Feeling Guilty and Grateful for My Siblings as Someone Living With Mental Illness
Here I am again, sitting in yet another psychiatric hospital, feelings of guilt flooding every inch of my body. I did not want for this to happen. I did not intend to hurt anyone. My head just gets so loud, the feelings become so intense. And then before I know it, I find myself in yet another crisis. I know how much this hurts mom and dad. I know how stressed they get and how much they struggle. I see it with my own eyes, but I cannot stop it. I see how much pain I put them in and how much fear they feel on a regular basis. But I cannot seem to stop.
What I am also seeing now, even though it took me a bit longer, is how much my illness affects you. I don’t want you to think I don’t notice. I don’t want you to think I don’t care. Because the truth is, I do care. Maybe I even care a little bit too much. I have done a lot of thinking, and I have come to the conclusion that this last admission was mainly because I felt guilty. I still do. I feel like mom and dad take all the attention they should be putting on all of us onto just me. I feel as though I steal them away from you, like I take the time they should be spending with you away and force them to come visit me in the hospital. They spend countless hours simply driving here, but even more hours participating in counseling and family therapy sessions. All in the hopes of getting me better. So far, nothing has worked to “cure” me. This guilt led to my last suicide attempt. I was tired of putting you guys through all of this pain.
There are so many letters out there to the siblings of the kids with chronic medical conditions, but I have not found a single one to the siblings of the kid with chronic mental illness. I do not want to be ill, but that is what this is: an illness. I want you to know that just like any medical condition, I do not choose to have a mental health condition. It helped when dad reminded me the brain is an organ too. It gets ill as well, just like any other organ in your body can. I do not choose to be depressed, and I do not choose to constantly have the urge to harm myself, to end my own life. No, the opposite really. I choose to fight these thoughts and urges mainly because I have you to keep me here. I have you to look up to me and you to teach me things. I do not know what I would do without you, but I do know that without you, there would be no me either. You keep me strong, you help me fight. I want you to know that just by being there for me, you help me survive. Just by reminding me you love me, you keep me alive.
For you two and all the other siblings out there, thank you. You keep me strong. You help me more than you will ever even know.
Photo courtesy of the author