Being a Young Carer
Written by Emma Burbidge Posted in Alcohol and drug addiction, Homelessness and Social Care, Disability
If you have to look after a relative or family member, then as a young carer you may have feelings of guilt, loneliness, anger, anxiety, stress or depression from time to time.
Feeling like this is natural as you are having to take on so much responsibility and as a result are being denied some of the opportunities and pleasures enjoyed by your peers.
Whether this responsibility is cleaning the house and cooking the food for you and the rest of the family because your parent is sick, or nursing a sibling who is disabled, as a carer, life can be extremely difficult and you may feel like you are alone in the world and that you have to take care of that person all the time.
The reality is, however, that you cannot be around 24-7. You need to have a life just like everyone else and it is ok from time to time to want to go out with your friends and be a young adult rather than stay at home and be a carer.
Feelings of guilt may prevail because you know you can’t be there all the time, or maybe the person you are caring for keeps getting worse and you know that however hard you try you cannot make them better.
Sometimes you may even feel angry with the person. Perhaps they drink too much or take drugs and you feel anger towards them because you have to look after them and you wish you didn’t have to.
It’s ok to feel like this.
You don’t have to feel guilty for wanting to spend time with your friends or go to school and have a normal life. The person you are caring for should understand that you can’t be there all the time.
Other times, you may be fearful that the person might die. In this case, it’s important that you try to get as much information as possible about the illness that they have. Talking to your GP should help you understand the illness that your relative has, and should also enable you to get support in caring for them and for any stress and anxiety that you may be feeling.
You may learn a great deal about their condition, what causes it, how it can be treated and how to get them the support they need. You may also meet other people at support groups who have your relative’s health problem and this can help you with caring for them, or give you a much needed break when required.
Sometimes it just helps to talk to people about how you are feeling. This can help you channel your emotions and come up with goals and solutions to make your life a little bit better.
Your life does not need to stop because you are caring for someone else. You have a life too, and you need to go to school or get a job and enjoy life as much as anyone else. If you need help, you don’t need to be afraid to ask for it.
You can ask for help from other relatives or family members who may be able to help around the house, relieve you of your responsibilities for a day, or even look after you for a change.
You can find local Young Carers groups on youngcarers.net. Here you can read stories from other young carers and connect with other people who also have to look after a loved one. Some of these groups organise trips away to give young carers a break from the daily grind.
Also, some NHS services can help you with caring for loved ones; with hospital visits and home call outs from nurses, so that you don’t have to look after your relative or family member on your own.
Our TCHC advisers can also help you if you need someone to talk to. Discussing your situation with someone else can be the first step to helping you get your life back on track.