Guest Blog: A Young Carers Story
I didn’t even realise I was a young carer until I was at university.
I had never really thought about it before, instead just considering it as something that needed to be done. With no idea there was any help or support available it became quite an isolating and difficult experience.
My mum has bipolar disorder. Her depression could often leave her locked up in her room, isolating herself from everyone. With Dad usually working until late I would often have to cook, clean and look after my little sister – these responsibilities increased as I entered college, when the occasional help I did get from a friend hired by my dad stopped completely.
In addition to this, I would try and provide emotional support for my mum – I was often used as a mediator between her and my dad during their frequent arguments, which would often leave me in the middle, unsure where to turn.
As well as the tiring emotional aspects, being a young carer also had an impact on my education. When I was particularly worried about mum, usually after a suicide attempt, I would take a few days off of school to look after her. I would use my knowledge of food poising gained from food technology lessons to come up with convincing symptoms that college would find believable. This then inevitably came with teasing from my food technology classmates who seemed to find it hilarious I got ‘food poisoning’ despite having learnt how to avoid it; but, I didn’t mind because it meant I got to keep an eye on my mum.
When I left for university, I was riddled with guilt. No longer was I there to fulfil a role I had gotten so used to. I would always the worst would happen without me there, in many ways it was harder not being able to see what was going on. However leaving gave me space to think and I realised that I should not have put that burden upon myself.
I don’t regret being a young carer, in fact it has formed me into the positive, caring person that I am today. Despite being a tough experience, it helped me to gain resilience. It has helped me to empathise with those in difficult situations and made me want to dedicate my life supporting those who society often looks over. I do, however, wish I knew more about the support available to me and was more open about my situation as it would probably have made things a lot easier. So my message going out to any young carers reading this is simple: don’t be afraid to ask for help.