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Emily - Interview 19

Age at interview: 36
Brief Outline: Emily has been caing for her husband who suffers from Schizophrenia since she came to the UK three years ago. She says her relationship to God gives her peace and makes her able to cope with a difficult situation.
Background: Emily is a full time carer. She is married and has a teenage daughter. She became a carer at age 33. Ethnic background: Jamaican.

More about me...

Emily (36) cares for her husband who suffers from schizophrenia. Emily came to the UK from Jamaica in 2005. When she arrived she found it hard to understand and find her way around the health and social care system here. As her husband's condition got worse, Emily had to sort out his benefits and their housing situation on top of caring for him and holding down a demanding job as a cleaner. In the end she had to give up her job to care for her husband full time.

Emily only realised how the situation took its toll on her when her daughter came to join them in 2006 and pointed out signs of stress in Emily's behaviour. Finding the contact details for a local support service at the Housing Office was a turning point for Emily. She now found support to help her sort out her finances, the housing situation and there were also activities on offer that she and her husband could take part in. She also got some counselling.

The most significant change for Emily was when she started attending her husband's church where they later were baptised. This gave Emily a strong feeling of peace and she says that with God in her life she is now able to cope with the situation. Emily worships at the church every Saturday, she reads the Bible most days and she and her husband also pray together.

Religion is particularly important to Emily as she believes mental health is a spiritual thing. She disagrees with those who say mental health problems are genetic, she sees it as a fight for the control of people's minds. Emily has a good relationship with her husband's doctor and has found him helpful in the past. She has not discussed spirituality with the him, but she believes that God has put doctors and medication here for us to use to get better. Even so, she doesn't think medication can replace living a spiritual life. She says focusing on your spirituality is the best protection against mental ill health and Emily has seen a change in her husband since he was baptised. She also thinks her relationship to God gives her the calmness to deal with her husband's condition and now to look towards the future.

 

Working while caring became so stressful that Emily gave up her job.

Working while caring became so stressful that Emily gave up her job.

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So while he was on his medication and like if I'm at work he would have phoned me and said when am I coming home and I would ask him if had eaten and he had said no, so I became more stressful. Working and trying to care for my husband. So during that time my boss and I, -is like she could not understand my situation so while she would want me to work more I would have back out a bit because of my situation and caring for my husband. So then now I could not cope with the job that I was doing and, because I was doing cleaning at the time. So I had to back out then I was with my husband and then he has papers to sort out, change of circumstances because he's on the benefit.

 

She believes mental illness is a spiritual illness which needs treatment such as prayer and...

She believes mental illness is a spiritual illness which needs treatment such as prayer and...

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Well, as we are a spirit, -we are human being but there's a fight going on for the mind with the, you've heard of Satan and God, well it's that way, -the mind. So this is sometime when people suffer from, -because people didn't born with this sort of illness, some people, some doctors might say it come from a genetic form but it's a spiritual illness, it's the enemy try to controls your mind, it's what going on out there in the world so it's really spiritual and I see he's going to church, he is calm, the Lord is taking control of him. So I'll see him in the spiritual form. So going to church is really important, serving the Lord, living a Christian life, important. Taking care of your loved ones and yes, it might be hard but with God in the picture you have got a peace of mind because as a carer, not working and I got small amount of money for my caring role and I haven't got any help otherwise, you know, and my husband benefit I have to look after him, take him out and so on, that is very hard but I've got a peace of mind because God is in my life and he provides for me, he provides for me so I just live by faith.

Well, with God you can go through any situation with the Lord, innit, you can have one hand and it's still spiritual so with the, because I believe that doctors are here, the Lord put them here, so if a person is ill and they need a doctor help, yes, that's fine and they need God also because there's a creator and we have to acknowledge that. So on the other hand he has hope, he has hope. Hope, because human being can't save us from what is going on in this world. So spiritually he's on one hand and the other hand, that is why he can take his medication because before he wouldn't want to take his medication but along going to church and telling him that 'it's good, you need your medication', take his medication and it's more peaceful.

Do you talk to the doctor about your spirituality?

Well, no. No, because when I get to the doctor I haven't got time for that. The doctor's got to see more patient so you just go and you explain your situation and he do the best he can and that's it.

 

For Emily, becoming religious helped her to cope and gave her an understanding which helped her...

For Emily, becoming religious helped her to cope and gave her an understanding which helped her...

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Well, when I attend the meetings and people are scared to do different type of caring. I realise that there was a blessing for me, I realise, a blessing that I've got because some people are saying, 'Oh, it's very hard and I can't get any help from this system and I can't get no form of help and they put things in places and it's not working and so on and I realise that well, it's not so hard'. It's hard but it's not so hard for me, I've got that understanding and that peace of mind.

So that makes you luckier then than many of the other carers, or in a better position perhaps?

Well, I might be because I know the God that I am serving so might be that is why I can be at this peace. And the way of the Lord has provided for me, he has came through the situations where I've got the papers and the support. I am so blessed and I have to just thank God. That is why I could really share, because if I didn't know the Lord I couldn't share because it would, -oh, I was so stressed before I couldn't share what I'm going through.

Was there a specific time when you felt that the peace, you, you received this peace, was it one incident or was it over a period of time?

Well, it's over a period of time because while I was going through this situation with my husband as a carer I was not a Christian at that time.

I see.

