Phoebe, 11, looks after her mum, Heidi, who has cerebral palsy which is a condition that affect a person’s movement and ability to maintain balance and posture. Heidi also struggles with anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
Hi, I’m Phoebe! I’m 11 years old and I care for my mum. My mum has cerebral palsy (which is a condition that affects a person’s movement and ability to maintain balance and posture) and also struggles with anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
A lot of the care I give mum is making sure she is ok, giving her a hug and emotionally supporting her. I worry a lot about mum when I’m at school in case something bad has happened to her like her falling over and hurting herself. Rather than hang out with friends after school, I often give mum a call to check she’s alright and often rush back to be with her. I sometimes help with the cooking and helping out around the house as well.
It’s not just during schooltime that I worry about mum. I can struggle to get to sleep because of the worry. This often means that I am tired too. I can over-think what could happen and this makes me feel even more anxious.
Luckily, my friends are really supportive. They listen to me and often help me out. I try and keep in touch with my friends online so I don’t miss out as much when I can’t be with them in person.
My granny is also always there for me. Granny regularly calls both mum and I to check in. She’s also there for me if I ever want to chat something through.
I also try to do things like expressive drawing, watching art videos and listening to different music to try and relax.
School can be tough. The teachers don’t really understand what I’m going through. If I’m late in, as I’ve been helping mum out, I often get told off. Some of the staff at school are really understanding but others make me feel like I can’t speak to anyone about what I’m going through. They just don’t get what it’s like to be a young carer. I feel frustrated that some teachers don’t understand what I’m going through and this makes me feel lonely.
One of the best bits about being a young carer though is how close I am to mum. We spend a lot of time together and we try to do nice things when we can. We’ve been learning to bake together which has been fun. I’ve also learnt some really good skills for when I’m older like cooking. I also really enjoy going to a youth group and young carer groups in Dorset.
My advice to other young carers
The best piece of advice I can give to a young carer is don’t ever let your worries get you down. Be happy with who you are and what you do. Talk to friends who listen and talk to someone that you trust at your school. I also think that young carers should be proud of what they do.