My name is Rachel, I am 17 and I am a college student. I’m not your average teenager or individual. I am a young adult carer-even though I do not feel that I am. Many young carers believe that they are not carers, because, like me, it is a day-to-day routine that just seems normal to them.
I look after my mum. Physically she suffers with chronic sciatica, a crumbling spine, and constant joint pains. I can see, just as others can, that she is slowly getting worse and it does break my heart to see her that way. Mentally, she is diagnosed with being bipolar, although things are not as bad as others might believe. The roles that I have include:
- doing the weekly shopping;
- doing the washing up;
- helping with cleaning the house;
- assisting with cooking meals some nights;
- lifting and moving heavy objects;
- picking up my mums repeat prescription
…as well as being there for her emotionally - just being there to listen and support her when she needs me. I have been classed as a young adult carer for 2 years, although I have been one, without realising, for 4 years. Honestly, it can be tough and there are others out there who know the struggles and concerns about being a young carer. I know that there are young carers who have to do a lot more than I do.
As a young carer, you do miss out on opportunities and experiences growing up-not being able to go out with your mates as often as you like; being able to chill out whenever you want to; acting like a normal teenager- going to youth clubs, taking up a hobby, being carefree, partying and having fun. As well as acting your own age. When you are a young carer, you have to be more mature and, with all the responsibilities you have, you grow up quicker than you should. Someone I know said to me a while back “you are wise beyond your years and you are an old soul”-that’s what I think happens to young carers who, like me, had to grow up quickly.
Honestly, I do miss out on being a typical teenager. However, there are things that I have gained when I have missed out, like a close relationship with my mum - this might seem unbelievable for a teenager, but believe it or not, we never argue!
Being a young carer can be tough and some days it’s hard, and yes you can miss out on a ‘normal’ life, but everything that a young carer, in the end, is all worthwhile.
Young Carers Awareness day is on Thursday 28th January - find out how you can get involved here.