How do I help my bipolar sister in this confusing and tricky situation?
November 7, 2012 11:00 PM   Subscribe

How do I help my bipolar sister in this confusing and tricky situation?

My sister is very sick. She has bipolar disorder ( and I imagine a list of other issues including an anxiety disorder, PTSD, perhaps other things as well) She's suffered with intense psychological issues her entire life. She has been in and out of therapy, has seen a number of psychiatrists and has gone through an out patient program at one of the best hospitals in the country. However, due mostly to her insistence that she does not need medication and her refusal to trust that anyone could possibly know what is best for her, she has essentially made no progress. She is now 26 and her condition seems to be deteriorating at a rapid rate. Yesterday she was convinced that we needed to buy organic seeds and gold because soon the world and the economy would be in such disarray that our currency would be worthless and we would have to live off the land. She was terrified. She cried for hours. She is worse than I have ever seen her.
My father and I have gone along with her on this journey. Desperately searching for ways to help her, constantly talking her down from manic episodes and sitting by her through bouts of depression. She has, for the most part, refused to let my father step in and take control of her treatment and has insisted that she knows what was best for her. In the past couple of weeks this has changed. It has gotten so bad for her that she has agreed to allow my father to seek medical advice and find what treatment will be best. She wants help. This is an amazing step.

My father is an incredible man. A dedicated loving father and the hardest working person I have ever met. Much of his adult life has been spent working to create amazing opportunities for his children. He is the best support system I could ask for and I know my sister feels the same. His one weakness is when he becomes involved in romantic relationships. He got married to his first wife when he was relatively young, then my mother, and then was engaged for the third time to his most recent girlfriend. Each of these three relationships lasted many years with almost no time of being single inbetween them. When he gets involved with a woman he falls fast. He is blind to the outside world. He does not take the time to get to really know her. He loses his ability to think rationally about certain things. He steps into an 8-15 year bubble which pops when he begins to realize he is not happy and he probably made the wrong choice years ago when he rushed into the relationship. After breaking up with his fiance and partner of 12 years 6 months ago, he stayed single for about 4 months. Then, 2 months ago, he decided he was ready to go on a date. So he did. Fast forward to now- He thinks he is in love with this new woman. He thinks she is unlike anyone he has ever met before. He thinks they will be together forever. He has not been on a date with anyone else since his break up 6 months ago. He is continuing on with his pattern as usual.

Now the real problem: He has begun sharing every detail of my sisters illness with this woman. My sister's deepest darkest woes, the things in her life that bring her the most pain, the most anguish, the most shame- he is choosing to use as a tool to get closer to this woman he really barely knows. My sister has not met her. My sister found out he has been doing this. She if furious. She feels betrayed, sad, and worst of all like she can no longer trust my father. She feels like if anything and everything that she entrusts to my father will be shared with a third party, one that she doesn't know and doesn't trust, she will no longer be able to continue to allow my father to be her confidant and to lead her to treatment.

My father defends his actions and refuses to stop speaking with this woman about my sisters psychological issues. He says he too needs a support system, a sounding board and that my sister has no right to tell him who he can and can not talk to. He says he will not let my sister's preferences get in the way of him building this new relationship. This is complete bullshit. He has gone 25 years and 10 months without having to talk to this woman about what my sister is going through, why now, all the sudden does he need HER to support him as opposed to any of the other close trusted people in his life.

I know my father makes dumb decisions when he is blinded by "love", but at this point, that is a separate issue. My real fear is that my sister will be the one who loses in this situation and loses gravely. I have pleaded with my father to simply not speak of the one part of his life that deals with my sister's personal issues with his new girlfriend, at least not until my sister is more stable and able to meet her and come to trust her. He refuses. How do I appeal to my father about this? How can I make him see how important it is for him to be a person of trust in my sister's life at this crucial turning point in her illness even if it means sacrificing the ability to be 100% transparent in his new relationship?
posted by to Human Relations (28 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
How is it getting back to your sister that this is even happening? What your dad discusses with his girlfriend should be private between them.

Your dad's right that he needs a sounding board and a support system. I would recommend that he sees his own psychologist, who is trained to deal with these situations and will be confidential, knowledgeable and helpful. It might be helpful for you too, just to help keep a clear head.

