Bipolar family member draining everyone's health
July 9, 2012 7:00 AM Subscribe
My sister (in her 20's) has recently been diagnosed as bipolar, after many manic episodes that have previously been attributed to depression. Right now she is staying with our parents and driving them crazy - every time I talk to my mom on the phone she is either close to tears or past that line. I have no idea how to help, maybe you do?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
This is such a mess, I don't really know where to start... I guess first and foremost I'd like to know what resources are available to help families deal with an individual like this. I'm just going to describe what I can of the situation:
My parents are in the middle of bankruptcy, so money is ridiculously tight. (I live away from them with my husband, and we're both searching for jobs while going through our remaining savings. I wish I could help more financially.)
When things were a little better, my sister had a lot of her tuition at a UC school - as well as two years of rent, basically - paid by our parents. And she's become used to things like that. But because of her episodes and inability to maintain a decent living environment, she was kicked out of both places. Everything was neglected. Everything. She had a long-term relationship that ended due to her lying about various inappropriate contacts. She's had a lot of weird and scary sexual experiences that she had to be bailed out of, and it's just too much for everyone at this point. She can't seem to control her desires or actions. She's prescribed medication, but my parents don't know if she's actually taking it and can't watch her constantly. She throws fits about them not giving her enough money, about not being allowed to be an adult, etc. Ever since she moved back into the house, she hasn't lifted a finger to help out. I can see that this is taking an incredible toll, day in and day out. The fits, the rudeness, the entitlement, it's nonstop. She's also been hospitalized several times now because of her self-harm, and after a while that behavior always shows up again.
She was seeing a therapist for several years, but that stopped after it was evident the therapist was wasting everyone's time. Her current psychiatrist is decent. But at this point my parents feel extremely alone and helpless. We all have become so angry at her complete disregard for anyone's physical or mental health, that honestly I just want her to move out somewhere and drop all contact. I know she has a condition that influences her actions, but there have been dreadful, sleepless months due to her behavior. Something needs to happen.
Just a few minutes ago I learned about NAMI... Do I just call a local center and explain the situation? What could I expect..? Could anyone with experience share a few more details about it?
I just know my sister is going to put someone in the hospital (again!) if we don't get her under control. Considering how everyone is struggling, and she hasn't finished school or ever held down a job, the situation just seems impossible to get out of. How do you get someone like this to be independent with such limited resources?