Meet Adult Carer Jack: “After four weeks of writing, I’m stunned!”
creative:voices is Create’s multi-artform programme that enables adult carers across the UK to take a creative break from their caring responsibilities. Working with our professional artists, they build trusting relationships with their peers and develop creative and social skills, new interests and confidence, enhancing wellbeing.
During January and February 2022, our professional artists Heather Milstead and Simon Mole led a series of creative writing workshops with adult carers in Leeds.
Adult carer Jack told us about his experience.
“IT’S EASY TO LOSE YOURSELF IN CARING.”
“I care for my wife right now, but I’ve cared for quite a few people over the years. I started caring 10 years ago for a friend who was dying of a brain tumour. After that I was caring for my parents. In 2016 my father fell and fractured his spine at the age of 94. We had to look after him and that was a really difficult one. He died six months after, but then I was caring for my mum. She was 94 and she died three years ago.
“I’ve been caring for my wife almost the entire time we’ve been married. She’s from Northern Ireland and grew up during the Troubles. She suffers from complex PTSD, an acute anxiety disorder, which affects her behaviour in a number of ways.
“Being a carer limits what I can do. My wife needs a lot of emotional support. I have to be very careful what I say and do when I’m around her. I try and give her a lot of encouragement. It’s not always easy.
“The biggest challenge of being a carer is getting the help that you need yourself. It’s easy to lose yourself in caring. The compassion fatigue is challenging. When my mum died, I didn’t feel grief at first. All I felt for the first month was relief.
“AFTER FOUR WEEKS OF WRITING, I’M STUNNED!”
“The Create project I took part in was mainly focused on poetry, something I’d never really done before or even thought about. My memories of poetry are from school, having to plough my way through The Lady of Shalott. After completing four weeks of writing, I’m stunned. I still can’t get over the fact I’ve written these poems. I’ve even looked online for places to submit them to, and I’ll definitely keep writing as long as the ideas keep coming.
“Doing something creative felt … ‘wow’ is the word that springs to mind. I do a lot of photography but this was a different feeling. It was really exciting. I think my wife’s a bit surprised with what I’ve come up with. She’s seen a different side of me that she didn’t know existed, because I didn’t know it existed either.
“I like trying new things and as I get older I find it becomes more important not to get stuck in a rut doing the same things all the time. It’s important to get out of your comfort zone, and I can’t think of anything more outside my comfort zone than writing poetry. The project taught me that the rules can be broken. You can get away from the norm and end up with a poem that’s probably better than if you had stuck to the rules.
“IT’S GIVEN ME A NICE WARM GLOW.”
“Writing poetry is really cathartic, the process has felt like it’s soothing something in me. Projects like this one give you something else to think about rather than what’s going on around you. They take you out of yourself. In my case it’s given me the confidence to do something different. It’s boosted my self-esteem. I think, ‘wow’, I’ve written a poem, something I never thought I could do. It’s given me a nice warm glow.”