31 Jul 2015 at 11:12AM
Category: Your Stories
For too long, with little support from close family, he’d been struggling to juggle being a father of three, full time work as a mechanic and his developing role as his wife’s carer who had multiple sclerosis.
So being laid off 18 months ago was the circuit breaker he craved after an extended “bad patch”.
Money had been tight too as his wife didn’t qualify for a disability pension, and work had kept him from getting financial assistance for his evolving carers role.
“I felt inundated,” he says.
“I wasn’t doing justice to either one of the two roles (working full time and caring) and something had to give, otherwise I wouldn’t have been the one that had to give.
“Trying to please other people and not quite achieving it, you always felt like you were letting people down.
“It was a bit of a circuit breaker... it had been building up for quite a while.
“It took its toll on me, I actually suffered a physical nervous breakdown and was diagnosed with depression.”
Back to full health now, he says it was difficult to say goodbye to the trade he’d worked in for over 40 years.
“I liked being a refrigeration mechanic, I liked the job, I’d done it since I left school,” he says.
“I finished school at 16 years of age and had worked in the trade until I was 57.”
His wife was first diagnosed with MS in 2001.
“Gradually over time her condition deteriorated to the point she could no longer work at all,” he says.
“She was pensioned off, so to speak.
“It’s curtailed our social life to a degree, we don’t get out as much as we once did.
“We don’t go to the variety of different places like we would have done before.”
He says planning a social occasion requires “almost military precision”.
“We have to plan if it’s a place that’s easily accessible for her with a wheelchair,” he says.
“If it’s not we don’t go.
“We try to get there early before everyone else, to get a good park and her inside seated. And we normally leave a bit earlier than everyone else so we’re not caught in the crush so to speak.
“It takes a lot of thought and emotional effort to do these things.”
Downing tools for good, Peter’s daily routine now involves helping his wife deal with her mobility issues; unable to drive, he shuttles her to doctor and gym appointments, two MS support groups which she runs, and fortnightly massages to keep her body relatively limber.
Peter’s day are Wednesdays however, when he enjoys BrainLink’s computer classes: “That’s my release day.”
The situation may have drawn the pair closer together in a physical sense, but Peter says being a full time carer has its testing moments.
“Sometimes it can get on my nerves, her moods change with how she’s feeling,” he says.
“Sometimes she has a tendency to take her frustrations out on me, irrespective of how much I do for her.
“But you do it because it’s your wife, your partner, your lover, and it’s part of life’s experiences you know?”
Sadly, Peter hasn’t enjoyed the same level of support from family.
“Close family don’t really want to have too much to do with you because dealing with a person with MS is either too difficult for them or too uncomfortable for them,” he says.
“They only have a limited amount of contact with you. They feel as though they would rather stay away rather than ring you from time to time.
“You don’t get that. You get more understanding from friends than you do from siblings and close family.”