As to what to do about your sister I really don't know.
posted by bleep at 11:18 PM on November 7, 2012 [3 favorites]

It feels like you're not being fair to your dad. For one thing, 8-15 year loving relationships that then break up aren't exactly failures. If that's the way he's living his life, it could be much worse.

And he's right that he needs companionship and support. I guess he's choosing to get it from this person. I can understand you and your sister feeling a bit weird about her knowing everything, but in the end, it's really your father that you two need to trust. If the woman was doing something obnoxious, that'd be a different story, but if she's just hearing his stories and listening to his concerns, then I'd try to trust that he's picked her for a reason. In general, I'd try to focus on your trust in him, and if there are one or two things that you really need him to keep to himself and not share with her, maybe you can negotiate that at the time.
posted by salvia at 11:23 PM on November 7, 2012 [11 favorites]

He has gone 25 years and 10 months without having to talk to this woman about what my sister is going through, why now, all the sudden does he need HER to support him as opposed to any of the other close trusted people in his life.

Um, perhaps because he was previously talking to the women he was in a relationship with and now they are not considered close personal confidantes? What do you think, does it appear to you that he was previously sharing with his bowling buddies for 15 years and, despite no change in his relationship with them, just now stopped that in favour of the new girlfriend? If so, yea, that's weird. But I suspect that's not what happened.
posted by jacalata at 11:23 PM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Uh, you do realize you're sharing this with the entire Internet, using an identifiable email address as a username? Maybe ask the mods to make this anonymous?
posted by zippy at 11:24 PM on November 7, 2012 [3 favorites]

It has gotten back to my sister because she and my father were having a phone conversation about potential treatment options for her and while they were on the phone she realized my father was with his new girlfriend. She asked if he had been sharing this stuff with her. He said yes.

I also agree that he needs a sounding board, but there are a number of other options, including a therapist. I, personally, am not necessarily opposed to this woman being his support system, however, my sister is. Whether it is right or wrong of her to want and expect that, her treatment needs to be the number one priority at this point and her being able to trust my father, whether her reasoning is rational or not, is a crucial part of that.

As far as my me sharing this with the internet. My e-mail address does not lead to any personal information about my identity or my family.This is essentially anonymous as far as I'm concerned.
posted by at 11:44 PM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Your father has already proved that he can't be trusted with this information. When someone shares health information with you and asks that you not share it, you don't share it, end of story. It seems that people forget this when it comes to mental illness--no one would dream of saying 'Oh, Sandy has cancer, isn't that the worst? I'm so stressed!" after Sandy had asked them not to talk about it, but somehow when it's about mental illness, it's an ok thing to do.

There are many ways for your father to receive support that aren't through his girlfriend--a therapist, a message board, one of the seventeen million Yahoo groups on the subject...he's choosing to talk to his partner anyhow, possibly hoping (subconsciously) that he'll manage a double whammy of support system and becoming closer to his new love. Which is great for him, and, if your sister's not comfortable with it, horrible for her.

If she doesn't want this information shared with his partner, then she needs to stop talking to him about it. Maybe that means she stops talking to him, full stop, for a while. Speaking as someone who is mentally ill and has had to draw this kind of boundary regarding my own medical information, I freely admit that doing this sucks...but it also means that the behavior you don't like stops.

Seeking help is a stressful and unbelievably difficult thing to do, and to have the person you're asking for help throw your clearly expressed wishes in your face feels like a huge setback, even if it's not meant as such. Is it possible that you could take over managing your sister's treatment, and be her support person? Again, this will potentially suck quite a lot for both of you, but you could be the buffer between the two of them and allow your sister the dignity and privacy that she deserves.
posted by MeghanC at 11:53 PM on November 7, 2012 [12 favorites]

Frankly, I think you've done all you can do here. You've asked him to cut it out and he's refused. I doubt there is any way you can "make him see," especially since it isn't as clear cut as you seem to think it is that he ought to stop. Find other ways to support your sister.
posted by Wordwoman at 12:51 AM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm not sure what your sister wants exactly - that your dad cannot talk to anyone but you and her about this? Well, she can ask, but it's after a point also unreasonable, because this thing is also affecting your dad and you to the point that you route big parts of your life around it, and not being able to talk about it with someone who has no record of blabbing all over town, as a sounding board and perhaps a source of consolation during what sounds like a miserable time for your dad and you, is isolating and makes things worse.

