Adrian 00:00:05 Hello and welcome to Tune in to care a podcast that takes us on caring journeys of five different people who care for a loved one, people who didn't know they are an unpaid carer, and who have only found out later that there is support out there for them. Free and easily accessible. Tune in to care is produced on Aboriginal land across Australia. We acknowledge the traditional owners as the custodians of this land. Tune in to care is brought to you by Wellways Carer Gateway. Carer Gateway is an Australian government initiative providing free services and support for carers. And my name is Adrian Plitzco.

Adrian 00:00:59 They travelled a long rocky way, our carers, Lena, Mary, George, Maya, and Luna, and they all had invited us over six episodes to be part of their life as a carer. We learned that in the beginning they were facing a circumstance where they did not have a choice, where they were forced to take on a challenging task. The task of caring for someone who needed their help. Our carers told us about the hardship they endured, about being on their own, feeling lonely in some cases, being depressed, having lost friends, and not knowing that they actually are carers, and that there is support out there for free. Lena, Mary, George, Maya, and Luna took us along through every step of their journey from the moment they realised that they are a carer and how it changed their perception of themselves. They gave us an insight into the struggle they went through with little or no support from their family or friends. They made us aware of what it feels like being stigmatized for being a carer. They shared with us their relief, excitement, and hope once they learned that there is help out there, that they are not alone. And most of all, they told us about the joy they felt after having received support from Carer Gateway and how much it improved their life. Now we thought we invite them back to this special bonus episode of Tune in to care. They all have listened to the podcast so far, listened to their own journey, their own life, and it is a good time to reflect and ask where are they now? Before I say hello to them all, I would like to welcome another great contributor to our podcast all the way along, Georgie Sawyer, IPPS Peer Facilitator at Wellways Carer Gateway, in Brisbane. Hello Georgie.

Georgie 00:02:56 Hello Adrian. Hello, caring community.

Adrian 00:02:59 I tried to give a bit of a summary of the previous episodes. Georgie, how did you experience the journey?

Georgie 00:03:06 It was very transformative. It was, in all honesty, a little bit emotional because it brought up some like deep feelings that I've experienced personally, but I also felt a sense of comradery with the beautiful carers that you've, that you've interviewed, Maya, Lena, George, Mary and Luna. They've all been such so, so vulnerable and so real and honest. And it just helped me feel once again, that sense of not being alone, that people understand your journey and that you can have that sense of connection with an understanding of their journey as well.

Adrian 00:03:50 Now, unfortunately, Lena, George, Maya and Luna couldn't make it for today's bonus episode, but we are lucky and fortunate enough that Mary is being part of this round, and as a, a very, very big welcome to Mary. Hello.

Mary 00:04:08 Thank you. Thank you very much.

Adrian 00:04:10 Mary, I know you listened to the podcast, you listened to everybody's story. You listened to your own story, your own life, and you all come from different walks of life. And every single story of yours is unique, but when you listen to all the other stories, did you recognise yourself in those stories.

Mary 00:04:35 It's everyone have like story, like it's caring role, the same, all the same, but everyone have different son or daughter or the caring role. And my story was very hard, very hard for me. You know.

Adrian 00:04:51 Mary, I do remember you said it a few times that when you realised that you have to care for your son, you just told yourself, I have to do it because he is my son. Did you hear that in the other stories as well?

Mary 00:05:07 Yeah, they, they're amazing carers too. You know, I think we, we worry too much as parents, you know, I, I have no other help anywhere, you know, not from family or friend or, so I have to rely on myself. I have to prepare for everything. My son never used to sleep. Like he used to stay up in the morning during the day he was asleep, and I was stressing for that too much.

Adrian 00:05:40 And how was it for you, Mary? How was it to, to hear, to hear yourself, to hear yourself talking, not so much your voice, rather to hear about your own thoughts about your own feelings, about your own life? How, how did that feel?

Mary 00:05:56 Yeah, at, in the beginning, when my son start to I’m caring for him I didn't wanna talk much about his mental illness, and that way I kept very quiet, but I'm looking after him. It was very hard in the beginning, but we have no help, nothing, no one, it's only God to help us. But when I heard about Wellways, it was amazing. You know, it's a big change. I relax a lot, you know, when we needed respite, they take us and we have a two days break from the caring role because when you are home sometime you feel very lonely for the caring role. You feel very lonely, empty, and far away from other people, friend. Yeah, it's, it's very hard, very hard role.

