Death, Depression, Family, Grief, Siblings

How Many Siblings Do You Have?

(Just for reference I have a younger brother who is 11 years old and an older sister who is 21 years old )

How many siblings do you have? It’s a simple question that surprisingly comes up quite a lot in conversation. Whether you’re on a date getting to know someone, in general chit chat/small talk or at a doctors appointment, people for some reason feel the need to ask you about your siblings and if you have any and how many. I don’t know why they can’t stick to talking about the weather or other neutral topics… I do understand that it’s what we’re grown up to ask and that it’s polite but maybe we need to start teaching people to think that maybe the person they’re about to ask has lost a sibling and that asking that simple question might not be so simple for them.  

It’s a question that a lot of people don’t have a problem answering but to us bereaved siblings it’s a reminder of everything that we don’t have, have lost and of the brother or sister who has died. As soon as you hear those words it’s like a punch to the gut and it feels like your heart is being ripped out of your chest; well that’s what it feels like for me anyway.

Whenever someone asks me that question I always freeze and start to stutter out words that make no sense or look at them and start to cry because I never know what to say.
What do I say?
Here are my options that I have come up with:

  • That I have 3 other siblings
  • That I have 2 other siblings and one died
  • That I have 2 other siblings and leave Chase out of it completely and don’t mention him at all

Is it disrespectful to Chase if I don’t mention him at all though? But if I say that I do have two other siblings and that one died then they’re probably going to want to ask me about it and how he died. The problem with that is that I then don’t know how much or how little to tell them and what I should and shouldn’t say about the whole thing. When people ask me how many siblings I have they sometimes also want to know how old they are and if they’re younger or older than me.  Chase died when he was 5 so if I do decide to include Chase in my siblings when answering the question do I say the age he was when he died or the age that he would be now if he was still alive? He would be 9 if he was still alive today…

So many sub-questions for what would seem like an uncomplicated and easy question to start with and to answer… 

Losing a sibling is such a different experience to losing a child, it’s a different relationship that no one will ever understand except you and your sibling.
I feel like I not only lost my brother, but I also lost my best friend and partner in crime when Chase died and reliving everything that happened if someone asked me how many siblings I have and I include Chase it will just be too painful to have to do that and to try to keep myself together.  It’s too painful to think about let alone say out loud.

I wish there was a handbook that could tell me how to grieve and what I’ll feel and what to say in situations where I don’t know what to say. My Mum says that it’s a good way of remembering your sibling and that might be so, but for me, it just makes me really sad and brings up all the grief feelings to the surface that I try to bury down so I’m not consumed by them everyday. 

It’s incredibly tricky and confusing to know what the right answer is and I just don’t know what to say… Maybe one day I will figure it out but at the moment whenever I get asked I’ll probably still freeze and start to stutter out words that don’t make sense.  

If any of you reading this post have lost a sibling and get asked that question what do you say and what’s your answer to the person asking you? Let me know in the comments. 

Keep safe,
Maddy xoxo 

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Chronic health condition, Depression, Doctors, Exhausted, Family, Grief, misunderstood, Mother and daughter, Tired

Behind The Mask

Behind my mask I am struggling everyday and I am trying to be the strongest that I can be.

A lot of doctors have no idea about mental health illnesses like depression and anxiety. It astounds me when a medical professional (especially if they’re in the mental health field) says or does something completely wrong knowing that you are mentally ill. 

I had an appointment with my gastroenterologist the other month and it was the day after Chase’s birthday or death, I can’t quite remember… Anyway so I was obviously more upset than normal and crying more, so I went into his office and had my appointment and told him how I’m really struggling at the moment and he only said ‘Well of course you are’, yeah that’s fine whatever, but when I went back two months later, I had been having a really hard time and feeling suicidal the week before the appointment so I went in and he asked me how I was going and I said ‘not good at all actually’ and he just said ‘well you look like you’re doing a lot better which is good’ and mum was with me this time and she spoke up and said ‘no, she really hasn’t been doing well and she’s really struggling’. Bob (my gastroenterologist) cut her off and argued with mum saying that I look like I am doing better and then I spoke up and said ‘just because I’m not crying doesn’t mean I’m feeling any better.’ Bob just stayed quiet and ignored that and went on to ask me about how my gastro symptoms are going. I felt so belittled by Bob and like he didn’t understand mental illnesses at all. It was a really horrible moment.