It is, -I was not committed because before I was attending church but I was not baptised so then when I became baptised and I've got a spiritual connection, reading my bible and understanding what is going on in the world and these form of sickness, I realise that the Lord has blessed me and give me the peace of mind I talk about.

So when was that, when was your baptism?

It was a few months, it was in March.

This year?

Yes, this year March.

So it's relatively recent.

Yes.

How did that feel?

It feel, -it's a blessing, it's a blessing to know that you have been saved because what is going on in this world no man can put a stoppage to it, no man. No man can, no matter how much authority you put in place with the police or so on, it's just, -it won't stop, it's just evil continually, evil, evil, evil. Sickness, murders, whatever you can think about. So there must be an end -he's going to put to this situation, so it's just spiritual, just spiritual. So that's, when you got that understanding you have a different, -a peace of mind, you love people more, you'll understand the system.

 

Emily describes some of the stress she went through when she first arrived in the UK and started...

Emily describes some of the stress she went through when she first arrived in the UK and started...

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One time I even had to go to get counselling for this situation because when you're on Benefit, you know, and you came in this country and you don't understand the system, it's very stressful because with my husband illness, he don't even understand also about paperwork, it's like he's lost. Then, and I was sorting out his papers for him and so I kept on sending on more information, it's like, 'I'm not getting anywhere', and it was so stressful for me and it was because my daughter, when my daughter came in 2006, July, she says to me, 'Mummy, do you realise what you're saying', and I said, 'No'. She said, 'You keep on asking me if I want the corn beef with the bully beef and you keep on saying to me to put toothpaste on the toothpaste', and then I realised how stressful I was with the situation, wanting to work, wanting to sort out the house -because my husband had a fire in his flat where he was living. He went out and, when he came in there was burn out so we got an empty flat. When I came he was in a state of -not well. And you know, I have to get the house sorted out and all those things so it was very, very stressful and I didn't realise that it was so stressful until I had to went to get counsel and from that there is a big change also. A big change with that help that I got from contacting, with the supporting work and contacting the African Caribbean mental health team because I did not know that you could contact the doctor when you get, -they recommend you do, people, -I didn't understand that. Didn't understand because I was mostly focusing on a job and sorting out my husband. So during that time, well my daughter came and I got the supporting people helping me with the bills and the paperwork in a, -it becomes a peace, a more peace for me and when I look at my husband, because we are serving God, it, -I've seen the peace within him which more like something would comes up like his bill and he would say, he can't handle that or, it's a bit different now.

 

Emily wants her husband to be less dependent and for herself to get more education. She feels God...

Emily wants her husband to be less dependent and for herself to get more education. She feels God...

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And because as a carer I prompt him to, -because he gets addicted to me, I'm the carer, so I am starting to prompt him so that he can be on his own, he don't have to depend on me even though I am a carer for him. So, because I went and I did a course in English and I went there for, it says three hours, and by time the three hours up, my husband is there! So I couldn't focus on getting my English -but I pass the English when the Lord help me because even though you're walking with the Lord he helps you, even you're not baptised and committed to him, he helps you and when I finished that course and passed, I was so grateful because at this time I'm even looking into doing some home study, yes. So the Lord will take me through anything and I'm not looking at the future being, -I didn't reach that spot because you can't change your past, you just have to keep your eye on God. And thank God that at least I've got bread because many people out there is in some situation that they felt as if they don't have, -they are finished, there's no hope, but for me I just got a bright future because God is in my life. Sometimes, sometime -it's not about money, it's not about this big education, it's just about love and once you have got that love God provides, -caring for others, looking after people, your loved ones. If people would make that commitment about their family, -no matter how rough the situation might look, and no matter which culture you're from or where you're from, just that genuine love from God can take you through.

 

Emily doesn't want to be away from her family for long periods, so takes short breaks at the...

Emily doesn't want to be away from her family for long periods, so takes short breaks at the...

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Well, at times, yes you might feel that way but as for me, I do get the break. But it's just as if you have got a normal family, you haven't, -you've got your children, can you take time off from them. No, you've got to be with them, but this is my family, I do, -I can remember last year I got a break, I got a break, but you get so -love and addicted to your family, like you're not no matter that you, you do not want to leave them, -that's for me, I don't want to leave my family because as I said, I've got this understanding now about what I am dealing with, my husband's sickness and the situation. So it's just like, -I just live a normal life with my family. I don't want, this is my husband, I just want to be there, not that if I don't take the break, but this is just how I feel. Because it's important to get breaks at times because you are human being, no matter how spiritual you might be but at times, yes, we need that break. So they have got the break in -the breaks at the centres, yes.

 

Emily was happy with her carer's assessment which was supported by her local African-Caribbean...

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Emily was happy with her carer's assessment which was supported by her local African-Caribbean...

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Have you had a carer's assessment?

Yes, I did from the African Caribbean Centre, I did, and from the [community centre], through the African Caribbean Centre.

And how was that, how was it to have the carer's assessment?

Well, it was good because it felt as human, that I've got somebody on my side who do understand what I'm going through and supported me through that situation because as a carer, you do need the person who you are caring for even to get involved in a little bit of activities, so that they can feel they are wanted in society because a lot of people who do caring people, they can't, I think activities is important.

Why's that?

Because it makes a person who you are caring for a bit happier and they felt as if they are in society. Because on one day my husband looking, look forward to go to the leisure centre and he plays football with the other disabled persons and it's good.

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