Shawn has been caring for her veteran husband for 7 years and is an integral part of his care team. Her husband told her about his PTSD and recovering from alcoholism on their very first date. However, Shawn did not fully understand the extent of his condition and its impact on her at the time. She did not realize most of her time would be spent taking care of him, rather than spending time as a couple. The first time Shawn had to talk her husband through a severe flashback associated with his PTSD, she realized she was a caregiver.

Shawn is the type of person who understands she needs breaks for her own mental health, but that still doesn’t make them easy to achieve. When Shawn does things for herself, she ensures she stays in touch with her husband and has others providing care for him. Shawn also recommends that caregivers go to therapy for themselves, in order to have someone to celebrate the highs with and to find support during the lows.

She feels that it can be easy to lose who you are in the role of being a caregiver. Although her husband is set up for retirement, if something happens to him, she would be left with nothing due to quitting her career to take care of him. She now has no retirement and would not get any of his benefits should he pass before she does. Shawn believes that by ensuring caregivers get paid for what they do – providing tax breaks or setting up job recruitment fairs for caregivers – will mean that their livelihood is more likely to be secure.