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I feel trapped by my depressed sibling

I have a sibling with depression and ever since I was a kid I had to make exceptions I was expected not to talk back when they were rude or unkind. Forgive them for their behaviour all the time even if they are 7-8 years older than me. Even now that we are both adults I’m expected to tip toe around their needs and wants. I’m getting tired of not being able to do what I want in my own house that I help pay rent for. Whenever I do what I want it’s always a problem for their anxiety or depression and they don’t want to be home alone but I don’t want to baby them. I don’t want to stay home all the time and they are not my child. I shouldn’t be looking after someone who won’t cook for themselves or do any cleaning up of the house and I know depression sucks and I seriously feel bad for them. But it’s also a huge strain on the people that are forced to support them. I’m 21 I’ve been supporting them since I was 11 that’s 11 years that Ive has to give up for someone else, I want my own life!  I dont want to continue being a baby sitter for someone that refuses to help themselves any tips on how to handle this situation? Because it’s driving me mad if I have to sacrifice another thing that I want for them ugh. I just can’t stand it anymore.


Re: I feel trapped by my depressed sibling

Hi @Yolk

That sounds incredibly hard... it kinda sucks how depression can affect whole groups of people..


Firstly, it might be good to separate needs and wants here; as well as "can't" and "won't".

For example; it might not be that they won't cook or clean, but that they are literally unable to.

It might be that they need someone else at home to keep them safe.

It might not be that they won't accept help, but that specific help is inaccessible to them for some reason.

That said though, you need (and deserve) to be treated with respect, to have the time and space for self care and to have a chance to take control of your own life. And like you've recognized; this is really important for your wellbeing.

It sounds like it's extremely hard to make sure you're both getting what you need at the moment...


Have you and your sibling worked on setting boundaries at all?

That might be a good way to at least set up a framework and let you both identify where your needs are clashing.

It sounds like you've really tried to respect your sibling's boundaries, it's important to make sure that they at the very least acknowledge and understand yours, and to avoid crossing them just to satisfy wants.


Where you and your sibling have conflicting needs, both of you might have to work together to find a way around it.

If your sibling will not even try to work with you on this, I'd suggest looking after your own needs first, while giving your sibling a way to get their own needs met where possible.


The way I start those conversations is to state how I'm feeling

(eg. "I feel like there's a lot of pressure on me here and I'm getting overwhelmed.")

Explain what I can do for them

(eg, "I can help you distract yourself if that would help,")

Explain what I can't do for them and set a boundary

(eg. "but right now this conversation is too much for me, and I need to look after my own problems as well.")

And then give them some other way of getting that need met, so that they aren't left without any options

(eg. If you really need to talk this out, maybe you could call a helpline)


I know that this won't solve everything, but it might let you keep your sanity long enough for you and your sibling to find a longer term solution.


Re: I feel trapped by my depressed sibling

@Yolk  I think that issue is really tough and tricky. Smiley Sad I can relate because I've experienced similar issues in my family.

What do you think is the biggest issue? Is it your parents' expectations that you should devote your time to looking after your sibling and change your behaviour for them or are you having issues with the sibling?


Re: I feel trapped by my depressed sibling

Hey @Yolk Smiley Happy


It sounds like you have taken on a lot of responsibility in looking after your sibling. I can definitely understand why you're feeling like you want your own life and that you want to be able to do your own thing without worrying about how it may affect your sibling. 


I agree with @Tiny_leaf that boundaries are super important. Do you think setting some boundaries with your sibling is something that would work for you?


Re: I feel trapped by my depressed sibling

Hey @Yolk and thanks for sharing part of what's been happening for you. I can see that several users have made some suggestions, particularly around boundaries - what do you think of those?

It sounds like you've almost taken on a caring role with your sibling, and I can imagine how difficult that must be.

Just wanted to check in and see how you've been the past week or so Smiley Happy 

// Spiral outward, keep going. //