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Old 23-06-2018, 07:22 PM   #1
The Shadow of the Day
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Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Scotland
Helping someone with undiagnosed MH problems/Stepping back from distress

I am 100% convinced that my brother could formally be diagnosed with depression and anxiety. He doesn't seem keen on seeking help and says he doesn't like talking about things. He is generally miserable and pessimistic about everything. I worry a lot about his distress because I know how bad things can feel. I feel powerless to help him and I'm worried that he won't get himself any help and he will suffer continuously. I have no idea what to do and people keep telling me it's not my responsibility to sort things out for him but it doesn't seem right to sit here and do nothing while he could be in a huge amount of pain and feel unable to reach out himself.

I am probably unhealthily attached to my brother but he is the only person I have a close relationship with and I have always tried to protect him from bad things as we were growing up. Now that he's an adult I can see that he can do things for himself but I can't let go. I get very distressed easily when bad things happen to him or when I imagine bad things happening to him. I've been trying to tell myself that me getting worked up thinking about him isn't doing anything to help him and I need to try and keep myself calm but then I end up telling myself that he isn't getting a break so why should I?

The two main questions I'm asking are how can I support my brother to get whatever support he needs, and how can I stop myself from becoming overly distressed and obsessed about his well being?

I put it down on paper and then the ghost does not ache so much.

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Old 23-06-2018, 10:36 PM   #2
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I'm sorry that this is a short reply. I just wanted to say that I'm thinking of you, because I'm in a similar situation with my Mum (though she is getting suport) and it is hard. I guess what I am trying to focus on is that me staying well is the best thing I can do for my Mum right now, so I have to detatch myself a bit. I can still care, but I can't get obsessed with how she's feeling etc. It's the same for you. The best thing that you can do for your brother is to stay as well as possible.

Sending a hug.

“Our defeats are softened and our victories are sweetened because we did it together.” - Toby Ziegler.

This isn't everything you are.

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Old 24-06-2018, 01:39 PM   #3
The Shadow of the Day
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Thanks Aubergine. I'm so entwined with my brother that how he is affects me so much. I don't want him to be hurting and it seems like there is nothing I can directly do for him. It's scary to know he is a separate person and I can't reach in and grab his pain and deal with it for him. I'm trying to stop my worrying thoughts in their tracks or let them continue but then float away but it's not practically helping my brother. I can try and relax but my relaxation is doing nothing for him, other than not adding additional worry to him. I need to rescue him. Someone needs to rescue him. I should be doing something, taking action. He is a person I care about and he is in pain.

I might be starting therapy again and think it would be good to work on my relationship with my brother/worries etc but again I think that it's not directly helping him so why should I try and find relief? It's all about me. I have no power to make things right for him.

I hope you and your Mum are doing ok Aubergine.

I put it down on paper and then the ghost does not ache so much.

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Old 24-06-2018, 03:03 PM   #4
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You have to do things for yourself as well as him. Aubergine is right - the best way to help him is to look after yourself. It's not selfish at all. I think everyone can understand that if your head is not in the right place it makes it so much harder to deal with other people's problems too.

Is there anything practical that you think you could do to help him out?

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Old 25-06-2018, 12:15 AM   #5
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I'm sorry you're struggling so much with this. I can understand to some extent how difficult it is. I have similar feelings about my dad, though I don't think I struggle with it as much as you are at the moment. I do know it can be incredibly difficult though.

I don't find it as bad now as I used to, so I hope that gives you some hope that it is possible to take a step back. I think when I was a kid I didn't really understand that my dad was a whole other person and there wasn't necessarily anything I could do about his issues, and it took a long time to really believe that as an adult. I know that I managed to take a step back and recognise that his problems are not my problems and his pain isn't mine to carry, but I don't know exactly how that happened. Even now there are times I have to keep reminding myself that I'm not responsible for whatever is happening. So I guess, try that - whenever you notice yourself getting really worried about your brother, tell yourself that his problems aren't your responsibility. Even if you don't believe it initially, keep telling yourself.

I think that working on this stuff in therapy would be a really, really good idea. I hope that you have the opportunity to do that. I understand feeling that it isn't making it any better for him directly - but it isn't making it any worse either, and it might have a positive impact on your relationship which I imagine would be good for both of you. So try it and see? Whenever I have started therapy I think I've always felt like it was wrong for some reason and something I definitely shouldn't do. But I didn't feel that way in the end. Maybe you will find the same.

In terms of helping him - is there anything that he likes doing or has enjoyed in the past? Anything that you've done together before? Just, it might be nice for the two of you to spend some time together that isn't focused on mental health or the problems he's having at the moment.

Sorry, ramble! Sending love your way. I hope things feel a bit more manageable soon.

"I know you're sad, so I won't tell you to have a good day. Instead, I advise you to simply have a day.
Stay alive, feed yourself well, wear comfortable clothes, and don't give up on yourself just yet.
It'll get better. Until then, have a day."

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Old 25-06-2018, 05:06 PM   #6
The Shadow of the Day
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Thank you both.

I keep asking my brother if there's anything I can do for him and he says no thanks. My bigger worries about him were triggered after he was pessimistic after a chance to do some work experience was taken away through no one's fault. He text me a couple of days later and I had asked if he needed anything from me and said that I think he needs to reach out for support, and he said is he not allowed to feel the normal emotions of disappointment and sadness? I totally understand that people react in really negative ways when things go wrong at times but I think he does feel bad generally and not just in response to a situation. I can't think of anything I can do that he would enjoy, he does some social things with his friends and flatmate and his partner but I'm not sure how much he really wants to be doing them. I have offered him financial support in the past but he is often reluctant to accept it and waits until he is in dire need of money. He knows I'm here to listen if he needs to talk but he doesn't talk about things with many people because he says it doesn't help. Plus I have reacted badly in the past when he has confided in me because I have been so terrified for him and upset. I know he is responsible for himself but I worry that he won't reach out for help if he needs it because he might not feel able to, therefore I should do something. But I also get that he says he doesn't want to talk to people etc and I have to respect that decision and not try and force things on him that he might find unhelpful.

My CPN is always telling me how she cares about her younger brother and worries about him etc but that the difference between me and her is that she can let go of her worries and doesn't feel responsible for her brother. I saw my CPN today and she had met with my previous psychologist but he doesn't think I need to start therapy again at the moment because I'm in a bit of a crisis point and he's going to give my CPN some values based stuff to work on with me, so I don't think I'll get to explore head on this worry stuff right now anyway. My CPN has mentioned that I seemed to absorb everyone's problems when I was working on the wards and that I do feel a great deal of empathy and pain for people so I guess it's not too surprising that I'd be more distressed and concerned about my brother.

This post has actually just been a big lot of words, sorry.

I put it down on paper and then the ghost does not ache so much.

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