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My Brother’s Keeper: A glimpse into life with a brother with mental health diagnoses

It’s complicated with my little brother- he’s a pain, a nuisance and wants all my attention. Why? Well, he struggles with mental health challenges. Yet, he can take a joke better than anyone I know and give one right back! He’s always up for a challenge and he is always willing to go out to dinner with me. (He never stops eating!)

It can be tough. When he is “having a moment,” it interferes with my homework, my relationships, my personal space and often feels like it interferes with everything. There are days where I feel like our entire house and family rotates around him. That’s really hard. Before I went to college, my mom used to have a designated night every Wednesday for just for her and I to spend time together. Who wants to have an appointment with their own mom???? And people don’t understand. I have to explain his behaviors a lot and he talks about things that my friends’ siblings don’t go through. His conversations are about therapeutic rooms and their siblings talk about what they are doing in school with other average middle school kids.

But every family is different. I have to sacrifice some things for his happiness. I have learned to pick my battles. I had to come to a place of acceptance that this is our life. It took years to get to a good place with this being my reality. And the reality is that he isn’t just my brother; he’s my best friend. Even though it feels like a hassle and can be annoying; he’s still my little brother and I love him with all my heart.

The first week of May is Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week starts today. I would love to see more people take the time to introduce themselves to kids that are struggling with their mental health. Get to know them because my brother and his friends (many have the same struggles) are the funniest and most interesting little humans I know. I’m sure you will enjoy them, and they

will enjoy not feeling left out of a world they are trying to fit into.

Pinnacle Guest Blogger Makayla, is the sister of a middle school aged brother who has mental health needs. Makayla, now a junior in college, reflects on growing up in a home in which unconventional family dynamics impacted her life greatly. Thank you, Makayla, for sharing your amazing story!

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