Ginny’s story ~ Carers Week 2015

 Create supports the UK’s young and adult carers throughout the year with free access to high-quality creative workshops led by professional artists. For Carers Week, we’re introducing you to some of the carers that we’ve worked with and how they’ve benefited from our programmes. We’ll be publishing a new story every day so keep checking back to find out more.

Ginny, 51, is an adult carer from Merton. She took part in Create’s programme to help adult carers use their own life experiences to inspired poetry and prose.

“The project caught my eye because I had all these thoughts, feelings and emotions that I felt people didn’t really understand. I thought it would be good to come along and share experiences with people who did. The day before the project started I telephoned to see if they had any spaces left – I had put it off for ages because I lacked the courage to do it earlier. Sometimes it’s hard to lift your horizons from day to day. My first caring responsibilities coincided with the breakup of my marriage: my daughter had a major psychotic breakdown. I was absolutely devastated. It was very difficult, having two things going on and having to support my son as well. I was the main breadwinner. I knew that something was wrong with my daughter but it suddenly went from bad to worse, from out-of-character behaviour to hearing voices, self-harm, thinking she was being poisoned or being watched by MI5/MI6. At my lowest moment I honestly thought, because I was so sleep deprived and I wasn’t getting any support, that it might be best if I killed myself and her to stop the suffering so much.  

My daughter being admitted to hospital was the turning point. Nine months later she came home and the battle began. Ever since then I have been her main carer. We’re in it together, we call ourselves the A team and we have no secrets. She is doing really well at the moment. The workshops have been inspirational. I have been stunned by some of the work that the group has produced and these are just ordinary women like myself. It makes you want to carry on. I feel like every night now I have a new idea for a poem. I loved hearing about other people’s experiences too and the way they express things. You feel really humbled when you listen to others: everyone has come from different backgrounds, different places, different experiences and we’ve got this one thing in common.

In a way Create’s programmes allow us to celebrate being a carer as well as saying, “Oh God, isn’t it rubbish?” We could never have done this without Cheryl [Create’s writer] and her expertise. She was always well prepared and knew how to get the best out of us. She encouraged us and gave us guidance on how to do it better. The amazing collective poem – that really sparked my creativity. I learnt so much. Even with our presentation at the end, I had never thought that you could read poetry and make it come alive with sound and the way you present it. It has been a steep learning curve but we never felt out of our depth, we never felt we were going to be laughed at. Create gave us the confidence to try.

The project has definitely changed me: I feel more positive and I see everyday life differently. Negativity and bad experiences can be made into positive ones when you’ve got time to reflect. When you are writing, you are distanced from the immediate emotion so that gives you a bit of space. I now think: “I’m a carer, I’m proud of being a carer, this is what my experience is and actually I’m also a writer!” I may be an amateur, I may not be brilliant but I don’t care. I’d not done anything like this since primary school. It’s more relaxing than a leisurely bath because you’re getting your emotions out and, whilst you feel spent at the end of the morning, it’s good because things aren’t pent up. It’s also given me the courage to address issues with the person I am caring for: I’ve shared some of the poems with my daughter which has led to us having a much more open dialogue about things.

Projects like this are essential for carers, especially now, when services are so strapped for cash. The cost of care would be much higher if carers opted out and said “I’m not doing this anymore.” Create told us, “Yes, you are valued and you have other talents to discover too”. This is really important, because once you’ve lost your sense of self, if you can’t carry on, what’s going to happen to the person you care for?”

GOLDEN GIRL

Yellow Mellow summer sunset illuminates the heart of my home and the Goddess in my kitchen. Halo of white, fluttering eyelashes framing golden amber eyes, soft against olive sun-kissed cheeks. Golden Girl, trembling flashing blade held in musician’s slim fingers. Razorlight, The Girl with the Golden Touch she says, ‘I would never hurt you’ My golden girl. *name changed to protect anonymity If you’d like to support Create’s work with carers, text CREA28 £amount to 70070 or donate via our Virgin Money Giving page.