08 Nov 2016
Elenya is a 29 year old university student who is studying her final year in psychology. Following the death of her father as well as her grandparents, Elenya found herself in a carer role at the age of 23; having to care for her mother who has a diagnosis of major depression and needed a significant level of care and support. Spending a lot of time caring as well as adjusting to these sudden changes took a toll on Elenya who felt lost and alone. Elenya says, “I lost friends, felt isolated and I was struggling to deal with all the changes that where happening”. Between studying, working and caring for her mum, Elenya states that she had “lost herself” and even though she knew she needed support she did not know what else to do or where to go. Things became even harder for Elenya after she turned 25 as most young carer services at the time worked with young carers until the age of 25. During this time Elenya was struggling to cope with her carer role and felt she had a lot she was “bottling inside”.
Things took a turn about 3 years ago when Elenya eventually came across information about the Carers Hub run by Life Assist in Hampton. Elenya states that she was initially hesitant and anxious as she did not know what to expect. She describes how she would turn up and not be involved in activities as she did not have the confidence. Reflecting back Elenya says, ‘it was the patience and continued encouragement from the other carers that gave me confidence to get involved”. Elenya started participating in various activities at the hub and overtime became actively involved in art and gardening which are now amongst her favorite hobbies. She describes how she found both these activities therapeutic as gardening gave her a feeling of accomplishment and art was a way she could express her feelings and emotions in a creative way.
Engaging with the Carers Hub as well as other carer supports available through PIR had a significant positive impact on Elenya health and wellbeing. Elenya says she was “able to be herself again”. She reports coping better with her carer role, improvement in her studies as well as improvement in dealing with other day to day activities. Elenya also reports a great improvement in her relationship with her mother who she was able to attend the Carers Hub with and how they both developed an interest in gardening. Elenya has taken up both gardening and art at home and has produced amazing work in both areas. Elenya is now supporting other carers as well and has run numerous art sessions teaching other carers various art methods and techniques. All this has ignited Elenya passion to be an advocate and to speak up for other carers who are facing various challenges and obstacles to get the support they need to enable them to care for their loved ones. Elenya has been approached to be involved on an advisory board as a carer by one of the local organisations, an opportunity she is looking forward to and hopes will be the first of many others in her future.
Looking back, Elenya states that, “being involved in the carer’s hub was one of the best things to ever happen”. Elenya encourages other family and carers who are experiencing various challenges to utilise the supports available to them.
If you are a carer and would like information on services available, you can speak to the support facilitator working with your loved one.
You can also access more information for family and carers and the various services available through the mental health compass website here.