Mark's appeal - Support for exhausted unpaid carers resources How do you keep giving, when you have nothing left to give? My name is Mark, and I am a carer for my girlfriend Heidi, who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 2005. I am writing to tell you my story, and explain how Carers Trust’s support has been a lifeline for me. When Heidi had her first big breakdown, we had no one to turn to. To get her urgent help, we used up all our savings, and went completely broke. The diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia scared people off, it even caused a split within Heidi’s family. And despite having all the relevant paperwork, Heidi’s diagnosis made it difficult for us to get the help we needed from local services. It was one of the most stressful times in my life. I felt alone. It wasn’t until 2011 that I found the Wandsworth Carers’ Centre – a Carers Trust Network Partner. I joined a support group, and it changed everything for me. Finally, I felt like I had people who understood what I was going through. As unpaid carers, we often don’t know what we’re entitled to, and the system doesn’t appreciate the amount of work we do. We can feel lonely and unsupported, and it takes a huge toll on our mental health too. I can’t stress enough how vital your support is in helping wonderful charities like Carers Trust to help people like me to access the help and resources we need to take care of our loved ones. I know it’s still a tricky time financially for a lot of us, but I wanted to ask if you could support Carer’s Trust once again. A donation of £<X> could do so much to ensure carers like me aren’t left feeling alone and forgotten. (picture of Mark) “Unpaid carers like me are the forgotten army. We often don’t know what we’re entitled to, and the system doesn’t appreciate the amount of work we do. We can feel lonely and unsupported, and it takes huge a toll on our mental health.” Being a carer is not easy, and is not something that I ever imagined I would be doing. But when someone you love is ill and depends on you for their daily care, you have no choice but to step up and be there. For me, that person is Heidi, and what she needs is round-the-clock attention. I sleep in the early morning because Heidi doesn’t sleep at night. But even the tiniest bit of noise wakes me up. Like my body is saying “Get up, let’s just check she’s ok.” The longer the illness goes on, the more it can change and develop. Heidi can have an episode out of the blue, and I might even have to try and get a knife out of her hands. Or it could be caused by outside influences, it could be stress-related, anxiety-related, it could be someone in the street shouting or a simple misunderstanding in the shop. Any of these little triggers can bring on an episode. The more psychotic episodes there are, the louder the voices she hears can get. Every episode is different than the last one; every time it takes longer to recover. It’s heartbreaking to witness. I would be left alone in handling all of this if it wasn't for Carer's Trust and their partners. With the support of Carers Trust, and donors like you <Salutation>, these services are able to provide us carers with specialist mental health support, vital advice and information, and the opportunity to talk and socialise with others in similar situations. Local carers services also support older carers, including those caring for people with dementia, which I think is so lovely. But the breakdown of social care and mental health service funding is leaving more and more unpaid carers like me in dire situations across the country. We are doing a job that trained professionals should do, but we are doing it without any support or recognition. It’s 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. And there are people who depend on us being able to do that. Unpaid carers like me are the forgotten army. But with the right support we don’t have to feel like we’ve been left floundering, trying to navigate an incredibly complex care system with little to no support. Since Heidi had her first breakdown, it’s been hard. Some days I feel depressed. Sometimes I want to scream. I have gone outside the front door at times and just roared. It’s not easy to constantly be there for someone else when your own mental health is declining. But we must keep going, because we want to, for our loved ones. People often tell me, ‘Make sure you take time for yourself’. But it’s easier said than done. It’s like my brain is wired to put Heidi first, no matter what, and I know most carers feel the same. So even when we hear that we need to look after ourselves too, it’s hard to really take it on board. But if it wasn't for Carers Trust and their partner centres, I don't know where unpaid carers would be. When I’m overwhelmed, I call the Carers’ Centre and speak to someone there. They may not always have all the answers, but it helps to get things off my chest. It’s like a sounding board, you know? After the call, I feel better, and I feel that I’m doing the right thing even if nothing has been ‘solved’ so to speak. It’s a small step, but it makes a big difference in my life. And if I feel better, I can better take care of Heidi. So thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for your generosity, kindness, and past donations. You are making a difference in the lives of so many unpaid carers and their loved ones. Please, will you consider donating £ today to help Carers Trust support more people like me? As a carer, you never know what’s around the corner. But with the support of people like you, we don’t have to face it alone. Sincerely, Mark P.S. Your donations are a lifeline for carers like me, who often feel forgotten and unsupported. With you by our side, we can regain the energy and confidence we need to care for ourselves and our loved ones. Thank you!