Reality Revisited: Am I A Carer?

First posted in March 2019. We have grown so much more than we ever thought we would, and we want to share our earlier posts. We aim to reflect on the early struggles of our grief, and what we went through without our mum. We are proud of where we have come from, and of where we are going. We hope you are as well.

If you are struggling with your grief, that is okay. You are not alone.


Before my mum’s diagnosis in 2011, I was a daughter and a sister. I had friends and a social life. After my mum’s diagnosis my role changed, and it never really went back to normal. The changes were minimal at first. I began taking on more and more responsibilities at home in order to look after my mum after her operation or treatments. For example, in the beginning, I would just have to make sure Mum didn’t make her own cup of tea because she wasn’t allowed to lift anything over a certain weight due to increased risk of lymphedema. But that didn’t matter, everybody makes a cup of tea for their Mum. I also had to help out in the kitchen more often than usual, I didn’t mind though, I liked helping.

In the thick of Mum’s treatments, she had many bad days when she was often too tired to get out of bed. These “bad days” were becoming more and more often and, soon, making the odd cup of tea turned into making dinner for my mum and younger sister most nights too. My mum and I were extremely close, I’d do anything for her to support her while she was so fragile and vulnerable. I was her emotional confidant and she was mine. But I was only young and I couldn’t juggle it all. Eventually, I started missing classes to go to Mum’s hospital appointments and my college work was suffering. Often, I was too tired to get up in the morning because I couldn’t handle all of the pressures that I was confronted with in my life. But I didn’t care much about that because at least my mum and my sister were being taken care of.

Now, looking back and writing this post I can easily identify the period in which I became my Mum’s carer. That isn’t to say that I was no longer my Mum’s daughter or a sister, but I had more responsibilities than most people my age and didn’t know anyone who was in the same position as me, and no one to talk to other than my mum.

Unfortunately, I didn’t realise that I was a carer until September 2018, when my younger sister got in contact with Bright Futures.

It didn’t make sense at first. How could I have been a carer for such a long period without having realised? I think this is the case for many people. Like I said, the changes were minimal at first, and you really don’t mind because you’d do anything for your family.

When my sister and I registered ourselves as carers we realised that there was a lot more support available to us than we previously thought. We underwent a simple over-the-phone evaluation, where by we described our situation to someone who was able to tell us what kind of support was available to us.

We received:

  • A transition worker, who is still a huge support today!
  • a carer’s card to alert anyone that someone is at home waiting for us should anything happen.
  • counselling through Counselling for Carers
  • financial support towards a swim pass so we could keep exercising! (Evee also received a carer’s allowance which she will write a post about!)
  • money towards a weekend away!
  • a bursary from my university to help with travel expenses.
  • contact with Balloons– a charity that provide Pre and Post bereavement support.
  • A message in a bottle that you keep in the fridge with all of the details of the person that you care for. Should anything happen, emergency services will look in the fridge for these details and know exactly what is needed.

Looking back now, I can’t help but feel sorry for 16 year old me when I think of how much I struggled silently throughout college and university whilst trying to juggle home-life responsibilities as well. I loved my Mum and I was good at looking after her, but being a carer for seven years changed me, I lost a lot of confidence, and my identity suffered. Had I known to register as a carer sooner, I would have been able to receive the support that I desperately needed.

I would have been able to stay younger for longer, and I would have been able to enjoy being my Mum’s daughter, that’s enjoyed being the most. If you think you might be a carer, I have left some useful links below which talks about your rights as a carer because you are still a person, a son, a daughter, a sister, a brother,  a parent, you.


21 thoughts on “Reality Revisited: Am I A Carer?

  1. Yes, I did not see myself being a carer in my teens at the times I supported my mum too. Also even as a young adult, I still did not see myself a carer. I just automatically helped without thinking, which I bet that’s what you did, because you were just happy to support and help where required.

    I am only using the word carer for the first time this year. But seeing myself as a carer still feels strange. Although I do acknowledge I am a carer.

  2. You took on an enormous responsibility in a beautiful and brave way. Im so glad your sister and you were able to get the support you needed at the time and I hope you continue to receive support. Your posts will help a lot of people. ❤️

  3. This was very sweet, I love, how you took on such a big task of helping your family, with such grace and compassion.
    A lot of people, can sometimes forget about the care-giver behind the patient, but giving care to a physically failing and ultimately fleeing loved is a trying vocation; that deserves alot of empathy and support.
    Glad, you found away to make your profession into a career. This blog could touch meany, great work! 👍🏻♥️

  4. In my opinion, you may have struggled, but you did so in strength. You didn’t let it break you, which I feel gave you the confidence [silent and subtle though it was] to keep going, and to keep giving. Whose to say you can’t accomplish all you have as a 16 year old? My guess is that you were born with an old soul.

    I suspect you’re still young enough to experience life’s more pleasurable moments, while also gifting others in need of support with your story. The word “carer” is only a 🏷 label. You are a first-rate daughter, and to me, that makes you blood royalty!

  5. I’ve been through a similar thing, moving from being just a daughter to being my moms caregiver. Thank you for this…I’ve never been able to explain this feeling to anyone.

  6. 💜 My Mom, Sister and Brother ARE ALL Angry OverCareTakers Too EveryOne; please Be Careful and Recover Sooner rather than Later


  7. I am curious about the note in the bottle in the fridge? How would EMTs or others know to check THERE for instructions? This is new to me, but the sense of it makes good sense up to a point. If something happened that hospitalized someone, surely the fridge would be one of the first places people would look, if nothing more than to make sure stuff was not spoiling.

    1. Hey thanks for your comment! I couldn’t understand it at first either! I’m not sure if it’s nation wide or just an initiative in Devon. If I remember correctly you put a sticker or notice on the front door that emergency services would see which would inform them to check the fridge for your emergency plan!

  8. I am proud of you and your struggles. It is tough being a sole carer as I am now with 2 seniors. Difference is my parents only have me and whilst I have 2 siblings, they cannot be bothered. You take care and stay strong.

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