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Forum Name: Psychiatric Topics

Question: My sister is constantly crying, hurt and angry?


 nantucket309 - Mon Sep 15, 2008 6:47 pm

I need help with my sister. She is 24 [I'm 26], and we were subjected to years of emotional abuse from our stepmother. My sister is the middle child and suffered the most because she was singled out a lot by the stepmother.

My sister will cry at the drop of a hat. She's always getting hurt feeling about everything, including the fact that everyone doesn't greet her when she arrives at work. She literally counts how many people say Hello to her and ignores the people who don't. She flies into rages over the smallest things, and then will be laughing minutes later.

She will also do things like talk bad about people, be unnecessarily cruel [to me, her own sister. If someone treats her badly and I get angry at them, she will get angry at ME instead of the other person], and run her mouth about things that should not be discussed. She was dating a guy and treated him so horribly that he ended the relationship. Basically, everyone is subject to her moods, and how she feels is all that matters. She doesn't take anyone else into consideration. Then when people get angry or annoyed at her for one of the things mentioned above, she will cry and say "Everyone hates me." She NEVER apologizes and she NEVER acknowledges she does anything wrong. If one ventures so far as to mention one of her faults, she will take it to extremes, like you've just equated her with dirt, and she's the lowest of the low and stupidest person alive.

She also doesn't like to be alone and complains a lot of being bored. I am a different sort: I like to be alone and I have plenty to do. It gets irritating when she wants to talk on the phone for an hour about nothing, or walk around a store for two hours because she doesn't want to go home and be alone. She works a fast food job and tried to buy a house because she was "bored" and wanted to have more friends. When I try to approach this logically, she gets extremely mad and asks "Why can't you just be happy for me?"

She always gets "excited" over things, only to be disappointed. One example is the house. She will get an idea in her head and build this fantasy so far that it's like it's real, but it's not. Then when the disappointment comes, it's tenfold because she's already built it into this huge thing.

I am at my wit's end. I tried to get her to seek professional help because I do think she's depressed, for one thing. She has very low self-esteem, but if I ever mention it, she denies it. She won't get help because then she'd have to admit she had a problem. I feel like I'm on an emotional roller coaster when I'm around her, and sometimes it's really hard to be her sister.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!
 Dr. E. Seigle - Wed Oct 01, 2008 9:41 pm

Hi nantucket309,

it sure does sound hard for you to be with your sister. My guess is that you are onto something important when you say that she was singled out for negative treatment by your stepmother. It sounds like your assessment of her is correct, in that she probably has low self-esteem, is defensive, is needy of others to "fill her up", and she may be depressed. Her excitement and buying of things raise a small possibility of a bipolar disorder.

What can you do? One option is to talk honestly, but with you owning your problem, which is that when you are fed up with her because she is putting you down, you can say, 'I'm really feeling upset, hurt and mad when you put me down like this". Maybe she can or can't talk about it. If she can't, it's your responsibility to take care of your needs, and if that be to take some time and space apart from her, then you might want to do that. She might "guilt" you like she does, but you need to think your wise thoughts, and know that that is a ploy to get you to feel badly and not take space. Then, it's your job to tolerate any guilt you might feel.

Remember, you can kindly let your sister know that you see that she's hurting, and that help is available, but that is the limit. She has to decide to get help; don't wear yourself out trying to get her to obtain it. Know what your limits are with your sister, and then take care of yourself by standing by your limits and not accepting more negative responses than you can tolerate.

Good luck! -E. Seigle MD
 nantucket309 - Wed Oct 01, 2008 10:46 pm

Dr. Seigle,

Thank you very much for your reply. I have let my sister know that help is available and that I can see she's hurting. I know that's all I can do. I just wish she would try to get some help. I have been trying and getting better at not letting her bother me. We have had some space from one another, and that has helped as well.

Things have been fine lately, but I will remember your advice when problems arise in the future. In the past, it's been difficult to get her to talk rationally until she breaks down. Then she's able to admit things and see the problems more clearly. I just wish we could skip that middle part!

Thank you so much!

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