Caring has become a part of who I am

13 June 2013

Today’s is the last guest blog in our series for National Carers Week. Louise, shares the challenges she has faced, as well as the rewards she has reaped, as a young adult carer.

Along with my mum, two sisters and brother, I care for my Dad, who has manic depression which forced him to medically retire after he had a breakdown. I was 9 years old and almost overnight became the main support for mum as well as a surrogate parent for my brother and sisters. My Dad’s condition and having the responsibilities of a carer have often conflicted with my school and work life.

Throughout my school life I found it difficult to juggle homework and deadlines with other commitments. I often felt that although some teachers knew about my situation they often either ignored it or didn’t understand how this affected homework/coursework and when I tried to explain, it would be brushed away. A teacher once asked, “How can your Dad’s condition stop you from completing this [work]?”

Well, sir, the answer I never gave, as I scurried back to my seat stressed and shocked at this. When I went home each day it wasn’t always to sit on the sofa and watch TV, play games or find endless reasons not to do homework. It was to help my mum with cooking, tidying and finances (try understanding a mortgage at 13), to entertain and distract my younger brother and sister so they didn’t stress my dad out, to help my other sister with homework because mum was busy, to do something small and trivial for dad which would turn into a big thing for him if I didn’t it. Because, sir, I spent my evenings walking on egg shells in case anything shook my dad’s mental stability. Because I’m a carer!

My GCSEs and time in Sixth Form doing my A levels was one of the hardest – I constantly struggled with work, revision and applying for university. In the end I chose not to go to University because I couldn’t just up and leave my caring duties. Although I found the pressure hard to deal with it’s not all doom and gloom. I count myself fortunate to have had a really good group of friends who helped me a lot, also attending Young Carers and now Young Adult Carers is a great way for me to talk to others who know what it was like as well as having time to relax.

Having grown up in such a pressurised environment, I have learnt a lot about myself and the ways of dealing with stress, I often find myself remaining level-headed when others are losing theirs. In fact caring has very much become a part of who I am.