Young Adult Carer Story, Esther

My name is Esther. I am 18 years old and I am in year 13 at college. I care for my older sister. She has autism, anxiety and depressive disorder and sensory processing disorder. I have been caring for my sister for all my life however she was diagnosed in 2011.

I provide a lot of emotional care for my sister and other family members.

I will take care of my sister when my mum, her main caregiver, is busy or needs a break. My sister requires almost constant supervision and can do very few things by herself. Caring for my sister has made me a much more caring person. She has taught me to be patient and understand that not everybody can do things as easily as other people.

Caring has also affected my mental health. I have had to re-sit a year of sixth form in two of my A-levels as I was really struggling to cope and my school work was not a priority at the time. I was very shy for years as I was embarrassed to leave the house with my sister. I also have periods of high anxiety. My sister sometimes puts a strain on family life because she needs so much care sometimes people can feel neglected and this was especially a problem when I was younger and thought that I was not loved as much as my sister was.

My sister conditions mean we have to be careful of where we go when outside the house. We cannot take her to busy places and eating out is very hard as she is an incredibly fussy eater, because of the sensory processing disorder.

Coronavirus has affected my sister’s mental health. Her medication was increased as she was not coping. At the start of lockdown, I felt trapped. College was an escape, a place where I could forget about what was happening at home and this was taken away from me. As my sister’s mental health improved with the medication so did mine as I was able to calm down and my anxiety levels decreased. I have started running as an opportunity to get out of the house for a little bit and a place to channel any frustrations.

By knowing about the important role of carers and acknowledging that extra allowances may need to be given will improve the lives of unpaid carers in their local community.

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