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Caring and social isolation
I've recently become involved in The Mix's Young Carers Awareness project - we are working with Carers UK to raise awareness of Young Carers and Young Adult Carers through the discussion boards and you may have already seen some posts covering other topics around this subject.
A young carer (under 18 years old) and a young adult carer (18-25 years old) is someone that providers care for another person, including friends and family members.
This week's topic is around caring and dealing with social isolation.
My mum has struggled with addiction since before I was born, but I have been caring for her since I was around 10 years old, by assisting my dad with cooking, cleaning, shopping etc as well as giving my mum lots of emotional support. Over the years, my caring role has become more full-on as I became older and my siblings moved away.
My caring responsibilities have always increased at the weekend as I have more free time. However, while I was at school, this meant that I had to keep cancel plans to visit friends and eventually I stopped being invited to events which made me feel very isolated, leading to poor mental health. Even now, as a young adult carer, I can still struggle to balance full-time work, studying, caring and seeing my friends but I had found some helpful ways to break the cycle.
- The coping strategy that had the greatest impact was to tell people instead of struggling alone. I am lucky to have supportive friends who understood my priorities as a young carer and are flexible around my needs.
- I also was honest with my dad about feeling cut off from my friends and this led to us creating a 'rota system' of sorts, making sure we both had a reasonable balance between caring and socialising - we also planned any time away from home well in advance so that we were always prepared in case a crisis occurred.
- I found it quite difficult to find support on my own and there is definitely a need for more publicity about what is available. However, I offhandedly mentioned being a carer to my GP during a checkup and they showed me local resources such as a carer's group. Finding people that understood what I was going through was a huge help and I made some great friends there.
Over to you....We would love to hear if you (or someone you know) have any tips for dealing with social isolation as a carer?