I'm 20 and she's 22. She's been diagnosed with Bipolar disorder and has been hospitalized for a month or so twice. Living with her is unbearable. She is unreasonable and truly a terror to be around. She is violent and unpredictable. She routinely berates my parents (calls my dad, who had suffered a severe stroke, a worthless retard [his speech was affected] and she wishes he died instead) and is extremely hostile to me about everything. I think she's jealous that I'm making something of myself (I'm going to law school next year) while she's probably going to be a drain on society for the rest of her life. Also, she decided to stop taking her medication recently and is noticeably more horrible to be around.
An example of her behavior is that just now (minutes before I am posting this) I was watching TV with my mother downstairs when my sister came up and shut off the TV and walked away. Literally no reason at all - she walked down the stairs wordlessly, shut off the television, and went back upstairs. My mother protested faintly, "Honey...why would you do that?" I got up and turned the TV back on, and my sister came back and shut it off and unplugged the cable box and walked away. I said something to the effect of, "Are you ----ing insane? Why would you do that?" So I went back and turned it on and plugged it in. My sister came back a minute later, walking toward the TV, and I stood in front of it (I am ~180 lbs and squarely built). I told her clearly to "---- off, I'm watching TV now," and turned my back to her to watch it. She punched me in the back of the head (in front of my mom) and when I whirled around, she was in a stance like she was going to fight with me (I wasn't scared or hurt, really, it was more of a, seriously? Really?). I was like, to my mother, "Are you going to let her do that?" Apparently so. So I went up to my room to write this and I am livid. This is the kind of thing she does on a regular basis. I could write about twenty similar stories from this past year alone.
Anyway, the worst part is that my parents do nothing. Absolutely nothing. They hope that she will get better on her own, and that she will "grow out of it." The thing is, they reinforce her insane behavior by allowing it to go on. I've spoken with my parents about it, even in front of my sister; lately, my go-to line when she is acting insane is to say, "She does not belong around people. You should kick her out of this home." My dad says that he just "can't do it. He has two children and he can't kick one out. What if it was me that had the disorder?" I agreed that while family is important, she is making life horrible for all of us, and there should at least be the stipulation, "act like a human being and you can continue to live here," but he said he would under no circumstances make her leave. Exasperated, I've asked my dad whether he could at least punish her, but he says punishments don't work on her, whatever that means. They give her an allowance, so I suggested he dock her allowance when she acts like a monster, but my dad refused the idea.
I hope this doesn't come off as an incoherent rant - there was no revision process and I threw a lot of information in, so I'll just sum up what I'm hoping for here: I would like information on whether acquiescing to insane, irrational behavior will likely result in bettering or worsening of her behavior. My parents think it will make it better, but I hypothesize it will make it worse. I am not an expert in mental illness (in fact, I know nothing about it), so I was hoping someone could let me know. It would really mean a lot to me.
Probably not the best idea to say such negative things about her to her face - "doesn't belong around other people" etc. This will definitely make her worse. Saying that, this hasn't been easy for you and I don't really want to judge you on it. No one has an everlasting well of patience. Maybe just a bit better to try your best to keep your cool, at least when she is in front of you, then let off steam when she is not in hearing distance.
I'm not an expert in mental illness either and I don't know your parents or your situation well enough to comment, really so take my post with a pinch of salt.
However, my reaction to your post is that it doesn't seem right for your parents to be quite so patient and non-punitive. Mental illness, for anybody, is not an excuse for bad behaviour. Of course, people with bipolar I and other psychiatric illnesses may act selfishly or inappropriately at times, as can people with severe anxiety and depression, I have definitely said and done a lot of things I definitely regret.
But I was always told I was being selfish. Not for just no reason, only when I was doing something that was blatantly selfish! People with mental health disorders need to be able to get the balance right between feeling guilty for their disorder and taking responsibility for it.
I don't have bipolar I and I know that it is very different for those who do. Your sister may not be fully aware of what she is doing or lacking judgement. I wouldn't say this was a reason to be soft on her, though.
You say that your sister will be a drain on society. Do you really feel that? Lots of people with quite severe mental health problems go on to huge success. It may be hard on your sister now but there is still hope she could get a handle on her illness and start managing it better. Positive encouragement to do more things and helping her have an awareness of her moods might help. I certainly don't think anybody should be treading on eggshells around her.
Perhaps you could also look at finding a balance in the way you see your sister. Her disorder is not her fault and she may be lacking judgement of what is appropriate. Do you find her easier to be around when she is in other moods? There's no reason to just give in to her but the carrot works better than the stick in, well, pretty much all cases! Positive encouragement is the best way to help her, although you should also be honest about how her behaviour makes you feel. She's still a human being and doesn't need to be treated like she's made of glass.
Bipolar person using disease to manipulate family.
