what to do? Watch
A bit of background - This year hasn't been fantastic. I've been struggling a lot with my mental health and have been hospitalised for it on numerous occasions especially during these past months.
I've just started year 13 and I've been living with my elder brother (he's about 20 years older than me) and his family (wife, 2 young kids) for about 3 years now due to complicated family issues regarding our father passing away and my immediate mother left when I was a child. It's been really tough trying to get used to living with them and can often be pressurising due to the chaotic life style they uphold by being both lawyers and having 2 children to manage along side. They have,,, tried their best with me, trying to treat me as one of their own, have done a lot and given a lot despite my issues. Despite this, I still feel very disconnected from them, I feel like a stranger and a free loader in their house, essentially and sometimes I feel as if they also treat me as if I'm not... particularly helpful (though this is perhaps my paranoia speaking) I find it extremely difficult to confined in them for emotional support despite their willingness for me to come to them and even though they want me there, I feel like as if I'm not... necessary. They sometimes make unhelpful remarks in regards to my mental health and advice and I feel like theres also a lot of pressure to go to them and do everything all at once. It often gets very overwhelming and I've expressed this to my brother a few times and I've been told to just stick up with it, which is very well what I try to do a lot of the time. I try to help around with the kids when they need me to to make sure I'm pulling my weight despite already failing to look after myself to seem like I'm not a burden or being ungrateful for what they've given me.
I've tried a lot of things with my mental health, nothing really works or soothes it (I'm on medication as well) There will be bouts where I get better for a while and then drop down lower than before. I've been noticing since my hospitalisation how stressful, overwhelming and strainious it is to be around them and in my own house in the area I'm in (London) in general. My brother tells me to try to tell him how I am otherwise "it won't work out" as I'll bottle things up again. I try to do as they ask to take care for myself, I understand they want the best for me but it ends up being counter productive. One perhaps may think this is the exposure of too many people, but, I've noticed when away with my close family friends in which I have constant exposure with for 2 week felt... better. I could talk to them (the close family friends) easier, something that I can't do with my own family. Even when being home alone by myself for about half a week (which could be considered a risk for someone with my mentality and unstability) I felt okay. I never once felt too overwhelmed or stressed out like I did when I was with them in our house- or during our holiday.
I had the option to move in with the close family friends, but my brother thought it would be best to take me in at the time, which I agree, it was probably the best option. I still have the option to move away now. I realised most of this tonight, about what's been making me miserable even more so. My gut's telling me that I should get away from here, from them. I feel ungrateful for feeling like this after all they've done for me, all they've given to me but I'm not sure whether my mental health can take this environment much longer? I've been... breaking down heavily again. I have to worry about what I would do with my education (perhaps I'd be able to continue myself considering it's a very self-taught course. I do digital design). Whether their feelings and education are more important than my own mental health, stability and safety considering I find it extremely difficult to go to them despite being able to talk about it to others.
I don't know whether I'm being a brat, ungrateful or selfish by thinking like this?
Whether I should just suck it up and continue on knowing very well it'll probably push me over the edge?
I'm willing to think it over and see how I am over the coming weeks.
I'm not... very sure what to do. I know that I'll have to talk to my brother about this eventually.
I'm just. Very confused.
Thank you so much for reading
and any kind of,,, small word or advice in how I should handle and take this would be very much appreciated.
I was really quite touched reading your post. Not that I can say that I know exactly how you feel because I have never experienced your particular set of difficulties, although I definitely had a very hard time with mental health and life in general at around your age and right through my early twenties. What touched me though was your tone and how articulately and even-mindedly you were able to express yourself - my first thought was what a shame it would be if you discontinued your education. You appear to be an extremely bright and intellectually sophisticated individual.
I am also touched by your situation and the hardship you have gone through. I think anybody would agree that you have been dealt an extremely difficult hand in life and honestly I am amazed that you have held your schooling together well enough to make it through to year 13. You really deserve a medal for that. All the things you spoke about in your original post are 100% legitimate and understandable concerns. I was really impressed by how you are able to talk about them and consider things from all angles.
