*Trigger Warning: This post contains a discussion of self harm and self destructive behaviour. If you are affected by this post then please seek professional help.
I went to speak at a Young People’s Mental Health Awareness Day event on Tuesday (January 12) at Northumbria University. I spoke about how being a carer has affected my mental health.
I talked about my story, but I focused on how it has affected my mental health.
I wanted to post an excerpt from my speech for Thoughtful Thursday.
It hasn’t been an easy ride but I know that my mental health problems haven’t been helped by my caring responsibilities.
The constant interaction. The constant mood swings. The constant emotional, physical, social and mental drain.
It has taken its toll.
Being a carer has not been easy on my mental health.
I believe my symptoms started to show when I was 14, but no-one listened and no-one cared. I had no friends to talk to and no-one asked me.
By this point, my caring responsibilities were a normal part of my life.
I didn’t know I was a carer until the age of 18. I was isolated and alone. I got on with it.
It’s nice to ask someone “do you look after someone at home?” It’s a simple question which could lead to a worth of answers that can save someone from developing a severe mental health problem.
I’ve built up the resilience. I’m the strong one.
It’s not a burden to me but it bears down on my shoulders.
It’s a lot to take on emotionally as well as trying to get on with other areas of life – education, work, relationships…and so much more.
Looking back I presented with a lot of signs that indicated that I had mental health problems. They came and went but there were signs there. I was distressed a lot, very emotional, constantly anxious, had panic attacks and had physical scars I’d created. I could go on.
But remember, no-one noticed.
It isn’t easy being a carer.
It is contradictory.
- I constantly worry about myself, my family and friends.
- I constantly have negative thoughts. In the time it’s taken for me to write this, I’ve had over 50 negative thoughts.
- I’ve experienced self-destructive behaviour in the past. I’d learnt that it was the only way to let things out physically.
- I worry about my health because I’ve worried about other’s health for most of my life.
- I have sleepless nights.
- I cry myself to sleep.
- I get nervous around other people.
- I have a lack of social skills sometimes because I’m too anxious.
- I judge myself far too much.
- I worry about what others think of me.
- I’m a perfectionist.
- I have little confidence (even though I’ve been told I shouldn’t).
But most of all I’m a carer.
I hope you like this little excerpt of my speech. I can post the full speech if you wish, although some parts will need to be edited as they are too personal for me to post.
I wanted to post this to give you an insight into how being a carer can affect someone’s mental health. I’ve been a carer for over a decade now. I started caring at the age of 11, so nearly half of my life has been enveloped by my caring responsibilities.
You can ask me questions about my experience, if you wish! As you can see, I’m pretty open about it!
You can ask me questions below in the comments or on my social media.
Has caring for a family member or friend affected your mental health significantly?
Do you have a question for me?
Let me know below in the comments or on my social media accounts.