I feel your pain, I have a bipolar brother that treats everyone in the family like a piece of crap. He will have outburst on my father and my brother, he has been in physical confrontations with both of them. He was locked up in jail for three years because his disease turned him towards drugs to try and escape, and ended up going down the wrong path. I have not been around him for about a decade or so and I am now submerged into the whole game that he is playing with the family. While in prison he went ten months without any confrontation and now he has been out for three months and he has gone off on each and everyone of us at least once. He had an outburst while my other brother and I were online, he came into my brothers room and started trying to fight him for no reason. So I called the house to make sure everything was ok, he got on the phone and started making threats to me so I hung up on him, then he got on the video game I was playing and started making threats to me online in front of my friends so I got offline, and then he started calling my house to make threats to me, I didn't answer. Well I ignored him for about a week after that, and my friends refuse to associate with him now for threatening me and his crazy behavior. Now I am the a hole, I just don't get it, he showed restraint for ten months in prison and now I am to believe that he can't control himself in a far less stressful environment. My father talked to a doctor about his situation at home considering that our mom is bipolar as well and that just makes the situation volatile, they feed off of each other, it gets weird, but anyways he told the doctor about the situation and the doctors advice was to leave. So how am I the bad guy if I am avoiding the situation. Oh and to top it off, my wife and I found out that he was sending pictures of his private parts, to her cousin in emails, in some of the emails he was comparing my wife and her to one another, so that was the line that should of never been crossed. Now I am in a corner I can't tell my parents because my wife made me promise I wouldn't but I also can't look at my brother the same because of the threats and the sexual pictures and the implication of my wife in the emails. In closing the mom always says that it's his disease that causes his behaviors, but he makes threats to them about going off if he doesn't get what he wants, so it seems to me that he uses the disease to his advantage to manipulate people into doing what he wants, when he wants, and how he wants. I will not so I am the bad guy.
I'm bipolar. Because of my faith and - maybe mine's just not as bad - my behavior has never been that hurtful. She is wrong for saying those things and her illness is no excuse.
People with bipolar disorder often don't know how much they're hurting the people around them. They might even feel horrible afterward and not say it. This is why I went to cognitive behavioral group. This helped me and other teens there, learn how to manage our feeling and thoughts. A lot of times that tough image or "attack" is a cry for help. The mental illness is no excuse but recognize it is an illness.
What would happen if you kicked her out or punished her? Would she understand what that punishment meant?
Before I got help, my sister wanted my parents to do the same thing to me. All the name calling and pressure to "act normal" only broke my heart and made it worse and more dangerous (to myself). I felt worthless and unwanted all the time. This is my experience.
People with mental illness are NOT worthless. There is no such thing as normal. They go misunderstood or ignored. there's just this stigma around "mental illness" that should not be there. Instead of kicking them out, why not try and help. Help them and you're helping everyone in the situation. No one is a lost cause.
How are you supposed to help them when they think everyone else in the world has a problem and they are "perfect".
Even when their friends start dropping off like flies?
My sister has bipolar and I am fed up with my family (especially my Mum) accepting her mental illness as a license to behave badly. She can call me a f----- sl-- and Mum will say "she was angry". My sister would say "she always says things she doesnt mean".
She would start a fight with me over something that happened 5 years ago because she is craving a reaction or drama. She can never be happy for me if I'm doing well she would say "stop showing off, we all know your doing well". Yet she expects the world to evolve around her for no apparent reason.
Is that it? Am I supposed to just let it go because she is Bipolar and denies it after being hospitalised, diagnosed and abused drugs for many years?
I'm sure you are frustrated. But please allow me to make a point or two that may really help you. Let me ask you this. If your sister were in a wheelchiar would you push her to the store, help her into the car or help her bathe? If so they wht do you not allow for her disabilty as it is now. Its mental illness and is no less real. You lack education on the suject and I mean that in the nicest way. Perhaps your words are hurtful to her. Did you ever think that it may be a little bit you and not just her who is causing the problem? Your attitude is less that good toward your sister who suffers every day while you put her down. Try building her up. If she needs attention because of her illness why shouldn't she get it. She deals with more everyday than you can begin to imagine. Try a little sisterly love and see if it doesn't make a difference. People with bi-polar do need special attention just as any other illness. They faster you realize that the faster you can have a great relationship with her. I think sometiomes the family is the main problem because they can't see the disabilty or illness when its mental. Its very unfair of you to say the things you are saying about your sister. She is a special soul and you seem a bit jealous rather than just frustrated. I don't mean to come across as hateful. I know its hard to tell in type. But I say this to show you that sometimes the healing of another lies in you and not always them.
I dig the original poster's situation - my 28 year old sister is violently psychotic, and possibly bipolar. my partner and i have been living with her and my dad for the past 4 years, and my whole life before we met. in her 'base' mood she is conversational at best. i often make random, joking conversation with her if i'm in the same room just to maintain that state. but when she gets angry, and this can be for the tiniest, insignificant thing, she screams obscenities, growls and physically brutalises anything in her path. and if she sees or hears any remotely sexual activity (just kissing etc.) well, she tears the house to pieces.
