Dear Rethink Siblings Network,
I have to be honest I never really thought I needed support for my brothers schizophrenia. I have just sort of bumbled through it for the last 11 years. Then my dad died and I realised how much my parents had protected me from the realities of his condition and now I need to face up to the possibility one day I will be his carer.
I went along last night to a Rethink Siblings Support Group, and initially I just wanted to find out what local mental health support services were like, as the plan is my mum and brother are ultimately going to move to live near me (they are three hours away), I didn’t plan on doing anything else. To be honest I didn’t really want to go as I personally didn’t think it was really necessary for me.
Completely unexpectedly what I actually found from the group was the support and understanding I had been lacking for the last 12 years. It was so good to finally be able to talk about it with people who truly understood and weren’t just offering platitudes. Of the 11 people there 10 had schizophrenic siblings, some further along in the process than me, others just starting out and it was brilliant to be able to share our experiences as siblings, something I had never been able to do before. I did get quite weepy but that is also good, probably a long time coming.
I’m now really excited to be part of this group. I think it will offer me much needed support and I hope I can offer support to others. I think I only properly realised last night that my brother, the one from my childhood, isn’t ever coming back, but it is about accepting, loving and supporting my new brother however hard that is sometimes.
So thank you so much for realising that siblings need support and putting things in place to support us. I have invited an online friend to join the group too and I thought I would write this post to advertise that sibling support exists and just how crucial it is, even when, like me, you might not think it is!
Your latest member,
P.S Currently I am pondering how to blog about my brothers condition without causing any detriment to him. As it stands I had to hide the only previous letter I wrote about it, but this letter was too important not to write and I will work it out somehow. Siblings voices are important too. Possibly anonymous posts or negotiating with him when he is well enough to understand what/why I need to write about it.