'I became a carer out of necessity.'
Triston cares for his wife, Rachel, who has bipolar disorder, and for his daughter Caitlin, who has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity (ADHD) and autism.
'I ended up becoming good friends with Rachel and the friendship evolved. She needed some help and support and I was there for her. Now, she is my wife,' says Triston.
Triston never considered himself to be a carer. 'The person I love needed help and I only did what I was meant to do' Triston explains. 'It wasn’t until 5 or 6 years into us being a couple that I was introduced to Carers SA and I realised that I was a carer.'
Triston described how becoming a carer changed who he was and made him reflect on life. 'You start to realise what is important and what is not,' he said.
Becoming a carer has helped in many ways
When Triston had a cancer scare 14 months ago, his family and support network enabled him to get through. 'If it wasn’t for the people I have met through my care situation, I wouldn’t have had the support in place to make sure I’m still here today.'
If there’s one piece of advice Triston could give to other carers, it would be to look after yourself. 'There are too many of us burning out too quickly,' said Triston.
Triston thinks of himself as incredibly lucky to have his wife and daughter who check in on him and make sure he doesn’t burn out. He also tries to make sure that each day he has a portion of time set aside for himself.
'Sometimes I only have 5 minutes to sit down and have something to eat but, whatever it is, that small amount of time allows me to blow off steam,' said Triston.
'There are times when the person you care for has a bad day and it can be draining to balance their needs with your own. Sometimes you don’t want to go out or you just don’t want to deal with something today. Looking after your own mental health helps you deal with those days.'
Always a carer
Triston is passionate about helping others and, in his spare time, he is involved with online community groups where he shares advice with other carers.
'Even when I’m not actively caring for Rachel, I’m still a carer. The caring role doesn’t stop and my voluntary online caring role doesn’t stop either,' says Triston.
'I do it because I know the difficulties and pressures of being a carer. If I can help someone who is new to caring and help alleviate a bit of their stress, or give advice and make their caring role easier, then it’s well worth the time,' he said.
Triston has been a carer for more than 10 years and describes how navigating the health and support systems over the years has been really tough. 'You do everything you can to find support for the person you care for, but trying to find help can drive a carer to a point of breaking.'
Triston found Carers SA – his local Carer Gateway service provider – to be a valuable source of support. He received a Carer Gateway tailored support package and has been able to access equipment that was desperately needed.
Through Carer Gateway, Triston has accessed online counselling and personal coaching, which has allowed him to explore and move towards his own personal goals.