‘I try hard to block out visions of Ethan‘s life in the future‘ – Galway mum of three and full time carer opens up in new documentary Stressed

The first part of new two-part documentary series Stressed kicks off on RTE tonight with an Irish mum of three opening up about the stress of caring full time for her son Ethan who has Hunter‘s Syndrome.

The eldest of Galway woman Ger Renton‘s three sons, Ethan is 16, and his rare genetic condition causes the degeneration of his cognitive and physical abilities.

During the documentary Ger opens up about the difficulties of being a carer and the stress she finds herself under.

“I try hard to block out visions of Ethan‘s life and stuff like that in the future. I think that adds an awful lot to my stress too. I won‘t let my mind go there but my mind will go there late at night…” she reveals.

“There‘s stress that I know sounds silly when I say it out loud – that I have to bring them all to the park together and I am by myself. Ethan can decide he is going off somewhere, I‘ll let him out of this chair for a little walk around and hold his hand.

“He can decide midway through that to have a huge meltdown and I can‘t carry him anymore and I can‘t ask my 13-year-old son to do it. It just seems like it is too much and it is something simple.”

Ger describes herself as quite ‘moody‘ due to her stress and would love to be less stressed around her children and more able to live in the present.

She‘s one of several people struggling with stress who feature in the series which runs over two consecutive nights on RTE One from tonight, and examines the science of stress and how it negatively impacts on Irish lives.

Presented by journalist Jennifer O‘Connell the series looks at the issue from all angles with experts helping volunteers drawn from across the country to cope with and manage their stress.

Over the course of the two episodes viewers find out the results of the How are You Ireland? survey and meet a group of volunteers who are going to have their stress measured and tackled.

Among them is father of three and grandfather of two, John Farrell, who is studying Nursing in DCU. Trying to juggle study, family life and part time work is very stressful for him. Adding to his stress, is a two hour daily commute to college.

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Teacher Steffi Skeehan from Kilkenny has suffered from anxiety for as long as she can remember and says she hasn’t had a good night’s sleep for twenty years. She would love to stop worrying all the time.

A chef and restaurateur, Dubliner Conor Higgins‘ time is consumed by the running of his three businesses. Instead of doing what he loves best – being a chef – he finds himself constantly ‘fire fighting’. Conor wants to find a way to use his time more productively which he feels will allow him to be better organized and will reduce his stress.

Entrepreneur, Jonathan Hayes from Galway, meanwhile, is passionate about his work but finds it hard to switch off. Work can often feed into his family time. He needs to find a way to unplug.

The series also  looks at current scientific studies and interventions that have been devised, researched and developed in Ireland.

Stressed airs on RTE One at 9.35pm and concludes on RTE One at 10.15pm tomorrow night (Thursday).

Online Editors