Carers Rights Day 2016 is on Friday 25 November and brings together organisations to help carers across the country. As part of this year's event, Bipolar UK supporter Elinor shares her story of caring for her sister, who has a diagnosis of bipolar.

Carers Rights Day - 25 November 2016

Tell us about yourself

I am 23 and my sister has had a diagnosis of bipolar for about five or six years. I'm also a Carer Mentor for Bipolar UK and my primary role is to listen to people sharing their experiences of caring for someone with a diagnosis of bipolar.

What issues or challenges have you faced as a carer?

One of the biggest obstacles I faced personally in being a carer is not believing I was one. I considered myself to be a sister and a friend who was able to provide support both emotionally and practically. It was only through my work with Bipolar UK that I was able to realise how caring, especially for someone with a mental health condition, can take many forms. Some of these don't fit a stereotypical view of what a carer is. Not believing you are a carer can leave you feeling somewhat isolated and without the knowledge that you can and deserve to access support if you feel you need it.

How do you look after your own health and wellbeing?

I admit that I have struggled in this area, especially when I was younger as I felt I had to absorb a lot of what was going on around me. However, talking to people, especially professionals, has helped me grow and develop to be vocal when I am having difficulties. This gives me the opportunity to get support if I need it rather than going it alone. Also, my work as a Carer Mentor has added to this in that I learn through my work that feeling negative as a carer (frustrated, angry and confused) is okay and natural. It's about having the outlet to express that appropriately.

What advice would you give to other family members and carers?

To seek out support where you can find it and to not be ashamed of feeling the way that you do. They are not bad carers/people/loved ones if they feel like they need space or get frustrated, as long as they get support.

If you're a carer and need information or support, take a look at our services here.

If you'd like to find out more about becoming a Mentor, find out more here.