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Families, you can't pick them

Discussion in 'Personal' started by Ange_mmm, Apr 3, 2011.

  1. But if you could.....
    My sister is ill, she is currently on a psychiatric unit where she has been for 4 weeks. She has suffered for many years with various mental health problems. She is bipolar and has suffered manic depression and schizofrenia. I love my sister very much and I am closest to her out of all my many siblings but the whole situation is really getting me down.
    She has 2 wonderful daughters aged 9 and 4. I have been caring for them 5 days a week at my sister's house [25 miles away from my own]. Making sure they get to school and are clothed and fed as well as looking after my own 7 month old baby boy. I am exhausted and stressed and I'm not sure how much longer I can do it. I'm only 24 and feel like I have been handed a ready made family but am a poor substitute for their own mum. My baby is very unsettled and doesn't sleep well anymore as his routine has been completely ruined.
    My sister has just this week been allowed out for visits. She is chomping at the bit to get out but then next morning is a wreck and desprarate to get back to the unit. It's not good for the girls to see their mum like this and my mum and I are running round like headless chickens picking her up, taking the girls to their many activities etc.
    Anyway the final straw came today when my sister called me from my mum's in a state because my dad had invited my brother and his family up. My sister didn't want to see anybody so threw a wobbler. I said I would go and fetch her and take her back. So I cancelled my first mothers day lunch with my fiance and son and raced 26 miles to fetch her and drive her back to the hospital [60 mile round trip altogether]. When I got home I found out she had got onto the ward and kicked off and phoned my mum demanding that she go and fetch her out again. She wasn't allowed out, which she knew. She keeps saying she wants to come home then ruins it when she does.
    I know she is ill and that's not her fault but I am getting so fed up. She has not once said thank you to me for keeping her family together [one of the girls dad has threatened to take her and split the girls up but I have managed to convince him that I am caring for them well, which I am, they are happy enough].
    Am I a terrible person for feeling resentful? I have lots of siblings and only my other sister has offered any help. It feels like because I am on maternity leave they think I am available 24 hours. This time is so precious with my baby but it's being spoiled.
  2. I can understand that - but is there anyone else who could take her children?
    If she is so ill, you won't get a thank you. She will not be thinking rationally.
    I think you are right to defend the girls being split up - that would be awful for them.
    Can you not get some help, from social services or something?
    I am of your opinion that the children should stay together, but if you are suffering, then you need some support, especially if you have your own young child to care for.
    Can your brother not help? Or your parents?
    They are related to these children as well. It should be a family effort, for the sake of those poor kids and the burden seems to be on you alone at the moment.
  3. I have so much empathy with this situation, having been through similar (but different!) myself. Are you allowing your sister to help? And what are your parents doing? I think you need to set your own ground rules. It is almost the end of term- can you bring the girls back to your house to look after them? They can do without their activities for a short time, surely? Your sister is being unreasonable and I don't know how much it helps her recovery that you drop everything to do as she decided she wants at that moment.
  4. My sister has the girls on Saturday and Sunday nights so I can come home and they go to the youngest's dad on a Friday. My mum does a lot of the running around, piano lessons, swimming lessons and various other things but they are bobbing on a bit and my mum isn't well herself. She has offered to have the girls a couple of nights this week which is great but I feel guilty as she has to have them at her house and the girls are unsettled up there.
    I know I won't get a thank you while she is ill. I don't know why I want one to be honest because I love those girls like they are my own and would do anything for them.
    As a young teenager I was very affected by her mental health, it was a terrible time with several attempts on her life, self harming, alcoholism, being sectioned etc and I just feel like we're headed back there but this time there are two children added into the mix.
    I totally agree with this. However I daren't say anything to her as the smallest thing sends her into a paranoid spin and she thinks everyone is against her. She has had plenty of carrot, maybe she needs some stick?
  5. learningyoghurt

    learningyoghurt New commenter

    I don't really have much of use to add, except that from the sounds of it you're an incredibly unselfish person and you have my deepest admiration. I don't think that I could do it.
  6. Thank you, that has really cheered me up :)
  7. I think she needs some therapy.
    And I think you cannot play with children - they need stability. Your sister cannot provide that.
    Try to not resent it - if she is bipolar, she cannot help it.
    Nor can the children.
    If you cannot cope, then you must think of a longer term solution for the children, before they notice the resentment, which they will, if you let it fester.

  8. am a poor substitute for their own mum
    Don't even think it. You are the best they can hope for at the moment and are lucky to have you.
    Don't wait for thanks from your sister but a word of appreciation from everyone else wouldnt be unreasonable. If you are a full-time (hah!) Mum people always think your time is at their disposal.
    Sorry if this sounds heartless but can you not distance yourself from this? She's your sister OK but she's always going to be a burden, is always going to be making demands on you and your time. You need to put yourself and your baby first. Your other siblings will slack off for as long as they know they can count on you to step up.
    I inferred from your post that her children do not have the same father. Does the father of the elder one not help out?
  9. No, that waste of space did a runner the moment he found out she was pregnant and we haven't heard hide nor hair of him since. Youngest child's dad is a good dad to both of them but could never be a full time carer. He can't cook for a start!
  10. Maybe not but surely to God he can open a can of beans and put a couple of pieces of bread in the toaster. I looked after my sister and made myself ill. No kids but working full-time, and dealing with her at every hour of the day. I don't regret it for one minute but there was no one else to do it, only me. Having said that, it involved sacrifice and affected my relationship significantly. You need to make other people face up to their responsibilities, and share the load.
  11. He can learn to cook. And surely he can put a pizza in the oven, even if many of us expect more nutritious food for our children.
    Why not give him a chance to be the father? He seems to care.
    Why not spread the load and involve him more?
  12. Lalad

    Lalad Star commenter

    My ex has bipolar disorder. It is a roller-coaster of an illness and, depending on the severity of the condition, can be a nightmare for carers to deal with. How you are coping with a young baby to look after as well, I can't imagine - you must be exhausted.
    You say you have many siblings - surely some of them can help? Are the Mental Health Team supportive to you as a carer? They are supposed to consider your needs too, although in my experience the support given to carers in this country is abysmal.
    I hope your sister's condition improves soon so that things will get easier for you.
  13. The dad works full time, and would never be able to even get them to school so no point. The threats he made were soon withdrawn when he realised just how much work goes into both girls. Also my mum and sister don't want him too involved as they are terrified of losing them to him. They are going through a horrid divorce and part of my sister's paranoia is based on the fact that she thinks he is out to get her.
    We haven't had any support from the mental health team. I have spoken to the CPN and she said there isn't much available unless the girls are classed a s 'at risk' which they aren't.
    Thanks for all your well wishes, it means a lot x

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