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Bipolar sister - what to do?

(19 Posts)
MammKernow Sat 11-Jun-11 16:13:16

Hoping someone has advice or experience of similar:

Background: my sister is bipolar (medicated). She is single and unemployed, and lives in a small 2-bed cottage. She is away atm and mum and me have been going to feed her cats. I knew her house was untidy, but having seen it this week i'd say it is unliveable in sad.

Piles of food on plates everywhere, only half furnished, holes in the wall, etc. Mum v upset that sis not looking after herself, and says she would do house for her but it won't solve the underlying issue (mum did do the kitchen tho as it was prob a health hazard). Her back garden was once her pride and joy, but is now totally overgrown and covered in dog poo. It is difficult to get to the front door through the piles of rubbish strewn across the front.

Thing is, she has always been a very untidy person (and up to now has always had someone around doing the housework, ex-dh, friends etc). So i'm not sure if this is a problem caused by her bipolar, or if she is just a bit lazy blush. we say anything, for her own health's sake as much as anything? If so, what? And how to say it without upsetting her?

Any advice v gratefully received.

MammKernow Sat 11-Jun-11 16:27:53

Anybody out there?

mummylin2495 Sat 11-Jun-11 16:30:07

i am reading your first post .I too have a bi-polar sister

MaeMobley Sat 11-Jun-11 16:31:28

I also have a bi-polar sister so did not want your post to go unanswered.

mummylin2495 Sat 11-Jun-11 16:33:37

Maybe you could ask her if she would like you to give her a hand with certain things.I know it can be difficult trying not to say the wrong thing [ in their mind].It will really depend on what sort of mood she is when you ask her.My sister used to take things completly the wrong way and end up hysterical or storming out of my house !

Pudding2be Sat 11-Jun-11 16:35:23


My mum is bipolar, but she is the opposite. She won't stop cleaning. I think it affects people differently, and it sounds like she needs more help (I hope you don't think I'm saying you dont help, you clearly love and care) but maybe go back to the doctors and try to help her pull herself out of this episode of depression. Maybe if she could join a group or something might help build her back up again

I hope I helped

mummylin2495 Sat 11-Jun-11 16:35:39

Could you suggest that you will go round on a certain day to do things with her or something like that.I didnt get this problem so not really sure what to do about this situation.

MammKernow Sat 11-Jun-11 16:50:23

Hi all, thanks for replies, sorry i was so impatient blush

mummylin and Pudding2be - she does see her doc every 2 weeks (standard for bipolar?), she's not keen on anyone going with her but she says she has a good relationship with him, so that is helpful at least. She is 'rapid cycling' so can switch in a matter of hours so it is obv difficult for her to stick at anything for long. We (whole family!) have spent the odd day blitzing her house (and even her garden) but it just slides back again sad - i think we need to address the cause rather than the symptoms iyswim but not sure how/what?

I think mum feels it most - her house is always spotless, whereas mine is 'lived in' (i.e. clean but not always tidy!) so the difference in dsis's house and hers must be shocking to her.

MammKernow Sat 11-Jun-11 16:54:22

mummylin - meant to say, yes i am worried she may take it the wrong way. Sounds like we have v similar sisters!

mummylin2495 Sat 11-Jun-11 17:22:00

If as you say your sister is normally quite lazy and is in a depressive state at the moment ,this will only make her even less inclined to bother.Only you know if your sister is likely to either take offence or go the other way and accept your help.I do know its very difficult sometimes to cope with someone who is bi-polar , we went through a very difficult time,and quite a lot of it i have spoken about on here before.As i said ,we didnt have this problem, it was more my company she needed,and this could of been at any time of the day or night.A one time i was the only one she would talk to so i had to be there for her,and im glad i was even though many tears were shed on both our parts.I am happy to say that at the moment she is very stable and only a few months ago re-married.If i can help with anything else dont hesitate to ask,either on here or privately.I will be out tonight .

