By Katie, a young adult carer
My name is Katie and I am 17 years old from Birmingham. I am a young adult carer for the other three members of my family: my mom, my brother Daniel and my dad. My brother Daniel has autism and is 11 years old, my mom has Fibromyalgia and my dad has PTSD from the army that can be really damaging to him at any time randomly. Before the Covid-19 outbreak I was studying at Solihull College doing a level 3 Health and Social Care course. I was really enjoying this and enjoyed the style of learning as well. When I wasn’t at college I would take my brother to school, come home and tidy my house, help my mom with anything she may need especially if her Fibromyalgia has flared up suddenly which it can do, and then I cram as much work in that I may have before picking Daniel up and coming home cooking, cleaning washing and more. When at college, it can be a real struggle for my mom to take him to school so my dad will help if he’s not already at work but usually I have late starting days.
Since lockdown my family and I have been on two paths; either getting along or not getting along. There isn’t a real reason for this other than that we all end up becoming sick of one another, however I wouldn’t change my family for anything in the world (actually I’d probably swap them for some chocolate or something some days). Since covid-19 shut down the schools I haven’t been to school or work and neither has Daniel; this has been very hard on him as he is very into routine, so the only ways to distract him is to take him out for walks, play outside with him, teach him lessons that he enjoys or specific subjects, for example he loves learning about ancient Greece or ancient Egypt.
Covid-19 has had a big impact on my learning too, as normally we are given work sheets that we will go through in lessons for our next assignments and then go over them or start them in class. However due to the coronavirus pandemic we haven’t had any of these sheets or help and we have to find them for ourselves instead. Teachers don’t often reply to emails either so when doing our work we just have to assume what we are doing is correct. This can be hard.
It is also extremely hard some days to find even five minutes to myself without having to care for or help the people I live with. Usually if I need to get work done, I will do it around lunch time as I can feed everyone and then I’ll have a while to do my work. Before the covid-19 outbreak I was able to get work done anytime at college and at home on my days off, but looking after Daniel and teaching him and keeping him sane has pushed this away, so I have to strategically find time. It can be really hard on some days as well if my mom has a sudden flare up, I will take care of both her and Daniel then, so I may not be able to get any work done at all.
I do feel quite cut off from college as a lot of the work we have to do, we have to fend for ourselves and it can be really hard. Recently I had to copy out a whole booklet as it wasn’t provided in an editable format. It took a long time, and at that moment I felt very cut off.
On the other hand, I do feel very supported by some teachers, such as Helen at college who is always an email away and sends us emails every week letting us know of different things we can do at home such as bonding with family, ways to do meditation and more. This is really effective before doing my work as it helps me to have a clear mindset. I also feel extremely supported by Solihull Young Carers during this time as even though we can’t meet, we have Zoom meetings often.
Daniel also has asthma so I was very scared at the start of the outbreak, especially about going out, as I know he wouldn’t cope. I’ve also been sent my own medication from the doctors. The doctors have been in touch with my parents as well, so this is okay.
This coronavirus pandemic has made me slightly scared for the future as no one knows when it’ll all blow over and we may be stuck at home again and as much as this is fun to spend time with everyone, like Thursday night quizzes, it can also be stressful. Luckily, I still have my job to go back to when it’s all over, however I’m scared for my college studies as I may have to carry on studying at home. It’s also bad as I have anxiety and I often get bad flare ups of that when thinking of my future. I’ve been told to start my UCAS application for university over the summer, which we would normally do in college with support. It’s going to be hard starting it on my own.
Overall, this has been hard on me and my family, however it’s good to spend time with them more than before. For instance, we go for walks, watch movies, talk, play and do quizzes more now and enjoy each other’s presence more than before. For me, the only negatives are the lack of support from some teachers and doctors. However were all still going through the same thing.
Thank you for reading my blog.
Katie, young adult carer