Life with hidden disabilities

Jade is a university student, who has caring responsibilities for her younger brother. Here she talks about her brother, who has been diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Anxiety, Depression, Psychosis and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). She has caring responsibilities for him and here she talks about her brother’s needs, how it impacts him on a day to day basis, and what support he needs.

Day to Day with Mental Health

Living day to day life with mental health issues can be challenging for a lot of people. In particular there is more and more mental health problems being diagnosed in children. My 13- year-old brother got diagnosed with mental health illness after years of misbehaving and being violent. He suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Anxiety, Depression, Psychosis and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). However, if you were to look at him you would be completely unaware that he has got hidden disabilities.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Everyone, always assumes that disabilities have to be visible but disabilities fall under many categories. For my brother living with PTSD can be hard and challenging, due to reliving and having flashbacks of the trauma that he sustained in his early childhood. People do not always think that trauma a child goes through in their early childhood will still stay with them as they get older. It does not matter how old the child is, if the trauma is very horrific, they will remember.

Witnessing domestic violence between his father and his mother has left him extremely traumatised, to the point where it still affects him years later.

Character is sitting on the floor with their head in their hands, crying.

He will never be over this trauma and he will never fully come to terms with this trauma, this means it caused his mental health to decline. My brother relives the trauma of seeing my mum being attacked in domestic violence by his father on a day-to-day basis. This will never go away for him as he will wake up in the night due to his sleep insomnia because he is constantly having flashbacks about what he witnessed.


Having, anxiety can be overwhelming for my brother, because if his anxiety kicks in badly then he will be too anxious that he will be unable to sleep. There are many different reasons why my brother can be anxious. Even the smallest of things will make him anxious, which he cannot help. Having anxiety for my brother means that he always thinks of the worst-case scenario which will have him feeling anxious for days and sometimes even weeks. My brother’s anxiety is so bad that he does not want my mum to ever get in a relationship with another man again, since he will be anxious that my mum will end up in this situation again. No one will be able to see that he is anxious but he will know deep down that he is extremely anxious. However, my brother’s peers do not see the anxiety in him they have no clue about him having anxiety since he has chosen not to disclose this to his peers. Having anxiety also makes him feel ashamed because he does not want to constantly be anxious, he just wants to have a normal life without anxiety hanging over him.


Character looks withdrawn and has his hands up to prevent anyone coming near.

Depression makes my brother feel withdrawn, he has even said that if he has to stay in the house all the time without going out it will make his mental health decline even more. Even when he is depressed others around him will not even know that he is depressed because he will hide it well and he will tell everyone he is fine even though he is not. It is important that more is done for males that are suffering from depression, this is because the male suicide rates are high. It is okay for a man to be depressed he should not have to be told to man up, things like this will send males over the edge that they will see suicide as their only option.

I constantly check in with my brother to make sure that he is managing his depression well since this will make a difference. Even if my brother says he is fine I can spot the signs that he is in a depressed state due to his behaviour. When he is depressed, he will just keep to himself and not speak to anyone until he feels ready to speak. I do not force him to speak to me if he is depressed, I let him come to me in his own time when he feels like opening up and talking about his feelings.


Living with psychosis means that my brother hears voices in his head, sometimes these voices can be so powerful that they will tell him to harm others. He confided in me after getting his mental health diagnosis that he had been hearing voices in his head since he was aged 9. Due to the fact that he was very young he probably did not understand the implications of hearing voices. He suffered in silence about this for 3 years until he got given a mental health assessment at the age of 12.

The psychosis has caused my brother to attack people. Even in school he grabbed one boy around the throat and said he would kill him. My brother told me that it took 3 teachers to calm him down because his temper is like a rocket. He will go from 0 to 100 in a matter of seconds. My brother’s temper can be very hard to manage at times and it will take a good while to calm him down.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Living with ADHD has been challenging for my brother, he is not always able to focus in school or control his behaviour. A lot of people are not very understanding about this they just assume that he chooses to misbehave all the time. This is not the case he will behave at times but if he is in a lesson at school that he finds boring then he will become disruptive. This can sometimes be hard for the teachers to manage because they cannot constantly take out time to keep dealing with him when he’s disruptive or misbehaving. There have been numerous times that he has been thrown out his classes because he is either being verbally abusive to the teachers or he is trying to be the classroom clown. Having ADHD has made my brother face many obstacles whilst he is growing up.

How to help

The best way to deal with a person that has got all of these hidden disabilities is to make sure they receive the help they need. This can be things such as counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy, art therapy, drama therapy or mentoring. This all depends on the age of the child or the adult. With, all of these, support outlets it can help someone with hidden disabilities to be able to get the right support they need in order for them to stay on track. Just offering my brother support from me and other outlets has made a huge difference because he is in a much better place than he was at the beginning of the year. You can see the difference.

Character looks relaxed

For all of you who are reading this I implore you to be mindful and considerate of those who have got hidden disabilities because without understanding and consideration a lot of people who do have hidden disabilities will face unfair treatment and discrimination.

For more information about mental health, you can find more information here, or contact your local health provider.

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