Post # 1
Sometimes life just sucks. My little sister (who is also my MOH) has suffered from mental illnesses (anxiety, depression etc) for a while now. It got really bad right before Christmas and we(my family) thought we were going to have to admit her due to making suicide threats but with help from her school councilor, psychiatrist, and psychologist ( yes I know, that’s a lot of people) we were able to get her in a better place mentally.
Her boyfriend of 4 months ( first real boyfriend/love ever, she’s just turning 18) just told her that he is actually in the process of getting a sex change. Apparently he loves hers and wants them to be together but only if she will accept him as a woman. This has really put her over the age. So we took her to the hospital because we are afraid for her and worried about her.
Does anyone have any advice on how to deal with this or what to say? I am not down playing the situation but I don’t know what to say to her because I 100% do not support suicide and wish I could tell her to suck it up. Suicide is the most selfish act a person can do. Everyone goes through things at different times in their lives where they would LOVE to throw in the towel but you pick yourself off and go on. Suicide, depression etc runs in my family so I can say from experience what it is like to not want to wake up any more but you do because that’s just life.
Post # 3
@sbruin99: I’m sorry to hear about your sister. My sister is also going through some mental health issues and is also currently hospitalized.
She isn’t suicidal, so it’s a bit different (she’s experiencing psychotic symptoms), but the best thing you can do is just let her know that you’re here for her. Yes, to a rational person, suicide is an incredibly selfish act, but that’s the thing – right now, your sister isn’t rational.
I went through similar feelings of anger (which are totally normal, by the way) when I found out my sister was refusing to take her medication and go to therapy. I felt like she wasn’t doing her part to make things better, so why should I do everything to help her?
Then I realized that mental illness is just that – an illness. The way your sister is acting is due to the fact that she is SICK. She isn’t doing this on purpose and she isn’t doing it to be selfish. Be her sister, be her friend. Don’t judge her, because that is only going to make her feel worse and more alienated.
Find out if there’s anything you can bring her – whenever my sister has been in the hospital, my other sister and I have made an effort to bring her snacks, books, etc. Anything to make her feel more comfortable and more at home.
Your sister needs a support system right now. As hard as it is, be just that and nothing more. Now is not the time to give your opinion – wait until she is stable, medicated and getting help.
Good luck – it has been a really tough few months for my family and I hope your sister responds to treatment well.
Post # 4
What should you do? Gain some compassion and understanding! No one is “for” suicide, it’s certianly not something I’d wish on anyone. That said, I’m an attempt survivor. I was 17 and I honestly felt that I was doing everyone, and especially my parents, a favor. Suicide isn’t selfishness, it’s desperation, and to hear nearly 8 years later than people still think I was just selfish and should have “just dealt with” crippling mental illness still makes me mad. Do not say anything like that to your sister unless you really want to hurt her. Suicide was a decision I made, yes, but not one I made in a normal, healthy frame of mind. It’s a decision I made as a scared, depressed 17 year old child.
Post # 5
I think you should see a counselor and learn what you are supposed to say and cope with your own feeling on this. Do not ever say “suck it up” to a person who is suicidal or suffering from mental illness. Would you tell someone with cancer or diabeties to suck it up? The brain is like every other part of your body. You can develop a disease anywhere. Trying to tell her that she’s selfish or that everyone else goes through hard times etc it the worst thing you can do.
Post # 7
@annb9: the best thing you can do is just let her know that you’re here for her
Do not tell her to suck it up. Let her know you love her and are there for her, no matter what.
Post # 9
Don’t say the last paragraph (you can think it all you want, but I’d keep those thoughts to yourself). Sounds like she’s feeling bad enough as it is and making her feel guilty or condeming her for what she’s feeling will only make things worse. You’re doing great by trying to get involved so I’d say speak to a counselor and/or a support group to get some ideas on how best to help her.
Post # 10
+1 to everyone above. And read this – it’s about as entertaining as a discussion on depression can be: http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2013/05/depression-part-two.html
It’s a great description of depression for “haven’t been there” people: it’s right on. Then you can go on and read this one that discusses suicide: http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2011/10/adventures-in-depression.html
Hope that kinda-sorta-helps you see what your sister is seeing. It’s not a pretty place to be, and trust me, if she could be anywhere else, she would.
