I feel like I'm being crushed

I'm 17. My sister Jane has down syndrome, she is 13. My mom works two jobs to support us. My dad took off three years ago and we don't know where he is. I go to school during the day and take care of Jane at night. I'm in several advanced classed at school. I love my sister. I really do, but the stress of school and taking care of her feels like its starting to break me. Every night I make us dinner. I give her her bath, I make sure she stays on her schedule. Last night she didn't want the food I made so she dumped it on floor. I wanted to scream at her. I was having a hard time keeping my temper in check. I went into my room and just lost it. I started crying uncontrollably. I just couldn't deal with it. I had to pull it together and take care of her. I love her but there are times I hate her. I know that's awful. After I put her to bed I study the rest of the night. My mom gets home around 11:30. I always have something for her to eat. I see the defeat in her. She is doing everything she can to support us. I can't add to her burden. We don't have any family we can turn to. I just want a normal life. I want to ask the girl bio class out on a date. I just want to be a kid. I hate my father for his weakness and taking the easy way out. I hate myself for feeling this way. I don't know how much longer I can keep this all together.

Apr 19, 2016

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  • I understand how you feel. I'm sixteen, am taking all of the honors classes I can, and have a twin brother with autism. I may have both of my parents, but my father works so much that he might as well not exist. Friends are almost nonexistent (thank you, google hangouts!) and dating? Forget it! Don't hate yourself for feeling the way that you do. Under all of this pressure, it's normal.

  • Wow. You're doing your best. You're incredible. What you are feeling is okay and there is no need to feel ashamed... it's okay to feel upset in your situation. It's okay to feel neglected. It's even okay to resent your sister and father a little for putting you in the predicament you are in. It is okay to feel these feelings and it isn't horrible... Just breathe and feel them. I suggest you even start forgiving them, a little each day. It will put you more at peace.

    I think you would benefit from talking to someone about this. A counselor, a family member, your mom. I know you don't want to put more on her... but perhaps together you can all figure out a solution that will ease the pressure off of all of you.

    I truly empathize with you because I was in a similar predicament for years, taking care of my younger siblings and barely having a social life of my own. Just know, you are doing a great job. Hang in there, because things will get better. Maybe you can get a part time job to help out.

  • I'm so terribly sorry -- and sad -- that you're struggling under such a weight. I have to say, however, that what you're doing is an utterly wonderful thing, and the manner in which you're doing it is even more so. For someone so young, you are managing the burdens of life with more responsibility, maturity and aplomb than nearly all of the people who you might categorize as "grown-ups". Well-done, you! As a more practical matter, while I don't know where you live, there have to be social programs, care-centers and governmental agencies that can provide you and your mother with occasional breaks from your care-giving, in the afternoons or evenings, or some weekends. They won't take over the job of tending to your sister altogether, but they can give you some breathing room now and again, so the stress doesn't drag you down so badly. Don't worry about losing it sometimes: we are given the ability to cry as a defense and release mechanism, and so it's not a sign of weakness when we use it. Let your mom know about your frustrations, and listen to her talk about hers: the two of you are the best medicine for each other, and maintaining a unified focus and common goal can only be a positive thing. Don't think of that as complaining, but more as sharing. You clearly and obviously and unquestionably love both your mother and your sister, and the good news is that it's love that will get you both through this. I wish you well, I have already prayed for you, and I will continue doing so.

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