My brother taught me

I’m Amy, I’m 19 and I live with my mum in Shepparton, Victoria.

I get up and make breakfast. There are times when I help her get dressed in the morning. I make sure she has lunch, and then at night,  make sure she has her medicine. I’m also a carer for my grandfather. He has seizures. He doesn’t actually live at home with us, so sometimes I have to drop what I’m doing and go see him to make sure he’s okay.

I’m all over the place. There are moments when I feel in control and moments when that’s been taken away. On a good day, my grandfather and Mum don’t need to go to the hospital. I’m able to do stuff for me. On a bad day, my mum is having a moment and is really depressed and can’t move. Or she’s really elevated and manic, and I have to try and stop her doing something. I’m her whole support network, so I have to be there all the time.

I’m studying at TAFE, doing hairdressing and make-up. My goal is to one day live over in South Korea and work as a beautician. I love K-Pop.

Mum’s been sick ever since I was a child. But for a while my brother was looking after her. Then he left and moved to Sydney to do uni and I had to step in. I had to drop out of high school to look after Mum. That was the start of my caring role.

Back when I was in high school, there were periods where I didn’t go to school because I was looking after mum. Then I returned after a long absence I explained to a teacher about my caring role.  He actually turned around in front of everyone and said, “That’s no excuse. You’re a wagger”.’ Looking back, I wish I’d stood up to him. Know your rights too. They can’t discriminate against you because you’re a carer. Not every teacher’s going to be like that. A lot of them genuinely want to help. Find those teachers and ask if they can help explain where you’re coming from.

In the early part, when my brother was around, I watched him look after mum. How he handled being a carer. How he talked to doctors, and stayed calm, at least most of the time. Having my brother around meant that when I became a carer, I didn’t have to start from nowhere. I was able to grow by looking at him, and learning from him.

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