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Sibling with severe mental health problems - anyone else?

(33 Posts)
LovelyLidlGirl Fri 09-May-14 20:36:03

My DSis has been psychotic (very severely, for a lot of the time) for nearly a year. Diagnosis of probable schizophrenia. I miss her. Or at least I really miss the "her" I used to know. This probably sounds a bit pathetic and melodramatic, but there is so much about her that is so different (at the moment, at least). And, obviously, seeing her so distressed is horrendous. I can't begin to imagine what it must be like for her.

Just wondered if anyone else is going through this and would like a shared thread.

Thanks for reading thanks

Jbck Fri 09-May-14 20:48:19

I'm not but a friend's brother has had severe depression and spells in psychiatric wards for many years. She says it's awful leaving him there but knows its for the best.
My sympathies to you both.

LovelyLidlGirl Fri 09-May-14 20:57:26

Thanks Jbck.
I hope your friend and her brother are having some easier times.

LavenderGreen14 Fri 09-May-14 21:03:16

Yes - I have a sibling with severe mental health problems. It was a shock at first, and they are a different person to who they were before - but it is ok. You still get glimmers of the old them. But is is a bit like losing who they used to be if that makes sense, so be kind to yourself. It is a big thing to come to terms with, and sadly there is some stigma still so I am careful who I share it with.

LovelyLidlGirl Fri 09-May-14 21:10:18

LavenderGreen14, thanks for your message. I'm sorry your sibling and you have been/are going through this too.

I also find the stigma difficult - I do tell people (though I've name-changed for this post), partly because it's pretty obvious what's going on and partly because I sort of want to fight the stigma. But I worry about telling people, too, in case it impacts negatively on DSis in any way in the future.

I know what you mean about the glimmers. Sometimes she sounds just like "her", and then the other stuff becomes all too apparent.
I think you're totally right about losing the "old" them and gaining the "new" one, though. Suppose that's not unlike what happens to us all, constantly (we all change), but it's just so extreme, and so sudden.

LavenderGreen14 Fri 09-May-14 21:18:26

It is a shock - almost like a small bereavement I think. But we are nearly 16 years since diagnosis and it is ok. My sibling lives independently, has good care, and lives quite a happy life. I think a new normal develops really for everyone.

Preciousbane Fri 09-May-14 21:20:49

One of my sisters has bipolar at the very severe end of the condition. She was diagnosed at about 30 and is now in her early 60's. she has had a Rollercoaster of a life that I wouldn't wish on anyone. She has been sectioned a few times and has lived a very varied life. What is so very sad is that she is a very intelligent woman who has never achieved what she could have in life. She is a lot more stable now, different drugs and an acceptance of her condition and cooperation when she got in to her forties helped.

It's getting the diagnosis correct in the first place and the meds that takes time.

orangemog Fri 09-May-14 21:22:25

Hold on in there Lovely, it does get easier, or rather, you'll learn to get along with it better (as will she).
My DBro was diagnosed with Schizophrenia when he was 19, 18 years ago. He's two years younger than me. He's had a few psychotic breaks over the years, and it's hard (and can be very scary), but there are more good times. He's one of the most generous and honest people I know and I wouldn't be without him and his eccentricities.
Feel free to PM me if you'd like to chat.

noisytoys Fri 09-May-14 21:23:32

My sister has drug induced psychosis. She is also a shadow of her former self, ballooned because of medication and will probably never go back to the way she was before. It's hard sad

Blueuggboots Fri 09-May-14 21:27:36

My brother has bipolar - had a psychotic episode at 19 4 weeks before my A levels which was massively scary (and initially diagnosed as drug induced psychosis due to him smoking cannabis and taking acid) and I moved out for a few weeks.
He's now 41, lives with his partner, is a teaching assistant and is a really great person to be around.
He does have very dark episodes where even getting out of bed is a struggle. He's only had 2 other psychotic episodes - one when he flunked out of uni (again drugs were involved) and one when him and his previous girlfriend split up.
It's hard not to try and wrap him in cotton wool and let him live his life.

LovelyLidlGirl Fri 09-May-14 21:40:11

Thank you, precious, orange, noisy and blue for sharing your experiences.

It does seem like the acceptance of possibly living a quite different sort of life is the key. Not seeing it as catastrophic, just a different path. Perhaps it's having the expectations in the first place of what things "should" be like that's the problem.

