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Charlotte’s* story


Looking after a someone can significantly affect carers' mental health. The Mental Health Foundation state that 38% of young carers report having a mental health problem, yet only half report receiving additional support from a staff member at school. This shows that more needs to be done to both identify and support carers at the earliest opportunity to enable more carers to thrive both in their caring roles as well as their personal lives.

Here, Charlotte* shares her experience of being a carer for her mum alongside her own journey to getting a diagnosis for autism whilst also struggling with depression.

Charlotte's* childhood

I first became a carer for my mum when I was around 10 years old. My mum was first diagnosed with depression and more recently, diagnosed with Complex PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Mum also struggles with a physical disability.

Growing up as a young carer, I struggled to connect with mum. People think of a mother-daughter relationship as the mum being the person you rely on and go to when you are finding things tough or you need advice, but for me and mum, it has always been the other way around. I also struggled balancing caring for mum with my own depression as well as with juggling school work and an unusual home life, and would often fall behind with homework, with a lack of support from school.

After coming home from school, my sister and me would cook dinner every evening, do the dishes, help with laundry as well as anything else that needed doing. On top of that I was used as mum’s emotional sounding board, being relied on for advice about friendships, work, relationships, and problem solving.

Asking for support

This all meant that my own struggles went unnoticed and undiagnosed for a long time. I first sought help from a GP when I left home for university. Since I was 13, I had been asking to go to the doctors for an autism diagnosis, which was met with responses like “you’re not autistic, you’re just different”.

"There are no words for the gratitude I have and the effects the recognition of my own struggles have had on my life. I am now in full time work, with a much less demanding caring role with my mum."

I have been able to set boundaries, and better communicate when something has been said that has hurt my feelings and identify why without questioning whether I am the issue.

I feel that the support I have missed out on could have shaped me into a different person, and drastically improved my attitude toward education, friendships, and relationships. I hope my story resonates with someone and can help someone in identifying that just because you care for someone else, it does not mean you should stop caring for yourself.

Advice for other carers

"If you are a young person or adult who cares for someone, ask for help, go to your GP, find out who your care provider is in your local area, because it could change your life, like it has changed mine."

You don’t have to be struggling to reach out for support, but knowing who to contact when you are can make all the difference.

*Names have been changed to protect privacy.

Online Help and Advice

Visit our online support section where we have provided advice and guidance on a range of relevant topics to help you in your caring role.

Online support