I care for my Mum and I’m 19 years old. As you may have guessed from the title…I’m Kira!
I’m not sure when I became a young carer but I was really, really young. My first memories of my Mum’s illness are from around the age of five. My Mum used to take me in my pushchair to a café in town for tea and cake. We used to get the bus or walk but then everything changed. My Mum stopped leaving the house, she often stayed in bed all day and as a child I spent a lot of time in front of the telly from then on.
So my Mum had a ‘mental breakdown’. Social services came to our house and everybody was worried about us kids. I sometimes feel they should have worried more about my Mum than us… but I’m so glad they referred me to Gloucestershire Young Carers – this was nine years ago! Since then my Mum has been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and Rheumatoid Arthritis. There have been ups and downs, arguments over her manic highs, hospital admissions, exams and attempts at a normal teenage life.
In September 2016 I moved away and started my degree at Cambridge University which was scary but I can now honestly say it’s the best thing that ever happened to me. It’s the freedom which is amazing; I’ve never had that before. Life feels very different and I can do what I want, I can see new friends, binge-watch Netflix series and work without distraction.
It’s hard to put into words what Gloucestershire Young Carers have done for me. I couldn’t really talk to anyone else about my family, even therapists as they didn’t understand. Meeting other young carers made me realise I’m not alone. The staff at Gloucestershire Young Carers really understand what young carers are going through – some of them have been carers themselves – and they never judge.
My ‘story’ was made into a BBC Radio 4 programme called Coping Without Kira which you can listen to here: BBC Coping Without Kira . Since it went out people keep telling me how brave I am or ‘oh my god I can’t believe you deal with that’.
My caring role has never felt unusual as for me it’s just my life.