Judging from social media, everyone has had a terrible 2016. The year and the collective suffering it has apparently inflicted upon us is fast becoming a cliche. We have all been through the mill equally, the narrative goes, hit by the myriad misfortunes of Brexit, Donald Trump and beloved celebrities dying.
My family was recently quoted £2,000 for a week of respite care for my mum, who has early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Does that sound expensive to you? Here are some things that also cost £2,000. A week’s rent on a two-bedroom apartment in Mayfair, London. A Tag Heuer watch of the type worn by Formula One drivers. Seven days at an all-inclusive luxury resort in Mexico.
I sometimes feel lonely. There, I’ve said it. But most younger people wouldn’t. According to a report by the Mental Health Foundation, 42% of those aged under 34 would be embarrassed to admit to feeling lonely. This is despite the fact that one in 10 people in the UK do not have a close friend, a study by the charity Relate found.
I am a carer. I help look after my mum, who has early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. It is a difficult, demanding and often depressing job, and I only do it part time, filling in the gaps to ensure that my mum receives 24-hour care. Even this limited but significant share of my family’s responsibility has had a profound impact on my life.