply about how everything was tickety-boo.

Even more stupidy, I was determined to keep Rachel safe from the stress and strains of the “real life” stuff I was wrestling with day in and day out over the course of the last 12 months or more.

Needless to say, the act was bound to disintegrate sooner or later.

It now has.

But I’ve landed 18 months worth of stress and struggles on Rachel in a single weekend. I’m an idiot.

It also goes without saying, however, that a fresh pair of eyes and a clearer brain has worked wonders.

All the woes have not miraculously disappeared, but they are now being tackled. It will take time and effort and it will all get resolved – I’m still an optimist, if nothing else.

We’re coming up with a plan that will help, but it will also mean things have to change.

The biggest change needs to come from me. I’m not superhuman, I’m not capable of doing everything on my own 24/7 and 365, I need help, I need to learn to ask for help.

My name is Paul and I have a problem.

I’m a carer.

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13 responses »

  1. damas says:

    Very eloquently put Paul. Having been in your situation I know how difficult it is. You keep on going trying to hold things together and don’t ask for help because you don’t think anyone will know what to. You don’t want to admit defeat because it will make you feel a failure. But you’re right – you’re not superhuman and you do need help. I think it is about identifying specifically what you need help for and then asking for it. And not being afraid to admit why you need it. If then it’s not forthcoming, ask someone else. Not to ask breeds bitterness and resentment at how thoughtless everyone else is when perhaps you haven’t given them a chance to help.
    Good luck Paul – it ain’t easy working and caring. Believe me I know.

  2. Paul Groves says:

    damas: Thank you and everything you say is right. It helps to hear it from someone else.

  3. Nina says:

    Oh, and you are not alone, my friend. I’m glad you are ready to ask for help. That’s how you 2 will be able to stay together until Rachel gets well. Caregiving is thankless work, in large part. Not that I think you are looking for praise. I think you are looking for some relief from the apparent never-endingness of it.

    Write any time. I am getting better, and have divorced my non-care-giver & am now dealing w elderly parents, so I feel like I’ve been on both sides.

  4. Bryony says:

    Well done for speaking out and sharing. Set a reminder on your phone/email/somewhere to read this again every couple of months, maybe with a note saying ‘who can I ask for help today?’
    Can you find a ‘twin’ – another carer in a similar situation, with whom you can discuss these things and remind each other to reach out, without feeling like you’re loading your caree with worries?

  5. cusp says:

    You’re not an idiot. You’re brave to have kept going these past few years and now you’re even braver for holding your hands up and saying ‘I need help’. After all anyone who is or has been a carer knows that one of eth greatetst fears is ‘What happens to the person I’m caring for if I get ill ?’

    As someone with M.E. but who is also a carer and someone who didn’t say ‘I need help’ when I was able to work and was caring for even more people than I do now I salute your foresight and honesty.

    You two will be OK ;0)

  6. Mikki Hache says:

    You daft bugger. Ask us. We’ll help. Not always very competently, and not always on time, but definitely before too long…

  7. Paul Groves says:

    Bryony: Its a good idea and it might just work. Thank you!

    Cusp: Help is one of the few four-letter words I’m not used to saying, but I know I need to get better at expressing.

    Mrs Hache: You and Dray have and already are helping – we had a fab time a few weeks back in Worcester and we’re looking forward to your wedding this weekend too 🙂

  8. Rachel M says:

    Your post got me thinking… Can you be specific what kind of help you need?

    Somehow, I don’t think you are asking for someone to help with grocery shopping or cutting grasses. My guess is that you need help from community and/or society. You need understandings and accommodating attitude that you and Rachel can have quality life without jeopardising your career and/or dreams. And I’m not sure how it can be achieved… I hope the day will come, but I’m afraid it will be a very long journey.

    In a way, I’m a carer for myself. But I am not juggling it with career. I’m just hiding in my cave like I’m a Hermit…

    In a meantime, I’m sending sincere hope and wishes that the situation will change soon.

  9. Paul Groves says:

    Rachel: Thanks for commenting. Help can come in many forms. The amazing comments on here help; the former colleague who knows from personal experience the impact of ME/CFS has helped with his email; knowing that people do care helps.
    But you’re also right in the different types of help that is sometimes needed – greater awareness from everyone is a good example, although again it is up to me to tell the truth when I’m asked “How’s things?” (even if they don’t want to hear!).
    Rachel and I are lucky to have fab family and great friends who will offer help, support and advice when it is needed. We also have each other, which is the most important of all.
    I hope you know that we’re always here for you too and if it wasn’t for the frustrating few thousand miles that separate us, we would do all we could to bring you out of your hermit’s cave as often as possible 🙂

    • Rachel M says:

      It’s nice to hear you are being positive.

      I just wanted to let you know that you and Rachel’s friendship and kind support are helping me a lot. And I’m always grateful for your care. 🙂
      Hermit’s cave has internet connection and I’m farming with your wife online. 😉

  10. […] To cope, or not to cope… […]

  11. […] To cope, or not to cope… […]

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