My sister

My name is Beth, and I am 16. One unique thing about me is ever since I was a little girl, I have always dreamed of being able to go to space. Although I’ve never wanted to actually become an astronaut.

I have been caring for my older sister for just over 2 and a half years. My sister requires care because she is severely autistic and has several different mental illnesses that require constant supervision.

I care for my sister because there is no one else that is able to. My mother has a serious illness too.  On her good days, she uses her energy to go grocery shopping and to pay the bills. There has been many nights, lying awake thinking of leaving home but she’s my sister and I know I can’t.

Each morning I wake my sister to get her ready for school. I make her breakfast, pack her school bag, write out her schedule for the day and make her lunch. Just like me I’d imagine other young carers would also have to help around the house, by doing many different chores.

My sister can be very aggressive at times. She can be physically abusive, threatening and very scary to be around at times. Obviously she doesn’t mean it and is just lashing out.

Being away from my sister makes me feel somewhat uncomfortable. My biggest fear is not being able to  find her when I come home. When I am at school or out, it does gives me a little break from her but it is never gives me a rest because I’m always thinking of her.

I am always questioning myself. “Did I leave any knifes out? Did I lock away her medication after I gave it to her? Did I leave my razor in the shower? Did I leave a box of panadol on my dressing table?”

Being a carer has changed my life because I have had to experience things that none of my classmates have and I hope nobody ever has to. A prime example is on my 14th birthday, I woke up at 2am to find my sister collapsed on the floor of her bedroom with empty pill packets everywhere. I then went to school that day, having to put up with classmates claiming I missed first period because I wanted to sleep in.

Because of my caring role I am unable to build lasting friendships. I am friendly to so many people at school but I lack a really good, trusting friendship with someone. There has been many times I have had to cancel on plans because my sister has gone into hospital or my mother needs my assistance at home.

Being a carer has taught me patience. A lot of patience. Never judge someone. You don’t know their story and you haven’t experienced their life and their struggles. My piece of advice to my fellow young carers is never give up. You’re doing great. Amazing, even. Keep going!

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