Hi. I’m a 14 year old girl. I tend to talk to friends about this sort of stuff, but one suggested that maybe coming here would be a start to taking a stand on some of my problems. So anyway, I have a really, really crazy family. There’s always a lot of screaming and shouting around. I probably wake up to a “battle” one or two days a week.
The trouble is usually between my 12 year old brother and my dad. My brother has a few different mental health issues, the main one being autism. This went untreated until last year. He is still considered high functioning, but he has a very hard time with a lot of “easy” things like getting ready on his own or eating foods with different textures. My dad gets extremely upset when issues like fits or breakdowns occur and he sometimes gets violent. They both go at each other hard. Sometimes one or both of them will have scrapes or bruises from breaking furniture or decorations in the brawl. And though it happens rarely, my brother does try to take a butter knife at someone he’s mad at or even on himself if he’s really upset (I’m usually the one who disarms him in that situation). My parents have threatened to call crisis a few times when this has happened, but they never follow through on the threat.
I try to stay out of it as much as possible, but it is really scary to me. Sometimes I will have panic attacks that go unnoticed because of the ensuing fight. I don’t really have many trusted adults as I’ve just started at a new high school and no family lives nearby, but I am trying to find someone I may be able to talk to about the situation. It seems to be getting a little better since my brother has been able to go to a therapist for some of his issues, but as he gets bigger, I’m scared that he’s gonna get out of control. Thanks for any help you can give.
- Thank you for sharing your story and being so honest about not only your family’s situation, but also how it is impacting you! We are so glad that your friends recommended TeenCentral.com as another potential support that can help young people who are dealing with some tough situations, just like yours.
- It is encouraging to hear that you and your family are trying to help your brother manage his mental health concerns. Still, if there are ever times in your life when you are feeling unsafe in your home, please do not hesitate to reach out for help. If there is any immediate danger, please contact 911 or your local authorities. On the Help Page of TeenCentral.com, there are also lots of great resources like the Crisis Textline that you can reach by simply sending “HELLO” to 741741. Instead of seeing it as something negative or even threatening, calling for additional support from a crisis line can actually really help to make a situation much safer for everyone.
- We are really glad that you seem to be open to talking to friends and other trusted adults about what is happening in your life. Although your brother has his own concerns, do not forget that your mental health and safety are just as important! Please do not accept that your feelings may be overlooked or try to manage your fears on your own. Continue to use your voice and share your own thoughts and emotions with others who are there to listen and offer you the support that you may need to manage the stresses in your life.
- In most families, there are often issues with communication that can lead to misunderstandings and arguments. TeenCentral.com has a great Tool called Social Skills that includes helpful tips on how to try to navigate some tough interactions without it ending in chaos. The last page may be particularly useful as it provides several suggestions for avoiding power struggles, deescalating crises, and repairing damaged relationships.
- You mentioned that there are times when the conflict in your home can lead to your own feelings being overwhelmed. When you experience your panic attacks, do you ever take time to focus on what is happening with your physical body? Sometimes when things seem beyond our control, focusing on simple things like regulating our breathing can really help! If you want to read more about these topics, the Learn Tab has a great section on Anxiety and the What’s New Blog includes an interesting post entitled “Calm Your Breathing – Anxiety Help.”
- It seems obvious that you care a great deal for your younger brother and you seem to share the responsibility of trying to help him manage his mental health. When we are so concerned about others, we often forget to take care of ourselves and our own needs. What do you do for self-care? Whether it’s physical movement, artistic expression, or a preferred hobby, these activities are so important to include in our daily routines to maintain our happiness. Remember that we need to give ourselves the same care and attention that we give to others!