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Can my out of control sister truly change?


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My 42 year old sister used to be the person I aspire to be. She was hardworking and just a good person all around. She was married to a good guy, has two children, wealth, and a great job. However, in the last year she has changed.


She has become more controlling, she always had a bit of a controlling tendency to her personality but nothing too bad but now it has made her seem insane. We found out she has cheated on her husband a few times and has stolen money from him and our family. She seems to be has an eating disorder, she has gotten so skinny especially for being so tall. Also, she has become an alcoholic. She has also become emotionally abusive to our family and has been both emotionally and psychically abusive to her husband, she has not harmed her children as from what we know of.


Her husband has filed for divorce because she's too much to handle and she has been abusing him after he stated about wanting to divorce her. Nobody blames him because he's done nothing wrong and he shouldn't put up with that kind of treatment from her. Our family and her friends had also left her. She had no one. We thought she was just completely crazy and insane.


She finally felt guilt for what she has done and tried to get everyone back into her life, but no one would budge. Because she was so lonely, she was on the verge of suicide and called us up to tell us goodbye, we got to her in time and the only thing that kept her from killing herself was her two children, who gave her words of love and told her that they would always be there for her. She has decided to get help for her dysfunctions. She has entered anger management and counseling/therapy to help her problems.


I haven't seen her since the suicide situation that was a week ago, but from my mom (she and my dad are the only ones who are around her this moment) she is trying, but still has dysfunctional behavior, which of course she does since you don't get better overnight. According to the doctors, she is severely mentally ill, and they are trying out different medications for her to be stabilized on.


I know she has done many bad things such as stealing, cheating, abusing and hurting others, and its all cause of her own doing and there's no excuse for what she had done, but I want her to succeed, I always believed that people can have redemption and lead a good life and don't deserve a lifetime of guilt, loneliness, and suffering for their wrongdoings, but can a person so dysfunctional truly change?

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Sure, it's possible. Consider that the illness has changed your sister from the person you once knew--that's a change. So change is not only possible, it has already occurred.


Can the change be reversed? With some people, to a remarkable degree, with others, to a reasonable degree, and with others, no improvement, only deterioration.


Illness and response to treatment is never really predictable.


If sis had cancer or another form of illness, her personality might change, but people find it easier to be more forgiving of that. People who suffer Alzheimer's or dementia are forgiven despite the permanence of their condition and their inability to change back to a familiar personality.


Nobody would expect someone with a broken leg to run a marathon, yet we can tend to carry hopes and expectations that someone with a malfunctioning brain can bounce back to their old selves with some pills.


Mental illness isn't a moral issue, it's a medical one. This doesn't imply that anyone should suffer abuse at the hands of a mentally ill person, and each family member is entitled to draw their own lines of tolerance in the sand. But I'm with you in hoping for the best for your sister. It's likely to be a rocky road with the meds because it's an experimental art, not an exact science to find the right chemical at the right dose, and side effects are common reasons why many people don't comply.


I hope you'll keep us informed, and my heart goes out to you and your family.

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