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Forgotten

by Stephanie
(Michigan, USA)

Three years ago I came to know Christ and for a long time it was very nice and easy. Since I was 12 I have been dealing depression and for the first few months after I came to Christ, I didn't feel my depression crushing me anymore. Now I see that it wasn't a fix forever.

I was raised in a home where you could pick whatever you wanted to believe in. My brother, at the age of 16, turned to Christ and soon after my older sisters followed. Being the youngest, I didn't understand what it was that they were believing in. It was only after moving away and going through such hardship that I saw why they were so happy. After finding Christ I finally saw what my brother and sisters got out of life; until the depression started to come back into my life. While dealing with all of the stress of being in high school, and being the youngest of a family of 11, I was trying to cling to the faith I had.

Ever since I was little I was the one that was forgotten. My parents didn't do anything terrible to me; I grew up with food in my belly, a roof over my head, and clothes on my back, but alone. My mother and father both worked full time and since I'm so much younger than the rest of my brothers and sisters, I spent a lot of time alone in my room. It always seemed that my siblings "forgot" that I was there. When I was about 9 I really started to feel alone. My brother and sisters weren't having the best of times fitting in with life and they had moved back home to live with us. Thinking it would be a good time for us to finally connect the way I thought a family should, I tried to get to know them better. They'd tell me we'd do things together and then forget me.

After moving across the country from them, I started to feel like they actually loved me, my siblings that is. My parents have always showed their love for me. As I am very into music, I joined a choir and always told my brothers and sisters about my concerts and invited them; even though I knew that they wouldn't come.

When my depression got bad again this past year I reached out to my eldest brother. He disowned me because of what I was going through. My sisters and other brothers are too "busy" with their lives and families to be there for me. I'm starting to feel like they forgot that I have feelings too. I also feel that God has forgotten me. I'm such a small piece in this world; I'm bound to be forgotten, right?

Reply from Sound-Mind.org

Hello Stephanie.
I am sorry you are feeling forgotten by your siblings. I also came from a big family and I am the oldest of 6 but that is only half the amount you grew up with. I would imagine that the complex issues often found with growing up in large families would probably feel intensified as the size of the family was increased. It is important to recognize that every sibling in a big family has their share of negative issues that are unique to them. For example, being the oldest and having 7 years difference between me and the next child down, I know what it is like to go without (because the younger children needed the most attention), to be responsible for everyone else (because both my parents worked full time), to be limited in my freedoms (because I had enormous responsibilities while my other friends were free to explore and grow without those burdens).

It is easy to allow the thoughts we have about these circumstances to take over. Ultimately, what happens is that our thoughts end up dictating how we feel. It is true that how happy we are in life depends on how we see ourselves, how we interpret the negative situations, as well as other people. Depression, which is caused by a chemical imbalance, most commonly begins with our thought process and then results in feelings. Fact is, just because you “feel” a certain way does not mean something is true.

Oftentimes Christians ask God to take away their anxiety and depression and sometimes He does, but other times God wants us to do the work to overcome it. Depression is not an outside problem making its way to the inside, but instead an internal problem that affects everything on the outside such as our decision making, our relationships, and about ability to ever truly be happy. Depression must be conquered through using various resources such as truth therapy (telling yourself the truth), behavioral therapy (acting on truth), physical exercise, and even medication when necessary. It’s about doing all that is necessary to bring your whole body, mind and spirit into harmony and good health.

Scriptures tell us in Philippians 4:6-9 (NLT) “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus; And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.”

While it is true that being the youngest of 11 children has not always been easy for you and has left you feeling forgotten and unimportant, you need to remember that what you are feeling is not always based on truth. God has a special plan for you! God has not forgotten you! If you have not read “Father’s Love Letter, make sure you do! Be sure to print it out and remind yourself everyday just how special you are to God.

Remind yourself also that other people have their own difficulties to endure. God can most certainly use you to help those who are in situations just like yours. After all, can just anyone understand and relate to the extent that you can? Our struggles make us unique and through helping others, we are able to help ourselves.

Instead of focusing on how much you feel that your siblings have forgotten you, spend your time showing them how much you have not forgotten them. Focus your energy on showing them your love and approval rather than sharing with them how much they are not living up to your expectations.

Although there isn’t much we can do about the things which are out of our control, we can control our thoughts, perspectives and behaviors in such a way that will make us happier, more content people.

Be sure to check out these books from your local library.
Learning to Tell Myself the Truth by William Backus, PhD.
The Search For Significance: Seeing Your True Worth Through God's Eyes by Robert S. McGee
Thank you for sharing yourself and your experiences Stephanie. Although my response to you was delayed, you were not forgotten. =)
Sincerely,
Susan

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