My Crazy Sister

I have a sister who supposedly suffers from Bi Polar disorder with schizophrenic tendencies.  I say supposedly because she has said multiple times in the past that she enjoys "acting" crazy because she gets social security and its funny to watch the way people react to her. I'm not discounting the fact that she probably does suffer from these things. She does have serious mental issues and does not take the medication prescribed to her correctly or consistently. I do think that some of her episodes and actions are forced. Its almost as if she can turn the switch on and off. When she isn't getting her way or the attention she wants is when it seems to turn it "on". She is also a gambling addict. She has barely enough SSI and welfare income to live off of but yet is steadily spending any money she can get her hands on at a casino. She has 3 children who all suffer and go without because their mother would rather gamble than buy them school clothes or new shoes. She is also showing signs of being a kleptomaniac, having shoplifted from multiple stores this last year and half. She has been caught 5 times. Over the last 10 years I have helped her, supported her, offered guidance to her. supported her children, given her money, etc etc & I've done it so much that I am now tapped out emotionally. I have no love for her. She uses people until they have nothing left to give and she likes to blame it all on her mental issues.

My question is at WHAT point does someone with mental disorders have to take responsibility for their actions. At what point can I feel less guilty about the hate I have inside for her actions, addictions, and disorders. I am always labeled the mean one because am literally emotionally dead to my sister. I am dead inside when it comes to her. I am sick of being called the "mean one".

Any advice is appreciated. End Rant. 


  • 15 Commentsby Likes|Date
  • You are not mean...you are just finished enabling her. Pat yourself on the back
  • I had a roommate in college who sound much like our sister. She was all about getting attention and would create these off the wall lies to get people to ooh and aww over her. She was bipolar and often used her mental issues as a crutch when she got caught in lies or doing weird stuff. She was hyper emotional and very hard to live with.
  • @DD22... I think @chinne01 is on to something. When we stop enabling someone, we often misconstrue it as being "mean." But in reality, all we're doing is saying we're finished with helping them continue their bad habits and harmful lifestyle.

    When my son was addicted to drugs, my wife and I would feel bad if he came to us asking for money and we didn't give it to him. He didn't have a job, so we were his only source of "income." We would give him the money and not think anything of it. Years later, we realized that by giving him money we were feeding his drug habit. It wasn't until we stopped enabling him that things started to turn around.

    There's an old saying that is incredibly simple, but incredibly insightful: 

    "If nothing changes, nothing changes."

    In other words, if you keep doing what you were doing for your sister, why would you expect her to change at all? When someone is comfortable in a situation, they have no reason to change it. But when people stop enabling, then the person with the issues is forced to look at things differently. It can be a catalyst for change.

    By all means, you should support your sister. And by "support" I mean help her with things that will lead to her bettering her life. But don't enable her. Enabling is anything we do that allows the person with the issues to continue with their negative behavior/lifestyle. So giving your sister money? That's enabling. But driving her to a job interview? That's support.

    I'll keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers. You are in a difficult situation and I commend you for coming here for support. We are here for you and are pulling for your sister...and for you.
  • I don't know exactly at which point someone with mental issues has to take responsibility for their actions, but it is crystal clear that your sister is not able to raise three children and the custody shall be given to somebody else. Something must be done before it's too late so her children won't be scarred for life. Tell someone about this and take initiative. 
  • OK, first you are not mean you are honest. It seems like it's tearing you down and regardless of her issues she shouldn't use it as an excuse of the bad behavior she is showing. I saw this was posted a while ago, how are things now?
  • I wouldn't say you are the mean one. I think you are just tired of having to clean up after her all these years. It's time for you to get some "me time". The thing is you can never really know when her episodes are real because she is not taking her meds properly which means she is not getting better. She just probably needs to be checked into a mental facility. I hope things are better now though.
  • I am not really sure what to say about what's the best thing to do in this situation. But let me just tell you that you're not the mean one. I think you're just tired, and fed up of all the things you're sister has been doing, and somehow, your life is being dragged down because of her bad habits/ways. Well, maybe you should already admit her to a mental institution.
  • The comment she made about "acting" crazy sounds a bit defensive on her part. She may feel frightened that she doesn't have control over her behavior at times, but is instead bragging about how she does, when in fact she doesn't. 

    If you start to become more aware of what sets her off or what situations she tends to have these emotional flare ups, look for subtle ways to avoid them or change the subject. A former friend of mine, who is also a klepto and uses people constantly as well as steals from them, would routinely call me up and invite me over to hang out with him. He wasn't able to drive at the time, so I would take us to the liquor store and we would split the cost of a bottle of something. Then when we would get back to his place, his personality would change and he would start mouthing off at me. Basically he got his free ride to the store, and got me to pay for half the bottle, now he wanted me to leave so he could have the whole bottle to himself. He was purposefully starting these fights to get me pissed off enough to leave, then would call a couple days later wanting to hang out again. Instead I started declining to get any liquor, and would just grab myself a tall bottle of beer and nurse it while we were hanging out. And I would either finish it or take it with me when I left. I also started declining to hang out with him as much - I'm not a free taxi service that he can take advantage of when he pleases.

    I'm confused how she has been busted that many times shoplifting - haven't they put her in jail over that already? At the very least the legal fines would be pretty crippling financially.
  • I think you have done your best here and there's nothing more you can do about the situation. Your sister looks to me like a hypocrite and is out to use you for her own personal gain. It's time you counted your losses and deal with your own issues.
  • You are definitely not the mean one. You sound as though you have went above and beyond what anyone would do for someone who is unappreciative towards your help. Obviously, she can manipulate people to feel sorry for her without her caring about the people she is using. I think it is hard to deal with someone like her especially if she is a relative. Everyone is enabling her to continue on this destructive road that is not only taking her down but her children as well. The children are the ones who everyone should be worried about not about whether you are the mean one because you have emotionally drained yourself because you have the compassion to try to help your sister. You are the only one who can decide when enough is enough. From the sound of it you are at that point, but because you are the responsible one you feel the guilt that goes along with that title. I wish you the best of luck with all of this and hope you find the answers you need.
  • Sometimes you need to step back and take time for self preservation. A lot of times people with personality disorders etc rely on someone else to be co-dependent. She just doesnt enjoy not having you around to play up to.
    Take care of yourself first and dont feel guilty about it.
  • yes, take care of you first....i'm sorry you are struggling with this...others have given some solid advice for sure.

    i hope all is going better for you.
  • She is responsible for her actions right now! She needs to get treated and if she isn't getting treated then hold her accountable. She needs to get treatment so she can get her life together. 
  • I understand you all too well. I am currently in the same boat with my brother, who appears to have an as yet undisclosed behavioral illness. He is either bi-polar or histrionic. However, I've seen him with OCD and schizophrenia symptoms. He's been picking a fight with carpenters and even random people he doesn't know just because he suspects they're plotting something against them.

    It's difficult because people with behavioral problems can't be cured overnight. You have to have patience with them. It's been hard at first but perhaps because I love my brother and my need to keep the family intact is rather strong, my parents and I have become more resilient to his manic episodes.

    I think you should stop rising to the occasion. Ignore your sister's "craziness" and treat her like a normal person. All her mania, treat it as if it doesn't affect you. You'd be surprised that by being as normal as possible, the problem doesn't seem that huge anymore. Best of luck!
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