At a breaking point

What to do when you’re responsible for your siblings and your parents?

Our elder admits there’s no easy solution but you’ve got to take care of yourself too.

Dear EWC:

Hi, I am writing this letter because I don’t feel like opening it up to my family or closest friends. But I feel like bursting now, I need help but I don’t know to whom I will ask. I apologize if there is some grammatical error with this letter as I am not that fluent in English.

I am the eldest in my family with four siblings; they’re in my country and I am working here in UAE, both my parents have no job and my siblings as well, the two of them are still studying, they called me the breadwinner but I don’t think so. Yes, I am providing them allowance and other expenses every month but it’s not enough. I was with my twin sister before, but she has to go back to the Philippines since she got pregnant and I had to carry all the responsibilities now. But because of COVID-19, the situations get worse. Delayed salary, loans, family maintenance, allowance, school fees and other expenses, I can’t carry them all. I have my own expenses as well but my income is almost for them. I’m drained.

I tried to get a new job, submitting my CV but no one calls. I can’t complain that I am doing this because I love them. I want to give them what I can but I don’t have anything. It’s not enough; I know they are having a hard time too, that’s why I can’t tell them how much it drained me. I don’t have a choice but to be strong for them. Nothing seems to matter now. I’m losing hope. Please give me advice to carry on. Thank you.

Irene replies:

You are carrying quite a heavy load, not only from an economic perspective, but from an emotional one as well. My heart goes out to you. You are young and should be able to pursue your own interests and independence, while helping your family a bit.
You love your family, so you stay dedicated; however, I wonder… Couldn’t you still love them and transfer back to them their own power to make their own way? My opinion is if you continue on staying exactly on the same path as you are now, you may have a nervous breakdown of your own. And if you do, how will they survive having been totally dependent on you for everything.

The responsibility you have taken on is a bit like parenting, only you are not a parent. Part of the parenting job is to “give your children wings” so they become self-sufficient and can be on their own. It is done out of love too. So again, I wonder through your love for your family, can you find a way to have them help you to help themselves?

I’m sorry to be so blunt, because I really do feel badly for you. They have used guilt to place you where you are, and you possibly have mislabeled that guilt as love. And I want to say I really do believe you love your family very deeply; and you also allow them to somewhat “use” you, because as you say, you can’t speak up for fear of hurting them.

You deserve to be free from them accepting you as the sole breadwinner. No one wants that burden alone – you are a family together, thus you should share family burdens together. Your family is so blessed to have you love them so deeply, and provide for them so well. Your siblings can’t be in school forever, so they can draw up a plan to accept partial and increasing responsibility as they finish – and this way you can see a light at the end of the tunnel, knowing you won’t be alone in providing for the family forever.
Best of luck to you as you determine which path is best to take. I’m sending you peace filled energy across the universe.



  1. I am in the middle of a break down which is a regular occurrence. I am at breaking because I can no longer help myself. I do not have the finances currently to seek medical attention. So here is it.

    I have sever anxiety which is the main trigger. My panick attacks happening more and more frequently which have trigger my night terrors that went away 5 years ago. This in itself has triggered my insomnia, I am unable to sleep which causes more anxiety and this fuels my anger issues.

    In general when I am mentally stable I am able to keep my anger issues at bay but I have been triggered by finding out my sister was with my ex boyfriend and also she mentioned that her opinion of me is one of an uneducated fool (Words I am sure you would not like to see). He lack of remorse has fuels my anger and gas lighting me into believing that this was all my fault.

    I feel as though I do not know who I am and I feel like I am never going to change. I have tried meditation, I psychologists, Hypnotherapy and many more other methods to forget which are destructive.

    I need help. I need professional help. I acted out and am started to push people away in my life because I feel alone. I have always been alone and people always leave me so I should rather leave them before they leave me anyway.

    I am tired of having these cycles and breaking down. I have lost all ambition, drive and ability to be a functioning adult.

    1. Administration Reply
      December 7, 2020

      Please go to and share your request for advice there. Elders do not respond here for advice. Thank you.

  2. I am mentally drained and tired it’s hard to wake up, eat, get out of bed, sleep.
    parents don’t even believe that I selfharm. 😀
    I am only so young and I have strict n lazy parents who don’t let me do anything so I have to distance myself from everyone to avoid disappointment from friends and family when I am unable to participate in any activity.

    the only thing that’s keeping me here and getting me through my day is music :’)
    I’m done here now idk wtf i, doing anymore .

    1. Administration Reply
      July 21, 2021

      If you’d like to connect with an elder for some advice on this, please go to our website and an elder will respond. They do not respond to posts on Facebook in order to maintain confidentiality.

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