“I miss the girl I married but I love Barbara now just as much as I did then.”
Geoff, 67, has cared for his wife Barbara for over 15 years. Barbara was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder a few years ago. Until then, although undiagnosed, her illness was controlled by medication.
“In 2008, Barbara was so unwell she was admitted to Highbury Hospital for three months. That’s when I decided to take early retirement from my job as a building surveyor. No-one was looking after Barbara’s needs.
“My caring role comes first. My principle role is that of motivator and listener. My life, my aims, my ambitions are on hold. Everything has to be planned around this dreadful, enduring illness and the psychical illnesses that come with it. I miss my social life.
“Being a carer 24/7 took its toll on me and six years ago I was diagnosed with depression.
“For some years now, Barbara has had a great community psychiatric nurse. She still has her demons but, at the moment, she is easier to live with. Our plans are made for us these days but we visit our granddaughter in Kent when we can and we now have a second grandchild in our lives
“A few years ago, I did a ‘Looking after Me’ course which taught me to find time for myself. Carer groups and conferences are a lifesaver; they give me a legitimate excuse to leave Barbara for a few hours.”