We have a guest blog for World Mental Health Day which is written by counsellor Amanda Wilkes, who works with couples in crisis. She talks about the importance of recognising that becoming a carer can mean losing the hopes, dreams and wishes we once had and how important it is to recognise and mourn that loss. Caring though, doesn’t mean the end of dreams, it means shifting the goal posts and finding new hopes.
Hopes, Dreams and Wishes
Hopes, Dreams and Wishes are events, achievements, ambitions, and fantasies that we all have. Some are realistic, like my hope to have a downstairs washroom. Some are a little more into the future, like my dream to visit Japan. Others are not likely to happen, like my wish to go into space. Some of these dreams are all about me, others are together with my partner, my friends and my children. Some are within touching distance and others will take years of work and planning. Some will come true, and others will not. The important part here is that they exist. Some will become a reality and they not only help us to reach further, but they allow our relationships to go further too.
I hope you are starting to see where I am going with this blog. Even as I write it, I can feel the tug in my own heart, the loss that I have heard so many carers articulate. Having your hopes, dreams and wishes dismantled is not something that the carer immediately talks about; normally they talk about the appointments, the lack of support and the loneliness. However, just under the surface we find the future that never was and the terrible loss of those dreams, and perhaps anger.
Whether it is the retiree who had been dreaming about spending more time with her husband before his sudden stroke 6 months before he retired. From the outside world, looking like a devoted wife but really she feels alone and cheated.
For the mum and dad who just hoped for the best future for their daughter before she was diagnosed with a learning disability and are now having to fight for every piece of support, just getting through each day is a challenge.
Or the young carer, who is watching his mother’s mental illness take away the love and support he needs to fulfil his own ambitions.
When carers come to counselling, they did not think they would be discussing their lost dreams. They thought they would be talking about the person they care for. It may seem that this is the most depressing of blogs, but just like in couples work, we look at what dreams they can have now.
Often, they are small ones, like respite so they can have tea with a friend; an organised trip to Torquay or a theme park adventure with friends. Dreams are important – they keep us going, they give us something to aim for. Without them, and especially for carers, life can be one long day after another.