Families come in all forms. There is no one way to be a loving family. The only thing that is needed of a strong family is unconditional love, support and stability. Love, support and stability in the face of trauma, violence and chaos can make or break a person. Unfortunately, not everyone has a family who can offer the support he, she or they need. This can happen when adults in our family are also struggling with their mental health. Or sometimes those at home may have developed an unhealthy relationship with drugs, alcohol or gambling. Sometimes bad things happen in families across generations and the family has not been able to address and heal from this hurt and pain. Take a moment to read Holly’s Story on our blog.
For some of us, especially those of us who identify on the LGBTQIA spectrum, families may have disowned us or kicked us out of the house. Often when this is the case, we develop a “chosen family.” A chosen family is made up of people who are not blood-related, but step into the family role to fill in as parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, etc. The concept of chosen family is important as it relates to our mental wellness because it lets us know that we have some control over who we love, who we allow to love us, and who will be involved in our lives.
Sometimes, due to circumstances beyond our control, we may be living with people who we may not have chosen to live with. This could be foster care, living with extended kinships, or maybe being in a shared living space with other families or individuals. Whatever the situation, not living with those who you want to live with can be really hard. If we are separated from the rest of our family, we can develop trauma, stress and depression. What we are dealing with in regard to our family can really have affects in other areas. Our stress does not vanish when we leave home for the day, as we can carry it over in the other parts of our lives. It is important to remember that no matter who we may be staying with, we are worthy of love and support. Check out our Find Support section so see who is here for you in your area.
Taking Care of Our Family
For many of us, we have the added role of taking care of our family members. This can take a huge toll on our well-being. Whether we are taking care of our siblings or parents, being the one who feels all of the responsibility can make us feel exhausted and increase our chances of finding unhealthy coping habits. It is not uncommon for those around us to not know how much responsibility we may be taking on. Taking care of the people we love can really impact other parts of our lives. We may feel embarrassed or ashamed to talk about it, fall behind in school, suffer from not enough sleep or even increase our risks for anxiety and depression. These feelings are not uncommon, and you are not alone. Finding someone you can trust and talk to can really help with the stress of this responsibility. There are resources and people out there for you to talk to about being a young caretaker. Check out our Find Support page and see who you can connect with.
Where to Go From Here
It is important to remember that love is just one important part of a strong family. Support and stability are just as important, and having an equal combination of all three is ideal. We can have people in our family who truly love us while also causing us harm. Just because someone in your family loves you, does not always mean they are safe or healthy to be around. Remember, you are worthy of not only love, but also of stability, safety and support. Families are different and unique for everyone. Some families are by blood and others are chosen. If you are needing to talk to someone about things going on at home, reach out. Use the Find Support section of the website to see who is available to help in your area.