I thought about you today when I sipped my morning cuppa. I wondered when you would get your first cuppa? Would it be after you had washed, dressed and fed someone else first? Would you perhaps even have had to medicate, reassure and calm an anxious heart and body before you got to sit down and eat and drink yourself?
I thought of you when the postman brought me mail. Have you had a bill today that made you worry, another appointment for the person you care for, a new report about their condition? Have you had to pick up someone else’s mail too because they can’t read, don’t understand or are too frail to bend down to reach it? Are you carrying the burden of someone else’s affairs as well as your own just to keep that person independent for a little bit longer?
As I watched the news, I thought of you again.
I know you exist, but the media never seems to talk about you. It’s like you are invisible to them, a sort of army of ants working tirelessly for little more than love but meeting needs of such high significance that specialists paid thousands struggle to grasp.
I made myself a sandwich for lunch and my thoughts turned to you again. Do you get a break or are you working all day and all night unable to ever leave the call of duty? Are you spending yet another meal time cooking, preparing and feeding someone else who may or may not ever be able to thank you? Only to then have to clear them up, clear away dirty plates and cutlery and provide very personal care to another.
When I heard from a friend I thought of you again.
When did you last get a night off? When do you see your friends, socialise and build up your personal support groups? Was it yet another day of isolation, being hidden from the world, caring alone? How much do your friends even know you do? Do you have anyone you can offload to, laugh with, confide in?
When I bought myself something online, I wondered about you once more. When do you get time for yourself? How do you juggle self-care when the needs of another are on your shoulders day in and day out?
I read a comment from a friend on social media who is a student but working too and how hard it was for her. I thought about those of you doing this for more than one person, parents of more than one disabled child, ‘sandwich carers’ caring for more than one generation, sons and daughters caring for parents who both need support. I thought about how hard and demanding that must be, how stressful and how exhausting too.
As I went to bed knowing I could switch off, relax and sleep as much as my body and mind needed, I thought of you again. How difficult and tiring it must be to care through the night as well as the day. How perhaps your mind, understandably, can’t switch off and the worries you carry for the future.
Maybe I thought about you because it’s Carers Week and finally it’s your week to be noticed and accounted for. Maybe I thought of you because I understand, I care and I see you.
I thought of you mostly because what you do matters greatly.
You are not insignificant or unimportant. Without people like you sacrificing daily for others there would be so many vulnerable needing care that society couldn’t cope. The taxpayer would be so burdened by the cost that you save by being you and doing what you do. Without you there would be thousands more in hospital, homes and hospices and they wouldn’t cope.
Dear carer, I thought of you today and I hope others did too. I know thoughts won’t give that physical support you need, or the financial help or even ease your burden in any way. But I hope it gives you some comfort to know that you are seen and cared for and valued greatly.
The world needs you. You are vital and important.
You are visible to me.
Don’t stop caring please. You are appreciated.