Some Guidance Please: There’s been a... - Anxiety and Depre...

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Some Guidance Please

erikaseibs profile image

There’s been a pretty big event in my life that has impacted my ability to cope with my anxiety and feelings of despair and sadness.

I have a little sister, 12, who has high-functioning autism and sensory processing disorder. My parents (technically 1/2 mine — my mother and stepfather), struggle a lot with how to discipline her and keep her outbursts meltdowns under control. Ever since she was little (and so was I), my stepfather has handled it...not very well. Lots of yelling, screaming, “spanking” (more like hitting). Just thinking about it makes me feel sick and tear up. It’s been getting worse over the past few years, perhaps due to the fact that my little sister has been going through puberty and is very hormonal/emotional. But I’ve been caught in fights where my stepfather will throw and slam things, and tell her very hurtful things, such as that he can’t be happy because of her, that she was a mistake, and so on. Whenever I’ve confronted my mother about it, she gets very angry with me and very defensive, saying that it is “just how it is” or “just how he is”.

A couple of months ago, things got really bad. I work in childcare and have learned a decent amount about child abuse and problematic behavior. I was scared, so I called DCS. I didn’t do this because I wanted my sister to be taken away — that’s not the purpose of DCS. The purpose is to help and provide resources and try to resolve problems, and only remove the child if he/she is in immediate danger. After I made the call, nothing really happened so I stopped thinking about it. A couple of days ago, however, my mother called me and told me that she had received a call from DCS. She asked me if I had made a report, and I couldn’t think of a good lie so I just decided to admit that I did. She became angry, and had the phone on speaker with a couple of other members of the family. My other sister (who is not autistic) began to yell at me, telling me that I was “hypersensitive” and was going to “tear the family apart” and only did it “to spite” my stepfather. None of these things were my intention, but nevertheless that it was happened. Once my stepfather found out, he suspended my phone plan and I had to get my own. I have been relying on my “real” father for the past few days as emotional support. He doesn’t seem to believe I screwed up, but I’m gripped by agony and anxiety because I think I might be. Was I overthinking the whole situation? Am I really hypersensitive? Does everyone in the family now know what I did? Is everyone judging me? How much do they hate me?

I haven’t spoken to anybody in the family since the phone call, and I haven’t really wanted to. Yet, I’m still sick with anxiety. All I wanted to do was help, not hurt. Yet I feel like all I’ve done and all I ever do is hurt.

Honesty, congratulations if you’ve read this whole thing. I guess what I’m asking is: did I make a mistake? If so, how big? How do I abate some of this anxiety that comes from the uncertainty of it all? Is there anything that I can do?

4 Replies

I really don't know (you had the right intentions) but it seems like you need a friend. Also reach out to your friends but I wouldn't tell them about the situation just yet.

Hi you made a decision based on the facts you had at the time and you have to back your own judgement despite what your family say. You had reasons to be concerned about the well being of your sister (and I must admit I agree with you) so you took appropriate action. That was very brave and commendable of you.

I am guessing you don't live with your family? What I would do is wait until feelings have cooled a bit then explain the purpose behind your actions. Don't do it in a group setting though as you might excite the pack mentality.

Oh one last thing could you please edit out the F word as foul language isn't allowed on here. Thank you. x

You trusted your gut at the time - and your gut is usually right. If you did overreact, your family now knows how much of a toll this has been taking on you and they will hopefully adjust what sounds like very problematic behavior. Honestly, good for you. More families need people like you.

Perhaps your family is unaware of the changes in DCS. They used to just rip families apart and place children into just as dysfunctional foster care. Perhaps if you speak to them calmly accepting any blame (even if you don't feel as if you should) and then explain why you felt it was necessary, even if it wasn't the right thing to do.(in their eyes) Handling an autistic child is difficult. You are correct that your step-father is not handling it very well. Perhaps DCS was not the best agency, but perhaps it was something to help your family realize they need help. As a mother of an autistic child, I can tell you that all parents of autistic children need help at one time or another. Meltdowns often get worse in the teen years due to hormonal changes. Perhaps you can direct them to an organization such as Autism Speaks or Autism Society (both are great organizations) These organizations can help your family skills to deal with the ongoing problems of your sister. These problems change over the years.

It might take time for your family to not be so angry with you. But if you handle the problem eventually everyone will see things differently

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