Getting help for someone who won't help themselves?
August 11, 2009 6:18 AM Subscribe
My sister-in-law is sick, threatening, and needs help
So, my wife is the 2nd child, her brother is the youngest and her sister is the eldest.
We have an ongoing situation with her elder sister, that we have no idea what to do about. How do we help someone who steadfastly refuses to do anything that will help herself? How do we get her to get treatment when she treats anything we say as an assault on her independence and her life choices?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
To put it bluntly she needs help. Psychiatric help. However, every choice she makes in her life simply makes it harder and harder for her to take the necessary steps to seek help. She is stubborn beyond belief, and refuses to acknowledge anything in herself that has put herself in her situation.
There are many compounding factors.
A few years ago, having worn out all her friendships at home, she went to Europe and worked for a while in Scandinavia, then went to the UK and worked there for a couple of years. She had a couple of periods of unemployment, but she did find fulltime work in her chosen profession and used this to fund a lifestyle of constant travelling within Europe. However, during this time she basically made 0 friends. Those people who did become friendly she would inevitable burn and then she would be left alone again. (This is a pattern throughout her life - she doesn't understand that when you treat people badly - usually through emotional abuse and bullying - people tend not to forgive it.)
At some point during her stint in the UK she found work at another firm and it was fine for a while. However she began to suffer from depression (exacerbated by irregular sleep) and took a lot of sick leave. This didn't stop her from taking regular leave to go on holidays around Europe. Naturally her employers started to question all the leave (both sick and holiday) that she was taking. During this time she recognised the need to seek some kind of help for her depression, but refused to see anyone other than an NHS counsellor so as to save money. This meant that for extraordinarily long periods of time she didn't see anyone at all.
In the end the company she worked for managed to kind of fire her - it took them a long time as they were very careful not to expose themselves to a lawsuit for firing someone with a health problem, and actually they never quite fired her because she just refused to come to the meeting where they planned to let her go. She actually ended up working part time except she was too depressed to go to work so didn't even do those hours. Eventually she ran out of money and returned home (not in the U.K.). She now lives with her parents.
During this time we tried to help - we sent her money to see doctors, we paid for her to come and visit us a couple of times (we're living in a different country) and of course my wife spent a lot of time on the phone with her trying to be helpful and encouraging.
However at some point my wife's sister became angry at my wife and is now sending angry threatening messages. This has all been exacerbated by the birth of our first child - sister-in-law is in her mid-thirties, has never had a real boyfriend and is clearly feeling sad about not having her own family. She chooses to show her love for our child by criticising us for how we are raising our child - she has been saying some very toxic things.
The situation has gotten to the point where now my wife can't take communicating with her anymore. So now she has started sending me abusive text messages. She still lives at home, she has no friends, she has no job. Her parents don't know what to do - she abuses them all the time, takes no responsibility for herself.
(Apologies for the ridiculously long back story.)