I have been here many times. Staring blankly out the window, my head full of noise and not able to comprehend any more information. The surgeons, nurses and my children are all babbling around me, but I silently slip away into a peaceful state of befuddlement. As I look out I watch the people outside on the street , it's like they are actors in a play. Outside, down on the footpath below people are going out their normal lives, with all their normal problems. I’m like a goldfish, stuck up high in a glass box looking out at the world beyond this room. Blank and numb, unthinkingly staring at all the other people, so free walking around out there, why can’t I move?
The urgency to escape overwhelms me. I could walk out the door and keep going. Isn’t it simple? Walk down the corridor, into the lift, get in my car and out of that damned car park that’s so hard to find a parking spot in. The freedom to just keep going, anywhere, doesn’t matter where, but away from here away from this room, these people. Away from today, away from tomorrow and away from my life.
But then I remember I can’t leave, I can’t move, I’m stuck. I am here to do the job I fear the most. My baby needs another operation and I have to pay more attention while the surgeons and nurses are still here. I can still hear their voices, their hands are moving and they are all smiling at her. Everyone is always so smiley, so cheerful. I am riveted to this spot, this place where I stand, immobilised and shut down. I have to listen, I need to pay attention, I must remember everything they say - hear what they are going to do to my baby.
I turn back from the window and face the room, surgeons and nurses, my family and children. I have to hold it all together just for one more minute. If I can get through just the next minute, they will all leave and I will start to breathe again. Then I will face the next minute, the next hour, the next day, month and year. I have to do this because there is no one else who can, it is my job and mine alone and on this spot that I am standing on, this very spot right here, this is the loneliest place on the planet.
The impact of the stress and trauma on the mental health of a carer associated with looking after a loved one with a chronic medical condition is well documented. There are many support and help resources available. You can only care for others, if you have taken care of yourself.
If you feel disconnected from those around you, have trouble sleeping, feel anxious or panicky, have lost your appetite, worry constantly, or are quick to anger - these are all signs you may be in need of some support and help. Please reach out and find that support. A list of resources available to support you is available here.