Life As A Carer

Life As A Carer
In March 2023, Taraki’s Women’s Forum met to discuss life as a carer. What does this look like for those in Punjabi communities that identify as women? How is our identity defined by this?

Key points of discussion included:

  • The challenges of being a carer
  • The expectations of being a daughter in a Panjabi family
  • The impact of being a carer on your career and personal life

Something that was apparent during discussion was that being the unmarried, single daughter would likely make you the best person to take on caring responsibilities in your family. Though this isn’t the case in all instances, it was apparent that forum guests felt a quiet pressure to assume these responsibilities. As one attended quipped, when becoming a carer, you taking care of those responsibilities means that everyone can live their life. The challenges of this are vast, and they touch every part of your life.

Attendees shared the impact on their career and personal lives - some had changed careers or completely stopped working to fulfil their caring responsibilities. While it was noted that the shift to working from home during the COVID-19 lockdown helped to fit work around life, undertaking training or new learning was something that had to be added to already growing list of responsibilities.

We are human. We, too, are experience a range of things - love, loss, grief, guilt, resentment, anger and at some points, nothing. The pressures of caring responsibilities can push you to a point of such exhaustion that you turn to numbing techniques that can isolate you from loved ones and any type of support that could be available to you.

So why do we fail to express ourselves?

One forum attendee shared a theory about the fear of speaking about challenges - as Punjabi women we don’t have a particularly receptive audience, within or outside the family. Much like ‘water is wet’, as a Punjabi woman, you are supposed to accept caring responsibilities as your duty. One attendee had only recently acknowledged her role as a ‘carer’ as opposed to something that she should ‘just do’.

Understanding that this is not your identity is so important. Within the Punjabi and wider South Asian community, there are expectations often imposed upon women - it can be difficult to identify the ‘individual’ in you. Instead we see this a western concept, self-centred and out of touch. To seek help, or to acknowledge your needs isn’t encouraged.

So what tools for managing challenges, emotions and responsibilities were identified at the forum?

  • The importance of having compassion, for both yourself and the loved one that you are caring for.
  • Identify triggers that can cause you to become upset with either yourself, the current situation or the person(s) that you are caring for. Once identified, take time to navigate this in order to heal from it.
  • Therapy - you can source this privately or via your GP. It’s important to do the research to find out what type of therapy is best suited to you.

We have also identified some resources that may be helpful:

We would like to express our gratitude to forum attendees for their vulnerability and willingness to share in this space. This is not something we take lightly and are thankful for the chance to better understand the challenges of being a carer and provide this space of support for you. Taraki’s Women’s Forum will run another session on the challenges of being a carer later this year - watch this space for more.

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