It's easy to look at the situation with a negative viewpoint, wishing that you had grown up in a different family, a "normal" family. But one thing that I've realized over the years, is that there is no such thing as a "normal" family anywhere. Every family has some little niche that makes them different than every other family. Every family has their own struggles in life that make life just a little bit more difficult.
The one thing that I've found to help myself through my family's struggle is to look at my brother, Kyle, in a positive light. I think about how lucky I am to be in the family that I am, because it ultimately brings us closer together. We rely on each other to keep pushing through the tough times, and even though we certainly have our arguments, we always have each other's backs in the end. Another positive aspect, is how mature children are that have siblings with special needs. We are forced to become more responsible for things around the house, and have to learn to become more independent quicker than most children. There are many other positives to growing up with a sibling with special needs, but the most important thing that you can do is to focus on these positives rather than blaming your sibling or your parents for the hardships you've had in your life.
Another thing that I learned later in life, is that talking to other people about your feelings really does help. When I was younger, I would always blow off whatever I was feeling because I didn't want to burden my parents with my problems nor did I feel like any of my friends would understand. But, this past year I opened up to a couple close friends about just how bad my brother’s situation had become, and it really helped to just let out all my feelings. And if you don't have any friends that you want to share it with, then there's always your parents or guidance counselors who would be more than happy to listen and to give some advice on dealing with your stress.
Growing up with a sibling with special needs is difficult, but in the long run, it makes you a stronger person for it. So just try to keep a positive attitude and know that you are not alone!
More from Dr. O
Thanks for sharing your personal story with other teens. It is so important for all of us to know that we are not alone in our struggles, even though sometimes we feel like we are. Asking for help and support is never wrong, and there are many people out there that care about each and every one of you and are eager to help.