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Forums / Supporting family and friends with a mental health condition (carers) / Help- supporting a sister with depression and anxiety

Topic: Help- supporting a sister with depression and anxiety

8 posts, 0 answered
  1. carter_new*
    carter_new* avatar
    3 posts
    18 August 2020

    Hello there,

    I am currently supporting my sister who is dealing with depression and anxiety. I am very grateful she is seeing someone but at times I am afraid she may do something as she is at home by herself most time. I am struggling to maintain my own mental health, as I am emotionally and physically tired. As her big sister, I worry all the time. I wish I could take the pain away but I can't. This has unfortunately stemmed from a number of things for my sister due to COVID, failing relationship and the significant death in our family 2 years ago. I just struggling to support her and don't know what else to do.

  2. Tommyy
    Tommyy avatar
    1 posts
    18 August 2020 in reply to carter_new*
    Hi Carter,

    It sounds like you have a big job supporting your sister and on top of that you have your own mental health to worry about. That's a lot to carry by yourself. The first thing you need to do I think is to seek support from others to lighten your load.

    Support can come from two avenues. Professional support and support from family and friends. I'm not sure whether your sister is already receiving support from a psychologist. If not, she obviously needs to seek this immediately. As a career of someone with a mental illness, you are clearly under a lot of strain and perhaps you should find help of this kind too.

    Secondly, you need to find others around her who will take on some of the load. If she is overly reliant on you, you will receive more burden than you can possibly deal with. Don't keep this situation a secret but put the word out that your sister and you, need support. It's difficult during COVID obviously, but a regular call or a text can help your sister feel that she is not alone.

    When you are caring for someone suffering from a mental illness, it is easy to feel that you are failing. You are not. You are doing amazing. You deserve a break though. Make sure you are looking after yourself and being kind to yourself.

    Best of luck.

    Tommyy
  3. LS128
    blueVoices member
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    LS128 avatar
    15 posts
    18 August 2020 in reply to carter_new*

    Hi carter_new*,

    First, welcome to the forums and I hope that you are doing OK in what are challenging times.

    Dealing with family members, friends or loved ones who are going through depression and anxiety can be incredibly testing as you can sometimes feel like you are flying blind. However, from what I can see, you do seem to be supporting her which is a wonderful thing for you to be doing. Unfortunately, there is not a perfect fit on what works for each individual, but the fact that you have said that you are there for your sister is the biggest thing that you can do. Do you know if she has confided about her emotions with any other family members, friends or loved ones? I have included some resources below that might hopefully be of assistance in helping others.

    https://www.beyondblue.org.au/personal-best/pillar/supporting-others

    You should take comfort in the fact that your sister does seem to me making the right moves by seeing someone else and not putting all the burden onto yourself. As much as we want to take away the pain, this can sometimes be a multi-step process. What is true though is that you are proving yourself to be an important step on her journey.

    I am very sorry to heat that you are struggling with your mental health and are noticing that you are feeling emotionally and physically tired. When you are going through the challenge of supporting others, you should also make sure that you are carving out enough time to look after yourself too. This could be something as simple as some mindfulness exercises to make you feel more relaxed, or ensuring you are getting enough fresh air and light exercise to clear you head especially if you are having some challenging conversations in supporting your sister. It is important that you support yourself in this time also.

    In case you aren't aware, there are some resources available besides these online forums if you ever need to chat to someone confidentially. This includes the online chat function that is available 3pm-Midnight daily AEST and the 24/7 Beyond Blue hotline 1300 224636. More detail below should you need it.

    https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/get-immediate-support

    Of course, we are always here to help on the forums, so please write back with any questions you have or if something else comes up. I hope what I have said is useful to you.

    Warm Regards,
    LS128

  4. carter_new*
    carter_new* avatar
    3 posts
    18 August 2020 in reply to LS128
    Thanks. However why do I feel like the bad guy? I work full time and support her financially currently. I’m struggle to balance my life and being there for her.
  5. LS128
    blueVoices member
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    LS128 avatar
    15 posts
    19 August 2020 in reply to carter_new*

    Hi carter_new*,

    It is good to hear from you again and I hope that you are having a good day.

    Without knowing more about the situation, I can confidently say that you should not be feeling like the bad guy. To think of the situation objectively you are holding a job with a stable income, you are supporting your sister emotionally and you are supporting her financially. That is a lot to juggle for any person.

    May I ask what feelings do you have that make you feel like a bad guy? You are going through a stressful time juggling multiple financial and emotional commitments which understandably can make you feel tired, but you are by no means a bad person.

    Perhaps at the moment you are feeling some contradicting emotions. On the one hand, you feel the pressure to emotionally and physically support your sister and are perhaps worried it might not be enough. The pressure this creates can be immense where you want to feel that every action you do for her will be perfect because you have fantastic intentions. What you need to remember though is that you are doing your best, you are there for her and you are being a good person.

    Please write back if you have any more questions, as I would like to hear from you. Even if it is just to express your feelings. We are here to help.

    Warm Regards,
    LS128

  6. carter_new*
    carter_new* avatar
    3 posts
    19 August 2020 in reply to LS128
    My sister is alone most days except I am at home in the afternoon and evenings. Weekends I try to spend with my partner or doing something for me. Which means I might not be as available. If I try look after myself it is seen as selfish which I know might be the depression talking. I think being the only person right now, I am taking a lot of the brunt of her emotions
  7. LS128
    blueVoices member
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    LS128 avatar
    15 posts
    19 August 2020 in reply to carter_new*

    Hi carter_new*,

    Thank you for writing back so quickly. First, looking after yourself sometimes is not selfish in any way. We all need to take some time out for ourselves to make sure that when we are focused on work, studies or being there for others that we can be there for them. If we don't, it is easy to burn out. So you are definitely doing the right thing by setting some time for yourself. Do not feel bad about it, and this definitely does not make you a bad guy.

    It is very tough when a family member is going through depressive episodes and you are the person that faces the brunt of these feelings. To reflect on my own past experiences, I always noticed I would confide in the same person. However, like your sister, I did go and seek help on this as I realised it was not a sustainable position to be in. You mentioned that your sister is alone most of the time. Perhaps it might be worth encouraging her to reach out to friends to take her mind off things, or even just encouraging her to get some good activities in each day (even something as simple as going for a walk).

    I hope the above has been helpful in trying to make sure you are not feeling an unnecessary burden. As always, please write back if you have any other thoughts or questions.

    Warm Regards,
    LS128

  8. Jane Loz
    Jane Loz avatar
    2 posts
    22 September 2020 in reply to carter_new*

    Hi Carter,

    I am in the exact same boat as you (I'm the big sister too!). We have an incredibly close bond; and although she hasn't indicated she will harm herself; she has been suffering depression for 4 years now and I find myself extremely nervous that the smallest thing will tip her over the edge. I find myself stressing over the smallest things - whether she seems in a sad mood, whether she is sleeping in later than usual, withdrawing from me, etc. It's extremely anxiety inducing and it's hard to work out if my constant fear is justified, or just because I care so much for her/ struggling with anxiety myself.

    I completely understand where you are coming from and how overwhelming it is! What has helped me is actually seeing a psychologist with my sister, and trying to relieve the pressure I feel to be there for her onto other family members - not sure if you have other family members that are there too support?

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