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FAMILY VOICES

Family from Whangarei

 

My children have grown up with an older (now adult) brother who has lived with a traumatic brain injury all of their lives.  Saying this I feel the younger children have ended up being young carers within the family by default.  This is not an official role I would like to give them but they have all grown up being their brothers' friend, helper and a second pair of eyes on their brother, innately acquiring skills and responsibilities beyond their years.  They have grown up to cope with their brothers' challenges and mood swings which affects them on a daily basis in so many ways. 

Having a family member with a TBI is often a very lonely, isolating journey for our young carers to navigate. Their joys and sorrows, the added stresses, the resentment and perceived guilt they live with along with discovering themselves and who they are and what they want amongst it all.

I am constantly tired and burnt out and rely on my children to step up when they are able to help.  There is no handbook and I am sure that my ‘kids’ would say there are things I could have done differently to make it easier for us all.  If only I had known at the time.

Family from Whangarei

Family from Auckland

My children have all been young carers looking after their father with his traumatic brain injury (TBI).  

I watched them trying to help their dad, but I saw them suffer from their dad mistreating them.  They developed anxiety, schizophrenia, and bedwetting.  I decided to leave my husband with my children.  My 16-year-old daughter was left emotionally shut down and suffered from anxiety after looking after her father.  She had never met another person who had lived with a person with a TBI.  She would never opened up to counsellors and kept it hidden inside.  When she attended Camp Unity, she finally met others who had experienced similar situations and realized she was not the only one who was struggling.  She opened up and broke down.  She said for the first time she felt safe and understood.  She finally talked about how hard it has been and shared her story. 

She is now attending counseling and I finally feel she can talk about things.

Fam from auckland
Family from Rotoz

Whānau from Rotorua

My son had a motor vehicle accident that left him wheelchair-bound and non-verbal.  But the ripple effect was felt by us all.  We were a very close family so the decision to move back to NZ to help look after their brother was a no brainer.  The youngest became what we call a young carer.  As a mother, my focus was on my son, and I did not realise the impact it had on my girls. 

My oldest struggled with her own little family and helping where and when she could.  My youngest was 15 at the time and I didn’t realise the impact it had on her until she opened up to me after her 21st birthday.  My heart broke as she showed me her scars from where she had self-harmed, how she had meddled with drugs and alcohol to numb the pain, and how she had lost herself. 

I felt like I had failed her and blamed myself.  If I had known the impact it had on her then I would have tried my best to change things.

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