This is Vicky's story about how her life impacted on her as an unpaid carer, the details in between that led her to become a support worker herself to help unpaid carers such as she was herself, this is the story of Vicky's full circle. 

Hi. My name's Vicky, and I'm a carer support worker. OK, um, so the title for this video is the full circle, and that involves your story. So to start off with, how did the circle start? My circle started, uh, when I had my Children

I have two Children. Um, with special educational needs. One of them has autism

And, um, neurological, um, disorders that affect movement and sensory. And I also have a daughter with Asperger's and who suffers with their mental health. So I became an unpaid carer when the Children were quite young

Um, my husband worked full time, so I was, um, caring for them both, Um, most of the day, all of the time, Um, mainly on my own. Ok, um, and how would you explain? How did being an unpaid carer affect your well being? I felt really isolated. Um felt really quite alone

And as time went on, I lost my sense of identity. I didn't become I was no longer Vicky. I was mum

I was carer. I had to fight a lot for services and full support, and I became really, really exhausted and was really really drained. But being isolated and losing My sense of who I was had a really bad effect on my well being

Ok, um and did you receive any support, any support that you received, or did you say it was helpful? Did it help you become who you are today? I contacted my GP. And I did have some counselling. Um, I think that works

L limitedly, Um because it's really difficult when you're living in a situation that doesn't change. Um, you know, I, I was still a carer, and it was still my full time role. I did actually take antidepressants and anti anxiety medication for a short time to see if that helped I

I also had support from an organisation formerly known as Sen who helped, um, advocate, um, especially with schools and services and things like that. But ultimately, um, there wasn't a great deal of support available. Do you know when you're having a really bad day just to pick up the phone and have somebody to talk to and to say, Look, I'm really struggling or I'm, you know, reaching the point where I don't think I can do this anymore, and I feel when I was in that position that that service didn't exist

Um, and I reached the point of breaking, Really? It it It actually got to that point. Um, So at that point, my husband stepped in. He saw how much of a negative impact it was having on my physical health

Mental health. Um, and he actually gave up, uh, work so that I could I find myself again? Um, so I went to college, and, um, it was the best thing for my confidence, my self esteem, my mental health. It was far better than any antidepressants or any counselling

Um, because I could be Vicky I. I only went on an evening, but even just for that small amount of time, I was able to be me again. Um, And how do you feel today? Now that you're Vicky, obviously you've still got your caring role at home

Um, for your Children, which evidently you're still doing. And you're doing a brilliant job while still managing to work and be Vicky. Um, that would you say that that's led you to where you are today In the job role that you are? Yeah

Absolutely. So being able to have that time and go to college inspired me to actually go to university, which is something that I never, ever thought that I would do or that I would be capable of doing. But being at college inspired that confidence in me, And I actually went on to do a degree in health and well being, um, focusing on looking at positive aspects of psychology, so looking at positive well-being and and how important that is

Um and I absolutely loved being at university, and that enabled me to get a job now where I can use what I learned at Uni as well as my lived experience to support other carers and actually be the person that I needed five years ago when I was at Crisis Point. So OK, um, and does all of that explain the title? The full circle I have become the support that I so desperately needed. Um, and I think that does make me, um, better at the job that I do because I have actually been there myself and been in a position where I honestly thought there were no way out

And I know how dark it can get and how difficult it can be. But it's very difficult for people to talk about it. Because when you are talking about it, you're often talking about caring for your son or your daughter or your mum or your auntie

And there's that you you're plagued by the feeling that you shouldn't feel this way, you know, over caring for family. So to actually open up about how you feel. It makes you very vulnerable

Um, and I think having been there myself helps me understand the people that I now support. Yeah, well, brilliant. And thank you for sharing your story

Um, hopefully others in a similar situation can look at your story and listen and take on board everything that you've said and gain some clarity that there is help there. And you're not wrong for asking for help in caring for family, which you feel that you should be doing anyway. Um, So thank you

You're welcome. Thank you very much.

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