Crumbling Under the Weight of the World

Discussion in 'Suicidal Thoughts and Feelings' started by CGMAngel, Mar 9, 2013.

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  1. CGMAngel

    CGMAngel Well-Known Member

    Does anyone else feel like they are responsible for the whole world?

    Reading this book about Adult Children of Alcoholics (my family disease is depression not alcoholism, but the similarities in terms of effects on children are startling), I’ve come to realize something.

    I grew up in a family of five. I was technically the youngest, but that is laughable as I now look back. Because of my father and brother’s mental illnesses and consequent inability to show/practice any kind of emotional support, I was forced at a very young age into several “head-of-the-household” roles I should never have been cast in.

    I had to become a second son and husband (emotionally) to my mother, a father to my brother, a father and second brother to my sister, and a father and brother to myself.

    Little wonder then that still, to this day, I feel completely responsible for everyone and everything. Not surprising, also, that whenever anything goes wrong, I instinctively feel that it is entirely my fault (it is irrelevant to me as to whether or not it really is) and my responsibility to make it right.

    How do you unlearn a lesson like that? Once you’ve been “taught” that the rise and fall of the entire world rests on your shoulders alone, how can you ever erase that deeply ingrained belief from your psyche?

    As I have learned to my cost, even young children who may not appear to be grasping the true nature of their parents' emotional collapse are still, nonetheless, absorbing a lot of the psychological toxicity circulating around them. And then, when we grow up, all that poison starts to build and catalyse our own breakdown.

    So much for being the youngest. And no bloody wonder I have always felt like such an old soul, almost as old and weary as the world itself.

    Do others feel like this? I would like to hear from anyone who grew up in a family where depression was the Voldemort of our time: the monster which must not be named nor spoken of.

    Silence is a cunning bastard. What it protects today, it destroys tomorrow.
  2. Butterfly

    Butterfly Resident SF Sims Enthusiast Staff Alumni SF Author SF Supporter

    My family has a long history of mental illness on my dads side. We have borderlines, manic depressives, depressives and abusers (my dads mum and sister are borderlines and emotionally abused my dad when he was little). I remember when I was about 5 and my dad had a massive breakdown. He would lay in bed and stay in his pyjamas all day. Throughout the years I have had to smash up and pour away alcohol from him as he would drink so much when he was depressed that we didn't want him to turn into an alcoholic. We have always pretty much lived with debt me entire life as money would be squandered away and then it would cause my dad to have a breakdown. Personally I think he is undiagnosed bipolar 2, the patterns are always the same. Every 3 or 4 years he will get hypomanic, get us into thousands of pounds worth of debt then have a depressive breakdown. Then my parents relationship becomes very strained because of it. The debt, my dads depressive state as he comes barely responsive, almost catatonic and leaves my mum to take care of nearly everything, except money. In these phases he frequently says "I am worth more dead than I am alive, least if I was dead you would no longer be in debt". It is heartbreaking to hear that.

    I have inherited these genes and I am currently being treated for the possibility of having Bipolar 1 but there are unsure of whether I have had full blown mania but they know psychosis is a problem so this is why they are monitoring me for the possibility of bipolar 1. I think when we have grown up around these things for so long, we do learn behaviours and we do undertake roles. We do feel like the weight of the world is on our shoulders and we do feel like we are responsible for everyone. But what we have to our advantage when we are adults, is age and life experience. We have more choices. It's hard, but you have to learn to adopt new roles and break away from the old ones. It is hard, and at times it seems impossible but it is achievable.
  3. total eclipse

    total eclipse SF Friend Staff Alumni

    could have written your words hun not the youngest but one that was kept mentally stable to help all the others in my family three bros and a sister with mental illness my mother and no father he left so at a very young age i took on a carers role and still to this day that is all i know
    how to undue this i don't know if it is possible but a good therapist i would think would help to somehow change the mind thought a bit
  4. Much afraid

    Much afraid Well-Known Member

    No one talked about depression in my family. They were mostly "pick yourself up and do what you have to do" but there is depression, suicide, alcoholism, drug addiction and God knows what else in my family tree. I'm the youngest but siblings are all 9+ years older than me. I've always felt responsible for helping Mum and others with their issues and assuring everyone that I was/am just fine. No worries about me, lets just make sure you're okay and you have all that you need to survive and maybe even be happy.

    A good shrink or counselor may be able to help at the very least get us thinking about how to honor ourselves as much (at least) as much as we honor those we care about. Maybe... ♥
  5. CGMAngel

    CGMAngel Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the responses.

    Much afraid: Like you I have spent most (all?) of my life reassuring everyone I was okay because I felt their needs were more important than mine. When you feel so worthless and unworthy, how do you suddenly stand up and say to the world, "okay, it's time to focus on me for a while!" Impossible.

    eclipse: Yes, hopefully a good therapist could guide us, but the best therapist in the world can only help if we let him/her do so. I have been such an obsessive caregiver my whole life that whenever I walk into the therapist's office I feel that I should be helping them! Then, after having talked about myself for an hour I feel terribly guilty. Sort of defeats the purpose, wouldn't you say?

    Butterfly: You are right, we do absorb beliefs and certain skewed views of the world and people when we grow up around mental illness. As children we are so susceptible to the influences around us. Then those ideas become cemented inside us. It is sad and so discouraging to discover that what is so easy to learn is usually so difficult to unlearn.
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