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How to deal with attention seeking sister, and the attention she gets from family

(158 Posts)
notallthere Thu 02-Jan-14 10:02:18

I am fed up with my sister's attention seeking behaviour. I have had several years of poor mental health, and in the last few years, my sister claims to have developed them too. However I think she is just looking for attention.

I suffer from depression, which I hide from my family as much as possible to avoid worrying them, because I care about their feelings and I don't like the extra attention. When I am having a bad day, I will generally just stay away, so they can't see how I feel so I don't worry them.

I also have IBS, which is probably linked to the depression. Again when I have been ill from this I have hidden it as much as possible, staying in the bathroom when ill to avoid worrying my family.

My sister is very attention seeking, and I've noticed she seems to copy me, to get attention. She has mild special needs and throughout childhood all the attention was on her (and most of the time it still is) but during the time I was most seriously ill, understandably my parents devoted a long more attention to me (even though I didn't even want it and just wanted to be left alone).

A few years ago she claimed to have depression, but rather than hide away, she would spend most of the time shouting and screaming about how unfair her life was, upsetting everyone around her. My parents spent a lot of money on private counselling and therapy for her, none of which helped much (they never spent a penny on me and I've had depression for six years!). Although I am expected to be sympathetic, seeing as I have had depression myself and recognise what it actually looks and feels like, I think she was actually putting a lot of it on for attention, and didn't really have depression, which is why neither therapy nor medication helped her.

She also claimed to have IBS and would dramatically keel over in agony, one time even having an ambulance called to attend to her, when she was taken to hospital all they found was mild dehydration.

Although it is possible that she genuinely had these two conditions, she made a fast "recovery" from both with no long lasting symptoms, whilst I still suffer from these conditions and have relapses from time to time. I feel she is copying me for attention, and because she is the "golden" girl in the family and I am the "scapegoat" I know that nobody will believe me if I tell them this.

How should I deal with this situation? Is there anything I can do or should I just accept that she is always going to be attention seeking, even to the point where it means I don't get the support I need to deal with real health conditions.

dozeydoris Fri 03-Jan-14 07:03:47

I think rage is a bit of an overreaction, frustration would be a better word. I am incredibly frustrated with the unfairness of the situation ...Moving out won't change it, if anything I will get even less support

Ahaaa! I think we are getting to the nub of the problem.

Because I did this myself (and it took a long time to work it out) - everyone else is to blame, everyone else has made your life this hard, everyone else has caused you to under achieve, their attitudes and their unfair treatment of you has caused the depression etc etc.

But the underlying rage and anger is actually really directed at yourself, but rather than face this and have to come to terms with the fact that it is you who is the failure, who is making excuses for your sad life and blaming everyone else, and probably having a bit of a melt down when you admit this to yourself, you are taking the easy option of giving others the responsibility, which lets you off.

I'm not saying that your childhood was good or your parents were supportive, but the situation you are in now is solely in your hands and the frustration you feel is really frustration with yourself and the lack of confidence and determination you have to just get out of the house and get a life. You are plain scared at venturing out into the world alone. Not surprising, it's a scary place, but you must face the fact that it is you who are the problem not anyone else.

Meerka Fri 03-Jan-14 08:26:50

Try a bit of quiet teenage rebellion against your parents telling you what you want and what you think, and go for the boarding school.

Not meant as flippantly as it sounds.

From what you say you've been ground down into barely knowing your own mind or thoughts and as zorba said, you want to be seen at last and loved .. and it's not going to happen.

Can't help thinking somehow that somewhere you're very angry. Not sure why I'm thinking that. Maybe because if you're feeling as trapped as you are, normally at some point people get damn angry at being so controlled.

Sadly there's only one person can change the situation.

Boarding school as a teacher sounds a brilliant idea. Some independence and still some structure around you.

FestiveSpiritedwolf Fri 03-Jan-14 09:57:10

You are right of course that some people would percieve you are depressed from your symptoms but your parents are clearly not that thoughtful or perceptive. Its okay to be annoyed/disappointed/frustrated by that. But instead of accepting that and just telling them that you are depressed and need their support, you seem to just be waiting for them to have a personality transplant.

Depression does that, it makes you feel like you have no options. But its not true, you can change the things you do and say (and even the way you think) to change your life for the better.

Your family dynamic has led to you organising your life around your parents and siblings, beyond normal considerate-ness. You feel like you have to do things the way they want you to. Perhaps because you want to be a 'good' (compliant) daughter. I think most people in this forum understand that parents (and partners) can be emotionally manipulative and controlling, they aren't saying that your parents can't be those things.

What they are saying is that although you feel trapped. Although you feel like you can't go against their opinions (about renting/benefits/living at work etc) you can. They might disapprove, but the world will not end if your parents disagree with something you have done. This is your life. You get to decide how to live it. You are an adult, you can assert yourself. Its difficult right now because you are still living with them, so you keep playing the 'child' role in your relationship and you are depressed so your confidence is low. But it is possible, honest.

Please go to your GP about your depression and ask to be referred for some kind of talking therapy as well as considering ADs again - you can explain about the side effects they gave you before and they ought to give you different ones.

I do understand that relationships with parents and siblings can be a source of stress. It is hard and upsetting. But you can get help, but you will have to seek it yourself, living at home and hiding in your bedroom, it won't get better on its own.

NotThemCrows Fri 03-Jan-14 11:50:36

Erm, as PPs have said, your parents are not actually supporting you so you have nothing to lose. The only thing you get from them at the moment, and risk losing by moving out, is their approval.

