To walk away from sister with depression and mental health problem

(18 Posts)
SydneySlough Fri 09-May-14 20:49:19

I feel I have become my sisters emotional punch bag. She has suffered from mental health problems for years and goes up and down like a yoyo. One minute she treats me like I am her one and only confidant, talks to me about everything and anything, goes out of her way in kindness until it is suffocating and is completely over the top with my children, to the point where I feel the need to try and enforce boundaries that she is not their mother. I'll be really supportive, help her, support her on down days and encourage her on good days. Then it can all change in the blink of an eye, I can say one thing (which would have been fine the day before) and it'll be taken out of context, blown out of all proportion and she won't talk to me for weeks on end, my name will be scum with anyone who mentions it, and she will completely ignore me and my children, whatever efforts I make to communicate, and go as far as for example when can be in the same room and it is as if we don't exist, I'll say hello, she'll ignore, and the same to my children. I won't really know what will have triggered this reaction to me until weeks/ months later when she'll suddenly be ok again and will tell me it was all my fault she ignored me because of x,y or z. There is no recognition or acknowledgement of her unreasonable behaviour and thus the cycle begins again. In the past I have found it all really hard and emotionally difficult, and I hate it impacting on my children who never know whether they are coming or going with her. Quite simply I've had enough, I'm growing numb to her behaviour and just want done with it. I want to distance myself and not be her supporting rock, but equally hopefully this means I not the enemy.We go through this cycle every few months, and I'm tired of it. I know that make me selfish, I know I should be there for her, but she as other family members, she has a husband I feel I need to let it be someone elses turn. I think they re very happy for to be this person for her and they can all dance around the edges of her! Sorry just fed up with it all, its not that I don't care, of course I do , I just don't have anything else to give and my children are old enough now to pick up on it and that for me is the trigger to walk away.

gimcrack Fri 09-May-14 20:53:14

You poor thing, that sounds really tough. Do you have any mutual family you can talk to?

FunnyFoot Fri 09-May-14 21:00:15

Sometimes stepping away for your own sanity is the only way OP.

Write her a letter explaining why you are drawing away. Mental health affects all those involved but you have given your support. You clearly care and love her very much. You are important too. Please remember that.

JimBobplusasprog Fri 09-May-14 21:02:47

It sounds hard for you and your sister. Personally I would try to stick with being supportive as your sister deserves all the help she can get.

maggiethemagpie Fri 09-May-14 21:04:53

Has she been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder? just asking as she is displaying a lot of the symptoms.

SydneySlough Fri 09-May-14 21:08:31

She is on anti depressants but if you try to talk to her about her illness she goes into her ignoring phase, so in all honesty i've no idea. I have spoken to her gp about my concerns but again no idea of outcome.

SaucyJack Fri 09-May-14 21:13:22

YANBU. You won't be helping her by accepting her behaviour. She needs to understand that her thought processes are wrong.

hoobypickypicky Fri 09-May-14 21:45:24

YANBU. I would be here all day if I told my story but suffice to say that I didn't walk away when I should have and I (and my children, who were also of an age to pick up on it and be drawn into it by my sister) suffered the results and are still suffering them 6 years on. Please don't make the same mistake.

Sometimes you have to put yourself first to avoid going under. That may not be the popular choice with your sister but she doesn't have to live your life and parent your children - you do.

Mumoftwoyoungkids Fri 09-May-14 21:47:16

You have a responsibility to your children. As you say - they are starting to pick up on this. It could be really upsetting for a child to one minute have Aunty Sue tell them that she loves them more than anyone in the world and the next for Aunty Sue to ignore them. They will wonder what they have done.

You are not being selfish in walking away. You are putting your children first.

"I hate it impacting on my children who never know whether they are coming or going with her."
And you are right to hate it. Whilst an adult can rationalise it all and understand that it is her and not you, children are more likely to think that another person's behaviour is their 'fault'. Protecting your children trumps supporting your sister.

"I know that make me selfish"
It really doesn't - quite the opposite IMO. Prioritising your sister over your children would be the selfish thing to do; because the only reason to prioritise her would be to stop you feeling bad about not being 'her rock'. As you acknowledge, she has other people who should could step up to the plate. To allow yourself and your children to be dragged down, just because you don't want anyone to see you as 'the bad guy' (which would be complete tripe anyway, and anyone who wouold think that way is a complete arse whose opinion doesn't count) - now THAT would be selfish.

WooWooOwl Fri 09-May-14 21:58:29

It sounds like you will have to walk away if you want any chance of having some sort of a relationship with her in the future.

Your children have to come first, and that means putting yourself ahead of your sister too.

Hedgehog80 Fri 09-May-14 22:34:09

YANBU at all. It comes to the point in situations like this when you have to take a step back, realise that you can't help this person and instead prioritise yourself and your family.

It is hard. You will feel guilty but remember you have done all you can. Sometimes people need professional help and sometimes they just really don't want help at all as it might mean change, unfortunately I know from experience that sometimes it is easier to stay 'needy' and to rely on others, I have family members that do this and for them change is unthinkable-they don't want to 'get better' as it has become their way if life.

Have a good long break from all this stress. It doesn't mean you are turning your back on your dsis completely.at any point you can resume contact but believe me, you need some time without the stress in your life.

Good luck.

Octopirate Fri 09-May-14 22:57:38

Sounds like a horrible situation OP, but as previous posters have said, I think you need to put the needs of your children before those of your sister.

SydneySlough Sat 10-May-14 08:05:53

Thank you all.

DIYtrainee Sat 10-May-14 11:46:20

If while she is in her 'good' phase she refuses to discuss what has happened, then she is not actually in a good phase.

She doesn't have control over what is going on with occasional relapses. If she did, and on her good days you could talk about it honestly then I'd say keep trying.

But she doesn't, she is in a constant state of denial. You can't stay involved in that.

redexpat Sat 10-May-14 13:02:30

As others have said, do what's best for your children. It does sound like a very unfortunate situation.

Owllady Sat 10-May-14 13:08:30

Can you seek some counselling for yourself to discuss all this? sad

andsmile Sat 10-May-14 13:09:07

You need to read and be wary if transference.

As there are children involved id step away.

Sounds like you've done what you can. I've overcome depression with help but I do think changed starts within.

or, You need to re-establish boundaries , maybe saying you are happy to visit her if she wants to talk but you cannot accept xyz anymore. Keep kids away.

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