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Something’s not right

Casual Contributor

Caring for a newly diagnosed sister

Hi folks, 

My sister was recently sectioned and admitted to a mental health hospital. She had gone into a severe mania and psychosis and her initial diagnosis is Bipolar I. 


Our parents aren't in the picture so it is just me, and her cousin, available to support her, along with her very new but well intentioned boyfriend. 


It has been two weeks now, and I am already exhausted! She hates the hospital, thinks she has been wrongly diagnosed, thinks we are keeping her prisoner, that she is being treated like a child. She wants a mirror, she wants a whole wardrobe of new clothes, she hates the bedding, she wants her make-up, she wants different shoes. 


Initially we tried to make her feel comfortable - we each spent a few hundred dollars on some bedding, some comfortable clothes, some colouring and puzzle books to keep her happy and some other little treats that she could have in hospital. But the demands keep coming and she gets angry now that we are saying no. 


I had to take her phone away as she wasn't fit to use it and anyway, it is smashed and she is no longer able to pay for it. So, nice sister that I am I bought her a cheap new phone (because why give an expensive phone to someone in hospital) with unlimited calls, texts and data and I installed parental controls, so I can ban sites like facebook and email. She hates it! She wants her old phone back, wants access to her emails so she can apply for jobs, wants to be able to get her old phone contract back. 


I know I shouldn't expect her to be rational right now but she thinks she is well. She doesn't understand that she has months of recovery ahead of her. She won't be able to live on her own, or move in with her boyfriend. She won't be able to apply for jobs, or possibly even get a job, or be able to keep a job. She has no money. She threw away most of her clothes or they are unsuitable (who needs a fur coat but nothing to wear under it?!) so she is going to have to make do with tracksuits and hoodies for a while. 


I hate being the bad guy, but what else can I do? I know I am making the right decisions for her - I just wish she was well enough to understand and appreciate how much we are all doing for her. 


Re: Caring for a newly diagnosed sister

@mambofish Hi membofish and welcome to the forums Smiley Happy. I think you have answered your questions well. I was diagnosed with bipolar 1 firstt and now as having schizoaffective disorder. It will take months for your sister to recover and even then there will be huge defecits for her to overcome. You made me laugh in a bitter way when you mentioned she threw out all her clothes I did exactly the same thing .... anyway you a wonderful for being there for her and don't take her moodiness personally it is not her talking but the illness remember that. greenpeax

Re: Caring for a newly diagnosed sister

Hello @mambofish

Mania = yikes

Often heavy duty meds are required to bring someone down from this and it may be quite some time before your sister appreciates what you have done, if at all. Sometimes it can take a while (and often a depressive episode) for a person to realise they do need help.


You have mentioned it is only two weeks in and you already feel exhausted. You will find on the forums an emphasis on self care, this is term used in relation to looking after ourselves and setting ground rules in our relationships (boundaries). 


I will tag you in a couple of threads you may find helpful.



Re: Caring for a newly diagnosed sister

Welcome to the forum @mambofish. You are an incredible person for being there for your sister and supporting her through this. While she may not be able to thank you now as she is unwell, she most likely will when she recovers from this episode. As @Darcy mentioned, self-care of yourself is important right now, so make sure you take the time for yourself, check in with how you are feeling and talk to someone about your situation. How are you feeling today?

Re: Caring for a newly diagnosed sister

Thanks greenpea, I keep trying to tell myself that! It's so funny - she tried to donate all her clothes to her hospital ward this week, and she gave her only pair of shoes to another patient?!!! Luckily the ward have a policy of not letting people donate things while they are there - clearly a common occurance. I keep telling myself that it is just the disease, it is hard. Appreciate the support Smiley Happy

Re: Caring for a newly diagnosed sister

Thanks Ali, I am feeling better today. See my reply to Darcy, but I have made the decision not to have her live with me when she gets out. As mean as this might sound, I have to prioritise my own mental health and sanity. I feel like everything is much more manageable now. 


Of course, now we have to figure out where she can safely live and how we are all going to pay for it! But, we can do this. We have the means, and I think it will be good for her to get some independence. I hope in a year or two we can all look back and see that this period was a catalyst for her making some positive changes in her life. 

Re: Caring for a newly diagnosed sister

Please don't think you are mean @mambofish, you have to look after yourself to help look after your sister. You are supporting her in so many ways. We're so glad to hear that you are feeling better, it is interesting to hear what you said about donating and the hospital, you are right, it must be a common occurrence! 

Re: Caring for a newly diagnosed sister

How are things going @mambofish 

Re: Caring for a newly diagnosed sister

How are you going @mambofish 

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