My Brother is Dealing with a Lot Medically and Emotionally

Published: January 17, 2017
Dear TeenHealthFX,
I am sad because my brother who is 2 years younger than me has this really rare condition, plus a handful of mental illnesses, and has tried all medications, therapies, and even hospitalizations, and even with all of this stuff, nothing has helped him stabilize for more than a few months and we can't even really give him help anymore because even specialists and professionals don't even know what to do at this point and are just sort of sending the message that he can't be treated, only managed. This breaks my heart because he's never going to be a regular kid. It's not bad to be different, but I just feel so horrible. He's completely unable to face his fears, all medications and therapies either don't work or make him worse. He has no friends. He constantly has to spend time in the hospital because of seizures, behaviours, or more. My parents and him are constantly told they aren't trying hard enough and as his big sister it's just so hard for me to see him like this. Honestly sometimes I cry at night because I'm so upset that we've tried everything and nothing has worked and his life has to be this way. He goes between saying it's okay and he can handle it to having a breakdown and asking no one in particular why things have to be this way. I don't know how I can help my brother. I know you will say he needs help, but that's all we've been getting him, and after the almost million dollars and time we have spent in the fifteen years he's been in our lives, our healthcare system has given up on us. I want to know how I can help him, just make his life just the tiniest bit better. Please respond soon. I'm desperate
Signed: My Brother is Dealing with a Lot Medically and Emotionally

Dear My Brother is Dealing with a Lot Medically and Emotionally,

TeenHealthFX wants to start by saying that it is completely understandable that you are feeling sad about the medical and emotional issues your brother has been dealing with. FX can imagine that it’s been very painful for you to watch him suffer. You may be feeling sad, angry and perhaps even helpless about what he is going through. FX can also imagine that you are feeling angry with the healthcare system and the professionals who you feel have been blaming your family rather than providing the help that you wish they could.

Because FX does know what specific medical and mental health issues your brother is dealing with, we cannot know if other treatment options are available that have not been tried or if this is a situation where the best that professionals can do is to help you and your family find ways to manage the situation. Either way, it sounds to FX like increased support is necessary.

TeenHealthFX thinks it would be very helpful for you to be meeting with reputable therapist, such as a clinical social worker or clinical psychologist on an individual basis and/or with your family. There are so many feelings you are dealing with right now, it would be helpful for you to have a space to express them and, in time, find ways to manage them. It would also help for you to have someone who is able to empathize with what you are going through. It sounds like your experience so far is to feel blamed, so FX thinks it is particularly important for you to be meeting with a therapist who you experience as warm, empathic and non-judgmental. If your brother is dealing with conditions which can only be managed at this point in time, it is also important for you to be talking to someone about how to manage living with this, which can be a very hard thing to do. Sometimes the more we focus on making something go away, the more we are aware of it and the more it hurts as opposed to finding a way to co-exist with that thing regardless of how difficult or unpleasant that thing is.

In addition to therapy, FX thinks that you (and perhaps your family members as well) could benefit from meditation. FX can imagine that these thoughts and feelings about your brother could be very consuming and perhaps even overwhelming for you. Mediation helps us temporarily find a space behind all of our emotion in order to find some peace and to give ourselves a break from whatever we are dealing with. It might be a very useful tool for you. You could check with your family doctor or school counselor to see if they know of any classes being offered in your area, as it would be best for you to start out with some personal instruction as you first learn how to meditate.

FX feels for what you, your brother and your whole family is going through right now. The difficulty of your situation is clear, as is the impact it is having on all of you. We do hope that you reach out for help with this soon so that you can get the support you need in dealing with all of this.

If you live in northern New Jersey and need help finding a therapist you can call the Access Center from Atlantic Behavioral Health at 888-247-1400. Outside of this area you can log onto the US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website for referrals in your area. You can also contact your insurance company to get a list of in-network mental health providers or check with your school social worker or psychologist to get a list of referrals in your area.

Signed: TeenHealthFX