Your view of life is very self centred/childish, expecting people to notice your depression because you stay in your room etc.

NQT year is hard work, I would probably assume that you were busy or being unsociable and preferring your own company

Your real problem is not your parents.

It is not your sister.

It is your expectations of these people and the disappointment that comes from those unmet expectations.

Take control, take responsibility and move out. You only have one life.

StanleyLambchop Fri 03-Jan-14 12:10:12

Because she gets it, but doesn't need it.

And I don't get it, despite the fact that I am mentally quite unwell at the moment and nobody has even noticed or cared.

But you say in your OP that you keep the extent of your illness to yourself, because you don't want to worry them. If you want them to know, why don't you just talk to them??? I think the way they treat your sister is something you have to separate and just deal with your own interactions with them. Personally, from what you have written before, I think you need to move out, I bet your health problems would improve no end.

AngelaDaviesHair Sat 04-Jan-14 13:45:17

Please get assessed for your own sake, and bugger what your parents' reaction would be. You don't have to tell them in any case.

Please seek a referral for psychotherapy, again, for your own sake, and again bugger what your parents might think about it (and why would you tell them?) You must have 2 hours of an evening or a weekend morning you could spare for this. You may not want to go for therapy, which is your choice, but again, for your own sake, don't tell yourself you haven't got time.

I understand that you are very daunted by all this, but these little self-deceptions are probably massively contributing to the frustration and anger you are feeling.

The thing is, there is no change without at least the possibility of negative consequences. In other words, to improve your situation you are going to have to take risks. The risk of deteriorating mentally, the risk your parents will react in a very adverse way, financial risks etc.

No one on this thread will be able to come up with a solution for you that has no risk attached (which I suspect is what you are hoping for). There is no ideal solution. Your biggest mistake, as I see it, is not understanding that staying where you are also has massive risks attached to it: the risk of deteriorating mentally (huge), the risk of a major fall-out with your sister or parents or both, losing your job due to your illness worsening etc. So please don't think that staying put is safe and moving out is risky. It's not that simple.

Wickeddevil Sat 04-Jan-14 23:34:15

Hi NotAllThere

I have lurked for a couple of days on your thread, but have waited to get to a proper keyboard before posting. Firstly I am sorry that you are finding things tough at the moment and that you feel like you are stuck in a vicous circle in which your life circumstances feed your depression which exacerbates your circumstances, by appearing to limit your choices.

I feel though that you have had some excellent support and advice from some very wise ladies. AF's posts chime particularly loudly with me. I am not sure that I can add any additional advice, but I would stongly urge you to keep reading the advice you have been given an make a plan - your plan - to move forward.

I am also, in a kindly and supportive way, going to give you a gentle bollocking. The fact that I literally only come down at meal times, and almost no other time should be a good indicator This is not the behaviour of a mature adult. Nor is it sufficient to blame it on your depression. It is just bad behaviour, and if you were one of my children I would call you on it. Now I understand that depression is tough. Very tough. But it is not an excuse for behaving like a spoiled brat. You say that you are intelligent, so please try to develop some insight in to what is behaviour and is therefore within your control and what is depression and is not within your control to the same extent. Ok lecture over.

So you have posted here for help. Well done (genuinely) as this is an important step. Might I ask what you see yourself being able to consider next ? When others have suggested Couselling you have expressed practical barriers to this, but I don't think have rejected the idea per se. Is it something you would consider?

If you are willing to try, as well as bacup and your GP as a referral source you may find MIND useful if they have a service in your area. They often have services geared towards younger people and offer sessions at evenings and weekends, that might be suitable for you.

Along with others I agree that you should not rule out medication. Talking therapies are likely to provide a better long term solution, but medication can often help people like you in the short term, and may be especially useful in helping you to deal with additional stress - such as you are experiencing at work.

Others have suggested you may have a spectrum disorder yourself, and you appear to have looked into this. Your posts do not display a lot of empathy towards other people, or much insight. While this may be symptomatic of your depression, and your frustration, and may just be how you are coming across right now, it is also possible that it is a manifestation of a spectrum disorder. You suggest there is no point in seeking a formal diagnosis - but I would challenge this. A diagnosis if made might help you to find techniques to deal with your individual issues, which ultimately may help you in other spheres of your life such as work and friendships.

I also think you realise that your longer term future is outside of your family home, and I appreciate the difficulties this causes you. I also believe that you have more going for you than perhaps you realise. A Teaching qualification does allow you to work pretty much anywhere, and may well be a solution for you. (Also dont know if you would consider working in the state sector, but that would potentially allow you access to key-worker housing).

Right now, understandably because of your depression, you meet each suggestion that is made to you with a barrier or barriers. I hope you are able to access help to overcome this mindset and to focus upon solutions. Have you ever come across the cheesy statement that you shouldnt take problems to your manager only solutions? If you applied that thinking to your current situation, I wonder what your solutions would be? I will give you a starter for 10. The solution is nothing whatsover to do with your parents or siblings. Only you can change.

Good luck I hope you find the strength and courage to take the first small step. Do keep posting here for support.

SugarMouse1 Mon 06-Jan-14 15:41:24

Don't really have much advice but didn't want to read and run.
How do you and your sister get on with each other?
Is it worth trying to spend time and build a better relationship with each other? When your sister acts ill, you could advise people that minimal fuss is better, IFSWIM.
I understand about depression and living at home etc, in many ways your situation is similar to mine. HTH x

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