It's interesting you saying that your siblings are great people to be around. When she's not totally out of hand, my DSis is incredibly funny, caring, empathic - generally amazing. And I can sort of see that it's exactly these things that feed into her psychosis.

But sometimes, as you say, it's downright terrifying.

Thanks again to all for chatting. Hope things are OK for you and for your siblings at the moment. thanks

LovelyLidlGirl Fri 09-May-14 21:41:46

Lavender - "like a small bereavement" - yes, that's exactly what it can feel like.

LavenderGreen14 Fri 09-May-14 21:52:21

I will say it can take a while to find medication which works, so the early days can be difficult until things settle down.

It is downright terrifying, you are right.

Do please PM if you want a sounding board or whatever.

TinyTyke Fri 09-May-14 22:15:37

Yes it is like a bereavement, I've grieved for my big brother. Sadly he first became ill in his late teens and we lost him then. I miss him.

WildBill Fri 09-May-14 22:26:37

My sis has had psychotic breaks in the last few years, she's extremely paranoid, moves around the country to escape 'them' has been to the police for help in several counties but comes to the conclusion that they are 'in on it', etc she can't hold a job down as within weeks she thinks people are plotting against her. The stories change, one day it's a rich man she dated once 6 years ago, who has employed all these detectives to follow her to check she isn't just after his money, including sending 8 of them after her to Australia. Other times it's someone poisoning others against her on the internet. One by one she has accused family members of being in on the conspiracy and cuts them off, including the last person - me. I haven't seen her for nearly 2 years or heard from her for nearly as long. She hand delivered some rambling letters to my place of work, didn't ask to see me, she thinks her mail is intercepted and my house bugged. She constantly changes her mobile numbers so I can't keep in contact unless she decides.
If she has had a diagnosis she has never let on. She doesn't think she's ill she just wants 'them to leave her alone'. I contacted the mental health team in the town I last knew she lived to ask for advice. I gave away enough detail for them to confirm she was 'on their radar' but she wouldn't engage with them. On their advice I wrote to her doctor, never heard anything. I've written many times, cards, christmas presents, send texts, phone her last known numbers but get no response. I had an official looking letter on the doormat when I got home today - the first thing I thought was it's a letter to tell me she's died. I actually wish she would say cause a scene in a shopping centre or something so the police get called and maybe she would get the help she so badly needs. Currently I look at 'rightmove' to see if her house is up for sale. It's the only way I have of knowing if she's on the move again. She's so vulnerable yet her illness causes her to be paranoid about the very people that want the best for her. I'm all out of ideas and yes she is like a stranger but she's still my big sister and she's completely on her own.

superstarheartbreaker Fri 09-May-14 22:42:06

I am the "ill" sibling. My sis is actually a psychiatrist and as level headed as they come. Mum was bipolar and I have tendencies but can hold down a job in teaching...just.
Life has been a roller coaster though due to abusive relationships, very bad decisions and emotional pain. I'm currently on ads and having therapy. The fear of relapse and people finding about my past is ever present.
I think diss and I are closer than before but she is distant; physically and mentally.

dolicapax Fri 09-May-14 23:34:02

I can identify with so much that has been said already. My older sister was diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic in her 30s after her increasingly worrying behaviour resulted in a section. When she is unwell, she is unrecognisable and even looks different. She is also quite frightening, and I will admit to running away from her when I was alone with her in the house and she was in the middle of an episode. I love her to bits, and her illness has been very hard for all of the family to deal with, as she lashes out at us, attacking us, and saying the most awful things about us.

She is now stable, although still a little unpredictable, thanks to meds. The first time she called me, just for a chat, was amazing. It felt like she was back. She isn't really though, as normal day to day upsets like a bad day at work or an argument with someone are enough to tip her over the edge. Her DH is an amazing person, he protects her from life's stresses and keeps her well. My mother said she loves him like a son, and if he ever said he couldn't cope any more and was leaving, she'd be heart broken, but she'd give him her blessing.

missmysis Sat 10-May-14 01:32:45

Thank you all for sharing. I have been lurking since last year and this board got me through the worst heartbreak I ever experienced.