Point is, the severity of her condition is palpable, and my dad does nothing about it - mainly because he works long hours and doesn't have to experience most of it.
what's more, my partner has ibs and is very susceptible to stress and depression because of our situation, and is often stuck in the house suffering it.
the bottom line is, no one does !**@! about it, and it festers every day, stinking the place up and never ceasing, never fixed.
it is so easy to feel helpless, day in, day out.
I have a future, as does my partner - we are both learning web developers, and as i write this, i may be on the eve of a fantastic job.
we figure - get a secure job, get enough money and get out - once we're living in our own home, we disconnect, and never have to deal with this hell again.
i know exactly how you feel. my sister was sectioned for 3 months about 10 months ago, she's still taking pills. The thing is i have built so much hate up for her she ruined everything for my family, yet they still put her first. my father even said to me that her happiness goes above me and my other sibling. Its really unbearable but we've just got to work through it thats all you can do in life just suck it up and take the punches. However one day i'm going to sit down and inlighten my sister on the pain she's caused our family. good luck for your situation just remember your not alone.
I am in a similar situation. My brother is bi-polar. He is 36. He doesn't work, doesn't do anything expect call me and my mom names. We are the worst people in the world and if I wasn't earning, he would discard me like garbage. He was "kind-of" diagnosed when he was 16 and me 13.
I have seen it all - depressions, many more aggressions, violence on family, brutality on objects, public tantrums, tearing clothes in public, going naked in public, and things I can't describe ... you name it, I have seen it.
Well, just yesterday, I got beaten up. It hurts. But usually when this happens, I hit back. Thanks to him, I can fight and kick. But my shoes kept slipping yesterday and failed me.
I am not staying at home by force. I came back at my will. My dad is no more. My mom has to be deal with him all alone. She is not happy that I suffer on his account. But I can't leave her alone.
Trying to get things in control but it's a tough ride. From all my experience, it is all about Monitoring and Controlling. Yes, sometimes the support people feel relaxed and miss one thing. And that is where it all blows off....
Parents sometimes are in denial of such things. More so, if it with the first child. The first child is the love child, the one they have most hopes for... How can that child go wrong??!!
Talk to your parents. Talk to other family members. Talk to her when she is in a low mood.
@Backwoodsdiva--you seem like an extraordinarily kind-hearted person, so please do not take personal offense to my reply. With all due respect, you talk like someone who has never had a family member with this disorder.
My main point to you and others is this: if an individual with "bipolar" disorder does not want to help themselves, you WILL reach a limit on how you can help them. They will abuse you, abuse your family, and abuse everyone in their lives...without fail. Sometimes, you have to walk away and never look back.
I can say this with conviction because my sister is also "bipolar." I put "bipolar" in quotations because I do not fully believe in the diagnosis. "Bipolar" disorder, to me, is a way for spoiled, depressed, narcissists to explain and excuse their behavior...without taking any accountability for their actions.
My sister tormented my family and me for years (and still does); she has no regard for others' feelings, and is a complete egomaniac. Her behavior is reinforced by my parents, who have never properly disciplined her, and who have taken her abuse for years.
I got sick of it. My husband and I haven't spoken to her in years, and our lives are better for it. To me, someone with "bipolar" disorder...who chooses not to take their meds, is as bad as a sociopath. They will never get better. They are a danger to society, and they should be locked away.
@LtData, I don't mean to offend you but I have known a number of people with bipolar (including my older sister) and it IS a real disease. I understand why you cut ties with your sister, and I'm sorry your parents have let her affect their lives in such a terrible way. But, Bipolar is scientifically documented and certainly a real illness. Of course some people use it as an excuse to justify their behavior, but not all of them! My best friend is bipolar and she has never purposefully tormented anyone, especially her family. It's a real disease real people suffer from in lots of different ways.
Back to the original post, I too am 20 and my sister is turning 22. Weird. Anyway, I lived with a very similar situation before coming to college and I know exactly how you feel. My sister was never punished for all the things she put my family through. My mom says that suffering through her illnesses (My sister also has a severe learning impairment, ADHD as well as bipolar) is punishment enough. I think you're right though, simply giving in and allowing her to act however she pleases will only lead to more bad behavior. What happens when she starts stealing from them? Threatening their lives? There has to be a line. But your parents are adults and they have to draw that line for themselves. It looks like you made this post a year and a half ago, so I'm guessing you're in law school now. I hope that is going well, and if you don't have to live at home then don't. Try to support your family and love them, but don't live in such a toxic situation if you don't have to. I'm so sorry you have had to endure this. I know how you feel, and I can tell you moving away makes it a hell of a lot easier.