Georgie 00:06:51 Thank you so much, Mary, for, for having, you know, the courage to, to share your story, but also reflect on what your journey has been like. And, and I think what I've loved, and I've really valued in you, your story and everyone else's story, is that we, we need these services like Carer Gateway. We need, we need the support and the and the scaffolding, like the, the connections and the empowerment to know that we're not alone. And I think I learned so much from you sharing your story, Mary, because you're so right. Even though we're all carers, we don't walk a day in your shoes, but listening to your story, it enables me, even as a facilitator, it helps me to be a better listener, to respect your journey, to ask curious questions about how we can better support you in our core services. But I just wanna say I'm, I'm really, really grateful because caring for someone with mental health can be, at times a very different experience to caring with someone with a physical disability. And I've recently just come from a, a support group where we were talking about how as a carer, your loved one isn't in control of what's happening to them. And they, they can't help themselves. And it's so easy for people around us to say, you know what, just leave him. He'll be fine. You know, I had people say that about my dad when I was caring for him with, with his mental health struggles. And I really love that you are, you're being so honest and raw and true, because that's exactly how I felt too. So thank you so much for sharing.

Mary 00:08:42 Thank you very much. Yeah, that's what my daughter-in-law said to me, she cry when she heard my story, she said, it's all pure. It's just, you're not acting or saying anything, not real.

Georgie 00:08:55 No. You're very authentic. And I, and I feel like that's the, the power of when you come to an IPPS group, you know, there's peer support groups. Your story, you have a lot. In your journey you actually are teaching and guiding people and bringing your own mastery because of what you've lived with your son and how you navigate and work with him. But also what I learned from you is, you know, when other people in our close family aren't available to us, I really love how you, you reached out and you started your journey to connect with other people outside of friends and family who just couldn't be available for, for us for whatever reason. But that this service was something that met your needs to think about you and what your human needs are, because you are a value too, to keep going and caring for your son as well.

Adrian 00:09:58 Mary, I do remember in, in your statement in the last episode when you said that you are so happy to have received support from Carer Gateway, that it felt like winning the lottery. It actually brought tears to my eyes.

Mary 00:10:16 Means a lot to me. My daughter, she nearly cry.

Adrian 00:10:20 So I wonder, can I just ask you bluntly, are you still happy, as happy as you were when you learned that you had won?

Mary 00:10:28 Yeah, I am very, very happy actually. And with the help and the break we have, you know, because we need break sometime, otherwise we blow up. We, we need respite for at least two days, you know, and this happening, it was very good break for me. I went for two days actually. And, you know, just, that's all I need. Maybe two days break from the caring role and you come back fresh and you wanna do things from your heart more and more. You know, it's, it's amazing how you change when you are on in a retreat, you know, we need it. That's all I need, say.

Adrian 00:11:20 Georgie, I would like, like to pick up on what you said before, that not every day is the same. You never know what you're up to as a carer. And I had to experience that today as well. I mean, I, I feel very lucky and fortunate that Mary is with us, but Lena and Maya and George and Luna are not here. And I'm sure listeners wonder why aren't they part of this round now? So you had an explanation for that, why they're not here.

