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I never saw myself as a carer when Roo was younger, to me I was just doing what a Mum would do to ensure the best for her children and family. It wasnt until one of Roo's professionals sat down and spoke to me about our life, how even though drawing up different meds daily, attending to all your child's personal needs, co coordinating meetings, attending appointments weekly, sacrificing your sleep to care and watch over your child to ensure they are safe amongst various other things isn't exactly what most families experience so as well as being a parent we become carers too. It wasn't until my youngest came along that I accepted I was a carer as well as a Mum because she too has needs and everything was doubled - the appointments, therapies and life suddenly became harder and there were days when I wondered if I was still Mum.
Although I'm seen as the main carer for both my younger two as I don't work due to being up most of the night and attending all their appointments and therapies, my husband is also a carer even though he works as on his days off he helps me and when he comes home from work he helps me around the house.
He has always been there for me through everything, our fertility journey, the HG pregnancies, traumatic births of all our children and so on and yet he has always seemed to be the strong one. I was always the emotional one, whereas he was more reserved. He also tended to leave all the decisions up to me but supported me whenever I've needed it.
When Faith was diagnosed deaf I broke down whereas he kept it together and held me in his arms as I ranted at how unfair the world was when we were told that Faith also had other issues similar to Roo. It was a dark time. As time went on I sensed something was different about my husband but he never said anything so I just let him know that I was there for him & I waited till he was ready to talk.
One day he finally summoned the courage to tell me that he felt depressed, that he was struggling with everything, felt detached from the world around him, how he felt he wasn't good enough for us and how he was in constant pain which was taking over his life and he just wanted it to end.
Thankfully he already had an appointment with the GP the following day so I encouraged him to tell her what he was feeling but he was reluctant as it meant admitting that he struggling but I told him that was the biggest step he needed to take before he could get better.
He opened up to the GP who spent a long time talking to him and she officially diagnosed him with depression. He was given medication to help along with other referrals in place to try and get his pain under control. He has arthritis, degenerative disc disease in his spine both of which give him constant pain so this greatly contributed to his depression along with dealing with my difficult pregnancy, birth, Faith diagnosis along with other things.
To the outside world he seemed fine, he laughed, he smiled, he played his jokes like he always did but it was a front most of the time...I knew the other side of him and it was hard trying to support him as well as dealing with everything that comes with being a parent to 4 kids 2 who have special needs. I had to keep positive to keep him motivated but it wasn't easy as there were days where I just felt so down myself but I had no time to sort myself out as I needed to be there for everyone else. I got told by one of Roo professionals that I had depression myself but I told her that I knew as I recognised it from when I was younger but that I could cope with it. Ive always been able to deal with it as I tend to write my feelings in dairies, notebooks etc as its my way of dealing with it.
The medication started to work and life became easier, my husband started to be like himself again. After a year he decided it was time to come off the medication and for a while everything was great but then recently our world came crashing down when we received some devastating news and within days I could see my husband starting to spiral out of control, his emotions all over the place...I gently suggested that he needed to go back on the meds. I told him it didn't mean he was a failure it meant that he just needed extra help to deal with his depression, thankfully he took everything I said on board and started back on his meds for the unseeable future.
Meanwhile I am making small baby steps to start looking after myself too.. I was inspired by another blogger who has started to do things for herself like swimming so I've decided to try the same as I want to get fit again & find myself as well as being a mum/carer.
Depression has such a stigma attached to it...it's not often something that's is talked about but things are changing and people are being encouraged to talk about it more, and this is why I'm sharing our story, it's not for pity but to raise awareness that carers can have struggles and need extra help. Also it's rare for men to admit that they too struggle and it's time they spoke up about it.
It's nothing to be embarrassed about.
It's ok not to be ok.