I found it difficult in the beginning to accept the term ‘carer’. I was just looking after my mum. It really didn’t occur to me that my situation made me a carer. Mum’s diagnosis makes it hard for me to do the things I’d like to do; to have the freedom to do things just for myself. I tried once or twice to broach the subject with my friends at college but I could tell they didn’t really understand and the ones who did looked uncomfortable with the conversation, so I didn’t mention it again. It makes me feel quite alone and I’m not close with any of my friends any more, but then it’s difficult to maintain friendships when there are so many occasions and events I can’t go to because of my caring role. I contacted Richmond Carers Centre when I realised that I didn’t have anyone I could talk to about mum. The Support Worker was lovely and arranged for me to have ten one-to-one mentoring sessions, which gave me time to reflect on my role as a carer, my education and my life in general.
The sessions helped me to recognise some of the challenges that caring for mum had created in my life and we looked at the different ways I might be able to overcome some of them. After a few weeks I felt I had regained some of my self-confidence and signed onto a four-week life coaching workshop held at Richmond Carers Centre. This was great for me as it gave me the opportunity to meet and make friends with other carers. I learned a number of techniques and strategies for use in everyday life, and have since been able to apply some of these strategies in managing difficult relationships and situations. The support I received in my mentoring sessions has helped me to accept and understand different people’s values and manage how they impact my life, and the workshops have given me time away from my caring role to think about things and focus on what I want to achieve in the future. It has enabled me to set goals that I am now working towards, which has given my confidence and my self-worth a huge boost. Before coming to Richmond Carers Centre I was losing sight of any future for myself.