I have 2 younger sisters, and my relationship is kind of on thin ice. I believe my one sister is OCD and the other I think could very well be bipolar. But I cant talk about my disease with my sisters. I’m on disability and they think it’s a bunch of crap. My youngest sister doesn’t believe in taking my medication. When I was in the hospital, my youngest sister wouldn’t see or talk to me, my middle sister would talk to me on the phone, but wouldn’t come see me. So for me, it’s like I have to hide my bipolar from them. And if I am having an episode, usually manic, I am just trying to get people’s attention. Its “all in my head”. well duh, yes it is. So, my sisters aren’t diagnosed with anything, but I see it there. And as far as they are concerned, I don’t have anything wrong with me. I wish I had their support, but I’m on my own in my family.
It is very hard to deal with this illness without the support of your family. Family is supposed to be the one thing you can count on to hold you up when you can’t stand on your own two feet anymore. A family is supposed to be understanding and accepting of you no matter what is going on in your life. They are supposed to be your backup when you need someone on your side, your safe haven when you need shelter from the storm and someone you can confide in when the information is too much for you to bare alone. Unfortunately it doesn’t always turn out that way.
When my second marriage fell apart, my family knew I was unstable but they didn’t know to what extent. They just knew something was definitely wrong with me. But in my family, you just don’t go to “crazy doctors” but I needed help and I wasn’t getting it from anyone around me. The “let it go’s” and the “just get over it’s” were not working. So when I went and got help from a professional psychiatrist and was diagnosed Bipolar, General Anxiety disorder & major depressive disorder it was somewhat of a relief to know there was a name for what was wrong with me, that it was real, that I wasn’t actually going crazy and contrary to some opinions I wasn’t just looking for attention. The best part was there was help available. And like you I had little to no support because like you if it isn’t a physical illness that they can see with their eyes my family really had a hard time understanding that I honestly had an illness. I was just “upset” or “stressed out”. Then came a time a few years later that my daughter got diagnosed. She was 7 at the time. Even less understanding was given from my family. Mostly all I got was advice, “all she needs is a good butt whipping” “you need to get a good handle on her or she’s going to run all over you”. Everyone had an opinion but no one was interested in what was really going on. Then came the blaming….. Some members of my family actually decided there was nothing wrong with her that it was just the way I treated her that made her act the way she did. Again, no one was interested in what was really going one with her. Then things got worse in some ways and better in others. My daughter was hospitalized for a suicide attempt when she was 8yrs old. During the hospitalization we all learned things about her illness that even I didn’t know were going on with her. My family became aware of just how serious BIPOLAR really can be. Some of my family became very supportive while she was in the hospital. As they became supportive of her illness they became tolerant of mine.
Although my family is supportive of my daughter to an extent they are not very educated on bipolar itself. I found this website and became a writer and began posting blogs on my facebook page and as much information as I could find about mental illness on my facebook page so that they would have the opportunity to educate themselves.
You can lead a horse to water but you cant make him drink.~
I do believe that there are undiagnosed members of my family also with different illnesses, depression, anxiety, etc. but you cant force someone to get help either. Even if they are miserable and taking it out on those around them there is nothing you can do about that except try to love them anyway. If you feel you have to hide your illness from your sisters I know it sounds like a harsh thing to do but when you are in a manic state or feeling that they may judge you maybe it IS best that you spend time away from them. There have been times I have spent away from those I love because I had to make a choice between mental stability and their company. I’m not saying cut your sisters out of your life that would be so wrong. I’m just saying there may be times when it is best for you to take time for yourself. Alone and lonely are two different things…. Chose to be alone. That is a big difference.
I hope you can find some resolution or middle ground with your sisters. I only have one sister, an older sister. We don’t always see eye to eye. Well we rarely see eye to eye, and she doesn’t even talk about my illness. I’m not really sure how she feels about it. I know she has never made the effort to educate herself about it. I’ve never went to her in a moment of mental need. But anytime I’ve ever needed her for any reason she has always been there for me. I hope you can find some sort of middle ground with your sisters too.