I heard from my sister recently. It appears our mother told her that I was moving back. My mom has told pretty much everyone she knows…she is excited. I had not told my sister and there is a reason and I am sure that it will sound horrible….but….my sister is a drama queen, a time waster (my time) and she refuses to acknowledge the boundaries that I set. I find this very annoying and knowing from experience that an international move takes some time and there will be months of chaos I chose not to inform her because she will not help with the transition but she will add to the chaos.
Her message to me (yes we communicate via messenger because I refuse to give her my number), “Hey, Mom said you are moving back? I am coming over, when do you arrive and what’s your new address? I will be there the day you fly in. My boyfriend’s sister and kids moved in with us and I need a break.” She then left a lengthy description of her life with boyfriend, his sister and the kids and her schedule, how much work kids are, how frazzled she is, etc.. In short, my sister could care less that I am coming back, she doesn’t want to help me move, she simply wants a break from her life. This has happened frequently and sadly I have fallen for it one too many times. I have felt sorry for her a time or two over the years, just like most of our family, and it has been easier to enable her rather than stand firm.
Here is what happens when you feel sorry for her…she comes in like a wrecking ball (pardon the Miley Cyrus song title) and sucks up your time, energy, money and usually takes off with some of your stuff. You are exhausted two hours after she arrives and you will stay exhausted for about a month after she leaves. You will wait on her hand and foot and if you don’t she will cry, yell, scream, throw temper tantrums and embarrass you when out in public or if someone comes to your house; even if they are simply there to install something. I have stopped feeling sorry for her and I try not to deal with her.
I know it sounds harsh but for those that have been reading for awhile, you know that both my sister and I have Bipolar Disorder and for those that are new, I was diagnosed (roughly 13 years ago) with Bipolar Disorder 1 and I have mixed to manic, rapid cycle episodes with psychosis and my sister was diagnosed (roughly 20 years ago) with Bipolar Disorder 2 and she runs hypomanic to depressed. She is younger than I am and everyone is always shocked to find out that I was diagnosed later and my case more severe. I refused to use the disorder as a get out of jail free card. I also didn’t want it to define me or be my most identifiable feature. I have it and therefore how I manage my life might be different than someone without a mental illness but it isn’t who I am. I am not the disorder itself.
The big difference between my sister and I, is that I chose to take responsibility for my life. I have spent the past 13 years getting to know all about Bipolar and how it manifests in my life from my triggers to how I cycle and the little tag-along disorders like OCD, anxiety, paranoia. I have also taken the time to get to know me and what tools work for me so I can manage the disorder. My sister has found it easier to blame everything that she does on the disorder, she is a Tsunami and you find yourself waking up to chaos that she shrugs it off with an “Oops, Sorry but I’m bipolar.” If it is something particularly heinous that she has done and people are mad enough not to care that she is bipolar she runs to the hospital and checks herself in for a week or two.
She also takes on “project people.” People that may or may not have their own health issues but “need” her. I have found that she actually needs them. She needs them to distract her from working on herself. They are the perfect excuse not to and I suspect that she thinks it makes her appear to be a compassionate person. We all know the old adage: “You can’t save a drowning person if you don’t know how to swim.” I have tried to help my sister, I have shared reading lists, helpful insights from therapy, tried to be supportive, apps on how to track your episodes or pinpoint triggers but she doesn’t use them. This is partially why my mother is excited that I will be returning home shortly, she has been helping my sister and I think it is too much for her.
She has been asking me to spend time with my sister when I get back and help her to get her life on track but my sister is like an addict; I can not help her until she wants to change and sadly she doesn’t. I help where I can and when I can. We will continue to communicate via messenger, it is safer and I always copy and send our correspondence to our mother. No more “she said; she said” games, now my mother is privy to exactly what was discussed and my home, time and peace doesn’t have to be invaded or my boundaries crossed.
Photo: Bird on the Beach. Goa, India Taken by Pamela with Nikon DSLR 5300