Young Carers Awareness Day: meet Adele-Caitlin
Today is Young Carers Awareness Day, 31st January 2019. This day is for raising awareness on young carers who care for their loved one. @AdeleTaylor spoke to us about her experiences as a young carer and what she is up to now.
Hi Adele, would you like to introduce yourself please?
Hi, my name is Adele (Adele-Caitlin) and I’m an eighteen-year-old disabled young carer as well as an aspiring writer. All my life, I’ve seen writing as an outlet for expressing emotion but also a way of raising awareness of young carers and the different disabilities that affect my life. I recently began a blog with the purpose of uplifting people with similar issues by showing the bright-side of life with disabilities and caring roles.
How old were you when you became a young carer and when did you realize you were one?
I was only 2 years old when my dad was diagnosed with the rare brain condition called Intracranial Hypertension (IH). It wasn’t until I was 5 that I realised I was different; I assumed everyone’s Dad was ill, until I saw the other children at school with theirs. I was being bullied for my caring role and I asked my mum “why aren’t there any books to help young carers?” So, she wrote ‘Caitlin’s Wish’, a children’s book explaining IH and young carers in a magical way to make young carers feel less alone and to help other children understand their role.
Since then, my Mum has been diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome; she was always ill, but still had to be the main carer for my Dad. My brother has a form of Autism and Mental Health issues. I have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome too and I’m also currently being tested for IH.
What was your day to day like as a young carer?
Growing up, my brother and I felt different to other kids. We couldn’t go out and do the family activities that most kids could, and we became very quiet, due to my dad’s noise sensitivity, so mum made up fun but silent games for us. Even though mum did the majority of caring, I had to mature quickly, because I needed to help out from a young age, with things like laundry, tidying, cleaning up and making snacks or hot drinks. Nowadays, I help with cooking, cleaning, laundry, sorting out medications including morphine, driving, emotional support and shopping.
How did you manage school, friendships and your wellbeing with your caring role?
My parent’s health conditions could deteriorate quickly, so I felt anxious to leave them and go to school. During school years, I was managing my own bad health and trying to cope with my caring role, anxiety and bullying. My brother was also going through a rough patch which was putting a strain on the whole family. It felt impossible to concentrate, let alone get out of bed in the morning due to lack of motivation, mental energy and being ill myself. However, I found visiting friend’s houses helpful as it gave me a break, although, seeing their families doing the usual activities always upset me a bit.
Did you ask for support from family, friends, a carer centre or support group?
We were lucky enough to have had support from the Crossroads Carers for a while when mum needed surgery. They picked me up from school, cooked and cared for dad, although this help isn’t available anymore due to lack of funding.
I was also lucky enough to be a part of the SNPT Crossroads Young Carer’s Project for 5 years. They gave us experiences that our disabled families would have struggled to do. We always went on fun residential trips and had a weekly club. But, when I moved further away in 2012, it became more difficult to go and I didn’t have the health that I used to, so I had to focus on school instead.
What advice would you give to young carers?
I would tell them that there’s always support out there. Whether it’s online groups, websites that have a range of support and information or a local club. Also, it’s perfectly okay to be different, nobody’s remembered for being the same, are they?
What activities do you enjoy?
I’ve always enjoyed writing and art. I loved horse riding, but it made me ill, so I stopped. I find expressing emotions in creative ways is very therapeutic. Most of all, I really love to spend time with my family, even if it’s just watching a film at home instead of going out.
What are you up to now?
Now, I’m beginning a creative writing degree with the Open University, so that I’m able to volunteer with the local young carer’s club and maintain my caring role. Also, I’ll be able to rest while doing work to look after my own health too.
Although some people assume Young Carers have limited options, the support I’m getting to achieve my goals would prove otherwise!
Were you a young carer or do you have a young carer caring for you? Please share your experiences below.
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