I woke up at 4am this morning full of dread. My colleagues and I had recently conducted a study of homicidal ideation in family carers and it was about to hit the press. I was terrified that dodgy journalists and click-hungry editors would twist the story, shaming carers and making it even harder for them to ask for or receive the support they need. I was worried that the carers who trusted me with their stories would think I’d sold them out and that the advocacy organisations I work with would regret ever having supported the research.
It’s now almost 8pm and I’ve barely been off the phone. I’m exhausted, I’m hungry, I’m pretty sure I smell, and I am completely overwhelmed by the positive response. From the first story in the Sydney Morning Herald, to an interview with The World Today that I did in my dressing gown, every journalist I’ve spoken to has been respectful, cautious, and genuinely concerned about the wellbeing of carers. Even the outlets that are not normally known for their tact have been incredibly compassionate. 2GB’s Chris Smith, for example, sent a fruit basket to one carer who called in, because he felt so helpless in the face of her despair. And the fact that this was the Most Read story on The Age website today is testament to just how important these issues are!
It’s been a privilege to spend my day talking about carers and the amazing work that they do, raising awareness of the dark times, and encouraging a public discussion about how our society thinks about care. I’ve spoken to journalists from Tamworth to Toorak and I want to send a heartfelt thanks to every one of them for helping us raise the profile of carers and being brave enough to have these difficult conversations without resorting to nasty headlines and cheap clickbait. I especially want to thank those who gave carers the opportunity to call in and share their stories on air – it was compelling, heartbreaking, and a thousand times more powerful than anything I said.
But now my mascara is sliding down my face, my throat is sore, and it’s time for bed. Tomorrow I will get up and keep fighting the good fight. Because carers are worth it!