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My sister

Community Member

I have an older sister (51) who seems to be suffering from a mental disorder of some sort. She has never been diagnosed, and won't admit to any problems. She is bright and intelligent.

The problem is that all my other siblings treat her badly, and talk about her behind her back. They don't invite her to anything, make fun of her, and always imagine the worst about her. They don't always check the facts.

So, I am worried for my sister as she really has no friends, she hoards things in her house and cannot keep a job. She definitely has a problem but no one seems to be able to help her. How does someone get help when they won't ask or admit to any issues?

Unfortunately she won't listen to anyone about anything. Even if someone counselled her, she would turn the session around and be giving advice. I feel very sorry for her and would like to see her a bit happier in her life.

3 Replies 3

Just Sara
Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi and welcome Marie;

Well done for finding courage to post as well as start your own thread.

It's never easy to watch someone you love doing it tough, especially when they don't yet realise or accept their life is anything but normal. I'm the eldest of 3 sisters so I understand completely where you're at. (I'm 57)

Having the ability to stand back and let her world crumble without blaming yourself or feeling responsible, is a necessity for self preservation. You're worrying, feeling sorry for her, trying to fix things, but all this is detrimental to you in the long term.

The 'only' form of support that works with people like this is effective communication skills. Her mind is likely full of distrust, paranoia, bad memories, mental illness, authority issues, poor self esteem/insight and the list goes on.

If you want to truly help her, seeing her as a woman first, then a friend and teaching her to trust you, is much easier than just being her sister. We all have an equal right to make mistakes and live with them. This gives you distance from your emotional bond.

When you want people to share/talk, listening skills, good open/closed questions and a little guile/tact serve to go a long way. Most of all though, is having the right bait.

There's a good likelihood your sis is competitive with siblings; this can work in your favour. If you told her of a mishap you once had, then say; "Oh you probably don't get that, it hasn't happened to you" How would she react?

Or tell of someone else's story, then add; "I think she's the only woman on earth who that's happened to" How would she respond?

It's all in a well placed, well rounded question/comment. Strategies such as this, will open the door for her stories to come out. If she's trying to advise or tell you what to do, you could say; "How would you know? You haven't gone thru that" this'll put her on the spot and demand an experiential anecdote.

If she says; "I don't need to go thru it to know how to deal with it" the obvious response from you is; "Actions speak louder than words" or something to that effect.

I hope I've helped Marie. What you're trying to do is commendable and loving. Good luck with it all. It takes time to learn, but well worth the outcome if she reacts well.

I'm here most days, so ask questions if you want to. Also, look around the threads for similar situations by using the search button. Lots of info links below too.

Warm thoughts;

Sez x

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni
hello Marie, your sister will not admit that there is a problem, because if she does then she would be giving in to your sisters, and by hoarding to ask for help would be beneath her pride people with this tendency never do this, simply because they believe that they don't have a problem.
I have known 2 people who have this problem, actually one of these chaps I don't know, but I've seen what his house looked like after he was admitted into a nursing home, the other chap many times.
His house from the outside was a junk heap, he would take home anything he thought he may need in the future, and he would even dress up when collecting the junk, but he wouldn't accept anything anybody said to him, he had OCD.
As Sez has said 'this is detrimental to you in the long run' because as much as you want to change her the deeper she will dip her heals in.
She won't ask for help because she thinks there is nothing wrong, the same applied to this other chap who dressed up, he was living his own life and didn't care what other people said about him, and yes he would also turn the conversation around.
The chap who was admitted into the nursing home I had the contract to clean it all out by the trustee's, I must say it should have been kept as a museum, it was a true classic and unbelievable what he had done. Geoff.

Community Member
Hi Marie, it is wonderful that you care about your sister. I think that the most important thing that you can do is care, and spend time with her, even if just by phone. Isolation is so very difficult to avoid if things are not quite right and you are trying to convince others and oneself that all is well. You are not responsible, but your kindness and caring can keep many many doors open. Your sister may at sometime trust that you can help her by more formal means for example visiting a doctor, but also listening and sharing time is so very valuable. Good luck.