I have been very honest about my experience with mental health, and my battles with anxiety. Because I have suffered to this degree, I have always thought that I am quite an empathetic person and will offer a listening ear and share my own experiences if there is even a small chance they might help somebody else.
However, recent months have shown me that even with the best intentions, I have not been as sympathetic or helpful as I might of wanted to be – and for this I feel some guilt, and perhaps this is why I feel the need to use my blog as a platform to vent.
It all began in the summer of last year, my sister had been displaying some concerning behaviors that led us as a family to be very worried about her mental health.
Physically, she had declined, she looked weak and fragile, once a curvy size ten she struggled to keep her clothes hanging onto her now child like body.
Mentally, she seemed very detached. Like she was in another world, preoccupied deep in her own thoughts, at times she would whisper to herself, on more than a handful of occasions we would witness her cocking her head as if having a secret conversation with somebody, we saw her mouth “help me”, at times she would be deadly silent, and when questioned she would get into a rage, spitting venom and anger or be constantly repetitive.
On more than one occasion she threatened to hit my mum, when we tried to question her behavior and say in a gentle manner that we were concerned, she would unleash her fury on to us, saying that we “were all mad!” and there was nothing wrong.
At this point I cannot share the extent of my frustration. Of course, we were all hugely worried and trying to get my sister to understand the reasons why was like banging our heads against a brick wall.
She began to deteriorate further, she would have conversations with dead family relatives. She started to become deceitful and would lie, important sentimental items went missing, she contacted social services on a family member to make unfounded allegations, and probably most disturbing of all, she would contact the emergency services and say family members were being tortured, or hanging.
As a family, we were at a complete loss on what to do. My sister was unwilling to seek help and refused to see there was anything wrong with her behavior, I contacted some mental health charities for advice, well known ones like Mind or Sane Line.
They were understanding and sympathetic but the advice remained the same,
“I know this is hard for you and your family, but there is nothing anybody can do if your sister is refusing to seek help”.
As much as I understand this, I cannot convey how frustrating it is. To watch a loved one deteriorating before your eyes, and refusing to seek help or be so unwell that they cannot To witness the knock on effect of the unwell person’s actions on other people is detrimental, to even see there is a problem, is one of the most distressing things.
This has been the breaking of my mother’s heart, how many times I wish I had a magic wand to make it all better but I can’t.
Moving forward, my sister has since spent time in a psychiatric unit. As a result of her behaviors, she was brought there and was even sectioned. Throughout this period, she then decided to ban all staff from discussing her with her family and isolated us all from her care plan. This, appeared to me, to be the actions of somebody wanting to control a situation, and all I could try and do was to offer support to my Mother.
As a family, we have been far from perfect, fractured at best, but it would not be wrong to say we have all tried to rally around my sister at this point. But, I have to be honest, I feel that my sister does not want this support. She does not want this help. I feel as though she does not want to get better.
What we do know is that she admitted to hearing voices and having suicidal thoughts, during her time in hospital, she has been diagnosed with an illness she refuses to accept. She refuses to work co-cooperatively with the health professionals and she refuses to let us in.
My aging Mother frequently breaks down in tears, this has no effect on my sister. My mother has confessed that she is terrified that my sister will take her own life. I feel that my mother needs to encourage her to be dependent and realize that my sister has to take responsibility for her own recovery. That no matter how much we want my sister to get better, us wanting it is not enough.
I have done my best to support my Mother, but I feel like my best is not good enough. She lashes out at me at times, calling me a Bitch for instance because apparently I am just not a support.
The last time I saw my sister, just a few days ago she was in one of her aggressive moods. She told me that she did not wish to see me and that I was none of her concern, nor was it any of my business what was going on with her.
And sometimes, increasingly, might I add, I am starting to feel resentful, and angry towards her. I know that’s not right, but I feel like the one person who needs to accept and be willing to accept help is the one person that is unwilling to.
And in the process, breaking what is remaining of my already very fractured family in the process.