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Sun Jul 7, 2019, 06:09 PM

Seeking Advice re My Sister

Last edited Sun Jul 7, 2019, 08:41 PM - Edit history (1)

My sister who lives in Alaska has some obvious mental health issues which she is in denial about. For years now, she has been sending me long, delusional, stream of consciousness emails that flow from childhood issues to present-day resentments against pretty much everyone. She has a lot of problems that she invariably blames on anyone but herself, but which an objective observer can clearly see are mostly self-induced. To date, she has alienated everyone else in my family, as well as most of her former friends, with her online behavior (she is an obsessive Facebook user, which I am not, and she basically cyberstalks people). She operates from crisis to crisis, nearly all of which are imaginary, and she frequently attempts to pull me into her manufactured dramas.

She sends frustrated emails if she is not responded to ASAP, but if I respond quickly, it boomerangs right back into a never-ending cycle of epically long, negative, self-pitying messages with no break for paragraphs. No one else in my life comes close to contacting me as often.

She responds poorly to any suggestion that she seek help and believes that there is nothing wrong. My tendency has been to respond with positivity, while carefully wordsmithing my messages because she is always reading between the lines and looking for things to be resentful about. And despite the wordsmithing, she usually finds something anyway.

I am at the point now where her obsessive neediness, her negativity, and inability to honor normal boundaries have pushed me to the point of cutting off contact. The only reason I donít is because I am the only one left who has anything to do with her, so I feel a weird obligation. Also, she has a daughter who, while remaining in contact, keeps her distance because their relationship is toxicómostly due to my sisterís delusional behavior. I am close to my niece and am a bit of a father figure to her, so I stay in contact with my sister partly for that reason.

But her behavior is truly awful. I could fill pages enumerating the crap she has said or has tried to pull. Suffice it to say she is very manipulative, especially on the emotional level. I feel badly for her, but I also feel like cutting her loose because maintaining the relationship is draining.

And thatís when I remind myself that she suffers from mental illness, and my sense of compassion kicks in, and the cycle repeats itself, getting progressively worse as time goes on. I know she has had a tough childhood and that she suffered abuse at the hands of her stepfather. She has also been diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury. When she is feeling good, she is smart and witty. She is also a very talented artist. So I know there is some good in there, but itís so overshadowed by negativity as to be nearly absent these days. Itís like she wants she wants me to be her therapist, which I am both unequipped and unwilling to do.

My question is, is there a better way I handle this situation? Lately I have been ignoring her messages and when I do respond, the responses have been short, and she is fit to be tied. But Iím at the point that I honestly donít know what to say to her. If anyone here has been in a similar situation and can offer any advice, Iíd love to hear it. Thanks.


On edit: I wrote her, following much of your advice, and it was like kicking a hornet's nest, but I basically cut her off. Thanks to everyone who responded. I am in your debt.

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Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 34 replies Author Time Post
Reply Seeking Advice re My Sister (Original post)
utopian Jul 2019 OP
redstateblues Jul 2019 #1
utopian Jul 2019 #2
marylandblue Jul 2019 #3
utopian Jul 2019 #5
marylandblue Jul 2019 #8
eppur_se_muova Jul 2019 #4
utopian Jul 2019 #6
catrose Jul 2019 #15
utopian Jul 2019 #17
emmaverybo Jul 2019 #7
utopian Jul 2019 #9
mopinko Jul 2019 #12
proud patriot Jul 2019 #10
proud patriot Jul 2019 #11
Karadeniz Jul 2019 #13
lunasun Jul 2019 #14
dlk Jul 2019 #16
utopian Jul 2019 #18
dlk Jul 2019 #19
CDerekGo Jul 2019 #20
utopian Jul 2019 #22
Skittles Jul 2019 #21
utopian Jul 2019 #23
Skittles Jul 2019 #24
Tobin S. Jul 2019 #25
utopian Jul 2019 #26
Tobin S. Jul 2019 #27
AJT Jul 2019 #28
Tobin S. Jul 2019 #29
AJT Jul 2019 #30
Tobin S. Jul 2019 #32
AJT Jul 2019 #33
CDerekGo Jul 2019 #31
demosincebirth Jul 2019 #34

Response to utopian (Original post)

Sun Jul 7, 2019, 06:15 PM

1. At some point you have to protect yourself from toxic people.

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Response to redstateblues (Reply #1)

Sun Jul 7, 2019, 06:20 PM

2. Sadly, that's pretty much where I've landed

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Response to utopian (Original post)

Sun Jul 7, 2019, 06:21 PM

3. You are doing fine. You tried your best to help, but if your help is rejected,

it's time to let go. It's clear everyone else has let go already. If you feel some obligation to keep contact because of your niece, you can do it, but don't expect any improvement. You control when and how you respond and just ignore any manipulation attempt.