TheMonster Sat 11-Jun-11 17:24:25

DP is bipolar. He gets very lazy about the house when he is down. I look forward to the manic phases when he cleans like a loony.

MammKernow Sat 11-Jun-11 17:48:18

mummylin - thanks so much for your offer, a lot of what you are saying is very familiar. I also have been the only family member she really talks to, so am very wary of alienating her in any way. What you say about your sister is very encouraging though; atm it seems like she will never be better sad

Am expecting the worst next week when she comes back from festival she is at - she will crash big time. Thinking of asking her to stay with us for a few days (she has done lots of times before), so may well be needing more advice!

BodyOfEeyore - she does get those manic cleaning phases but they only last a few hours. And instead of thinking "I'll tidy the kitchen" she thinks "I'll rip up the carpets for when i get hard flooring". Then crashes and leaves it all half done and worse than before sad

MammKernow Sat 11-Jun-11 17:51:34

Just to clarify - i don't think she will magically get better - i just can't understand how it is still so bad when she has had so many psych assessments and different drug combos. How long before they manage to stabilise her, at least for a while?

mummylin2495 Sat 11-Jun-11 23:03:09

my sister also saw many people and had her medication changed several times.She also went to outside people who told her some pretty weird stuff .At the time she was very very fragile and would see one person and take in what they said ,the next week she would see someone else and they would tell her something the complete opposite ,so then she would believe that instead and so it went on.It took a while but thankfully she got there in the end.

NanaNina Sat 11-Jun-11 23:14:39

Some good posts on this thread. I have a close friend who is bi-polar and sometimes rapid cycling. I must take issue with Pudding2be when she talks of the OPs sister going back to the GP and "help pull herself out of this depression" - I am surprised that someone with a bi-polar relative can make such a statement. Surely we all know that it is not possible to pull yourself out of depression - would that we could!

Sorry if I'm over reacting but I too have suffered 2 major episodes of depression (and still trying to recover from the one last Easter) and a nursing assistant in the hospital (where I was for 3 months) told me to "pull myself together" - I was horrified and told the Ward Manager who was equally horrified and said she would ensure that appropriate action was taken with the member of staff concerned.

mummylin2495 Sat 11-Jun-11 23:28:49

I think bi-polar is a very difficult illness for anyone to cope with,and also hard on the family around them too.It can be very distresing for everyone.most of all of course for the person who is ill.I think its a hard thing to cope with and it takes sometimes so long to get the right medication for each particular person.I agree with you nananina,its not as simple as "pulling yourself together".But there is still for a lot of people no understanding at all of any mental illness and think thats the best thing to do.But i suppose if you dont come into contact and see how awful this particular illness is ,then people really wont know about it too much. I hope that you are well on the way to recovery,just take each day as it comes ,eventually there are more good than bad days.

bipolarchick Sun 12-Jun-11 02:37:56

Im fairly new here so dunno what MN's policy is on website addresses but the bipolar organisation has some good advice


magbags Wed 15-Jun-11 10:35:20

My mum is bi-polar and has been for over 30 years. We have a similar issue with untidiness, add to the mix a dad who is a hoarder and you have a complete nightmare. I feel for you regarding your sister, I would suggest little and often in terms of helping her with the house. Also try and create small breakthroughs eg jobs which would make the biggest difference to her. This can make a start towards relieving the hopeless feelings she probably has.

Good luck.

MammKernow Thu 16-Jun-11 22:46:13

Not yet had the chance to talk to dsis, she was supposed to come round for tea but cancelled twice. Trying not to read too much into that, she is probably still recovering from festival-hangover!

NanaNina - i have had a number of episodes of major depression too. Also had a similar experience to you when, after 2 sudden bereavements, breaking my wrist and having 3 seriously ill family members in hospital, my boss decided to tell me (during a meeting to discuss sick leave i'd taken) 'most normal people manage to cope with these things'. shock

Just wanted to say thanks for all the helpful replies smile...

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