Portland carer gives up university for her Mum

Portland carer gives up university for her Mum

Published by Maria Greenwood at 12:01am 23rd May 2020. (Updated at 3:56pm 23rd May 2020)

10 years ago Gemma from Portland left university to care for her mum full time.

It's Mental Health Awareness Week and Dorset HealthCare are asking us to 'Be Kind'.

The theme for this year's campaign is kindness.

Gemma French-Millard from Portland started caring for her mum 10 years ago.

Gemma's mum suffered abuse from her father that lead to her living with major anxiety, PTSD and ARBD (alcoholic related brain damage.)

Gemma and her mum

Gemma decided to come home during her first year of university to care for her mum full time:

"I started to notice she wasn't very well then, it was very difficult to get tests and as she got worse, I started to do more and more care.

"For ten years I've been caring for her and it's only about a year ago that I was able to move in with her and care for her full time."

Gemma and her mum

Caring for her mum wasn't a choice for a Gemma as she's her only family member.

"My mum is my whole world and there is a lot of pressure on that relationship because if I lose her, I feel like I've lost everyone.

"Financially, I don't get a lot of support, but I have a great friends who understand what I'm going through and they know I don't get free time unless I book it off."

A carer comes to help Gemma when she needs some time off, otherwise she's looking after her mum 24/7.

"Potentially putting all the things I want to do in my life on hold for someone you love is a very big decision and not something I would encourage people to decide lightly. I care for mum, the house cleaning and maintenance, gardening and her finances."

Gemma and her mum

Steps2Wellbeing have helped Gemma a lot she says she had a lot of plates to balance:

"Sometimes I don't cope, it would be impossible and inhuman to think someone caring for a loved one doesn't go through all the emotions.

"It can get overwhelming and with the current situation feeling isolated and needing help Steps2Wellbeing have been fantastic.

"They've kept me sane, they helped me and offered a person to talk to as I don't have family, I have a best friend and she is incredible without her I wouldn't be as level headed, she has been incredible, to say the least."

Steps2Wellbeing are providing support during the lockdown, you can self-refer at: