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Estranged Sister is mentally ill


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My story is about 10 yrs in the making, so its sort of hard to sum this up without writing a novel. I'll give a quick break down. I'm in my early 20s, my brother is in his late teens, and my mentally ill sister is in her early 30s.


My sister grew up without mental abnormalities until she had a tramatic experience in her early 20s, which knocked her into a massive depression and she ended up in a mental hospital and back home from college, my parents had me share a room with her during all this. I was 14 at the time, and had no clue what was happening because no one would share. So, after about a year, she was on prescribed meds and in therapy and everything went back to being well again. My sister graduated from college, she had a job, and she also had a fiance.


Things were going well enough that she thought she didn't need her meds anymore, so she went off them against the advice of a doctor. Then, things started to change for her again, and she got back on prescribed meds only this time, she said she had side effects from it. So the doctor switched her to a different med and she claimed to have even more side effects from it. So, after switching meds a few times, she decided to just stay off meds and search for alternative methods to cure her depression. This was all happening while she was engaged.


Her behavior grew increasingly bizarre the longer she was off meds. Against the advice of my family they got married 8 months after getting off the meds. Herself and her husband decided to embark on the hollistic medicine route and began eating the "raw" diet. She lost her job b/c of being "sick" too much, her marriage lasted 1 year. She is now following some sort of "raw food" cult-like group. She eats raw meat, raw eggs (UGH!). She thinks everything is "toxic" to her body. Her personality has morphed into a major bipolar problem. She goes from hysteric laughter when nothing is funny, to yelling or crying, in just minutes. Its bizarre.


You can only imagine what this is doing to my family. I can't even explain how hurt everyone is and the steps they have tried to take to get her help.


She has isolated herself over the past couple years and did not come to any family events when she was welcome to. She is no longer the same person she was 8-10 years ago, she alienated herself for a good 4 yrs, and now she currently wants to start being with the family again. I haven't seen her in 5 years b/c I've decided to remove myself from the situation as best as I can. Things with her are so far downhill that I see no chance of her being normal again, there is nothing I can do to change her, so why even try. She has done and said a lot of hurtful things over the past 10 yrs and I know its not all her. Oh, and she asks my parents and grandparents for money!!

I decided I'm through with her crap about 5 years ago. I have to live my life and deal with my own stresses without having to hear from her and how messed up she is.


I'm weirded out by the way she acts, talks, lives and what I hear from my relatives. I'm terrified of the "100% raw diet" and the thought of being in the presense of someone who eats like that. I don't want to be around it. I don't think I should have to be around it. I blaming the fact that she wants to come around again on my Dad for being an enabler. He still talks to her and gives her money even though he doesn't want to. He doesn't know how to "completely turn away from her". I think the only way she is going to change is for my family to cut her off completely. My mom, brother and I understand this, but my dad does not.


So, she basically just invited herself to stay at my parent's house for the entire week of christmas when I had already planned to be there with my boyfriend for 2 days. I've already told my parents I won't come around if she is there. They don't even want her there. My brother said he'd leave if she comes home.


I think I could deal with seeing her maybe 1 hour and then leave, and NOT during the holiday. Why should I have to give up having Christmas with my family like I have for over 20yrs just so my sister can be in control of that situation? How can I let her ruin my Christmas and everyone else's Christmas just because my dad doesn't have the guts to tell her how things are going to be? This entire situation is so unfair to my brother and I. She has commanded attention from my parents and even taken it away from my brother and I on our special occasions like birthdays, graduations...


I just don't want to deal with her BS anymore and I don't know what its going to take for things to get better. I don't know if I should just keep on doing what I'm doing or what. I refuse to subject myself to being around someone like that, I'm going to feel entirely too uncomfortable, and there is no way in hell I'm letting my boyfriend meet her.


I'm sick of dealing with this whole thing and I don't want to deal with it anymore, I want it to stop. My parents flat out told her that I won't come to christmas b/c I'm mad at her. I'm not just mad at her, I'm mad at the entire situation. So, she's been calling my phone saying, "i think we should make amends". I refuse to call her b/c what is the sense in trying to rationalize with someone who is completely mentally messed up?


I just don't know how to deal with this entire situation. I'd like to just keep my distance from her but I don't think I should have to give up spending holiday time with my family. I know at one point in time I'm going to have to deal with her, but why should the 1st meeting be over the joyful holiday season? I'm at a loss for what to do. What I do know is, this charade cannot continue.

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How do you make amends with someone who is mentally ill? Everything she's done to my family is not ok, and I'm not going to let that go in just days. She has no rational bone in her body. I can't just write it off and tell myself she's sick because things wouldn't be this way if she would've stayed on meds. Some people with mental illness cannot be helped by drugs.

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I'm already past the pity stage for her, its been 10 yrs I've been dealing with this and I'm all out of pity. I want my entire family to cut her off b/c its the only way she's going to realize she's wrong.

If she is really mentally ill then she probably won't realise that until she receives effective treatment.


I think it is your decision how you deal with your sister but I don't think you should pressure your parents to cut her off. She is their daughter too and usually parents want to help their children who are in need of it even when they are adults.

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Its wrong b/c it wouldn't be this way if she'd take her meds. And that's why I'm mad. I have every right to be mad. She's an adult, she shouldn't be commanded all the attention. She had her time, now its past due for her to grow up.

I have a close friend whose sister is grown and schizophenic, and with all the meds she takes, she still can't be normal. With mine, she could be normal, but she decided to go backwards and screw up her life.

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Well I wouldn't focus so much on the raw food thing. I know people who do that and they are not mentally ill. Its not for me, but they like it i guess.


Maybe she doesn't want to take her meds? i do think we are a very over-prescribed society.


How is the rest of the family dealing with this?

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My teenage brother said he will leave the house if she comes to town. My mom is on the same page I am, tired of dealing with it, don't want to deal with it, want her to go back on meds, hopeless. My dad gives her money to fix her car and talks to her on the phone maybe once a week even though he doesn't want to, he doesn't want to "turn his back". In my opinion and my moms, he is enabling her.

My extended family doesn't understand the gravity of the situation b/c they all just remember her being normal, before she went off the deep end.

I just don't want to have to deal with her for the 1st time in 5 years on X-Mas!

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Um, I get your frustration, I really do. My ex SIL is mentally ill and will accept no responsibility or seek any treatment. She just uses it as an excuse to say/do whatever she wants and later claim "but I was sick then- I'm fine now" although she's not, she's just not in the middle of an episode.


However, I have to ask. You are talking about what she did ages ago, You say you haven't dealt with her in 5 years. You say she's a grown up now. How do you know that things haven't changed? She may be struggling, and your father may be helping her or hurting her in those efforts, I don't know (but give the guy a break- she's his daughter he loves her unconditionally, which he is supposed to), but she may be working really hard to put her life together and be stable.


In any event, do you want to continue to punish her for the rest of her life for not having the maturity to deal with her illness in her formative years? She may be trying very hard. If she is asking you to make amends, she obviously realizes that things weren't ideal. You want her to be fully abandoned by her family? How will that end?


You don't have to go back to the way "things were"- sounds like they weren't that great anyway. But why not tell her that you are willing to see if you can build a NEW relationship as adults, and set out your boundaries, of what you will, and won't accept.


I know a few people who struggled with mental illness and HAVE learned how to deal with it and have a normal life and relatively normal relationships. But they had the understanding of others (not to be confused with the persmission to treat others poorly), and it's a lifelong struggle with good times and not so good times.


I think you should consider giving her another chance. I did a lot of crappy things when I was a teenager, and I had a healthy body, mind and home- just a surly teenager. A lot of bad things we say and do in the NORMAL course of life is forgiven by others when we DON'T have any explanation other than "I was a stupid kid". Imagine going through what most teens go through AND having a diseased mind. No wonder she put you through a lot of grief- but I guarantee you it was 10x worse for her.


Her illness is an explanation for her past behaviour, it is not an excuse. But she needs to be given the opportunity to try to make up for it by how she behaves now. She can't do that if you won't let her near you.


It's up to you whether you have any capacity left to forgive & try again. But I like to believe that if it were me, I'd be at least willing to give it a try.

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Even if I did choose to forget the past and try to 'forgive', I don't really know how to build any sort of relationship from then on. I don't agree with her cult-like lifestyle, and I refuse to be in the presense of the cult-like activities, which is basically anytime she eats.

I don't know how to build a relationship with someone I cannot relate to. She has no job, no money, massive debt, no boyfriend, an ex husband, is irrational, has dramatic mood swings, asks for money, stresses out my family. Basically, everything about the way her life is is stuff I disagree with. She's just so messed up its almost an embarrassment to hear what I do about her. She wrapped up feminine products and gave them to my mom for x-mas, and it wasn't even supposed to be a joke.

Now she knows I have a problem with her, but there is no sense in me talking to her about anything b/c shes too messed up in the head.

I think I'll eventually hit the point of being numb to the situation.

I basically went through a lot of stages the past 10years. At first, I was sad, then I wanted to help, then I wanted to be supportive, then I saw stuff wasn't improving so I started avoiding the situation, now the situation just plain angers me. I think the next step is being numb to it.

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