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Same But Different: An Unlikely Bond Between Caregivers

What are friendships built on? For this pair who were brought together by CAL’s Caregivers-to-Caregivers (C2C) training programme, it was discovering within the first year of marriage and living together that their respective spouses had mental health issues. While newly-weds enjoy the early years of marital bliss, Sarah and Khairul found themselves entering an unknown world of schizophrenia, which affects the way their spouses think, feel and behave.


“I felt like I got scammed into the marriage.”

“I was walking on eggshells.”


On the outside, Sarah and Khairul are vastly different. She is 42 and he, 32. She is Chinese and he, Malay. She is assertive and extroverted while he is mild-mannered and an introvert. However, it was over the next 3 months and spending 2 hours each week attending C2C lessons to learn about common mental health issues and skills to cope as well as care for their loved ones, that an unlikely friendship emerged. Both Sarah and Khairul did not know about their spouses’ diagnosis prior to the marriage. Both had families and friends who advised them to rethink their choices.


Yet they stood by their vows and chose to be caregivers to their spouses. Their journey is only beginning, but they have their faith, fathers and friendship to draw strength from.


“My father said, no matter who we marry, mental health issues or not, each person carry their own baggage and issues, so divorce is never a solution. This is a good reminder that marriage is for life, and that I can do better as a caregiver. Now, every additional day with my wife is a milestone,” Khairul shared.

“Remember the love even when all seems lost. Don’t give up. Remember why you fell in love and got married to your soulmate,” Sarah, a devout Christian, said.


Today, both are more confident of their marriage and caregiving journeys. When the going gets tough, they turn to each other for support. In addition to being her husband’s wife and friend, Sarah has also accepted that she is a nurse to him. Khairul now has time to focus on himself and indulges in gaming whenever his wife attends support group activities on her own.

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