If that's still too much for you, don't feel bad, you've done more than enough already. Just cut your sister off and mourn the loss.

Can you maintain contact with your niece without involving your sister?

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Response to marylandblue (Reply #3)

Sun Jul 7, 2019, 06:38 PM

5. Yes, we're very close and pretty much on the same page

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Response to utopian (Reply #5)

Sun Jul 7, 2019, 06:47 PM

8. Ok, that's good. Then you just need to take back your power of choice.

You decide what level of contact there will be, if any. Whatever your sister says doesn't matter. No impact either way. As long as you make your own choices based on what you think is best, she can't manipulate you anymore.

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Response to utopian (Original post)

Sun Jul 7, 2019, 06:29 PM

4. I *really* wish I had advice to offer. I really do.

I clicked on the link mostly because I thought it might be instructive in dealing with my own sister -- who, for financial reasons, I am currently forced to share a house with. Maybe she is not quite that bad but man oh man does your case sound familiar. Like you, I am afraid that cutting contact (eventually) will be the only solution. OTOH, I do not have nieces or nephews to consider. In the meantime, she is making my mother's last years on this earth truly miserable. I haven't found a solution or even an approach -- like you I have tried engaging her or not engaging her and neither way really works. She is stuck in permanent victimhood mode (how very GOP), won't take responsibility for her own errors in judgement, blames everything on someone else, etc. I know she has seen therapists at least twice and been on medication once or twice but they didn't come anywhere near solving the problem. I truly don't know what to do -- I (and Mother) were much happier when she lived in another state.

Hope your problem at least doesn't get worse. You might try to let your niece know that she will always be your niece no matter what happens with her mother. After my parents got divorced some family friends we knew through my dad -- and even some of her in-laws -- let her know that they were still friends/family, even if they didn't keep close relations with my dad. It means a lot to her. Your niece may be wanting some such reassurance from you, or she may not. Probably best to go ahead and broach the subject, but carefully.

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Response to eppur_se_muova (Reply #4)

Sun Jul 7, 2019, 06:41 PM

6. Yes, that does sound familiar

I will definitely talk to my niece just so she knows, but she's a hair's breadth for cutting her off too. What's happening with me is 10x worse for her, if you can imagine.

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Response to utopian (Reply #6)

Sun Jul 7, 2019, 08:05 PM

15. My mother was a bipolar alcoholic; childhood was beyond horrible,

and I've never learned to deal with mental illness besides getting as far away as possible, even though not everyone with that diagnosis is physically abusive. But why wait around to find out. I hope your niece can cut loose and you too, if you feel that's best for you--because as you say, you aren't qualified to help her.

There's a line in one of the AA Big Book stories from one of the women: "A terrible thing happened to me. I ran out of people." Once NOBODY was putting up with her rampages any longer, she took steps to clean up her life.

I don't know if the same would apply to mental illness, but I think of that line when people say that they're the last one.

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Response to catrose (Reply #15)

Sun Jul 7, 2019, 08:29 PM

17. Thanks. I think you're right.

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Response to utopian (Original post)

Sun Jul 7, 2019, 06:43 PM

7. Very sad. You can try to make the issue about medical health, not mental. You can try to get your

niece to talk to your sisterís PCP if she has one. Despite HIPPA, confidentiality laws, one can relate observations and concerns to a medical professional about a patient, asking for no reciprocal information.

However, it seems doubtful your sister has the capacity for self-insight when it comes to her own condition. Any number of fears keep people with neuro-biologically based conditions from seeking
help and from complying with careóforced hospitalization, malevolent others taking control, poisoning through medication, and stigmatization.

The medical route is a good back door to psychiatric care, if it works, but often people whose thinking and behavior is affected by ďmental disordersĒ have a heightened fear about treatment and a great distrust of the best intentions.

