Get information and advice - Coping with feelings
When your brother or sister is affected by mental illness, you may have a lot of different emotions, which change with your experiences, from guilt, anger, resentment and anxiety, to hope, sympathy, love and understanding.
It can be difficult to cope with the mix of emotions you may feel as the sibling of someone experiencing a mental illness. Siblings have told us they sometimes feel:
- fear about what has happened to their sibling and for the future
- guilt around leading their own life or about the emotions they are feeling
- loss and sorrow for their sibling and relationship as it was before
- anxiety brought on by family stress and tension or because of worry for the safety of their sibling
- hope for the future
- compassion and sympathy for their sibling and how they are feeling
- angry or confused about their sibling's behaviour when they are unwell
- unsure about the level of support they feel they should, or can give to their sibling and family and how to balance this with their own needs
- resentment for the amount of time and attention their sibling gets from their parents
- sadness that their sibling is struggling with a mental illness and worried about their future happiness
- pride for their sibling, their family and themselves when coping with mental illness
I sometimes felt angry and frustrated with my brother's behaviour, but then I would feel bad because I knew that he was suffering and that it was because he was unwell. I worried that he wouldn't be able to recover and start enjoying things again.
Accepting your emotions
Many siblings find it difficult to face the complicated mix of emotions they face when their brother or sister is unwell. A fear of being selfish and admitting to your own needs and concerns can sometimes get in the way of talking about these feelings, or a fear of burdening others with worries.
Your emotional needs and mental health are also important, and accepting your emotions and discussing your feelings with others can be a good way to work through your feelings and come to understand them.
It can help to talk to close friends or family about how you are feeling, or you might like to talk to other siblings to share your experiences. Reading about how other brothers and sisters have coped can also help.
Need practical advice & info? We can help.
Contact our Advice team about mental health & related issues
0300 5000 927 Monday - Friday 9.30am - 4pm, not including bank holidays