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Feeling guilty for not doing more

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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.

Feeling guilty for not doing more

Answered by on -


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

Feeling guilty for not doing more

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). Feeling guilty for not doing more. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 22, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.