There is an illness here, but it shouldn't force one's family to withdraw from the outside world. That's not to say there aren't times when one must say nothing, but for a chronic illness that's hurting everyone, there's got to be some give.

Also, I think you are being unfair and also taking on a responsibility that is not yours to your dad when you say "he thinks he's in love with..." That's up to him to decide.
posted by zippy at 1:01 AM on November 8, 2012 [10 favorites]

You present this as a terribly desperate situation where his help is essential, but where he absolutely cannot help if he talks to his new girlfriend, so the ONLY solution is for him to not talk to her. Then you tell us that he won't do that. That must be a scary and frustrating situation for you.

Your sister's situation is probably scary and frustrating for him too. But it sounds like he's not willing to cut himself off from this woman he loves. And I don't think it's fair for you to saddle him with this responsibility.

This sounds like an incredibly hard situation, but each one of you has quirks and limitations. You have your own. E.g., you're not going to sell crack to pay for her treatment. Maybe your dad can supply some of the money you can't. His limitation is that this woman is part of his life now and he isn't going to cut her off.

To succeed, you have to work within the limitations and requirements you all have. Being realistic and accepting of those, and the challenges they bring, and NOT blaming one another, will help. Pressuring your dad and insisting he do something he said he wouldn't do will only divide you, at a time when working together could really help.
posted by salvia at 1:06 AM on November 8, 2012 [3 favorites]

salvia and the other even-handed commenters are correct that working together is best.

Yet, I share in your sister's sense of betrayal. Her problems are very private to her, understandably, and your father is not honoring her wishes.

Does he realize that by not keeping her medical issues confidential, he is undermining his own role in her care??

There is doctor/patient confidentiality for a reason. When your sister decided to let your father in on that equation, in every sense, he agreed to keep your sister's condition private.

It's OK for him to discuss this (maybe) with his own personal therapist - but with a non-medical professional? NO. That person's input (and it is naive for commenters above to assume she is not weighing in on your sister's condition and care) is not appropriate.

So there was a well meaning breach of confidence. At a very sensitive time.


Frankly, my stepmother made noises about caring for me and my brother at a sensitive time in our lives. Once she married our father, she drove a wedge between us. My dad went along, willingly, so I can see you and your sister's concerns here. This new woman could be benign, a blessing, or she could be a divisive presence - you just don't know yet.


The only way out is for you to take over your father's role liasioning with her caregivers. And if his financial support is in play, he needs to keep up his financial support of your sister.

In that event, you need to find a therapist and definitely a support group you can lean on and get guidance from.

My very best to you and your sister. I get it.
posted by jbenben at 1:32 AM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

Speaking as someone with a family member who sounds very like your sister. Hoarding organic seeds and gold? Yup. Depression, paranoia, mania? Yup. So here's my take on your situation: all the current uproar has nothing to do with whom your father is sharing what with. It has a lot to do with the fact that your sister, for the first time, agreed to let your father seek medical advice. But no! He's doing something wrong, he can't be trusted. This whole issue is part of your sister's craziness. It's totally inappropriate to be spending time and energy discussing "Dad did this" or "Dad did that" and was it right and what should we do about it.

Your sister needs help to heal from her mental illness. Focus on that. Use her anger at your father as another reason she needs outside help ("someone who will help her convince your Dad of his awful behavior and why it has to stop").

And from my position, I beg you to cut your Dad some slack. What terribly private secrets has he shared? That the entire economy is going to collapse tomorrow? That Queen Elizabeth is a shape-shifting alien? That chem trails are poisoning us all? That GM foods are a means of mind control? When your child is living is a world full of these ideas, this fear and pain, it is heartbreaking. And it helps enormously to be able to share with someone who's a little removed, who doesn't care so much about the child but does care about you.

I wish you and your family the very best. I hope you can find help for your sister.
posted by kestralwing at 2:31 AM on November 8, 2012 [21 favorites]

When someone shares health information with you and asks that you not share it, you don't share it, end of story.

This. The respondents who are saying that this is ok because your father needs a sounding board are wrong, period. This is your sister's personal medical information and she deserves control over who knows the details. Your father has betrayed her confidence and trust; this isn't something she's imagining because of her condition, and the poster above me sounds really belittling in even suggesting that.

