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my little sister has just been diagnosed with depression and I have no idea what to do

hi, I guess, I'm not sure how I should start this but here goes.

I'm 16, almost 17 and I have this great younger sister who's a year and a half younger than me, she's 15 right now. she's had anxiety in the past and I've helped her through anxiety attacks, but she'd been doing really well at the moment, I thought. She seemed so happy at school, she rows and loves it. she's got a little fun crew of friends that she loves and my whole family felt really good that she was ok. I'm in VCE this year, so my mum was happy that she could focus on my stress at the moment because my sister was doing so well.

 

Recently though, she had an almost falling out with some friends, it was no big deal and it was nothing and they're all good now, but she asked tp go see her psychologist again. anyway, she went, and I actually had forgotten it was today, but after my maths tutor left, my sister was running the dogs with dad and mum told me that my sister's psychologist told dad she has depression. Mum said the psychologist had told dad some stuff that my sister said that upset her too much to tell me. none of us had any idea, we thought she was not just fine but really good. Mum and I both cried. mum's so scared. I don't know how we managed to miss it so much. I understand that she hid it from mum and dad and that she didn't want them to worry, but I'm her big sister. She's my best friend and I should've known. I should've realised something was wrong. I didn't. I let her down.

 

I know she doesn't want to tell me about it but I just don't know what to say to her. I feel like she's isolating herself from the whole family, but she will do stuff with mum and dad to make them feel better. I just want to fix everything for her but I know I can't and I hate that. what can I say to her so she knows that I love her and that I care about her so so much? 

Re: my little sister has just been diagnosed with depression and I have no idea what to do

Hi @bigsister.

Firstly, you sound like an absolutely amazing sister. 

 

Depression is... complicated and hard to describe.

It can make you think things that aren't true, and feel things that don't seem to make sense.

For some people, it can make them feel like no one really cares about them, or like they aren't worth being cared about, even though it's not true.

Or it can make someone feel like their problems are a burden that they want to protect the people they love from.

There are a whole heap of reasons why someone might hide their depression from the people they love, and who love them. 

 

People with depression can become way to good at hiding our feelings. I used to spend ages in front of the mirror, practicing fake smiles and ways to hide that I'd been crying. No one noticed I was depressed at first because of how well I was hiding it, not because they didn't care enough.  

You did not let her down by not knowing.

Unless you can read minds, how would you have known?

 

Let her know that you're willing to help her (in whatever way you can, you need to care for yourself as well).  I'd suggest not trying to force anything. If she feels like you're trying to make her confide in you, or like you're trying to push a solution on her, it might just make her retreat even more. 

You might have more success just letting her know that the option is open, and remind her that if she needs anything then she can come to you.

As for telling her how much you care, make your words honest rather than beautiful. You could even say just what you've said here, that you love and care for her so, so much. Sometimes it's easy to get so caught up with how to say something that it hides what you're trying to say. 

Your words won't have to be perfect for her to understand. 

Re: my little sister has just been diagnosed with depression and I have no idea what to do

Hi @bigsister! Welcome to the forums!

That situation is really tough. Smiley Sad I have gone through similar things with my family members who also have depression and other mental health issues and I have also had depression myself. It can be really hard when it comes out of the blue, especially when you think they haven't been having any symptoms recently. Sometimes people can act as if they are happy when they really aren't. They can also be very good at hiding signs of a mental health issue. We shouldn't blame ourselves for not seeing the signs. Remember, we can't read people's minds. If we dwell on these things and get overwhelmed by our feelings ourselves, we won't be able to support our family members as much.

It can also be really hard to understand why family members don't confide in you or why they have these kinds of thoughts. Perhaps she didn't want the stress of her situation affecting your VCE, or wasn't sure what to do about it.

I think it's a good idea to talk to her and say, 'I'm here for you if you need me. I will always care about you and love you.' If you don't feel like talking to her, you could write a note. I feel like if someone had said that to me when I was depressed, it would have made me feel supported. This article is about when your parent has a mental health issue but it has some good advice for talking to a family member with a mental health issue. Another way to support her is to come with her to her psychologist appointments, with her permission. You don't have to listen in on the session but you can meet up with her afterwards. Maybe you can both do an enjoyable activity afterwards, such as going shopping or getting something to eat. One of my family members and I like to share self-help resources, such as apps, techniques and other resources. You can find a lot of these on the ReachOut website, such as in the 'Tools and apps' section.

Make sure you also do some self care and look after yourself. Supporting a family member can be really tough and take a toll on your emotions. This might be a helpful article. Heart

Re: my little sister has just been diagnosed with depression and I have no idea what to do

Beautiful support from @WheresMySquishy and @Tiny_leaf Heart

 

How are you going @bigsister - did you want to update us on how things have been this week? 

Was any of the above helpful for you? 
Were here to keep listening if you need Heart

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