It's really great that you can understand your brothers situation and how much effort he has put in for you, but also what his limitations are given his own personal circumstances. You are not a brat to think the way you think. You are completely entitle to your own thoughts and feelings. Just because your brother has tried his best for you doesn't mean you have to dismiss your own feelings that sometimes what he can offer isn't enough, or isn't exactly what you need. He is a great person and so are you, it's just a bad situation and you are both trying to get through it and make the best of it. It might be said that your feelings in are not dissimilar to what many other young people are feeling, even those who are lucky enough to have a more traditional family situation. Don't go thinking the whole world is against you - it is really quite normal for a young person of your age to be feeling disconnected from your immediate family, or for their presence to make you feel oppressed/claustrophobic.
The advice that I really want to give you is that you should fight on. However, I don't know the nature or the extent of your mental health issues and even if i did, I'm no doctor - I wouldn't want to downplay or underestimate the mental anguish that you are experiencing. On the other hand though (and this is why my gut wants to tell you to tough it out) I think it would be more dangerous in the long run to overstate your difficulties and give up - at your age that could set off a domino effect that could have ramifications far into your adult life.
From the way I understood what you wrote it sounded like moving out of your brother's and into your family friends' place would mean giving up your studies. If that is the case then I urge caution because you seem to have truckloads of potential and therefore I think you should think carefully about waving the white flag and saying "I can't do this". I can only imagine how hard everything is/has been for you and I'm not for one second trying to be dismissive of that but you have to consider how your life will play out if that's the route you take. Will you wake up at 30 and be on sickness benefits or in an unfulfilling dead-end job? Because I would bet if that turns out to be the case then your mental health will be even worse then, not better.
Here's a story about my uncle: My uncle is an extremely intelligent, vastly talented man. He has also always struggled with depression and bi-polar as well as other things. His challenges early in life were IMO not as difficult as yours but non-the-less, his issues were real. The thing is, as time went on he continued to let his demons prevent him from pushing forward and triumphing over them and he became steadily less confident, more bitter about life. And so the excuses continued, and they were good excuses, but excuses all the same. He almost always took the option of hiding away and letting his mental health be an excuse but this didn't actually help him or make him feel better, the issues were always there. He just got older, his potential became less, the opportunities dried up. Now he still has mental health issues and they are worse than ever, only now he doesn't have the hope of a better future because the die is cast for him now and he knows it - he cast it for himself. So now he is almost 50 and he has perhaps another 30 years of knowing he has wasted his gifts... on top of the original mental health issues. My point is actually quite dark and it is this: depression is a ***** and it won't ever necessarily just decide to leave you alone and the more you let it rule your decisions the worse it may get. It's like a snowball effect. I don't say this to dishearten you I say it to encourage you to fight because the other side of it is that at any point your life can take a complete turn around and you can experience happiness that you never thought possible (as has been the case for me). However, these happy turnarounds usually only happen when you are fighting for positive progress and not when you are wallowing or giving in to your demons.
I think that if you finish Year 13 and get yourself a place at uni then you could be out of that situation at your brother's place and off out on your own (which you said you did enjoy when they were away for a couple weeks, risky as it may have been) or you can get into a university which is located conveniently for you to move in with the family friends with whom you feel you might be more comfortable. That could even be a way for you to avoid looking "ungrateful" - you say "I really want to go to X uni and it is much closer to [insert name of family friend]'s house so I'm going to move in there bro" - I'm not sure how feasible that really is but it's just an idea. Also, given your obvious intelligence I'm sure you could get yourself into a fairly prestigious university and have an extremely bright future. Although success and achievement will not make your mental issues disappear it will give you access to other sources of happiness and wellbeing which will offset them.
Anyway I have written a lot now although it feels like not nearly enough. I'll leave it here and see if you reply. These are just my opinions and thoughts and they may be completely wrong. I just wanted to give you my perspective because you seem like a really nice kid and even if I am totally wrong I think just being able to talk about things might help you a bit. Please know that I haven't intended to be insulting or dismissive of your problems, I really just want to help if I can.