In the past a similar thing has happened and it was even harder because it was in a special mental health school. The teachers’ always thought that because I had smiled or laughed that day I was automatically not depressed anymore and they would treat me differently. My case worker saw that and understood how I was feeling, so quite a few times he had to remind those teachers that just because I smiled or laughed doesn’t mean I’m all better now. Sometimes I feel very  misunderstood by doctors and it’s really hard to understand because they’re medical professionals and you would expect them to have at least done a psych rotation at medical school right? 

The other day mum was at the doctor and a couple of days before mum’s appointment I saw that doctor. Mum has her appointment and the doctor tells mum that I’m doing quite well and I look like I’m doing good; or something like that. 
Just because I have clean clothes on and I brushed my hair doesn’t mean that I’m not struggling every day. What do doctors expect a depressed person to look like? Do us depressed people just have to walk around in our pyjamas all day with knotted hair and not having washed for a month? Or do us depressed people not get out of bed ever? But then how are we meant to go to the medical professionals to get help? And if we stay in our pyjamas all day not caring about self hygiene or stay in bed all the time and we do go to the medical professionals for help, they say that we’re not helping ourselves and making ourselves worse by not getting dressed and brushing our hair! So really, it seems that we can’t win. 

A month ago I got into a really bad depressive slump and I was very suicidal and nearly ended up in the pysch hospital again. My mum called my psychologist because she was worried about me and didn’t know what to do and my psychologists answer was to take me out to lunch! Because when I’m feeling like killing myslef because I see no reason to live, the only thing I want to do is go to a busy place for lunch and hang around outside! No, what I actually want to do is take my medication that knocks me out and go to bed until I feel like I’m not going to harm myself. When my psychologist said that, I felt so… I don’t even know what emotion I felt! I honestly couldn’t believe she had said that.

You kind of lose faith in the medical system when people who are meant to help you say such unhelpful and ignorant stuff.  

 I feel like I have gotten very good at hiding how depressed and hopeless I am. I’ve had to implement my poker face since Chase died. No one I have ever met has seen through it and seen how much I am struggling. It’s so tiring being so strong all the time and keeping my sh*t together. I just want to stay in bed all day where it’s warm and I don’t have to worry about anything outside my bedroom. I don’t know who I am outside of being majorly depressed, anxious and chronically ill.
I go to my appointments and I get dressed and I have showers and brush my hair and brush my teeth and wash my face, I do all this stuff and just because I do it, it doesn’t mean that I’m suddenly not depressed and mentally stable. 

I am broken and I will never be whole again. There will always be a part of me missing that Chase took when he died. I will always be grieving and some days it will be too hard and I WILL stay in bed all day and cry.
Being strong is good but breaking down is also good. I can’t always be strong.

I don’t know what the doctors need to see that I am struggling. My anxiety and depression are overwhelming a lot of the time but I keep going because it’s the only choice I have. I’m so sick of doctors and their small minded ideas of mental illnesses.
If doctors want to see me when I’m at my lowest then come on over to my house and watch me cry myself to sleep and cry so hard I start hyperventilation or I cry so hard that I feel like I’m going to throw up or see the look on my face when I think about everything I struggle with every day or the nosies I make because I’m so sad and I just want to die. If they want to see that to prove to them that I am in fact not doing well and depressed then they can.
I keep myself together so I can help mum because she can’t lose another child. I am struggling and I just want people to see that and acknowledge that and not assume that because I’m smiling or laughing I’m not dying inside. All I want is to be understood.

Behind my mask I am struggling everyday and I am trying to be the strongest that I can be.   

Keep safe,
Maddy xoxo 

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