What do you do when everyone in your family is mentally ill?
My sister and I have tried to support our mother our whole lives. When she becomes ill, though, the stress can become too much for us – and for my sister in particular, the pressures of caring for someone make her ill.
We have fallen out, as we always do, because I feel I shoulder most of the responsibility. I tend to get stuck in when a problem arises, but because I have chronic ill health, I burn out very quickly. The cycle keeps on repeating and the answer I am given by observers is ‘Well, don’t do so much, then.’
It’s difficult to pull away if you suspect your mum isn’t taking her medication regularly, or is at risk of a fall. So I want to be there for her when she is not well.
I sent my sister a couple of plain-speaking emails about how I see things panning out over the next ten years as mum gets older and more frail: how both of us need to find ways to cope better.
As she pushed back and became defensive, I got irritated. I told her I was tired of her always putting her needs first, over anyone else’s.
Her response has been to block me. I am no longer able to call or text, and she enlisted my own partner to channel emails through him, something I have put a stop to as it is completely inappropriate.
She has also accused me of being abusive. Her accusation is excessive and unjust. Having read my emails back several times, I know I’d be happy to show them to anyone to demonstrate there is no abuse there whatsoever. Frustration, yes. Impatience, definitely. A lack of respect, absolutely. I told her I’ve lost respect for her, and she continues to demonstrate why.
Am I supposed to go from here as, effectively, an only child?
I feel that during exhausting family situations, my sister only makes things worse. Am I better off not dealing with her?