Forced temporary hospitalization has not been shown to be effective, as once released patients fall
back into non-compliance.

Your niece might be willing to make a last ditch rescue effort by enlisting a home visit or accompanying your sister to a doctorís visit, but the trick is patient follow-through.

You can not help by letting your sister vent, by being available as you get caught in the syndrome yourself. The beauty of professionals is that they are not family. They are trained in transfer. They
can be more objective.

If you can not do anything, be honest in severing contact for now. Give her honest feedback about how her behavior affects you and tell her you will always support her in trying to do whatís right
for her well being.

Then pray to the cosmos that somehow your sister gets a thorough evaluation of her current status
neurologically and a treatment plan she can follow. It does happen! Let her know how much you love her and how sad you are to see her not well.

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Response to emmaverybo (Reply #7)

Sun Jul 7, 2019, 06:51 PM

9. Good advice. Thanks.

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Response to utopian (Reply #9)

Sun Jul 7, 2019, 07:31 PM

12. that's some good advice.

 

not much to add, but

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Response to utopian (Original post)

Sun Jul 7, 2019, 06:59 PM

10. I have no advise

but I do send you love as someone who lives with a family member with
mental illness too

:love: :love:

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Response to utopian (Original post)

Sun Jul 7, 2019, 07:00 PM

11. When I've sought Help

"SAFETY" was very important ..

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Response to utopian (Original post)

Sun Jul 7, 2019, 07:49 PM

13. Profound sympathy to you...and everyone suffering from her behavior. Is it within your

means to bundle up the emails and ask a mental therapist for a way forward?

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Response to utopian (Original post)

Sun Jul 7, 2019, 07:53 PM

14. Maybe I'm a terrible person but I would let her know that unfortunately a lot is going on right now

in your life and you have some problems you donít want to talk about ( no need for her to know her constant need for attention is one of the main ones ) and so you wonít be able to reply as often but let her know you love her but gently put her on notice that it is you who will try to keep in contact as much as you can for the near future.
Boundaries have already been broken and must be reinstalled firmly but gently
That way you decide when you want to deal with her instead of always having to answer & respond on her timetable.
Hopefully this will set a new pace for how often you contact each other as time goes on

If she is upset ask her to understand as you have tried to be there for her a lot but now your own issues are important (even if that issue is just you not dealing with her but remains unnamed)
If she can not understand that or wonít back off , then well there are deeper problems with displaced anger beyond your capacity to handle

She will find some other outlet or person to voice her frustrations I bet and you seem to be done with playing that role - itís your life
live as desired imo

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Response to utopian (Original post)

Sun Jul 7, 2019, 08:05 PM

16. You Can Love Your Sister in a Healthy Way and Still Set Appropriate Boundaries to Protect Yourself

Ultimately, painful though it may be, itís not your job to fix her. Your sister is responsible for her own life. You can be loving toward her and still detach enough to maintain healthy boundaries, difficult as that is.

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Response to dlk (Reply #16)

Sun Jul 7, 2019, 08:30 PM

18. Thanks for your kind words

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Response to utopian (Reply #18)

Sun Jul 7, 2019, 08:33 PM

19. My Heart Goes Out to You-I Can Relate to Your Challenges

Iíll be sending comforting and healing thoughts your way.

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Response to utopian (Original post)

Sun Jul 7, 2019, 09:12 PM

20. Sounds as if you've decided

And I certainly hope you're able to stick to your decision. If you're able to walk away from your Sister (and her toxic ways) and stay away, it seems you'll be much happier. Your niece as well. Once your Sister discovers she's out of friends, and only has Facebook Friends, that no one answers her phone calls, no one visits, no one talks to her any longer, that in essence, she's hit rock bottom, she'll finally go get that assistance that is so obvious that she needs.

Just like alcoholics, no one makes them go to their first AA meeting (and stay), it's their own decision. Let's just hope she can find the courage to follow through.

Good luck, it's a tough decision on your part, and you'll find that you'll want to pick up your phone and call, email at various times of the day to check in. Change your habits as well. That will make this decision for you that much easier.

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Response to CDerekGo (Reply #20)

Sun Jul 7, 2019, 09:30 PM

22. I made it, and I'm sticking to it

My niece is supportive and applauds my decision. Between that and my DU siblings, I've overcome my aversion to conflict and pulled the trigger. I'll probably reach out after a while if things improve with her. Thanks.

