Kath, 30, has had “bad moods” since the age of 13.
This year she found out why. She has a mental illness.
“It’s similar to beng bi-polar,” Kath explains.
“I suffer from depression and anxiety – really bad mood swings. It was diagnosed as a mental illness at the beginning of this year.
“I’ve accepted it now. I’m on medication which has helped stabilise me … but I know it’s just a matter of time before another episode strikes.”
With the help of Blackpool Carers’ Centre and Blackpool and The Fylde College Kath is beginning to live life again.
“I’ve never been able to plan before, for fear of what might happen. I used to flap, was on edge all the time, so we were never able to have a family day out.”
Now Kath and her husband are preparing for a week’s holiday – away from the kids – in Spain.
“My husband actually got a grant from the carers’ centre to spend on himself...and he bought a passport. We didn’t get a honeymoon because of my illness.
“It will be the first time I’ve been abroad and a bit nervous about the plane but I’m looking forward to it and am learning how to cope.”
They have three children. “My husband looks after the family when I am ill – but our oldest child looks after both of us.
“They all know there are days when mum’s a bit poorly. They know I might snap, or can’t get out of bed, and sometimes have to be given a bath.
“When I start feeling better they come and tell me about their day and read to me and I try to explain while some behaviour isn’t my fault it’s not an excuse to behave erratically or get away with everything. “
Her 11 year old son Lewis (name changed by request) helps look after his four and six year old sisters, reads to them, runs their baths, does the washing up, and generally cares for their mum.
“The carers’ centre gives Lewis a break, time out from mummy. The centre also helped us have our first ever proper family day out when we used a pass issued by the carers’ centre to go to the Sandcastle.
“Even dad was able to enjoy going on the slides – because he could see me and the girls at any time and know we were all safe.
“Some people could go there every week – but we have to do things on the spur of the moment when I’m feeling well.”
Kath , who left school at 14, is re-sitting exams in six subjects.
“Without the support of the college and carers’ centre I’d have never been looking at completing a course –or doing a degree in event management in September.
“At one time I was spending weeks in bed and not even venturing into the garden. Now I’ve got my life back, a lifeline to greater independence, and my children have got the space to be themselves, to just be children.
“They have been through hell with me. I’m still ill, but I’m learning how to let go of the frustrations and stress.
“And just giving Lewis the space away from the family on two amazing trips with the centre and not having to worry has been fantastic for him.
“I can’t thank them enough.”
Sandcastle WaterPark chief John Child , managing director, is also supporting the Cash Quest for Carers – and has thrown the centre open to Young Carers for the first ever Young Carers’ Day tomorrow, June 13.
“There’s so much the rest of us take for granted that carers can’t – of all ages. It’s such a small gesture on our part but it makes a huge difference to the quality of life of carers and their families getting here to just have fun, and relax, and feel no different to other peope. It’s a privilege to support Blackpool Carers’ Centre.”
To assist financially, or as a volunteer, or to refer a carer for help, call Blackpool Carers’ Centre on (01253) 393748, or via the website www.blackpoolcarers.org.
You can follow @blackpoolcarers on Twitter. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Blackpool Carers’ Centre, Norman House, Robson Way, Blackpool FY3 7PP.