If you are a sibling living with a brother or sister with bipolar illness, did you ever need to seek support outside your home?
Growing up in our house was a treat. There was enough drah-mah oozing out of our walls to win an academy award (“and I would like to thank my imaginary friend, Peter Alice, for supporting me…”). Had my 2 younger siblings had a proper diagnosis of Bipolar illness, things may have played out differently.
With the older of the two younger (you following me here?), it was always a new school, a new theft, a new court date, another day at the family therapist. I never enjoyed telling a complete stranger that I often felt we should have been more Brady-like, that I often cried because the Brady bunch had it better. That little therapy trip didn’t last. I do remember that sibling having a ginormous heart, always wanting to give gifts. Pay no attention to the fact that the monies used at Jonny’s Sport Shop for candies before school came from the purse of the unknowing mother. He assured me she “gave” it to him. Who was I to argue? It’s CANDY, people!!
This went on for years. I can’t remember precisely how old I was when he finally did get help, but I do remember visiting day. I brought “Oh the Places You’ll Go” as my gift. You see, we were tight….as tight as siblings could be. And I was there to remind him that I would do my damnedest to fix it if I could. And I still would.
As to the youngest of the two younger, it was a mystery until this blog was birthed. I remember the day she was born. I was 10. The bet as to whether or not she would be a girl or a boy had been placed by her siblings that morning. (I’m quite certain the older of the two younger didn’t INTEND to flush the car keys.) The girls won. YAY. I can remember a night that my mother left her crying upstairs to retreat downstairs and cry on my dad’s shoulder saying that she “just didn’t know how to do it anymore.” I tip-toed into the room, and hushed my new little sister to sleep while playing with her little head of hair. I did that for years, too. (I wonder, does she remember?)
It was my now my self proclaimed job to fix everything for her, to keep her from hurting. I don’t know how good of a job I did, after all, I was 10 years older. In her preteen years, I would force her to sit down and tell me why she was upset, for I couldn’t just leave her to her misery! She HAD to tell me, I might be able to fix it. I do that with my own children now, I make them talk. And they do. I have learned, however, that I can’t always fix it.
My methods are a bit unorthodox, and maybe it’s because of not knowing how to help my siblings growing up. Maybe it’s the Dysthymia in me talking. I just wanted to fix the broken hearts. In our society today, Bipolar is no longer a hidden concept. Nor is it an illness without helpful channels for those with Bipolar and those who are dealing with a loved one’s illness. In my book, there is no longer a stigma attached. (I’m all for voting in mandatory therapy…I like to talk) I may not be able to fix it, but now, I am quite certain I can find someone out there who can help me try.
Post written by Marybeth’s AMAZING sister, Theresa. The woman formally known as Trixie is married to a handsome woodsman, has three beautiful children and a horse big dog. She lives way too far away from her family in the beautiful state of North Carolina. She loves all things sewing and even made my daughter a GORGEOUS First Communion Dress. Needless to say, Theresa is awesomesauce! You can read more about her and her fabulous thoughts at Threads of a Gypsy.
A big thanks to her for writing this AND for getting me through my teen years. LOVE YOU!!!