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Guest post: I'm a young carer, role model, big sister, student, daughter, cleaner, cook...

YoungCarerOverHereYoungCarerOverHere Member Posts: 50 Connected
edited July 2017 in Guest blogs
It's Carers Week, which raises awareness of caring, highlights challenges carers can face and recognises the contribution they make in the UK.

Photo of a young girl next to the quote: 'There's a lot of social stigma around being a young carer. People say 'oh you're so young, you're supposed to look out for your brother and sister', it's fine - but really it's more than that, it's a day-to-day thing you've got to do.' Catherine, young carer.

Caring for another

When I'm asked to introduce my caring role, I often go for the easy route; saying that I care for my brother who has autism, ADHD and other learning disabilities. This is because it is clearer to see how my hyperactive, very social and noisy younger brother sets himself apart from his peers. However, that is not the entire truth. Many young carers care for multiple family members (even both parents in some cases!).

I, unofficially, care for my mother (who was only recently diagnosed with ADHD) and sister (who is currently awaiting a CAMS assessment). This makes for a very unpredictable home life I can tell you!

My caring is more emotional than physical - basically I'm an extra pair of hands around the house but always ready with a shoulder to cry on and a listening ear. However, I wouldn’t want it any other way!


Balancing act

Trying to be a role model, big sister, student, daughter, cleaner, cook and carer is quite an exciting circus act. I’d like to think that I’ve improved this balancing act over the years but it’s something that loves to change day by day, hour by hour - depending on everyone’s mood!

Overall, my relationship with my siblings is pretty close as I am often in a position to help with their homework (which is always appreciated!). Although, this can quickly change if I refuse a single hug and then I’m the “worst sister in the world!”

More than a young carer

It’s important (at least for me!) to recognise my own personal strengths and life, outside of caring. As your typical (slightly OCD) 16 year old teenager, I want to cultivate my own identity.

In fact, recently I’ve discovered how much of a theatre lover I am. How I look forward to being able to pop down to London to watch Phantom of The Opera, Lion King or Les Miserables when I’m older!

A bit more about me: I am a black belt in karate and run a session at my local primary school, attend church, help out in the church youth group and go to the library from time to time. 

Most difficult thing to deal with

EXAM TIME! It’s a stressful time for me, but doubly so as my brother is fixated on the idea that his exams are closer than mine! Despite my constant reassurance that his are two years away, compared to my first written exam beginning next week - he still isn’t convinced.

Aside from that anecdote, I find the slightly egocentric nature of their conditions is the most difficult to handle. It almost seems that anything I do isn’t good enough for them. This isn’t a daily occurrence, but when it does happen it is honestly upsetting.

To combat this I often (forcibly) make time for myself to pursue a hobby or a good book. At the moment, I’ve invested in a long term escape called a jigsaw…with 3000 pieces! It’s good to take my mind off it all, especially after a long day at school.

Dear all young carers…

I just want to say well done for caring for someone else; most of the time we’re doing a job that properly trained healthcare professionals would be paid for. Also, I want you all to not feel guilty for having leisure time.

Here’s three simple suggestions:

• Music (listen to it or make your own!)
• Go out with your friends (set a time weekly where you can de-stress in a fun way)
• Write something! (song lyrics/ poetry/ novel/ saga)

Keep calm and keep smiling everyone!

Do you care for someone? I'd love to hear about your experiences.  

Replies

  • JenniferUJenniferU Member Posts: 124 Courageous
    Hi Catherine,

    Thanks so much for sharing this with the community. It's so interesting to hear about your experience - and it's a lot extra to take on as a teenager!

    You completely deserve those breaks you give yourself, and for encouraging other carers to do the same. After all, you won't be able to care for anyone if you're frazzled and stressed. 

    Good luck with your exams and enjoy your summer. :)

    Best wishes
    Jen

  • pippip Member Posts: 72 Connected
    Hello Catherine, I unofficially care for my mother too, she is elderly/ frail and I help and care for her in the family home, but she does a lot for herself and cares for me too- I've a psychiatric condition. are you on school holidays now, hope the exams went ok? you sound very caring! 
  • YoungCarerOverHereYoungCarerOverHere Member Posts: 50 Connected
    edited June 2016
    Thank you @JenniferU and @Pip !
    Being a Young Carer can fluctuate between being busy 24/7 with the individual you care for, but there can also be "quiet times" were everything is going well. Like you said pip, people can often do a lot for themselves :)

    My exams have gone quite well so far, just waiting until August now for results! :D Exciting stuff

    Thanks again- more one exam then I can fully enjoy summer!


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