My role and experiences as a mother (“carer”) for my daughter

Date13 February 2017
Publication Date13 February 2017
AuthorKay O’Connor
SubjectHealth & social care,Mental health,Social inclusion
My role and experiences as a mother
(carer) for my daughter
Kay OConnor
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to describe a mothers experience of having a daughter who
experienced mental health problems.
Design/methodology/approach Narrative account.
Findings The author wants to convey the enormous pride that the author feel for her wonderful daughter,
and some of the challenges that the author has encountered. The author also writing about what helps the
author and what helps her daughter, the lessons that the author has learnt, and the benefits that a local
recovery initiative have brought for the author and her daughter.
Originality/value A mothers account of the benefits a local recovery initiative has brought to her and
her daughter.
Keywords Recovery, Relative/carer, Carers perspective, First-person account
Paper type Viewpoint
Early experiences
The biggest challenge for me when I write about my experience as a mother is to stay with me
and my experience. My default button is set to focus on the other”–which is a handy way of
distracting myself away from my feelings, my distress, my worry, my absolute terror, etc.
I may not have been a born carer, but I learned at a very young age, how to fit in and belong.
My mother died when I was eight years old and I took on the role of mediator, clown and helper to
my uncle, who had cerebral palsy. I was barely 18 when I had my first baby, a very placid boy,
and I was 20 when my daughter was born. She was the first girl on either side of the family, so
everyone was delighted and there were lots of pink gifts! However, my daughter was not a
content baby, she cried and cried, and nothing I did seemed to soothe her. I felt very inadequate.
Those first years were hard. Life threw lots of challenges at us. We had three more children,
a surprise baby boy, when my daughter was seven, and twin boys two years later, I also took
care of my sisters boys while she worked, and my half-brother who was born with Down
Syndrome, when my step mother died. As a mother, wife and carer (a word I am uncomfortable
with) I felt all washed up, and looking back, I came close to breaking point.
My turning point came when I went for counselling where I received the support and
encouragement I needed to build self-esteem and emotional muscle. I then went on to train as a
counsellor over the next four years and loved every bit of it. The world finally made sense, I was
rearing my children with ever increasing awareness of child development, being a good enough
motherand I enjoyed being a student. I qualified in 1994, and shortly afterwards, my dad died.
The last outing he had was to my daughters graduation.
The first shock
In 1996, shortly after my husband, the younger boys and I returned from holiday, my daughter
dropped a bombshell. She told me that while we were away, she had attempted suicide, and the
Kay OConnor is a Carer based
in Ballyconnell, Ireland.
DOI 10.1108/MHSI-11-2016-0029 VOL. 21 NO. 1 2017, pp. 43-46, © Emerald Publishing Limited, ISSN 2042-8308
PAG E 43

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