This new girlfriend may become a permanent fixture, or even part of the family. Your sister may be interacting with her for years to come, and if so, the girlfriend's image of your sister will be forever colored by this information. Your sister isn't there to represent herself, it's being done for her and against her will.

Your father could ethically get support from a therapist or from a support group, where the people don't know your sister and where what is discussed in session never leaves the room. He could even get general emotional support from his new girlfriend without blabbing "every detail" of what exactly he's stressed about. Example: "hey girlfriend, I am really stressed out tonight because I am trying to help with daughter with a personal issue. I am very concerned about her well-being. I could use a massage | night out | whatever in order to de-stress."

I'm also not sure what it is that your father was planning to do that can't be done by either your sister or you. Is there some special reason he is qualified to help with this? It seems to me that your sister should be able to simply make one doctor's appointment, and can get referrals from there...
posted by parrot_person at 2:38 AM on November 8, 2012 [3 favorites]

I have bipolar disorder.

It's not ideal for any family member to take charge of a mentally ill family member. These relationships are too fraught with emotion in order for anyone involved to realistically keep a clear head and be subjective about what must happen next.

Your sister might be ill enough to take advantage of social services programs or other external means of providing structure without needing to directly involve your father. I would try contacting NAMI to find out if there are any local centers that could provide your family with support, information, and leads on other local services that may be of use. At the very least, the family-oriented programs might provide you and your father with the support you need to help you help your sister.

Paranoid mania states like the one you describe often require hospitalization. Part of her objection to your father's behavior may stem around this fear and paranoia. Even if he promised tomorrow to never do it again, it is quite likely that she would find another reason to avoid taking her medication. With such a serious illness, sometimes you have to rely on committal in order to get a patient stable enough to listen to reason.

I'm glad for your sister that she has such a supportive and concerned family--I haven't been quite so lucky, at least in terms of emotional support. Even if she cannot tell you herself what this means to her, you should know that you're a wonderful person to stick in there and care for her.
posted by xyzzy at 3:26 AM on November 8, 2012 [9 favorites]

Hi, I'm a guy who has been married to bipolar woman for 10 years and known her 16.

It doesn't sound like your dad is doing anything wrong, based on what you've written (more on that below). Your sister has a disease that she's been refusing to accept responsibility, which puts more stress on her support network. She's not going get any better by trying to control who knows what and how much.

Everyone knows my wife is bipolar. She doesn't hide it, but doesn't discuss it endlessly either. As such, her friends and family are able to enjoy her as a person and the bipolar stuff is just a small thing. It's not even a big thing, because my wife accepts that she has a disease and needs treatment and does pretty much whatever the doctors say need to be done, within reason. If she's feeling more depressed, she tells the doctors, they adjust her meds. If the meds have produce negative side effects she tells the doctors and they work out a different plan. By managing her illness, she gets to enjoy life and not be defined by said illness.

It doesn't sound like your sister is doing that. In fact, it sounds like she's using every excuse to avoid doing that, even after agreeing to finally let Dad in to get some help. She's requiring that anyone she trust behave in X fashion, at Y time, which is understandable to a certain point, but frankly it sounds like the disease and her fear of trusting is talking. Note how this question is now all about your Dad and what he's doing wrong, instead of the fact that your sister, yet again, refusing to set treatment for disease that is destroying her and stressing out those who love her.

Being bipolar is hard, I can't imagine having to put up with its complications. But it's not an excuse to avoid taking responsibility for one's self.

As to your Dad, consider asking him to start lying about confiding in his girlfriend. If the ultimate goal is to get your sister into treatment and his girlfriend isn't doing anything negative with this information, I don't see the harm in the small lies to in order to remove irrational roadblocks in your sister's mind. It may not be the preferred way to do this, but it's worth considering, if it's one of the few things standing between your sister agreeing to get help.

He has begun sharing every detail of my sisters illness with this woman. My sister's deepest darkest woes, the things in her life that bring her the most pain, the most anguish, the most shame- he is choosing to use as a tool to get closer to this woman he really barely knows.

How do you know this occurring, the sharing of every detail? Based on what you've written before, dad has only been sharing, not giving deep, dark personal details.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:27 AM on November 8, 2012 [5 favorites]

Your sister needs a large support network, who in turn need their own supports in order to be healthy.

