Hafsa – 26 year old Carer
Who are you caring for, and what does it involve?
I care for two of my sisters who have mental health conditions. I provide practical support like writing letters and attending meetings and appointments with them, and I advocate on their behalf.
I also stay with them and look after their children when they relapse or are feeling particularly unwell.
I provide emotional support and this is most demanding on my time. I am on call 24/7 and have to be aware of their emotional state. I listen to their voices and support them to understand their conditions. When I am not with them, I regularly speak to them on the phone, checking in on how they are and what they have been doing.
I also support them to access other support for themselves, check up on their medication compliance and make sure they attend appointments, often I go to their appointments with them.
How does caring affect your life?
It is disruptive and emotionally exhausting. I have to put things on hold so I can go to their aid if they are in crisis. Sometimes I think it must be like being a parent. I have a limited amount of friends as I have had to let them down to often.
I have worked with the Carers’ Centre to put boundaries in place, I have stepped back a bit and so far so good. I still call to see if they are ok and offer support over the phone.
I’m currently studying counselling at university, I started this year. My university is aware that I am a Carer so they support me and are flexible. I want to be able to help people through my work. I think being a Carer has given me strength and resilience which I can use in my training, although I have developed some bad habits – being my own supervisor and creating my own ethics!
How has the Carers’ Centre supported you?
The Carers Centre means more than gold to me. They have provided me with great support. Emotional help, practical help, support with advocating and writing letters, and making phone calls for me.
Working with, understanding and navigating the Mental Health system is not easy – professionals often take you for granted and forget that you are an individual and caring is a choice. Working with the Carers centre is like having a soldier on your team.
Aside from the one to one support, I’ve also received counselling via the Carers’ Centre, had a free massage and received support to start my counselling course through their Community Connectors project.
What would your advice be to young adult Carers who read this?
Get in touch with the Carers’ Centre! It is overwhelming to care for other people and still take care of yourself. It made it easier to breathe. Knowing there is someone who doesn’t judge, who understands, listens to you and fights your corner. It is overwhelming but you are not on your own.