So wise ones, how do you manage to live a life with some normalacy or dare I hope for any future joy when you know you can't help your sibling, that whom they were is gone. The grief of grieving someone who is not dead, that feeling of helplessness, it is paralysing. Who do/did you turn to? I feel awful even asking.

Charlie97 Sat 10-May-14 06:29:13

My sister has severe mental health issues, my thread around this time last year explains that I had to arrange for a mental health assessment, this led to her being sectioned.

She didn't like me at the time.....at all!

A year on, we are in a different place, her flat is cleaned and cleared, we spent a weekend away together and had fun.

It's all about getting the medication correct, it takes a long time.

My Dsis is bi-polar and borderline schizophrenic.

WildBill Sat 10-May-14 09:06:47

Charlie97 - can I ask how you arranged for a mental Health assessment? I wrote to my sisters doctor but never heard anything. I did get a text form my sister a couple of months after saying she would never forgive me for my betrayal but this is the usual language she uses to accuse people of being 'in on the conspiracy'. My employers hold staff well being days so I booked a slot to discuss my sister and took in letters my sister had sent me for the mental health advisors to look at and the conclusion was there is something clearly very wrong. They basically said it was very hard to get help until someone had spiralled right down and hit rock bottom and were a danger to either themselves or others.

Dolicapax, I can't self diagnose my sister but the behaviour sounds very similar to your sister. The terrible verbal outbursts and attacks. Times I have had my sister in my house and I make sure the back door and garden gate have been unlocked so I can run out if necessary as yes she has frightened me on occasions. She has never attacked me physically it's more that I have no idea who this person is and the bizarre things she says are alarming. Reasoning and rationalising are a waste of time.

Mine was married from a young age for 20 years to a lovely man, there were some signs her mental health was an issue towards the end but eventually she chose to leave him. All her stability was gone. My parents have passed away since and other relatives live overseas so she really has no-one except me. Brother gave up on her decades ago. Her mental health has declined drastically since then and she has just turned 50. Your sisters husband sounds amazing but I wouldn't blame him if he couldn't cope anymore either.
This thread is great - I've told 3 people recently that I have day to day contact with. One thought it was funny.........one said they would 'pray for her' nice gesture but of no help whatsoever. The 3rd it turns out has a friend with MH issues who has been sectioned several times. I've had some good support from her.
People don't really understand it unless they been exposed to it with someone they know. It's been a very steep learning curve for me in the last few years........

porthtowanone Sat 10-May-14 10:24:54

My sister has severe mental health issues ,when I contacted her CPN all she could say was that she despised me and that would never change,we have no contact at all now and she is basically on her own ,its a terrible situation to be in ,but how can you help someone who doesn't want to be helped ?

Peacocklady Sat 10-May-14 10:52:33

Yes my older brother. It started when he was about 18 and me 17. He'd smoked a lot of weed and cared very deeply about injustice in the world. Too much. He was permanently ill and spent most of the time sectioned. He lived in a world fighting against enemies where people were spying on him, he thought he was a general and needed to protect everyone. Visiting him was hard because he wouldn't speak a lot but when he did it was all his delusions. He gave good hugs and trusted me. He died at 28, 11 years ago. I miss him so much and think of him all the time. I truly believe he watches over me but I sometimes wonder if he hadn't died if he could have got better and had a family himself.
Sorry this is not positive. It's so hard. I don't talk about it much with people because it's so upsetting still. I'm terrified my son will get into drugs and get it.
I hope your sister gets well again, lots of people do xx

Charlie01234 Sat 10-May-14 11:27:22

Anyone visited the website for siblings? www.sibs.org.uk Lots of helpful info there

KouignAmann Sat 10-May-14 12:03:21

One of my DC had a manic episode and was admitted to hospital at 18. It was terrifying and we lost her for four months. But gradually she recovered, got back to Uni and has graduated and got a good job. The fear of relapse is always there and knowing there is a family history I fear for my other DC. Equally we enjoy the good times and treasure being well and happy more since it was taken away so dramatically.
The mental health services at the time were brilliant but less so now she is too well for them!

Minion100 Sat 10-May-14 16:02:42

My stbXH has severe depression and had a manic episode of some sort than went on for three months or so.

It is absolutely awful when someone you love stops being "themselves". You miss them so much, it's just so painful So much sympathy for you in missing your sister and wanting to see her as she was.

xxx

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