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Anxiety and Depression Support
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Family issues

I've been battling with depression for a long time. Recently I've had some terrible loss and some healing recoveries. Right now I'm struggling. I have had the opportunity to heal some of my worst pains from my childhood this summer and it was beyond words fantastic, but I just spent the most amount of time with my older sister than I have in around 25 years. I'm almost 39 and she's 45.

It sucked.

I guess I naively thought I was going to continue the feel good healing train. She still treats me like a 14 year old who knows nothing and I guess I still hold her on the older sister pedestal. (I'm not bragging or putting her down with my following details I'm just setting the stage: I'm a successful doctor of Physical Therapy, married with a family and financially stable. She is struggling with money, drugs, alcohol, mental health.)

I thought these 2 weeks together would be good to get to know my estranged sister but it was like dealing with a know it all teenager. I would only offer ideas for help when asked but then would be told she already knew that or that she's got a better plan.

I know I need to move on and recognize she is an individual and so am I, but I don't know how. I'm scared as I don't want to alienate her. But I don't want this weird drama. I'm moving forward in my life and don't want her treatment of me and my family to suck me back into the bad place I've fought so damn hard to get out of.

Any words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks.

3 Replies
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Hi you don't have to alienate her just stay away from her as much as possible. She sounds like she is in denial. When you do have to meet her then stay away from trying to help her as she clearly doesn't want it. Just keep the subjects neutral and don't try and be close to her as it obviously isn't working for you.

I do this with 2 of my sisters. I have tried to help both over the years but all I get back is abuse, so now I avoid them as much as possible and just talk about trivial or 'safe' things when I am with them. It's much easier on the old nerves.

Take the positive from this - you said you learnt a lot this year which is great. Forget the negative and move on. You are not responsible for your sister nor her you.

Remember though you can't choose your relatives you can your friends. x

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She is probably feeling pretty bad about herself compared to you, and she's handling that by trying to hold on really tightly to the old big-sister relationship she used to have with you, where you looked up to her. If she's not doing that great in her life it must be especially galling and painful to have her younger sibling doing so much better. And if she's using drugs, she's going to be very emotionally impaired and self-centered.

Since you love your sister and you want to have a relationship with her, my advice is to try to mentally prepare yourself before you see her. Even write down notes for yourself to review ahead of time. Set an intention that you are going to be non-reactive. Don't offer her any specific advice. If she tells you about some difficulty, just say 'Oh boy, that sounds really tough.' Then stop. The last thing she wants is advice. She just wants sympathy. Even if she asks for advice, don't fall into that trap. Just offer sympathy only. Seriously, even if she says 'oh my god, what should I do, I don't know what to do!' the answer she wants from you is 'wow, I don't know, that must be so tough.'

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Sisters is such a tough relationship. I love my two older sisters loads but our situation is dead opposite. They are widowed and financially very secure, they have lovely children and grandchildren and are always on holiday. They spoilt me growing up in some ways but they talk to me like I'm a child but I tell them how I feel when I shouldn't and because I suffer lots of depression they say some hurtful things. They do include me in stuff but I don't go out much when I'm down.

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