What supports do YOU have? Since your sister is high needs you can not expect your father to give you the support you need (which is really hard, I'm sorry you are in that situation). That you are accepting your sister's unhealthy expectations of others makes me worry you are not getting the support you need to be healthy and to be a good support to your sister. Right now, supporting her paranoia and need for control is not helping her cope or take responsibility; having someone outside the dynamic to talk things through will strengthen your own coping skills and help you set boundaries.
posted by saucysault at 5:11 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also, you are very judgemental about your father's relationship moving too fast however I think that is because you are comparing how relationships work with you and your peers. After a few LTR most older adults are able to establish intimacy and move faster in the relationship because they have so much experience to draw on and know themselves very well. I do not think your father sounds like he is rushing into this relationship now that he is in his fifties or so.
posted by saucysault at 5:18 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

There are a lot of different things going on here, I don't think they are as related as you are making them out to be.

Your sisters incomplete treatment for a serious health issue
Your father's need for emotional support medical help for what is likely secondary trauma
Your father's disregard for your sister's hard line on disclosure
Your sister's need for your father to be absolutely confidential

Your sister's lack of relationship with this new woman
Your opinion of your father's capacity to judge whether or not he loves his partner
Your opinion of your father being in romantic relationships
Your father's relationship history

Some of these things are more important that others. I put the ones I thought to be important at the top, the list descends from there. I would also suggest this is the order these items need to be addressed as well.

A family therapy session with everyone sitting down and realizing that they are all trying to help each other is a good place to start. The goal has to be superior treatment for your sister, she can't live like this and your Dad can't either.

Your dad is likely a lot more damaged by this situation than he is letting on or you are realizing. It can break very strong people to have their children suffering like this, and that hurt can easily turn to disregard or resentment as the children enter adulthood.
posted by French Fry at 6:05 AM on November 8, 2012

My experience has been that if I've been dating someone for a month or so, I'm most likely telling them about the big things going on in my life. You should consider yourself and your sister lucky that your father hasn't just thrown his hands up and is continuing to help care for an adult for whom he no longer has legal responsibility.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 6:26 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

You are on the wrong side here.

Let me ask you this: if your sister had a mental illness that involved her punching anybody she felt emotional closeness with in the face, would you expect your dad to keep this secret simply because it was something private for her? Would you expect him to lie about what happened when his neighbors asked "Hey Joe, why are you feeling so down? And what's up with the black eye?" to protect your sister's privacy? Of course not. If your sister's mental condition is significantly and negatively affecting those around her, she loses ownership of that secret - it's no longer hers to keep.

Having dated people with mental issues (which were far milder than this) I can assure you without a doubt that on the emotional level, your dad is getting punched in the face.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 6:33 AM on November 8, 2012 [6 favorites]

I find it hard to believe that you think the speed of your father's romantic relationship is a separate issue. But right or wrong about that, and whether he is right or wrong about this relationship and his decision to share this with her, I don't think you're going to be able to make him "see the light."

You've already had this argument with him. He disagrees with you. You're talking about some emotionally loaded and heavy stuff. In those situations, people don't change their needs or their deeply held beliefs.
posted by J. Wilson at 6:35 AM on November 8, 2012

He doesn't have a right to share every detail of her illness with someone else. I don't think it's fair to keep the broad strokes from his romantic partner but he does need to respect her privacy to some degree especially if he wants to be trusted with making decisions about her care. If he needs ti share more then he needs to find a more appropriate venue to do so such as a stuport group for families or his own therapist.

The best thing you can probably do for your dad and your sister is to make sure he's supported properly. People with mental illnesses deserve a basic level of respect admitting you need help is hard as is turning over control of important matters to another person.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 6:55 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Assuming your dad is relatively sane and well motivated, I can't agree that he shouldn't be able to discuss the things that are relevant to his life with his new girlfriend. The distinction I guess is whether he is doing it in a gossipy, relationship building "look how much I need you now" kind of way, or the much more acceptable idea of the new girlfriend as a supporter and sounding board.

People in relationships talk. It is unrealistic to expect them to not talk about the big things in their lives. If I am going through something and talk to my mom about it, I have to expect that she is going to talk about it with the people close to her. Now, if she was going around talking to people about things that are long settled ("he shit his pants in gym class one time!" or "he couldn't get a date in high school"), I would feel hurt.

