There is nothing quite like a sibling bond! Being raised among siblings greatly transforms one’s childhood and everything that follows. Siblings are, more often than not, a child’s primary playmate and an adult’s oldest friend, but sibling connections can play out in changeable ways with unpredictable mind results too. Indeed, the quality of mind health in sibling relationships is one of the most important factors determining their innate connections. And that connection makes siblings impact each other’s mental health.
It is more about the ease that is felt when you sit in the same room with your sibling, in total silence, and yet you both understand how the other is feeling. It is about picking up right from where you left off, even if it has been weeks, months, or years since your last conversation. It is more about the knowledge that, at the end of the day, you will always be able to call on that person for support. This ability to intuitively understand the other and their unequaled bond could positively or negatively impact their emotional and physical well-being. For example, the mental illness of one sibling can have an impact on the other’s quality of life.
A multifaceted mental illness unavoidably impacts everyone in the family. Siblings indirectly affected by their brother or sister’s mental health may experience a complicated range of emotions, many of which are stressful and may require extra effort to overcome. When a child of any age is identified with a mental illness like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, it can automatically alter the life of the other sibling both emotionally and physically.
1. Try to balance their need for support with your responsibilities
2. Be an empathetic listener
3. Be compassionate
4. Praise the positive
5. Educate yourself
6. Reaching out for help as it can mitigate their suffering to a major extent
While parental support can be helpful, having a sibling upholds the mood and behavioral symptoms of the depressed one, and can help the anxious sibling in powering through their problems instead of being trapped by them.
Through providing emotional support and opportunities for socialization, siblings can have a constructive effect on the stage of recovery and restoration of the depressed one. Having a sibling with mental illness is not completely a negative experience. There can be positive aspects too. For instance, a sibling may feel more empathetic and tolerant of others who experience mental illness, or they may fruitfully reconsider their life through deploying a positive attitude. In most cases the relationship tends to get closer, lending to a stronger sibling bond, an amplified resilience, unified working, and more family support. They tend to gain coping skills and knowledge through their experience that can be used to benefit their own lives.
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Furthermore, it may lead to new prospects and life directions. In cases where the mentally upset sibling may feel it impossible to deal with their anxieties, the other can always come to the rescue by considering a therapy session. The sibling can make them understand that counselling can help release their pain, making it easy to function, and can also encourage them by participating in the sessions.
Relational trauma undergone by a sibling tends to impact the other, whether you prefer to get involved or not. Encourage treatment, work on your relationship together, get other family members involved, and take care of your own emotional needs, to ensure both of you are healthier and restored.
On that note, here’s wishing everyone a Happy Rakshabandhan. It’s all about taking care of your siblings, every day.