I don’t think you have a psychological problem per se nor are you a “pathetic human being.” Your parents placed a heavy burden on you. Even as a young child, you were told that you were going to be the lifelong caretaker of your sister. What your parents did to you was unfair. You never had the opportunity to be who you wanted to be. Your parents saw you as an extension of themselves. They chose your sister over you. They should have had two children, who for each they wanted the best possible life. Instead they have joined you together to form “children.” They want the best for their children, not what’s best for each child.
As a response to this heavy burden, you developed a coping strategy. It’s evidence of your resiliency and resourcefulness. This strategy protected you from experiencing a great deal of psychological pain but it was temporary. Your true feelings eventually reemerged.
You are in essence sacrificing your life for that of your sister’s. While that sacrifice might be noble, it is unhealthy and it will lead to a great deal of dissatisfaction in your life.
Your sister requires the assistance of health and mental health professionals who can properly care for her. There are many social service agencies and independent caregivers that can assist your family. Your sister is best served by trained mental health professionals who have years of experience dealing with autism. Call your local social service agency and inquire about what services are available for your family.
Your reaction to this situation is logical given when you have faced. Of course you love your sister and want what’s best for her but this should not come at the expense of your life. You have the right to be happy and to live an independent life. You can help your sister as much as you chose to when you have developed your own life. You must seek meaning and happiness in your life.
This burden has led to your contemplating suicide. Nothing, no plan, that leads you to suicidal thoughts can be the correct plan. Erroneously, the plan that your parents had assigned to you was the plan that led to suicidal thoughts. I’m sure that wasn’t their intention. They have a problem because they have a daughter who has special needs and they don’t know how to care for her after they are gone. They would benefit from counseling, to help them assess their choices.
You could also benefit from counseling. It can help you to understand the burden that has been placed upon you and assist you in becoming more independent of your family. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle
Mental Health & Criminal Justice Blog