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Young carer

Hi, i am 16years old and last summer my dad moved out. i have always had a rough relationship with my dad so this was quite good news for me. however my mum has been struggling with multiple sclerosis for the whole of my life and since my dad has moved out and my sister is at uni i’ve been left to look after her. i often have to cook dinner’s and if i don’t then we don’t eat and other tasks similar. i’m struggling to cope with already suffering from depression myself and then having to look after mum everyday, coping with the stress of A levels and other friendships and relationships. i feel like mum is the only family member i have but because i’m having to look after her all the time i feel like i can never talk to her about my issues as she doesnt often listen and is too focused on herself. i am also ill myself at the moment and not able to look after my own physical health or mental health. help me

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Sam

Hi there

Being a young carer can be really hard. Looking after a family member can take up a lot of your free time, leaving little for yourself. The jobs you have to do might be difficult or unpleasant and you still have to do things like schoolwork. After a while it can start to have a big effect on you and your feelings. I want you to know that there are ways of getting more support.

A young carer is anyone under the age of 18 who has to look after someone else because they have a disability or long term sickness. It can mean doing things like cooking, cleaning and other chores that wouldn't get done if they didn't do them. Lots of young people do chores around the house but for a young carer there is often more pressure because they might be the only ones able to do them. As well as everyday chores, a young carer might have to do things like manage medication and help someone dress or bathe.

When things at home change it can have a much bigger impact on someone who is a young carer. Having a set routine is often important when caring for someone else. When people at home go away to do other things this can upset that routine and leave more work for the people left at home. A new routine has to be made but this might take a long time and can be stressful trying to fit everything in.

As well as caring for someone else, young carers need to look after themselves as well. This makes coping with something like depression even harder as there may be less time to spend on looking after yourself. Depression can have a big impact on how you feel and how able you are to do things like concentrate on your education or your social life with friends.

I think the best thing for you to do is look for some more support. This might come in the form of other relatives who can help with the care of your mum or it might be some professional help. The Children's Society can help young carers and might be a good place to start when looking at what support is available to you.

I would also suggest talking to mum about how you feel. It's important she listens and focuses on your wellbeing. As your parent it's her responsibility to make sure you have everything you need - and this includes things like time to do college work as well as social time. If you explain to her the ways in which you are struggling then perhaps together you can work out changes to the routine that might make a difference to both of you.

Childline is always here if you need to talk. You can contact our counsellors and they would be happy to listen and support you whenever you need it.

Thanks for the letter.

Take care,

Sam

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