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Sister withdrawing from family

Community Member

My sister is a shy person and I know she enjoys time to herself but when she started high school she gradually started talking to me less. It's been a few years since then and now we basically don't talk. We used to be best friends and would have sleepovers every other night. She has virtually no confidence and I sometimes think it's because of me putting too much pressure on her to make friends in high school which makes me feel so guilty. When she started high school she was shy but still so bubbly and happy at home and when I would see her at school.

She hardly talks to our parents either and my mum doesn't know what to do. Around a year ago I asked her if she was feeling ok and she said she was feeling fine and sounded very confused why I asked. I don't know what I should do next because her personality has changed so much and now she just stays in her room all day and doesn't leave to eat until 3-4pm sometimes.

8 Replies 8

Community Member
Hi, I’m thinking she might have depression, does she have trouble making friends, I’m like that still to this day I’m 47, I have given up and I just stay home and go to work, being a loner is a horrible thing, I hope she gets help soon.

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hello Naomisk1, we appreciate your concern because when someone gets a mental illness of any kind they begin to act differently and may pretend to be their usual self, except that there are slight differences you begin to notice that doesn't appear to be their usual self.

Sometimes at the beginning, they don't want to open up and would prefer to be alone in the bedroom so they don't have to answer any questions but after a while, you start to worry because any suggestions you make to her seem such a huge effort for her to accomplish.

You could mention to her that if she is having trouble at the moment she can contact Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 by phone, web chat or online and begin a conversation with someone who can help her.

If she feels that she can relate to this person then that's a connection she needs someone who will be there for her and be able to be there for her.

If you like you can write this down and push it under the door and try and maintain her confidence by saying that you won't tell anyone.

Please let us know and you can make any comment whenever you like, someone will be here.

Best wishes.


Community Champion
Community Champion

Hey Naomisk1,

Thank you so much for posting, and a warm welcome to our forums.

This particular experience sounds very familiar to me. My sister is also still in high school and has just gone through a few really rough patches, and I haven't always been the greatest support, which I also regret.

There is a chance that she doesn't know what's wrong either, or how her family can best support her. If you feel comfortable, you can start another conversation with her to help her make sense of and express her own feelings, and to help you understand how you may be able to do in support of her. I began by asking her how she was going at school, how she's feeling about school, how comfortable she feels within her friend group etc.

Even if she doesn't open up to you straight away, it may be nice for her to feel like she's got your ongoing support, and for her to see you as somebody she can trust and confide in. If she's somebody who struggles to make friends (a lot like my sister, who is very shy socially), she may be more inclined to gravitate to you in future if she's feeling upset or in need or some support.

Even if you start by asking her about her current hobbies, or how she's going with her school work, this kind of conversation can be therapeutic for somebody who is struggling to form social connections at school, or even somebody who is struggling with their mental health in general. I know that for me when I wasn't in the greatest headspace, it felt great for people to take a genuine interest in my life and what was going on.

I hope this advice can be helpful for you. Please feel free to chat with us some more, we're here for you.

All the best, SB

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi Naomisk1,

Sorry to hear you're so worried about your sister and that she's going through something like this right now. It must be very stressful for you. It's very caring of you to reach out here and try to get advice, you clearly care for her a lot.

What is the age difference between you and your sister? Are you also at school with her, or do you know anyone she spends time with? Perhaps you could message or talk to someone outside the home who knows her (even ask a teacher at her school - or ask your parent to) to see if anyone has another insight to her life. She may be struggling with bullying, stress from school or another internal issue. It's quite difficult to say. I think it would be helpful if other people were keeping an eye out for her wellbeing too.

Until she is ready to open up, just letting her know gently here and there that you are here for her, you care about her and that she can always rely on you can go a really long way. Sometimes young people can struggle to express themselves so just allow for that a bit too.

Let us know how you are both going soon, thinking of you.

Hi Banksy,

She's 3 years younger than me and I no longer go to school. I do know she has a very close friend group though who I think would look out for her. Thank you for the advice 🙂

Thank u for your reply SB,

She is definitely shy but has a really close group of friends that she talks to all the time so I don't think she would be concerned about making new friends at the moment. I'm trying to make an effort to talk to her more so she becomes comfortable around me which might even make her happier? but at least will let her know I'm her friend and that she can talk to me 🙂

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi Naomisk1,

I’m sorry that you are having these difficulties with your sister, it is clear that you miss her and it must be hard not knowing why she is not wanting to spend time with you or her parents. You could spend your life trying to guess and never really know the reason why, but it seems like you need to ask her flat out. If it was me, I would book in somewhere for lunch that you can both go and talk relatively privately. And then I would just say that you have noticed her pulling away and you don’t know what you have done and you want to know why so that you can fix it because you miss her. The fact that you are at a lunch dedicated to finding out why and the fact that she is really captive for at least the lunch will hopefully mean that she needs to open up. Alternatively you might be able to contact one of her more discreet friends and try and find out whether anything is going on and whether she has said anything to them. However if they mention it to her, you risk damaging the relationship further.

Hi Naomiski, just checking in to see how things are going with you and your sister?

Thinking of you both.