Georgie 00:11:51 Everyone's caring journey is very unique and it's not linear. I sometimes use the analogy, it can be like a rollercoaster. Sometimes the rollercoaster is really fun and enjoyable and it's smooth, and sometimes it's really hard and scary and, and full on and, you know, anxiety driven and, and it's very hard to know what might be around the corner. So as a carer, we we're actually now living a real experience of what it's like in a, in an IPPS group, because on any given day, when we meet together once a week or once a fortnight, sometimes carers can't come and can't, can't participate and engage and connect because something has come up for them, whether it's personally for them or whether it's in their caring role directly related. So what we do here at Carer Gateway is exactly what we are doing here now, is we are holding space for each other. We are showing, we are, we're showing compassion, understanding and respect that sometimes the stars just don't align. But we are gonna continue to hold that space for those people because we, we understand and we value that their life is ever changing. And they, you know, I always say carers, they are the most brilliant planners. Like, I think they win a gold medal for planning and contingency plans and, and putting all these different action plans in place. But sometimes things just come, come and happen. And I think part of being a caring community is about really listening to each other and respecting them on how they come on the day or if they can't come and just saying, it's okay, we got you. We'll see you next time. We hope that everything's going well for you. I know in our, in our IPPS groups, if we have a, a member of our group who had to have an emergency operation or if their loved one had to go into some form of emergency planning, we will get a beautiful card that just says, thinking of you and all the, the group members will sign it. And that's just a way, a really beautiful way of connecting with that carer while they're going through difficult times, challenging times. But we, but we're not saying, you know what, you couldn't come, sorry, you're on your own now. No, that's not what we're about. We're about being there with the whole person and being real that life doesn't always go to plan.

Mary 00:14:27 That's right. Yeah. You never know what's happening in life. You know, my husband, god rest his soul, he goes to me, you have to, you don't know what's around the corner. Sometime we have, you know, drama at my place comes from nowhere from my son. He used to stress, my husband's stress. And he said, oh, one day, I never forget that until I die I think, he said, oh God, why don't you take me from this life? You know, take me. And after two weeks he died.

Georgie 00:15:04 Oh, I'm so sorry, Mary.

Mary 00:15:06 Yeah. We had a car accident.

Georgie 00:15:07 So sorry.

Mary 00:15:08 And he wished to die because he can't cope anymore. Yeah, my son, he was all over the place. It's lots, lots of story, but sometime I don't feel like talking about it, you know, it's just.

Georgie 00:15:25 Of course not, no, but it's, you know, you've raised a really, a really important point is that when you are caring for your child, when you can't help them and you don't know how to, sometimes that can feel so like, I don't know, I can only imagine that that was the hardest thing for you and your husband. And and that's where actually we were just talking about this in a group the other day where sometimes when people come to group and they're just feeling like everything's going wrong and they can't see that hope. And just by being able to talk and say, I'm, I'm really struggling, or this is hard and I don't know what to do. Sometimes just sitting in that space of compassion with another human being and really listening to them is, is really what, what we can do by being present for each other.

Mary 00:16:25 Yeah. I have to be strong. After my husband died, I said I lost him because he used to help me a lot with my son and he was a like big boy, you know, he always wants a argument, he wants a fight and he wanna break thing, and I've been through a lot then I get very upset because how my husband wishes to he, if he can God take him so he can relax. So always, I gave it in my head and said, why did he say that? You know?

Georgie 00:17:01 Is it that overwhelm? Do you think, you know, when, like, when you just don't know what to do and, and you love someone so much, but it sounds like you and your husband were a caring team. It sounds like you had each other's back and you were, you were trying to navigate and work through it together, but it just got a bit too much for him.

Mary 00:17:22 Yeah, him too much. Like, I used to pray, I pray a lot, you know, I pray, ask God to help me. And that my husband was like, that's it. I can't like cope anymore. And I said to him, you gotta be strong. You know, we have problem with my son and other people have problem with their kids or daughter or whatever. You gotta be strong, you know, don't give up. I used to tell him sometime he tell me to be strong sometime I tell him, but the way he said it, yeah, he was a beautiful man, but he’s gone. I gotta be the mother and the father.

Georgie 00:18:04 Just the other day I had some, some carers say that it's sometimes really nice to hear that other people are finding life tough and that they're not the only ones. And for some, for some parents who might be single parents or who, who might be in a very unique situation as well, like people who are caring for others with mental health, it's sometimes really nice to know other people that they're, they're also going through, you know, a challenging time. But that helps. Just being aware and knowing that there's other people out there can be a form of support.

Adrian 00:18:43 One kind of support that Carer Gateway provides is the regular meetings with other carers, that peer support group where they can share their experiences. And what we just do here now in this bonus episode that is kind of a peer support, but I hope there is more to it, to the real peer support group. I think Mary needs to learn more about that. What you do in a peer support group.

