Have you ever been lost? Maybe you were traveling to a new place that you had never been to before and took a wrong turn? Instead of turning right you turned left and found yourself wondering, where am I? You might have panicked a little but then realised that if you retraced your steps you would find yourself on the right path once again. Now let me ask you this, have you ever gotten lost metaphorically? And by metaphorically I mean mentally, Perhaps you felt like you were lost but in reality you weren't. It's very common in our busy lives to get caught up in our day to day routine and as a result we may end up feeling completely drained or stressed.
I personally have found that young carers are sometimes viewed as invincible because of their caring responsibilities, which of course can be a good thing but it can also be a little bit of a hindrance as it adds extra pressure to exceed expectations.
People often assume because young carers manage to keep everything together (or are expected to) that they are also held together themselves, which is not always the case. Many young carer's when asked about being a carer will more often than not reply with a positive answer because being a carer teaches us invaluable life lessons. Caring makes us more mature, patient, helpful, friendly and resourceful. However being a carer can also open the doors to feeling isolated, stressed, depressed, frustrated and guilty. It would seem that for every bright light (the positives) of being a young carer there can also be dark shadows (the negatives).
I have personally felt stressed at times just like many other people. Here is a little scenario that I found myself in. At the time it felt like a do or die situation for me.
I was in my first year at college and I had an important assessment coming up that I had to study for, Meanwhile things weren't so good at home so here I found myself in a dilemma, split between two worlds; my college life and my caring life. I felt that I had to choose between the two, asking myself which was more important. Do I go to my room and study for my assessment? Or do I go and tend to the things at home? Well if I study that would be good for me and I would be able to progress in college. However it might be selfish and I would feel guilty because I chose myself over my caring responsibilities. So then should I tend to the things at home? That would probably work out better because I wouldn't have the feelings of guilt and I wouldn't be being selfish, but I would be putting my education in jeopardy and I would also be being selfish to myself. It was like fighting in a losing battle.I chose my caring responsibilities over my education in the end but luckily for me the assessment was rescheduled so I had time to study.
With hindsight I can now see that the decision wasn't as bad as I had once originally thought and I didn't have to choose between the two situations, in fact I could just have kept an eye on things while I was studying. What I am trying to get across here is that I find many young carers choose others over themselves which in turn can make them feel exhausted and resentful. It's a bit like being on a sinking boat but helping somebody else to bale the water out of their sinking boat instead of our own, which in turn ends up leaving us submerged while the other person stays afloat.
Mental health affects millions of people all over the world and whether you're caring for somebody who suffers from a mental health condition or you feel you may be suffering from a mental health issue yourself, one thing that is important is finding information that will help you to understand these conditions in more detail because knowledge is power.
Being a young carer can be rewarding and difficult at times as well. Always remember that everybody struggles sometimes and we all go through hardships but that doesn't mean that we should secretly carry them with us on our journey through life. Don't get lost. If you feel like things are going astray ask someone for directions. I have personally found that by talking things through with somebody that you trust is like breathing a breath of fresh air. Young carers don't take enough time out for themselves. Your caring responsibilities are important but also remember that you are also just as important.
For help visit www.carers.org