A credit to my parents, they have given me and my sister everything we could possibly want and have done everything in their capability to give us the best childhood.
My sister and I are two very different people, aren’t most siblings? My sister, as a teenager would get drunk with her friends in fields, I, on the other hand, would do my homework. My sister likes that music that is just people screaming angrily and I like… Frank Sinatra. She used to like going to the football with my dad, whereas I only went if we could go shopping after. She likes to play the guitar, I don’t have the patience to learn. But we do have some things in common. We both like to watch crime documentaries and American Horror Story, we stay up late to watch Law and Order: SVU and we both prefer it to Law and Order: Criminal Intent. We like Taylor Swift and we love cats and we are both disappointed when our mum doesn’t buy the crisps we like even when we didn’t ask her. Something else we have in common? We both suffer with our mental health.
The irony is that I have been open with our mum about everything but my mental health and my sister has only been open about her mental health. Probably due to all of the self inflicted cuts, more than anything else. The thing is, my sister is four years older than me, she has probably suffered with depression since she was about 13. My parents obviously didn’t want their 9 year-old to see these cuts and so there used to be a lot of closed-kitchen-door-conversations. Points when my bedroom used to be above the kitchen so I could hear anyway- but again not the point. My parents probably only started to mention that my sister had mental health issues when I was fourteen, maybe, I can’t specifically remember. But I do remember how they spoke about it.
Mostly I think I figured it out when my mum would talk to my nan, she would talk about my sister in a way that I couldn’t understand. Like my sister was some complicated, unknown creature that you had to walk on eggshells when you were around. It is crystal clear that my mum did not know how to deal with my sister’s depression. Occasionally mental health is brought up in conversation when I am with my parents and it is abundantly clear that they don’t understand. My dad is baffled that someone could feel so down and not see a way out that they would cause themselves pain or attempt suicide. It is hard to listen to my parents talk about my sister the way that they do. Like she isn’t really a person anymore. This is why I can’t tell my parents.
Not that long ago, my sister and I had a really deep 3 am chat after she’d had a few glasses of wine. She told me about her experience with depression and how recently it got worse and my parents had subtly been trying to hide it from me. This, I felt was ridiculous, I am seventeen, do they think seeing my sister’s purple scars is going to really affect me? I understand, much more than they do, what depression is like, I would even if I wasn’t going through it myself. The only thing that their discretion is doing, is making me feel like the topic is taboo and something to be ashamed of. You should not be ashamed of suffering with your mental health. You wouldn’t be ashamed if it was your physical health.
If you are wondering, my sister doesn’t know about my mental health. The funny thing I don’t think she suspects. My parents definitely don’t suspect anything. After all, you can’t have two fucked up children, can you? They see absolutely nothing wrong with their second child because she spends all of her energy getting good grades and telling her mum gossip about her friends, rambling on about books and films and enthusiastically looking for her cats around the house. My parents think there is nothing wrong with their second child who always smiles and when she doesn’t, it’s because she hasn’t seen her cats, even though she spends all day at home and never sees her friends. My parents think there is nothing wrong with their second child because… they don’t listen.
A perfect example of this is when we talk about my media BTEC. If I am in a conversation with my mum and another person and said person asks about my course, just as I say “I actually really hate it”, my mum interrupts with ‘you love it, really, you’re doing so well”
She only sees my grades, she doesn’t see me. In a way, I understand, I have only ever been my grades, never really a person behind them, just an automated machine churning out essays, nothing more. How can I be anything more? If I was, then they’d have to realise that I have depression… and you can’t have two fucked up children.