'Mr P'

Having tried to manage the emotional rollercoaster of caring full time for the most important person in my life who has been diagnosed with a life-limiting, debilitating disease, which most medical professionals have never heard of, it is very difficult to manage. As such we have had to learn every aspect of it ourselves and then explain to doctors and consultants what medical assistance she requires.

This person happens to be my wife, whom I met in the 1980s at school. To see the person I have known and loved for over 40 years struggle a little bit more each day, unable to do what she used to do and go where she most wants to go, and accept that she can’t do these things is heartbreaking.

Over the last 10 years, my wife has been referred to numerous NHS departments in and around the Essex, East London & Cambridgeshire areas. My wife was constantly told that she was too complex to be helped or offered any suitable therapy to be able come to terms with her life-limiting disease. Each of the four separate specialised consultants across the UK who have dealt with her conditions have all said there is no additional treatment, advice, or medical assistance they can offer.

These rejections were so hard to take, knowing little or nothing can be done, and have severely affected our mental health. As such, I decided to try and gain vital experience in how to react, deliver advice, and support the best I can in matters relating to mental health.

I asked my Client Relations Manager if I was able to attend a Mental Health First Aid training course. This was needed to enable me to understand my wife’s state of mind and how she is honestly feeling.

I was fortunate to be enrolled on a two-day Mental Health First Aid training course, and I found it very thought provoking, emotionally testing but most importantly very enlightening and gave me many “aha” moments. The course also made me look deep inside myself and how I deal with my own mental health. I learned that I need to be a better listener and let my wife talk about how she feels without judgement.

The course was attended by a very broad spectrum of people in so many different job roles, varying from Prison Officers to Veterinarians to Fishermen and myself as a Personal Assistant to my wife. Our experiences were very different, but we were all there for the same reasons: to learn how to support all the people we are responsible for and ourselves.

Now as a qualified Mental Health First Aider, I feel a bit more confident in my care role. Will I use every aspect of the training? Maybe not, but am I better qualified to help my wife? Absolutely, and to me this is the most important thing I can do for us both.

Everyone has experienced some level of mental health struggles, especially over the last two years, so I am thankful for the opportunity to learn more about it and understand the need to listen and communicate non-judgmentally, support and encourage.