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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.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 02-Jan-14 10:12:53

You can't really change others i.e. your sister and your parents. All you can do is address your own life, needs and problems and paddle your own canoe. I don't know how old everyone is but, assuming you and DSis are independent adults (even with mild SN), I'm sure you have plenty to be getting on with and don't have to spend all that much time with parents or siblings. If people aren't as supportive as you'd like then call on the medical professionals instead.

BTW... if you genuinely think she's a hypochondriac, faking all these illnesses, there's no law says you have to keep quiet. smile

notallthere Thu 02-Jan-14 10:17:36

We both currently still live at home unfortunately, although she is at university some of the time.

Discussing this with my family will only alienate me further (like I said I am the scapegoat) and medical professionals would not normally discuss other patients unless their health is actually at risk. When she had counselling, all members of the family (my parents and my other sister) got to speak with the therapists except me. Probably because they knew I was the only one who would tell the truth, that I don't really believe she is that ill.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 02-Jan-14 10:22:13

You don't discuss her with the medical professionals. You focus on yourself, deal with your conditions and achieve a good mental balance. You can't diagnose her and shouldn't try. Are you very young that you still live at home or is it out of necessity?

notallthere Thu 02-Jan-14 10:25:59

Neither, just controlling parents.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 02-Jan-14 10:32:03

So what plans do you have for a place of your own rather than living in this unhealthy environment that's probably contributing to your health issues?

Helpyourself Thu 02-Jan-14 10:34:38

I agree with Cogito free yourself from worrying about your sister. You need to realise that her behaviour need have no impact on your life.
Why are you at home? Any chance of moving out?

CailinDana Thu 02-Jan-14 10:38:53

You have posted a few times about this sister and you are always given the same advice - detach and move on. For some reason you won't do that so obviously this problem will continue. Sorry.

notallthere Thu 02-Jan-14 10:40:15

I can't move out unless I have a stable job.

I have recently started a new job, but am finding it difficult especially due to the depression, and don't know if I will be able to keep it. But living at home probably influences the depression.

It's an impossible situation.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 02-Jan-14 10:40:33

Just one observation. In the one breath you say you hide in bathrooms, don't like attention and don't want to worry your parents. In the next you say you want support and for them to show you the same concern as your DSis. That's rather contradictory and won't help you see this issue clearly.

notallthere Thu 02-Jan-14 10:41:31

Cailin, I've explained why I still live at home, and anyway it's my sister that is bothering me at the moment more than living at home.

notallthere Thu 02-Jan-14 10:43:12

Yeh, I agree.

Basically I would like the right kind attention.

The attention I get from my parents when I am sick is stupid and over the top and annoying and over protective.

I'd just like to know they are there for me if I wanted to talk. But they are so obsessed with poking ager my sister they fail to notice when I am ill unless I spell it out to them, and even then I get the wrong kind of attention.

notallthere Thu 02-Jan-14 10:43:51

poking ager?

not even sure what that was supposed to say...

possibly looking after?

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 02-Jan-14 10:45:50

You don't need a stable job to move out, just enough funds for a deposit. You could be a lodger somewhere quite happily for a few hundred a month and, if your work fizzles out, the benefits system would pick up the slack. If you're in a vicious circle of..... depression making work difficult, no work meaning staying with parents and parents making depression worse..... you have to break the cycle somehow.

notallthere Thu 02-Jan-14 10:48:00

Cogito, that would work if my parents allowed me to move out.

They are pretty manipulative and have made it clear that they will only support me if I do things their way.

I have no other support

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 02-Jan-14 10:48:09

No point complaining about the 'wrong sort of attention'.... that's a total non-starter. Your parents aren't health professionals, they're just people. Like all adults, your happiness is your own responsibility now.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 02-Jan-14 10:50:07

What does 'support' mean? Money? Because you keep saying they don't support you or they give you the wrong sort of attention..... confused Is that really why you're sticking around, because they have a nice house and bedsit land is unappealing?

CailinDana Thu 02-Jan-14 10:50:52

You are wasting time and energy expecting your family to change and become exactly the type of family you want. I know how shit and disappointing it is to have a family who lets you down but you're an adult you need to accept that's the way they are and let go. You will probably find your depression improves dramatically.

notallthere Thu 02-Jan-14 10:51:06

But their attention is sickly, almost bringing it back over to them as if it were them who was depressed not me. Same for my sister.

Most normal people would say I'm sorry you are feeling depressed.

They feel sorry for themselves that they have a family member who is depressed!

It doesn't help at all.

CailinDana Thu 02-Jan-14 10:52:30

Are you on any meds for your depression?

CailinDana Thu 02-Jan-14 10:53:45

My family sound quite similar to yours. They will never be what you want.

notallthere Thu 02-Jan-14 10:54:31

Not money, more emotional and practical support.

notallthere Thu 02-Jan-14 10:56:33

Not at the moment. I have been in the past.

My parents think I am still on them. This is because I didn't want the drama of telling them I decided to come off my meds (side effects).

It was a year and a half ago I came off my meds, and I was mostly ok for about a year, only in the last 6-9 months it has gotten worse.

CailinDana Thu 02-Jan-14 10:56:49

Do they currently provide emotional and practical support?

Thetallesttower Thu 02-Jan-14 10:57:06

notallthere you seem enmeshed in a very unhelpful family dynamic and as everyone has advised, you need to break free. What do you mean your family won't let you leave? Can they physically stop you? There are jobs and the benefit system you do not have to be dependent on your parents at all, indeed 95% of us are not.

You are basically rivals in your own home for your parents attention, and stuck in a very childish way of thinking and behaving. Have you any friends you could talk this through with?

Your parents can't fix your depression, and if you think they are making it worse, it would be better to leave, get CBT and live your own life, which will include managing your own depression.

The thing with your sister is irrelevant as they don't really give her good attention either as it has not helped her attention-seeking ways. You both need to move on, but for whatever reason, don't want to do this.

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