Feeling guilty for not doing more

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Hello, a few months ago my sister told me that she had bipolar disorder. she found out when my mum took her to see a psychiatrist when she was 15 (she was self-harming) but she hasn’t told anyone else. she’s now 18 and i’m 14, i can’t tell my parents and i don’t know what to do..i don’t know much about it. she’s not taking any medication for it, because she said something like “that’s who i am, i’m not taking medication to change it” she lives in a different country so i see her about one every 2weeks and we never talk about it, i feel really guilty for not doing anything to help.

A: What a good sister you are to be so concerned. I can’t tell from your letter if she was self-harming when she was younger or if she is doing it now. If she isn’t self-harming now, you don’t need to do anything. Your sister isn’t asking for help. She may have decided that the side effects of medication aren’t worth whatever benefit she gets from it.

If she is self-harming, you need to tell your mum. She already knows about your sister’s diagnosis and she may know how to be supportive. If your sister let you know that she is hurting herself, she may even be (unconsciously) hoping you will tell. Once you give your mum the information, the only thing you can do is love your sister and accept her for who she is. That’s a lot!

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Photo

 

 

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 3 Jun 2009

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2009). Feeling guilty for not doing more. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 22, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/06/03/feeling-guilty-for-not-doing-more/