Georgie 00:19:07 What it means, Mary, is that you are, you are a peer. So a peer means that you come with a lived experience and your own mastery and story and experiences, whether that be the hard times in your caring role, or it could be the really good times to help everyone celebrate the good times with you as well. But it's also a time whether you might wanna leave your caring hat on and you might want added information or help about community support services or you know, how do I, how do I get a referral to, you know, my aged care or NDIS or it could be things like that. Or it could be a time for you, Mary, to take your caring hat off and have some fun and go, who's Mary, what does Mary like to do? Because you and the other group members get to design your group. So if there's something that you've always, you may be a, a beautiful painter and used to love painting once upon a time, but once your caring role took off and it, it, it got really challenging and had its ups and downs. I stopped painting, I stopped listening to my music, I stopped going outside for my walks because everything else I needed to do first caring for my dad. And so what a, what a a peer support group can do is your facilitator can organise beautiful activities that peer led. So you and your group members get to come up with ideas, ways to connect together. And for as some examples I've had, I've had some of my carers go for beautiful walks in big, big gardens and parks. I've had some people want a yoga session on the beach where we all got together on a, on a beautiful Friday morning and we had the yoga instructor come out. Yeah, yesterday I just, we just shared one beautiful lady, her hobby is to paint and she said, I really love painting. It means a lot to me and it brings her joy. And so we actually did a glass painting activity where we all sat around and we had a good chat and had a cup of coffee and, and tea and cake. And we sat around painting these beautiful pictures on this glass. And none of us, we are not artists, we don't, you know, this lady was, she was very good, but we, we are not artists, but everyone ended up creating the most beautiful creation and they were able to just share in some fun times together. And, you know, coming away from that, I hear a lot of people, carers say to me, I really look forward to coming every week.

Mary 00:22:06 I love writing. I write story about my son when he start to get sick. And I did write the book and he, one day I wasn't home and he get it and he burn it.

Georgie 00:22:19 Oh.

Mary 00:22:20 Mm. Took me five years, took like step by step and yeah, I can't write it again now. I, I will, but not, not just yet.

Georgie 00:22:31 Mary, thank you for sharing. So writing for you is very meaningful and it, it, it's an expression of your lived experience. So in your new group that you're about to be a member of, you will bring this beautiful talent and passion for writing. And when you share how writing your experiences down in a book, how that has helped you, that could actually, you could be teaching and sharing a new way of coping and of expressing your experiences to someone else because you are an author, you've written your own book and this is where you get to share your mastery with someone else that may need that in their life and their journey. So I'm very excited for you and your group members

Adrian 00:23:20 In this podcast Tune in to care, we weren't trying to be just simply entertaining. We weren't trying to be sensational in exposing the life of the carers and the burden they all carry. It is actually the opposite. We were, I mean, you were, and that includes all of you, Mary, Luna, George Maya, and Lena. You were reaching out to all the listeners out there who do not know that they are a carer and you offer them a path towards a better and happier life in sharing with them your own experience. And I think this is a great and brave achievement. And now tears come to my eyes. Sorry. I feel honoured. I feel honoured that you all also did take me along on this journey and I can't say enough. Thank you very much. And so listeners out there, if you think you might be a carer, you are actually one. And I invite you to find out more about receiving free support as a carer, either for yourself or a friend. It's only a phone call away. Simply dial 800 422 737. Again, 1800 422 737 Australia wide. The friendly people like Georgie Sawyer at Carer Gateway, they will be listening to you. Tune to care is supported by Carer Gateway and Australian government initiative. And thank you for listening and please tell your family and your friends about the podcast and remember to subscribe to the podcast on your favourite podcast platform or streaming service. Who knows, soon there might be more. Thank you Georgie Sawyer.

Georgie 00:25:07 Thank you. Thanks Adrian.

Adrian 00:25:09 And thank you Lena, George, Maya, Luna, and a big thank you again to you Mary.

Mary 00:25:15 Thank you Adrian, and thank you Georgie. I'm so happy I met with you today. And we talk and lovely people from Wellways Carer Gateway, the best. Honestly,

Adrian 00:25:28 I am Adrian Plitzco, goodbye. Until next time.

Note: Transcripts are generated automatically by AI and corrected manually.