Do you have siblings with severe mental illness? How do you deal?

posted 3 years ago in Family
Post # 3
5207 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: February 2013

@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 # 5
2308 posts
Buzzing bee

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
1662 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

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
1662 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

@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
2897 posts
Sugar bee

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.

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