Post # 11
I’m really sorry for you and even more so for your sister. I have never been suicidal but I’ve lost many people to suicide, including my 21 year old cousin who killed herself two months ago.
i grew up in a horrible home, we were more than just poor, I was surrounded by drugs and a users and I was abused in every way imaginable as a child. I know what it’s like to want to give in, if it wasn’t for my debilitating anxiety I had growing up I me oils have likely been suicidal but the idea scared me more than the idea of living the life I was stuck in, so I have found a silver lining to anxiety.
anyways, my point in sharing this is that I know how it feels to want to give up, to really see no light and to think happiness is some made up word, and if it is real that I never would find it. Suicidis does come off as “selfish” but so do those who are angry at the person who is/was suicidal. Of course you dont want them to do it but would you want a grandparent who was constantly in pain to keep fighting just to make you happy?
im not saying suicide is ever acceptable because its not, but anger seems to be the main reaction these days over compassion. It’s hard to deal with life, depression makes it even harder. Be there for your sister, hug her, tell her you love her and if she needs anything you are there for her. Listen to her, dont judge, don’t give advice, just be there for her
Post # 12
I work as a nurse in mental health and I can say with certainty that, mental illness aside, I cannot imagine someone I loved coming to me with that information and needing to process such a lofty choice about my relationship and sexuality. My advice to you is to attend any family meetings you are invited to. The social workers in these hospitals are used to helping family members both help the patient but also UNDERSTAND mental illness and how it impacts a person’s life. There are no easy solutions to mental illness (just like with the majority of health conditions) and treatment is a multi modual approach. The biggest thing many patients with mental illness talk about is feeling alone and isolated because, even if they know they’re loved, they feel like nobody understands. While you might not understand, being there for her is the best thing you can do. What this means is being there for her at any level she needs– it might mean having to arrange your schedule so you have more time to spend with her or to visit her in the hospital, it might mean keeping her company on the weekends if she ends her relationship, it might mean being able to handle hearing difficult things (concerning the relationship with the person going through a sex change) and remaining objective, and mostly just accepting her as she is right now in this moment. Ideally, you want her to feel happy and be the same sister you’ve always known, but part of being a family member is loving someone no matter what they’re going through and separating the illness from teh person. I wish you the best of luck and I think you really do care about her and she’s lucky to have you.
Post # 13
I agree with the others here that telling her to suck it up might not be the best approach. You can’t understand what drives someone to that kind of desperate measure until you’ve been there yourself. She obviously is feeling very hopeless and lost, and just needs support right now. Remind her you love her and are there for her, that is the best you can do.
Post # 14
@sbruin99: First of all, I’m sorry that your family is going through this.
But you have to suck it up now.
Depression is a horrible experience and people get into such a dark, lonely place. Making flippant statements like ‘everyone wants to throw in the towel at some point’ and ‘suicide is selfish’ are incredibly unhelpful and discompassionate. Unless you 100% know what it feels like to really, truly lose the will to live then you have no idea what your sister is going through. There are degrees of depression and mental illness, and it sounds like your sister is a lot worse than you have ever been. People who can honestly say that suicide is selfish or weak don’t understand what it is to be in that frame of mind.
IMO it would be best if you said nothing at all. Your sister doesn’t need to hear how selfish you think she is for wanting to end her life. Go to counselling and educate yourself about suicide for her sake.
Post # 15
@sbruin99: my brother is very mentally unwell. my mother has also struggled throughout my life. the best advice i ever got was “being mad at someone for being mentally unwell is like being mad at someone for having cancer”. your sister is UNWELL. she can’t suck it up… trust me, i’m sure she would like to. you need to start thinking of this as a disease just like every other disease because there is no way you will be able to help your sister with your current attitude towards her depression.
Post # 16
Let her know you’re there for her but don’t push her to talk. I have been there and the absolute worst thing anyone did was try to get me to talk. I had to deal with it in my own way, not everyone else’s way. My therapist and I dealt with it after I was released from a week in the hospital. Talking to other people did more harm than good because they told me I was fine and it wasn’t a big deal.
And as someone who was told to ‘suck it up’, I will tell you this- to this very day, I resent the people that told me that. You say there is family history of these issues, but you obviously don’t understand them. If she could just suck it up, she would. You said you know how it feels to not want to wake up but is that because you are having a rough day or because every waking moment of your life is filled with darkness and not knowing if there will ever be another light? I highly recommend you talk to a counselor before you talk to her so that you can better understand it.