Q: A few years ago, my brother was diagnosed with mental illness. It’s just really hard on my family. He is getting better now. But as his sister, I’m not sure what I can do to help him. So I wanted to get your opinion. I try to encourage him, but I’m not sure that’s really helping.
P: There is nothing you can do to help him. You have to accept that as a fact. You are suffering because you think you can help your brother when you actually can’t. Furthermore, if you are too obsessed over that, there is a possibility that you might suffer mentally. It is because you might get too sad and might get depressed. Would it be good for both of you to have that kind of problem? It’s better for just one of you to suffer, right? So it is good for you not to suffer. For your parents and even for your brother, it is good for you to be healthy. You have to know for sure that there is nothing much you can do for your brother. There is nothing you can do to comfort him or help him. But there are some small things you may do. You can eat with him. You can listen to him. But you shouldn’t try to cure him or change him. You shouldn’t even wish that he gets better. Respect the state he is in, and be thankful that he is alive. Only then can you maintain your own health. If your brother is in the depth of despair, if you go down there with him, you will also sink in that pit of despair. So, is it better that both of you drown or that at least you remain alive? Do you think it’s not honourable for you as a sister to let him go? Does it mean that it is better for you to die with him? No, you have to let him go. It is because you have to live first. Then, even if he dies, you can pay him proper respect and honour his memory. So I want you to stop worrying about your brother. You have to be happy first and foremost. If you cry when you are with your brother, it’s bad for your brother. You owe it to your brother to give him one more smile. So you need to truly realize that there is very little that you can do for your brother other than those little things. Do them faithfully. But of course, your brother is not just your family’s responsibility. He is also the society’s responsibility. You have to allow society with its welfare system to also take care of your brother since is not just your family’s responsibility. It’s a huge burden for a single family to take on. Even a parent must be able to let go although it’s very difficult. You, as a sister, have to realize for sure that there is nothing you can do.