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Response to utopian (Original post)

Sun Jul 7, 2019, 09:27 PM

21. you cannot allow her to continue to abuse you

you have to set some limits, some boundaries

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Response to Skittles (Reply #21)

Sun Jul 7, 2019, 10:00 PM

23. Lord knows I've tried

It seems that that total cutoff was the only option.

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Response to utopian (Reply #23)

Sun Jul 7, 2019, 10:21 PM

24. well hopefully it will make her aware and she will try to modify her behavior

if not, well, you did try...I know it is very hard, indeed I do

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Response to utopian (Original post)

Mon Jul 8, 2019, 09:04 PM

25. Your sister needs anti-psychotic medication.

I doubt anyone will be able to reach her without it. It would take divine intervention.

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Response to Tobin S. (Reply #25)

Mon Jul 8, 2019, 09:08 PM

26. You get no argument from me.

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Response to utopian (Reply #26)

Mon Jul 8, 2019, 09:14 PM

27. 10-4

I've been where your sister is and I take that kind of medication now. It has been a 180 degree turn around for me, and I am much easier to get along with now days. And I feel so much better. All the pain from my mental distress is gone now and I can think rationally.

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Response to Tobin S. (Reply #27)

Mon Jul 8, 2019, 09:34 PM

28. I am so happy for you. It is great that you made the step to get help.

Congratulations.

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Response to AJT (Reply #28)

Mon Jul 8, 2019, 09:38 PM

29. Thank you.

Awareness about the facts of mental illness are so low in this country that it usually delays people who really need help from getting it. I suffered for ten years untreated before I landed in the hospital when I was about ready to put a bullet in my head. It shouldn't have to come to that, but with low awareness on the issue and the social stigma surrounding it, that's usually what it takes.

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Response to Tobin S. (Reply #29)

Mon Jul 8, 2019, 09:42 PM

30. My brother is going through a horrible situation with his oldest son.

He went through court and Friday he was committed. He is olny 20, the doctors are saying bipolar with manic psychosis or schizophrenia. They are still trying different meds, so far none are really working.

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Response to AJT (Reply #30)

Mon Jul 8, 2019, 09:45 PM

32. Unfortunately, medication doesn't always work, but it usually does especially for psychosis.

It may take a little time before they get the correct medication at the right dosage. However, the young man might be bitter and angry about being forcefully committed. That might complicate the issue.

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Response to Tobin S. (Reply #32)

Mon Jul 8, 2019, 09:51 PM

33. They weren't sure what else to do, they didn't want him on the streets.

It's easy to say "let him make his own decisions", but it's their child. I am heartbroken for them.

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Response to utopian (Original post)

Mon Jul 8, 2019, 09:44 PM

31. I'll be honest

I don't recommend 'support groups' I only recommend medical treatment. My opinion of 'support groups' seems that they replace one addiction with another.

WHEN your sister finally decides she's in need of Medical Attention, and gets it, and stays with the program, then and ONLY then should you reach out. IF she continues to harass you by way of phone calls, let her leave her messages. Listen to the first few seconds of the voicemail, if it's what you've grown accustomed to, DELETE.

When the tone and message changes, then you'll know there's been a real change. Watching a family member go through this is hard, I'm going through it now as I type this. And yes, I'm in the stage where we're not speaking either. I have no idea when (or if) we'll ever speak again. But, until they determine that they need that help that they desperately need (alcoholic since 13, now in their 50's) I don't intend to speak, or assist at all. He has to hit rock bottom.

Good Luck fellow DU'r.

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Response to utopian (Original post)

Mon Jul 8, 2019, 10:09 PM

34. I have an oldest daughter who mirrors (or almost mirrors) your sister. She has caused so much grief

in my life...and money. All her problems she blames on everyone else. She cannot get honest with herself and that is one of her biggest problems. The latest diagnosis she got, I think, maybe the correct one BPH (Borderline Personality Disorder). I read a book on it and it fits her to the Tee. I feel for you very much because I know what you are going through and it will never end until she realizes that when she points a finger at someone, there are three fingers pointing back at her. Good luck. Take care of yourself. PM me if you like




PS. She has also been seeing psychiatrists and therapist for thirty years

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