Chyna in your hand

A carer’s story

Since passing her GCSE’s with flying colours, Chyna Jeffers is looking forward to a bright future.

However, she believes she wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for her mum, Michelle – who also happens to be her full time carer.

“My mum saved my life when I was suicidal” Chyna, 17, explains. “She watched over me 24/7 when I was having a low time, and I don’t think I could have got through it without her”.

A single parent, Michelle is a mother first, and a carer second, supporting her three children who live with a range of health issues including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, type 1 diabetes, severe eczema, asthma and agoraphobia.

As well as caring for her children, Michelle also looks after her mother, who suffers with heart problems, arthritis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (a lung condition).

Michelle said “There are definite benefits that come with caring for a family member, and the most prominent one is the compassion that you naturally give to your own. Also, the experience of knowing your own children, with unconditional love at the heart of it, is second to none.”

Chyna added: “Mum knows me best and can monitor my moods and how I look physically, so if she can see deterioration in my health she can support me immediately to prevent me from having a relapse.”

Chyna was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, has a congenital birth defect and was born with only one arm. This means that as a parent, Michelle has to provide additional care to ensure Chyna takes her medication at regular intervals and is supported through personal crises.

She also helps her to dress, encourages her to get out of bed and calms her down when she can’t sleep.

Due to the demands that carers like Michelle face, it is recognised that often they, themselves, need support.

As a round-the-clock carer, social lives can be disrupted and carers can often feel isolated.

Home Group’s Birmingham Carers’ Service provides support for people like Michelle, offering help and advice through peer networks and dedicated support workers, helping to change lives and transform people’s future prospects. “I feel like the pressure has been lifted and stopped the lid coming off my head” Michelle said of the Carers’ Service, "Knowing that someone is there who cares and will listen has made my life easier. And I now know that I am not alone."

For further information about caring for a family member, visit www.carers.org.