Tanya Williams, from Powys, is a full-time carer for her 24-year-old autistic daughter. Here we catch up with her to get her thoughts on her role as a carer, what support is out there for people like her, and about the mental health issues facing women today.
About three quarters of mental health carers are women. Do you think carers are given the support they need?
Not really. I get three hours of help a week but my daughter needs care 24/7 so basically it’s not enough time for me to go out and do what I have to do during the week. Even recently when I’ve spoken to social services to try to get some more help they haven’t been very helpful at all.
What would help you the most in your caring role?
Definitely having a bit more time, for example to get myself to the doctors or do some shopping or whatever else needs doing. There’s an autistic group that I’d like to go to but it’s not that close to where I live: it’s about half-hour away and I can’t fit that in in the three hours a week of help I get. You just don’t have the time to do what you need to get done. It would be nice to get some more time to do things.
What are the key issues and challenges that you face as a carer?
Our own mental health difficulties. We’re totally drained all the time and you can’t walk away from it. From the time you wake up to the time you go to sleep – if you’re lucky enough to get some sleep – it’s just physically and mentally draining. And there’s nobody else that I can give control to, I’m a single mum as well so I’ve just got to get on with it.
What would your advice be for other women who are new to a caring role?
Try and step back sometimes and take some time for yourself, but of course that’s easier said than done. Unfortunately, I’ve had to give up work to look after my daughter because it was impossible working and looking after her at the same time. I’d say try and live in the moment really. In half an hour she might be in a better place so whenever you can, just grab those five minutes for yourself.
What do you think are the mental health issues facing women today?
There’s not much support. It takes so long to get help anywhere, even for myself and my daughter it’s hard and you feel like you’re on your own sometimes. My role definitely effects my mental health but I don’t even have the time to get to the doctors and sort myself out. It can be very difficult.
A hundred years after suffrage, do you think we have achieved equality?
I think there’s still a hell of a lot more to do. I feel like it’s starting to go backwards instead of forward; if anything. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of dads out there caring for their children but mainly it’s still the woman who’s left to be the carer. It seems so unfair and I don’t think that side of things is really progressing.
What women have inspired you the most in your life?
My Mum. She was a very strong and independent woman right until she passed. She had five children, my Dad was around but he worked away a lot. Financially things were difficult with five kids but she always managed no matter what. She could always dust herself off and carry on.
And also my Daughter because of everything she goes through. The fact that even though her mental health isn’t brilliant, she always tries to see the positives in things and has that ‘tomorrow is another day’ attitude. I definitely think my Daughter and my Mum are the two strongest women I’ve ever met.
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