It all started when we were young girls. We are sisters in a tight knit family. Back then our family chalked it up to just being spoiled. Her outbursts and tantrums was just a result of a girl who had too much.
Or so we thought.
My baby sister, the one I grew up with, the one with curly brown hair and the curious big brown eyes, the one would run into my bedroom when she had a nightmare, the one who I am a second mother to her babies is mentally ill.
I remember a little girl with big brown eyes and brown curls hiding under the covers in my room with her flashlight to keep the monsters out,
I remember splashing in the pool,
I remember how she screamed when she broke her leg,
I remember arguing when she would “borrow” my clothes without asking,
I remember giving her my ID so she could get into bars before she was 21,
I remember teaching her to drive in parking lots,
I remember doing each other’s hair and makeup before a big date,
I remember crying over break ups and eating ice cream in the middle of the night,
I remember a magical childhood with someone whom I adored,
But we are grown ups now.
And now she is a malicious, destructive force that no one can stand to be around. Or they will get sucked into convincing delusions and psychoses and they will fear her violent rage. She is mean and vindictive leaving you emotionally drained when her fury fades. She has no conscious and if you cross her path she makes it her personal mission to destroy you. She has lied to countless individuals, she has used social media to gain an audience and slaughter anyone who has crossed her. When she is finished with you, you walk away feeling broken-hearted and worthless.
She’s sick. I know she’s sick. Everyone knows she’s sick except her.
My sister’s most recent downward spiral has been public just like many mentally ill celebrities in today’s media. Over the past few weeks her delusions and paranoia have been chronicled in a way that, just a while back, only her closest friends and relatives may have witnessed. Her illness was always there, but magnified soon after the birth of her second child, and learning her baby was disabled. It sent my sister into a horrific downward spiral. As she mourned the loss of her healthy child, she fell into a deep depression, withdrew from the world. She began to self medicate.
After a period of brief hospitalization, months of lashing out and weekly therapy out she appeared to be doing well. On the outside it seemed like she had it all together. Two wonderful children, a husband who loved her, I believed that she was going to be okay. Sometimes when you love someone it’s difficult to face the truth. I didn’t want to accept that my sister was mentally ill and abusing prescription medication to survive. I believed with all my heart that she was going to be okay, she had to be okay, anything else was just cruel and unacceptable. Anything else was not an option.
Now she is posting nonstop on social media. Many of her posts are jumbled thoughts, ending with an explicit fear for her safety. “People” are following her, her husband is abusive, each post is in the wee hours of the morning and they get worse and worse. Each post breaks my heart because I know what is really happening, I know the truth.
Instantly texts and emails from concerned friends and family began to flood my phone. I cringe when I check her Facebook profile. Almost 500 friends. Elementary, high school and college friends. Work friends. Former teachers. Extended family. Over the past few weeks her posts have been constant. Hundreds of them, all set to public. She then created another Facebook page to protect herself from “trolls” and then another page for added security. All set to public settings.
I am watching my only sister self destruct for the entire internet to see. I click report on her posts, praying that Facebook will remove it. Unlikely. I even respond to some of the posts assuring Facebook land that she is okay. Even that doesn’t help. I private message her begging her to stop.
I know that her latest paranoid manic episode will fade, but I am desperately trying to save her from herself. Trying to save her children from getting labeled as the kids with the “crazy Mom on Facebook.” Despite all my attempts she is driven to continue the prolific posts for her own safety. And then it happens, she blocks me from social media and her life.
As I write this I weep for my sister. I weep for her pain. I weep for what she’s going through. I weep for her mentally ill brain. I weep for her addiction. I weep for her babies. And I weep for me. Because the little girl with the big brown eyes and big brown curls hiding under the covers is gone. And there’s nothing I can do to bring her back.
See, my sister and I have a solid plan, we have a future. We’re supposed to be old ladies sitting on the back patio sipping fine wine. We’re supposed to wear our Christmas PJ’s on Christmas Eve with our families while roasting chestnuts on an open flame singing Christmas carols. We are supposed to grow old together because that’s what sisters do and we know each other better than anyone else in the world.
To my beautiful sister…if you’re reading this….remember?
I can’t do all this without you.
I need you.
Your children need you.
I am your biggest fan in life, and the only thing I want from you is for you to get well. I love you unconditionally, but I cannot sit back and watch you destroy your life anymore. Until you are on the road to recovery I am stepping back. I am doing this to preserve my own sanity, happiness and safety. There is nothing I won’t do to help you get better, but there is nothing I will do to help you remain ill. I still support and love you but I am choosing my own sanity over your destruction.
See, you can’t force someone to take medications, see a doctor or go to rehab. I know because I have tried all this, my parents have tried this, and most recently when my elderly mother tried this she was assaulted by a paranoid, manic woman in a rage. Federal and state laws protect the right to remain untreated, unless and until a person becomes a threat to herself, or to another person, and even then there is no guarantee the individual will receive the proper treatment. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, about 43.8 million people suffer from mental illness every year: depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenic and so on.
I pray the girl with the big brown eyes and curly hair can feel the infinite love her family has for her and find her way back home during this dark time. I pray our love is strong enough to bring her back to life.