Returning to work, determined to help, but with new perspective on life

I would like to thank local residents and my supporters for their patience during my leave of absence this year.

I wanted to be open with you about my experiences over the last 6 months and how they have impacted upon my life and my role as a District and County councillor in the future.

On 1 January I took a leave of absence in order to look after my husband John who was seriously ill with sarcoma and had a lengthy recovery period from surgery to remove his bladder. Thankfully, John is now clear of sarcoma and continues his journey towards good health and is growing accustomed to life with a stoma. This is a life changing experience and John is coping well with this.

However, he also suffers from a long term battle with anxiety and depression. If you met John, you would not know of his suffering. I know many many people suffer this terrible illness in silence. I want to bring my own experiences with John, his experiences and also mine as a carer, into the open so that we can highlight the issues and how we have dealt with his recent journey back to good physical fitness, alongside his mental health issues.

John’s health has impacted heavily on my own as his carer. Every day is different especially if it involves changes in medication, and sometimes it is not easy to know what to say to him, when to say it, and what not to say. Those giving day to day support for both physical and mental illness need support themselves. I am grateful to have been referred to a carers support service with Somerset NHS Partnership Trust. It’s good to talk to someone who is objective. If anyone reading this is a carer they can get help too. Make an appointment with your GP who can refer you to the relevant services.

With all this in mind, I will not be able to return to work at the same levels I had previously. I will be resuming my role District and County Councillor on 1 July. I have also been asked to consider joining the Somerset Partnership Carers Vision and Action Group. This group has been set up so local people can have their say in improving the Carers Services, and where ideas and thoughts can be put forward.

Realistic, work-life balance

Before I went on leave I was working 24/7 on some projects. The days of devoting long hours and working every single day on council matters is not sustainable and not what I should be doing. A lifestyle balance is key, and family must come first.

With John’s health now being a priority, as well as my own wellbeing as his carer, I know that I will need to be much more selective than previously on what I am able to realistically achieve. I also have an elderly father in Sheffield who is not well and I need to dedicate time spent with him over the coming months.

The one thing I can say confidently is that I will always strive to do my best for local people. I will not let anyone down by making commitments I cannot keep.

Please do get in touch if you need help or support on local issues. My door is open and I am here to hear your concerns and help you.