I don’t talk about my older sister much. It’s not because I’m ashamed — far from it — but mostly, I think, because I honestly don’t believe people would be interested or able to relate.
I’ve been weighing up whether or not to publicly talk about her. She wouldn’t understand the concept of blogging (or media in general — she regularly, earnestly, asks why she can’t marry all of One Direction) and wouldn’t be able to respond to anything I write.
But this week I read a wonderful article by actor Rory Kinnear about his sister Karina who recently sadly died of COVID-19, and came to realise that there isn’t enough content out there about having a family member with a complex learning disability.
Particularly not about people who also have mental illness — after all, studies suggest the rate of mental health problems in people with a learning disability is double that of the general population.
When you have a family member with a learning disability who suffers from mental health issues, you just assume no-one else is going through it. So, I thought I’d share this (perhaps too) honest depiction of how I feel, in the hope, it’ll help others who may be going through the same thing.
Watch: Vanessa Cranfield on parenting a child with a disability. Post continues below.
My older sister — my one and only sibling, who shall remain nameless — is 40 years old and has incredible round-the-clock care at her home. She loves going to the cinema and chomping loudly on popcorn; boy bands; and shamelessly flirting with waiters — asking them boldly, in front of the whole room: "I can’t have you, can I?".
None of us really understand how she came to have brain damage, but we know it was something to do with the lack of oxygen at birth caused by a difficult delivery. They never found the hospital notes, so we’ll never know the ins and outs.
And if we did, would it change anything? Probably not.