Mark and wife, Emma. Doncaster.

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My wife Emma was diagnosed at two with epilepsy, then she developed bipolar and the fibromyalgia came on about two years ago. She can have a fit at any time but we’ve got this alarm system that registers she’s fallen and so I am able to do a part time job a few hours a week as a support worker for autistic children. It’s good to get out and do something different. Otherwise we’re indoors together. Maybe watching tele. But she can be in bed a lot of the time so it’s quite lonely sometimes.

That’s why I’ve chosen a pint of lager as my object. It reminds me of having a laugh with my mates and just relaxing for a while. There’s a few pubs we like but it’s cheaper to go into town on the bus and meet up at the Angel or the Staff of Life.  I suppose I like it because we just talk total rubbish. Could be about Arsenal or the Rovers, not that we can afford to go to either of them. I like it because it’s not having to talk about hospitals, or appointments or illness for a while. I was at the hospital recently with Emma and she was diagnosed with gall bladder stones so it’s like a domino effect sometimes. Well, you’ve just got to get on with it.

Obviously Emma’s epilepsy affects her fibromyalgia which affects her bipolar which affects her moods and sleep so it’s difficult. But doctors only want to talk about one thing at a time. Especially specialists who just deal with that thing. She’s on medication for all of them separately. Sometimes I don’t know if they even go together.

Everyday is difficult. We used to live in a high-rise near Doncaster Station on the seventh floor I came in the room one day to find her trying to climb over the balcony. I hauled her back over and lay her down in the living room. I rang the crisis team who rang the police who rang the ambulance service but when they heard that she didn’t want to go into hospital they said there was nothing more anyone could do. Nobody came out to us.

We asked to be moved out of a high-rise but there was nowhere to go. In the end, my wife’s psychiatrist told someone that if we weren’t moved somewhere else they could be held liable if something happened. We’re in a bungalow now out of town. It’s loads better and it only costs me £2 to get into town on the bus.

I did used to suffer from depression but with working I came back out of it. Having another outlet sort of stopped that. I feel okay most of the time and I try to drag Emma out kicking and screaming so she can enjoy people’s company and the open air. We’ve been on a couple of Stepping Out walks with the Doncaster Carers Centre that were great, one to Cusworth Hall and one to the Yorkshire Wildlife Park.

Emma suffers from severe anxiety but I have been able to come off my medication for depression now. I put that down to working – and the odd relaxing pint. Maybe the doctors would class that as self-medication, but to me it’s just a bit of fun.  I know I’m overweight. I’ve been diagnosed with diabetes. I have a bad lifestyle. But I do go walking every morning now. A couple miles. I usually go round the local lake. But at this time of year I just walk around the estate because the geese are a bit violent when they’ve got the young’s in tow.