My Life as a Carer – Sue’s Story

I’ve got caring in me. 

I cared for both my mum and dad, who passed away at home, and I like looking after older people. I regularly go down the road to walk an elderly lady’s dogs. 

My daughter is 27 and has a dual diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia and drug addiction. She has also suffered from an eating disorder. My husband also has depression.

Reaching Out and Seeking Help 

My daughter had her first drug induced psychotic episode in 2013 and in 2014 she had her first admission to hospital – it was to Graylands Hospital in a secure ward. That’s when things started to get more real She has had three hospital admissions since.

I got involved with MIFWA after calling them after our first hospital experience. I met the lovely Kim for a cup of coffee, and things opened up from there. MIFWA started introducing me to what it meant to be a carer, the things I could do to gain knowledge, and the importance of looking after myself. They also helped me understand more about what was going on with my daughter.

My Introduction to Carer Support at MIFWA

I was lucky enough to go on a weekend away with MIFWA. I took my beautiful daughter, and it was just what we needed at the time. It was so nice to have time together and to be with other families in similar situations.

We’ve also used counselling services at MIFWA – my daughter came a few times and other times I went by myself. It was a great way to remind myself that I had another life out there and to not let myself get consumed by everything that was happening. MIFWA are great about telling you what’s going on elsewhere. They started connecting me with other organisations like Richmond Wellbeing – they. And the massages have been great!

These days, if anything comes up with MIFWA and I feel like I need it, I will do it. I have completed the Wellways Program and have just completed a Mental Health First Aid course. And then there are the Christmas get togethers; they are a great way to keep in touch and to remember my roots!

On Mental Illness

The mental illness I see in my family forces me to look at my own issues, which is pretty confronting at times. I go to Al-Anon to remind myself that I need courage to accept the things I cannot change in order to change the things I can, as well as the wisdom to know the difference. After all, knowledge is power.

I am also interested in my family history.

My great aunt on my grandmother’s side developed postnatal depression after her third child. In my great uncle’s wisdom (he was a Doctor in Wagga), he sent her to Sydney where she was cared for, passing away at the age of 92. The thing is, no-one ever talked about her…

My granddad was an alcoholic. He went to the war when he was 18 and whether he was going to be an alcoholic or not, it’s hard to know, isn’t it? Whether it was destined to be? Or was it because of the trauma and lack of support services? Thought provoking stuff!

There is also a history of bipolar in my family.

Taking Care of Yourself and Living Your Life

I was brought up to not shed tears and to just ‘get on with it’, so reaching out, seeking help and talking to someone about my feelings has been a challenge. I have to remind myself that it’s okay to do that, and that it’s okay to be good to yourself.

I’m at the stage of life where I feel like I’ve got to get on with my life. I also feel that I need to give back a bit, which is why I recently got my First Aid Certificate and am doing other courses.

I’m big on self-care! I play the organ at my local church, love cooking, hanging out with the cats, bike riding, dancing, yoga and having family time. Oh and I love swimming in the ocean.

My Advice to Other Carers

This is what helps me be the best carer I can be:

  • Try to remember the person beyond the illness
  • Respect their wishes. I try to ‘put myself in their shoes’
  • Don’t lose myself in my co-dependency
  • Accept that some days will be better than others
  • See a psychologist – Carers WA are great
  • Practice self-care daily – and gratitude!

Sue, Carer

About Carer Support at MIFWA

We aim to provide mutual peer support, promote resilience and coping skills, and increase understanding of your caring role.

Learn more about how we can support you in your role as a carer.


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