So, I think two things are happening here: (from what you write)

1- You are expecting more of your dad than you probably have a right to. It is natural to feel the way you do and *want* your and your sister's needs to be paramount in his life, and natural to feel disappointed when it doesn't happen, but going that step further and being angry with him for not doing it is a bit much.

2- You might be riding the waves of your sister's illness and your empathy is allowing you to get sucked in a little bit. Her disease might be amplifying the disappointment she would feel in learning that your dad's devotions aren't targeted 100% at her. Instead of disappointment, though, the bipolar amplifies it into manic anger or crushing depression.

Whether I'm wrong or I'm right, I think that this crisis requires you and your sister to decide one thing: does your dad have your sister's best intentions at heart? Will he make the right decisions to support her and help her treat her illness? If that's still true, then the rest is minor stuff.
posted by gjc at 7:06 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Coming back in to strongly second xyzzy's recommendation of contacting NAMI. Like Al-Anon, they can be life changing. They've been there, and they can be supportive in ways that only people who have dealt with mental illness can be.

Again, good luck.
posted by kestralwing at 7:19 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Your father does need a support system -- which shouldn't be his new girlfriend. He also needs to be able to talk to his girlfriend, not about every last detail of things, but about the fact that his daughter is ill. There's a balance in here: it's unreasonable for your sister to expect your father to not mention even that, but it would be unreasonable of your father to tell his girlfriend everything. It isn't clear what he is telling his girlfriend, though.

You also need a support system.
posted by jeather at 7:32 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Your dad setting boundaries with your sister about what he, an autonomous adult, is willing to do for her, another autonomous adult, is likely a good thing for both of them.
posted by jaguar at 8:43 AM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

Have you considered that your obsession with your sister's issues is preventing her from getting the care she needs, and that your father taking a step back is a good thing?

This situation looks to me like a clear-cut case of enabling. Your sister is a very sick adult and she needs professional help. You and your father have gotten sucked into the crazy, and your caretaking is allowing her to avoid the consequences of not seeking treatment, which is allowing her to put actually dealing with it off while her mental health deteriorates.

You need to take a step back. Your sister is an adult and she needs to learn to care for herself. You're infantalizing her by trying to mediate between her and your father, she's an adult and can mediate her own problems.

To put it in another way, let's pretend your sister is an alcoholic. She's sick, but she refuses to get help. Do you drag her out of bed in the morning, dress her, and send her to work hungover? Do you hide all the alcohol you can find and cover her drinking from her friends? Do you go pick her up when she's too drunk to be rational? Doing these things just allows her to keep drinking.

Taking a serious step back and detangling yourself will make things worse in the short run, but better in the long run.
posted by zug at 9:22 AM on November 8, 2012 [3 favorites]

Of course your sister deserves privacy, but your dad needs support and for his significant other to understand him. This is so widely recognize, that there's a term spousal privilege in law. So I would say that your father deserves to have someone (i.e. his partner) to talk with, but that he should not disclose this private information to anybody else.

Also, a 12 year relationship is really, really long. I wouldn't consider that a "failure" or a "mistake". In fact, I think he's being quite successful if he's able to have such long relationships consistently.

Honestly, it just seems like your sister is not ready to trust your father or she's not ready for treatment (for whatever reason, fear of failure? fear of having to be normal? fear of no longer being "herself"?). So she's making arbitrary hurdles that your father (and you) have to overcome in order to help her.

Three months into my current relationship, I got sick with UTI. My partner was worried and called up his father (in front of me). Needless to say, this made me EXTREMELY embarrassed, and I've asked him not to do this. But ultimately, if I trust my partner, I have to trust that he trusts the right people. And later I met his father and yeah, ok, he was the right person to ask.
posted by ethidda at 9:36 AM on November 8, 2012

I think it's totally fair for your dad to talk with his lady friend about how caring for his daughter affects his life, and about his work to care for her. That's his stuff.

It's totally unfair for him to disclose the specifics of her illness and treatment without her consent.

Now, navigating that is tricky, but that's something a therapist (your dad's, your sister's, a family therapist they consult even for a one-time session to negotiate this) can help with.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:28 PM on November 8, 2012

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