Being a Role Model with Depression for Younger Siblings
Being a role model is already difficult enough, but when you’re trying to set a good example for your younger siblings when you’re depressed, it can seem impossible. Though it wasn’t easy, I fought the depression at every turn and was able to come out of the situation satisfied that I left a good example for my little brother and sister. Despite the depression, I chose to be there for my family when they needed me, and now you can too — here’s how.
2 Ways to Be a Great Role Model Even with Depression
Be Transparent to Normalize Asking for Help
The most important thing to remember when being a role model is to keep your mentees in the loop. When you let your younger siblings see you as a full three-dimensional human being, including your problems, this encourages trust and realistic expectations in life. By allowing my younger brother and sister to see that I was struggling with common daily tasks and that I needed assistance and encouragement to finish chores or interact with people, they were able to understand that it is okay to ask for help when you need it.
Exemplify What Healthy Coping Looks Like
By struggling with mental illness in front of my siblings, they were able to see first-hand what coping looks like — the good, the bad, and the ugly. Allowing your younger siblings to see you when you’re struggling can feel uncomfortable and counter-intuitive to being a role model, but letting them in on the process of finding healthy coping mechanisms is so helpful.
Being left alone without interference, it is very easy for them to develop coping skills that are unhealthy — unlimited escapism, substance abuse, avoidance, and more. Letting them in on the process can be as simple as discussing the new medication you’ve been prescribed, or a new habit you’ve picked up to fight depression. The more you tell them about what you’re going to be trying or cutting out of your life, the more they will be able to consider what they need to benefit them in their own lives.
Now that my siblings are a little older, I have seen both of them get diagnosed with depression. I feel for them, as depression feels the most difficult at the beginning before any healthy coping mechanisms can be developed, but I feel satisfied with the example that I have left and trust that the bond that we share and the communication we encourage will see us all through this trying time.
In conclusion, living life with depression is difficult, and having to set an example while you’re suffering is even harder. I learned how to be a great role model by keeping in mind two things: be transparent with them, and show them what healthy coping mechanisms look like through my actions.
How do you strive to be a role model even when you’re suffering from depression? Please let me know down in the comments below.