The focus of this year’s Carers Week is making caring visible and valued. With over 4 million unpaid carers in the UK, they are an army of people who change people lives.
Leah Holder is one of these amazing people balancing her very successful career with caring for her partner.
Leah provided us with an insight into her invaluable role of caring for her partner, who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2020.
"I am sure I am not alone in feeling that I always wish I could do more, but I do my best to provide all the support my partner needs including emotional, mental health and more recently physical support. We are currently battling symptoms around issues with sight, mobility, chronic fatigue and brain function – some common initial symptoms of MS. Whilst the condition has already altered our life plans, it has made us a stronger team than ever, and I am told on a regular basis by friends and family as well as my partner how grateful they are, which gets you through the rough days. We value each other and every day more than ever – you really do find yourself living by the ‘life is too short’ motto.
I often find myself wanting to take the struggles of the condition on my own to make it easier for my partner, but you can take comfort in working through each new step together, and the community and support that surrounds you. It can sometimes be a tricky topic to broach with friends and colleagues, because whilst they are always supportive, only you are going through the experience. I find myself putting his needs before anything else, which is an easy decision to make without question, and I would not change that for the world.
There are a lot of positives to take around perspective, and if you let it, being a carer can change your outlook on the world for the better, because the closest thing to being cared for is to care for someone else.”
As you can infer, Leah is a person who is always smiling with infectious positivity, and for some of her colleagues this article will be a surprise. We asked her why visibility is such an important issue to highlight.
“We all know that not all disabilities are visible, however it can be easily forgotten. It is important to pause and take a moment to remember that everyone around you is going through something, and we have to remind ourselves just because someone carries something well, does not mean it isn’t heavy. So take that extra second to show some kindness – as for those of us that are carers, this can often be that one small part of your day that picks you back up, enabling you to be the best self for those that you care for.”
Leah provided the below quote as a reflection of her situation, and the idea that everyone should play their part in building a carer’s strength with kindness, understanding and recognition.
"Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage." - Laozi, philosopher