I Want Help — But I Don’t

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

My now 22-year-old brother was diagnosed with Bipolar, Aspergers, ADD and OCD when I was 12. He’s always been verbally abusive and sometimes violent to me and my 19-year-old brother. He’s never seriously hurt us and he’s been medicated for years, but I’m still scared of him. I also get really frustrated about the special treatment he gets and how I always have to be the mature one, which then makes me feel guilty. Early on I tried to talk to my parents about how I felt, but my mom would either give me a “You have to understand” answer that made me feel like she hadn’t even listened or send me to my dad, and my dad would always turn the conversation into a lecture on all the bad things I’d done and how it was all really my fault.

My brother’s back in the hospital now, which is stressing me out and making all my feelings stronger and more confusing, and to make matters worse, my theatre class is creating a play set in a mental hospital. I’ve been feeling kind of depressed, not really caring about anything, and I want to try to get help, but my parents’ attitude has always been that since they’re stressed out about my brother and we (the other kids) haven’t been diagnosed with anything, then we have no problems. Between this and how they’ve reacted to personal conversations in the past I can’t bring myself to try to talk to them. I’ve thought about talking to a school guidance counselor, but they’ve never made me feel comfortable talking to them about anything non-school-related, and they’re never even available for that. I also have another problem with trying to get help, which is that I feel almost like I don’t deserve it. I’m afraid that anyone I talk to will think that I’m just a whiny little brat who needs to learn to deal with her own problems and get a sense of perspective, and that I’m wasting their time. There are so many people with worse problems than me, so why should I take up the time of one of the few people who can help them?

A. Unfortunately, your family is experiencing a difficult challenge. Understandably, your parents have a heavy load. They are struggling to help your brother and as a result, though not intentionally, they are not meeting your needs.

You mention that there are many people who are experiencing things that are worse than your situation and that may be the main reason why you feel unworthy of help. Many people experiencing your predicament would feel the same way but anyone in pain deserves help. You needs are not being met because the family situation is difficult. Everyone is being negatively affected.

Please know that you are deserving of help. You have the right and the obligation to ask for help. If your parents cannot see that you need help, then try to make them aware. I understand your reluctance to speak to the guidance counselor but it would be a step in the right direction. Inform him or her about your situation. Express your concerns and perhaps he or she could convince your parents that you need help.

Another option is to discuss your concerns with a trusted family member or family friend who may be willing to speak to your parents for you. You could also show your parents your letter to me and my response. The fact that you took the time to write to a mental health professional may help your parents realize just how much this situation is affecting you. I wish you well. Please take care.


Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 15 Apr 2012

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2012). I Want Help — But I Don’t. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 22, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/04/15/i-want-help-but-i-dont/

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