- 3 years ago
- Wedding: June 2015
About 8 months ago, my younger sister started experiencing (or at least started telling us about it) psychotic symptoms – voices in her head, mainly. The voices were telling her she was useless, stupid, etc., but not advocating any violence (towards others or herself). When she told my parents, they obviously were very alarmed, and she agreed to check herself into a short, three day private psychiatric facility. There, she was evaluated and met with several clinicians and was engaged in a group treatment program. She was resistant to taking medication at the time, and because it was her first episode, they didn’t force it. After she left the facility, they set her up with a therapist, but either my sister didn’t like her or she wasn’t very good – either way, my sister stopped seeing that therapist shortly after.
A few months later, my sister ended up in a different hospital setting (again, for only 3 days). This one was not as helpful and super depressing – I honestly don’t blame her for wanting to get out of there ASAP. Luckily, that hospital did have better luck setting my sister up with services, and she is now part of a treatment research study that she goes to once a week. She is also seeing a psychiatrist every other week and is on medication for anxiety, depression and psychosis. Since she has been going to the research study, she has seemed a lot better, and we were all very hopeful that she was turning around and realizing that she needs help.
Over the past few weeks, however, she has spiraled downwards very quickly. Prior to very recently, she did not drink or use drugs (she had in the past, but stopped probably 2 or 3 years ago). All of a sudden, she is sneaking alcohol (and my parents have now removed all alcohol from their house) and is smoking marijuana (we don’t know how she’s getting it). She’s also lying, stealing money and generally being very sneaky – we can all tell she’s up to something, but we don’t know what. My parents are watching her like a hawk, but they both work, so she is alone in the house during much of the day. They also monitor her medication intake, but she sometimes skips out on her anti-psychotics/anti-depressants and instead takes extra anti-anxiety medication (which, for anyone who’s never taken them, are the “fun” kind of pills). They have hidden all of her medication so she can’t freely access it, but at this point, they are at a loss at how to manage her and her deceitful behaviors.
To further complicate things, she is an adult, so unfortunately, they can’t force her into anything. She isn’t “bad” enough that the state would give my parents guardianship or medical power of attorney, either. And she would not be willing to sign over those rights voluntarily, as she is incredibly stubborn and is generally very resistant to treatment. While she does go to the research study and to see her psychiatrist, we think she might be downplaying her symptoms and her behaviors. Also, because she is an adult, my parents are not privy to all of her medical information, as it’s confidential.
I feel so terrible for my sister, as I know she is sick, but it is all starting to weigh too heavily on my parents. They are doing everything they can, but everything isn’t enough – and my sister is unwilling to accept responsibility for herself and for her future. It’s frustrating, and while I know a lot of it is the result of her mental illness, what she’s doing to my parents isn’t fair. Unfortunately, they don’t know what to do next and neither do I. They also don’t want to totally restrict her freedom and autonomy, as she is an adult and they know that will only make things worse.
I’m sorry for making this so long – I guess I just needed to get it all out, as it has been especially difficult for all of us as we come to terms with this new reality. I was just hoping some Bees could share their experiences – with family members or friends who are mentally ill and/or resistent to treatment. Or perhaps any suggestions for what my parents can do to help my sister (even if she is unwilling). I hate seeing what this is doing both to my sister and to my parents, and I would appreciate any advice or words of wisdom. Thanks so much!