Being visible A few words about the caring experiences of Deborah and Dennis Robinson. 'We don't want thanks, we don't want payment, but it would just be nice to feel appreciated.' "How many times have we heard that? Sometimes caring can be a thankless task but when it is someone close you are caring for, you just get on with it. Feeling invisible is part of it all because your needs tend to go to the bottom of the list when someone you love or care for, is at the sharp end. Whatever that condition is, physical or mental. Sometimes the person you are caring for is hostile and doesn't want to see you as their carer. They don't need you, they can manage, even when they can't. Caring just happened in our experience, it wasn't planned this way. A family member starts struggling and you just step up to the plate. Doing what you can, on top of what you are already doing. So tiredness is a big issue. Exhaustion from the stress of it all is real too. And in our case, pain, as we both suffer from chronic health conditions ourselves anyway. We are beginning to see that most carers are not well themselves. We didn't realise this before, we had an image of 'well' people caring for those less fortunate than themselves. And sometimes caring for someone else can bring on problems to the carer like depression because of isolation. Most people in our circle know we are carers and they do support us with phone calls, conversations, cards, text messages etc. Talking through problems, sharing with another family member can all alleviate the feeling of isolation. And this does help with stress but we don't usually get help with respite or any actual physical assistance from friends or family. We have both found the support of the group at Carers Southampton to be really important to us. To be honest we were surprised by this. Going to the meeting/lunch once a month became part of our routine. It was something we did for ourselves. Being able to talk to others dealing with similar situations helped in our learning and experience. Hearing people's stories, some heart rending and others with years of experience and information to pass on. Carers are so generous with their time. And we have learned that of all the commodities in the world, time is the most important, valuable and precious. The choice of relevant speakers at the meetings has also been a revelation. We listen to them all because you never know when you will hear something that will help you or someone else. Even if you think you have heard it all before. Being seen as a carer and being valued for that role by being recognised by the Government and Social Services more would help too. Carers provide thousands of pounds worth of care and assistance each year which the NHS etc. do not have to pay out. I really believe the country would grind to a halt if WE all stopped caring as we do. And remember we need to care for ourselves too, so we can carry on caring for others. Carers, we see you!"