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The third wheel

Community Member

Does anyone who has a sibling with mental health problems feel like they come last in everything?

I have a sibling who has issues with aggression, mania and addiction etc. and they've always caused trouble and had problems staying in work. Life is one big party for them. I don't speak with them anymore and realised a few years ago that I basically grew up in a domestic violence situation with them. In contrast I am the good kid with a good job. I'm nice to people- mostly- and the police have never been to my house- apart from the time they got my neighbour's address wrong.

I always feel like I come last. Obviously their treatment and keeping them vaguely on an OK path and everything has taken up a huge amount of my family's time and emotions and came first . Then it was taxing on my parents so they do what makes them feel good. Then it's me, if at all. Often what one, two or three of them want conflicts with what I want but I am never asked. I am just told what will happen. If I speak up or voice opposition or do my own thing then I'm told to not be selfish and upset everyone. There are always different standards-I got criticised the other day for not getting a higher-paying a job within the past 12 months when I finished my postgraduate studies. But good for sibling that they went to the gym this week. The latest is I have been kicked out of my home office- which is at my folk's house because I don't have room for an office in my flat, so sibling can have their friends over.- when they don't even live there but it's a bigger house with a pool etc. I feel my work is more important than their fun time. I feel like I never matter in anything and no one wants to hear how I feel, because that's too hard for them to hear and I should be able to cope with whatever because I am not 'sick'. The only time anyone listens to me is when I do something big like cancelling on a family trip or refusing to see people, then I get told how awful I am and then things go back to the way they were. I feel like my needs should come before their wants given I'm doing the right thing and they are not.

2 Replies 2

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi checkthebatteries,

Ah yes, the old squeaky wheel gets the grease adage. I grew up with a friend who had a sister who was a drug addict, so much time was devoted to whatever drama the sister brought into their life, and trying to keep her off the streets and out of trouble (unsuccessfully), that very little was left for my friend. She seemed to be penalized endlessly at school by teachers who seemed intent of making her life hell, presumably based on his sisters actions. She also struggled to get into the police force later on, which had always been her dream, due to her sisters criminal record. I imagine that its particularly infuriating that you seem to be held to a completely different standard than your sibling. Because you are considered the “easy” child, you are expected to fit in and do whatever is necessary to keep the peace. The only thing that I will say to you is, the reason that you are held to a completely different standard is because you are capable. Your sibling gets a parade every time they go to the gym, that is how little your parents think they can cope, that they need to be celebrated for such minor things. It may not feel like it, but growing up this way will stand you in good stead for life, only pressure makes diamonds. You are not in competition with your sibling, you won that a long time ago. If it was me, I would create a bit of distance between myself and my family, they seem very comfortable guilt-tripping you so I think that would be beneficial.

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi, welcome again

Oh this is common. Briefly, my older brother was diabetic from birth and my younger sister the cute only daughter. Hence my feelings I was the black sheep in the middle.

Also in relationships a woman I lived with favoured the 14yo son over the 17yo daughter. There can be odd reasons too for favouritism- my ex wifes parent lived through the war (2) and her mother lost a brother to the Germans so they named their first child of 5 the same name and of course was a replacement. Pity the other 4.

The answer? Sadly getting on your hands and knees wont help at all. That doesnt leave you many options. The option I took was to drift away and leave them all to their closeness. I joined the Air Force at 17yo and every month or so I'd return for a visit only to be reminded of the reality- less important.

The benefit long term is independence. Focus on financial security, less reliance on parents and create your own family, be it a partner, friends that treat you better than blood and people that appreciate your help.