After over 35 years of being a schizophrenic’s sister, I am only now realising what it means to be a schizophrenic’s sister.
The full impact of this wasn’t even something I discovered by way of therapy. It hit me like a lightning all by myself, one fine day.
Yes, my therapist knew I was the sibling of a mentally ill person, and that my emotional issues stemmed from my family situation. But interestingly enough, we never zoomed into the simple fact that I am a sibling of a schizophrenic.
My therapy sessions taught me about the importance of understanding and validating feelings. So as I journeyed into understanding my feelings, I wondered if there were other siblings in my shoes who might have written articles about what they were going through.
So, off to Google I went, and what a revelation it was.
Here are the 3 most important things I discovered:
- It’s not easy to find stories written from the siblings’ point of view.
- If I found any, they were usually by American writers / sources.
- And when I read those, the same feelings, concerns, thoughts were being described by these other well siblings.
The last point is the most important. As the “well child”, we siblings are normally forgotten or invisible. Especially those of us who are doing well in school, in life and so on. We seem perfectly fine, untouched by the crazy that is going on at home.
But to believe that is sheer delusion. There is no way you can have mental illness in your household and escape unscathed.
We siblings usually end up burying our feelings and needs, always believing that we aren’t as high a priority as our suffering sibling.
As a result, we don’t get the right support to deal with our issues and we hardly speak about it from OUR point of view. Even when we talk about it, it’s almost always from the lens of our poor parents or our sick siblings.
So it is wonderfully validating to read the stories written by my brave sibling counterparts. Reading about how they have the same feelings, same concerns, suddenly seemed to lend such an authoritative weight to my thus-far ignored feelings.
If you are a fellow sibling of the mentally ill who has shared your story, I just want to thank you. Because of you, at least one person in this world feels supported and understood.
Siblings, if you’ve been talking about how much your mentally ill brother or sister and your loving parents have had their lived upended and of all THEIR suffering, do yourself and other siblings and anyone who would listen a solid, and speak from YOUR point of view.
Shed light on what it is like to be the sibling of a mentally ill person. Your unique perspective will allow for more awareness of this often-ignored demographic and topic, and eventually to a better understanding of mental health issues among the so-called okay public.
P.S: Feel free to get in touch with me if you’d like to share your story on my blog. I can help you to write them if you’re not comfortable with writing them yourself.