First of all, I'd wanted to express my gratitude to you for taking the time out of your day to respond to that gigantic post with an equally gigantic response, it really touched me and I appreciate it so much, you said some really helpful and insightful stuff, so thank you!
I've been thinking about it on and off quite a bit this past week and have concluded that I will continue to push on, as you have advised, for the time being to see how I feel and can cope with my family life and school in general. Perhaps what I was thinking back then was a result of an emotional overload of seeing them too much; having intergrated back into school and my family, back into their lives, I am seeing a lot less of them, to the point I barely see them at all. I suppose that is another issue for another day, however.
I'd also like to thank you for sharing your uncles' experiences, despite the dark point and rather grim ending, it's helpful to see an unhappy ending where things don't work out. I wish him the best he can get.
Regarding my educational standpoint, it's uncertain what would happen if it turned out I wouldn't be able to cope with it all. Again, it is very self-study esque in which we have a lot of independence to self manage which would mean I would function okay by doing work outside of school, however they would probably get rather... iffy about it, considering I'm technically not of age (yet) to leave school. There is also the consideration that I've already decided that I don't want to pursue what I'm currently doing in school regardless (which is Digital Design) and would rather pursue a career in patissire and baking. I would like to gain my qualification but I definitely think it's a matter of just pushing through right now and seeing whether I can cope, considering my mental health can be very up and down and can decline rapidly with no real rhyme or reason on often occasions.
Another thing I have also considered is the fact my brother has asked me about my future plans and whether I would like to try living alone / with other students for my next academic year, therefore I would move out regardless by next year or the year after.
Again, thank you so much for replying and allowing me the opportunity to talk without judgement, it really means a lot.
You're absolutely welcome, I'm really glad you got something out of my reply anyway.
I'm glad you feel like things have settled down and become a bit more bearable at home now that your back at school. Although I'm sure that benefit is slightly offset by the fact that you have to actually go to school haha. But no, seriously, its good that you're doing better.
That is actually a really cool ambition, to be a baker/pastry chef. I think if you are somebody who has a tendency to get down sometimes then baking and making delicious treats all day definitely has a ton of feel-good factor to cheer you up! . I'm sure it would be a really fun and fulfilling career - everybody loves the people who make their cakes and pastries!! I think, judging by the way you write, that you are clearly very smart and so my guess would be that you could definitely do anything that you want in life. But yeah, I think the school/uni route could be a pretty tough road and involve several more years of being in a situation similar to what you're already in. If you started a Bakery apprenticeship then you'd be going out into the adult working world a lot sooner and you might find yourself much happier doing that. School is tough and can grind down anybody's mood, especially those who are struggling with mental health.
I think either way that you choose to go will be the right one for you. I left school early (really early) and did an apprenticeship in joinery and to be honest that did really cheer me up. Was good to feel grown up and be making money and not dealing with any school politics. Eventually though I did get sick of manual work as I consider myself to be a bit of a thinker really and so at age 27 I did an access course for uni and I'm about to go study Law this October at age 29! I guess my story just goes to show that you can do whatever feels right for you and if you change your mind later down the track then that can work out fine too.
Yeah anyway my main message is don't get too down, or if you do then just hang in there and hold on to my assurance that life is going to get much better for you. Honestly I know it sounds annoying and I'm sure people say it all the time but your age is honestly SO difficult.. like the emotions and frustrations and feelings of inadequacy or self hatred or feeling like you don't fit in etc etc etc. You'll soon come to see that life isn't actually as full-on as you think and it's actually really long and there's loads of different stuff you can do and you can find a purpose for yourself that you're happy with and it can end up being pretty chilled out and fun. Anyway I'll stop with the motivational lecturing haha.
P.S. Don't worry about my uncle too much it all sounded very doom and gloom the way I put it but y'know its never too late for him to get his s*** together really. I'm still hoping he will.
Anyway, thanks for your reply to my reply and feel free to post here again if there's anything else you wanna talk about. I'm always up for writing a massive essay on what I think you should do