Let me just start by saying that this is a book aimed at specific audience and I fit only partially in that focus group. It is a book for single unpaid carers of and old, disabled or ill person, for people who had to sacrifice their careers, their personal lives and their personality on the altar of caring for someone. This was not my situation, so as much as I recognize the need for this book and the author’s goal I could not sympathize with all the statements made and advice given.
I do think this is a very important book for carers, because it shows you that you are not alone, despite how lonely it feels. Marriott does not offer practical advice on how to get benefits or how to fight the system, but he does offer plenty of practical advice on how to stay sane (more or less). He writes from his own experience and it is a very honest account, no sugar coating. He writes about feeling lonely, cornered, fed up, angry and planning how to push the person he cared about down the stairs. Because all carers think about it at some point, it is perfectly normal in such situation, the trick is not to do this.
A big part of this book deals with those feelings of loneliness and being overwhelmed and angry and this is the most important part of it in my opinion, because Marriott actually tells us where to look for help. This is not a book about people being cared for, it is a book about and for carers and the first place unpaid carers should look for help is Carers Trust, formerly known as The Princess Royal Trust for Carers. Marriott also recommends connecting with other carers, if possible caring about person with similar disease or disability, because if you have a question, someone else probably asked it before and already has an answer. The important thing I got from this book is that no one will come running to help, unpaid carer has to go ask ask, beg, fight and yell for everything.
Another thing that is obvious when one thinks about it, but never occurred to me is that unpaid carers do not receive any training. Professional carers work limited hours and are trained for example on how to lift a patient or how to prevent them from falling or if that’s not possible how to break the fall to cause the least damage, an unpaid carer is on their own and working 24/7 with no breaks or holidays. Obviously in such situations it doesn’t take long for the carer to require care. That’s why, again, it is important to seek out help, to seek out other carers, Marriott circles back to this point a lot of times and for a good reason. The book offers plenty of other advice, so if you happen to be a carer you should definitely read it.
What I didn’t like about this book possibly stems from the fact that Marriott writes for people who think they are selfish pigs, whereas I know I am one and I consider it a survival thing not a flaw. So when Marriott advises to live completely in synch with the pace of the person you care for, or when he advises to simply stop wanting things that cannot be had when one is a carer my blood boils. I know what he advises may be the only strategy to cope, but I am certainly not one for sacrifice, what is more, I strongly believe that when forced to sacrifice I would turn vicious rather than caring. Only when I’m happy I have this instinct to share and care, otherwise I become completely focused on getting myself happy, which in turn makes me a selfish pig. And for now I’m fine with that, as I said I was not entirely fitting into the target group for this book.
One more time before I finish, if you are an unpaid carer you really should read this book, it can save your life and in addition to that it is funny, but never stupid.