Post # 1
I have an older sister with bipolar disorder (and I also suspect she could have borderline personality disorder, although she’s never been diagnosed). She’s married, and has three children from three different fathers. If my parents had not stepped in to help immensely with her children (the kids are at my parents’ every night, as my parents help with homework, make them dinner, shuttle them to practice, etc.), I’m not sure she would still have legal custody of them. She refuses to work, and my parents routinely help her with bills, and often have to pay her car payment (because the car is in my mom’s name, and she would ruin their credit if the loan was unpaid) Her previous house went into foreclosure. If she shows up at my parents’ house and cries about her financial troubles, they cave and open their wallets. Basically, it’s one big mess.
I have very negative feelings toward my sister, because my parents are physically and mentally exhausted from dealing with her and my nephews. I remain very active in the lives of my nephews, because it is through no fault of their own that their mother acts as immature as she does. However, seeing how her actions directly impact them in a negative way makes it even harder to be close with her, or even to pretend to be nice to her. Additionally, my parents can’t leave the city to come visit me because they fear she would totally neglect her children if they aren’t there to oversee their care. My parents also do practically everything for her — she drops her laundry off at their house, so they can wash it for her (nevermind the fact that she is unemployed and both of them work 40+ hours a week).
I recently “un-friended” my sister on Facebook, after telling her some of the sexually explicit content of her posts was inappropriate (two of my nephews have facebook and can see everything she posts). She responded by calling my mother SCREAMING and crying that I de-friended her and demanded I re-add her. My mother actually called me and told me that wasn’t being nice and should re-add her.
So now my mother constantly guilt trips me about not having a close relationship with this sister. Seeing how she treats my nephews and parents makes that extremely difficult. Yes, I know she has a mental illness, but this behavior is constant — not just when she’s hypomanic or depressed.
Just curious if anyone else has a similar family situation, and if you have any tips or suggestions in how to deal with it. I’m emotionally drained from dealing with this, and so tired of my mother repeatedly trying to step in to “repair” our relationship — a relationship that has been basically non-existent since my sister was a young adult. (I’ve considered completely cutting off communication with her once my youngest nephew turns 18, but that won’t happen for another 10 years.)
Post # 3
@MrsEdamame: not my biological sister, but my SIL. She has bipolar disorder, ADHD (which I think is bs and she’s faking it) and drug addiction. She’s polite enough, but totally un-trustworthy. She steals money from her family (including my husband when he lived at home, stole his card out of his wallet and overdrew his account to buy clothes for herself). She lies about where she’s been. She has no remorse for getting arrested and having her parents pay thousands to bail her out. She hides drugs and alcohol around the house (where she lives with her young child and her parents). She neglects her child and leaves it up to her parents to take care of him, feed him, bathe him, discipline him, dress him, potty train him, read to him, take him to school, etc… They’re retired and have earned their relaxation time. They shouldn’t have to do that stuff at this point in life.
My SIL causes me a lot of stress. I hurt for her parents. My tax money is supporting her, when she’s perfectly capable of getting a job. She’s a convicted felon who gets money thrown at her while I have no criminal record and work my arse off to barely make ends meet. Sometimes I just want the punch her in the face and call her a worthless bitch.
i haven’t figured out a way to cope. I fake smiles and hugs but there’s nothing more I can do. I don’t want to lose the close relationship I have with my nephew.
Post # 4
@Aquaria: It’s so difficult when there are kids in the mix. As much I would like to totally cut her off, I have to consider what effect that would have on the kids.
And I will never understand the mindset of having children, just to pawn them off on your parents. My sister’s oldest is 14, and my parents have ton a lot more to raise him than she ever has.
Post # 5
My brother is schizophrenic. He’s 21 and we only noticed his mental illness a couple years ago. My mother is schizophrenic too, and there does seem to be a genetic component to it.
He is very paranoid and delusional. I don’t want to go into specifics, because I’ve told people the things he says and thinks in the past and they seem to think it’s funny, but his behavior is very disruptive. SO and I let him move in with us for a couple months last year. It was a nightmare. He ranted and raved and talked to people that weren’t there, all the while insisting they could hear him. It was so sad and horrible.
He was normal growing up. I think his heavy pot habit triggered the schizophrenia in him, as marijuana has been known to do, despite people thinking it’s innocuous and never hurt a soul. Google it if you don’t believe me.
Anyway, I haven’t talked to him since he moved out of our house. He thinks my SO and I are untrustworthy (based on his paranoid delusions). I miss him, the real him, and worry about him because he bounces around from house to house and has recently gone to the ER twice over asthma attacks. My sister died of an asthma attack in 2004, and my second oldest sister has been missing since August of last year…I have no idea if my dad could survive losing another child.
So, of dad’s 5 kids, the eldest is an alcoholic, drug addict and prostitute; the second oldest was/is a heroin addict and has been missing since August 14, 2012; I am the middle child and don’t work due to anxiety issues, but otherwise, I’m ok; the 4th child died at 14 of an astham attack; and the youngest, my brother, is schizophrenic. Sigh. Maybe that is part of the reason I have no desire to ever have children.
Post # 6
Your sister sounds quite awful to be around.
I have 2 autistic siblings. One has aspergers and the other is undiagnosed, but clearly clearly has some degree of autism.
The best you can do is:
Help them when it’s possible- With my siblings this means kindness, spending some time with them, etc.. In your case this may only mean being polite while keeping her at arms length. Which brings me to my next point…
Don’t endanger your security or well being. Sometimes you have to have some space between you and them(her).
The thing that really sucks is that you get passed over for things. (Having your parents around for you and involved in your life, financial help for things here and there if you ever need it, not to mention peace in your family.) My siblings definitely need our mom more than I do, as does your sister. But I still sometimes feel… Left out I guess. I was a fairly successful student athlete whose mom never once turned up at meets because she was dealing with them instead. And home was not always a safe haven.
So, you’re not wrong to feel this way. Just stay strong and calmly stand your ground. This is the way things are. You can only decide your reaction.
EDIT: I realize autism isn’t really like bipolar disorder, but I think my experiences are relevant.
Post # 7
@bunnyharriet: The genetic component is scary as shit! I don’t blame you.
I have 2 siblings and 2 cousins that all have some degree of autism and I’m terrified that if I have kids they’ll be affected by it. 🙁
Post # 8
I have a sibling that is manic depressive and bipolar. It caused so much stress and heartache in our childhood and for the longest time I didn’t forgive him and I honestly didn’t love him or think of him as a member of my family. I would never talk to him and had basically cut ties with him for several years, except when together for family holiday events.
I don’t think our relationship will ever be the same, like when we were kids. But now that he has sought to straighten his life out and to help himself in an earnest manner, our relationship is much better and I’ve forgiven him and tried to forget. I want him to be a part of my life.
I recently read the book Tweak, and it was very enlightening as to the other side of the story.
It was so hard to me to sympathize/empathize with my brother when he was hurting me and the people I loved so bad, but now I think I understand better. I don’t think enabling, like your parents are doing, is helpful or the right way to handle things. But I don’t think many people are able to deal with just cutting ties…or finding the balance between helping and enabling.
I hope that your sister will try to help herself. And I hope that one day you can both move past this time.