When the negative outweighs the positive

My sister is unwell. She has mental health issues, exacarbated by alcohol abuse.

Every now and again she decides to contact me. Last time didn’t end well. I agreed to meet with her but only with her counsellor present. She didn’t like that. This time it’s my fault – I poked the bear.

She is going through a tough time which involves a court case. I attended the hearing, hiding up the back, hoping she wouldn’t notice. Why? To help our mum understand what was really happening. You see the illness my sister has makes the truth of her words difficult to determine.

I have her number blocked on my mobile phone – so I have control about when she can contact me. However, our office number is public and even though she is blocked on my mobile she can leave messages.

Since she can’t talk to on my mobile she rang the office. Our receptionist was great. I was busy, I am busy. She had to hold for a while then I took the call. Problem was, she was not  well enough to communicate. This meant she refused to even believe it was me. The test on that phone call was her date of birth and I blew it. Rattled by the mess she was obviously in I reversed her month and date – our dates of birth are the opposite of each others 3/4 and 4/3 so to speak. That was it – she decided it was not me and went on about wanting to speak to her sister.

I ended the call, more than a little frustrated. She called back, I took the call and she still refused to believe it was me. This time was worse, if I was her sister – long pause – I would know – long pause – what the big thing was (mumbled). I’ve got no clue if she meant something from our past or her current situation. I did ask her if I wasn’t her sister to stop calling the office, she insisted she would continue. Whatever.

She did continue, to the point that I have had to contact our business phone provider and get her number blocked. My staff don’t have to put up with abusive clients, let alone my family members giving them a hard time.

She’s left another message on my phone, messages on my sisters and mothers phone. She is not sane at the moment, it’s quite apparent. I feel guilty. I can’t help her. She doesn’t believe she needs help. Vodka is her crutch but when mixed with mental illness it’s not helpful.

There is no positive in this story. Her insistence she needs to talk to me is because she wants to threaten me with being thrown out of court if I turn up again and that people like me cause people to suicide. People like her.

I’m not sure what I can do and I don’t know where to get help. Telling her to call Lifeline won’t achieve anything. Her behaviour has long reaching effects. My daughter was in the office yesterday working reception, she had to hear the calls play out.

Everywhere I look for help I get suggestions to speak to her GP and case worker. I don’t have the details of those, in fact neither does my mother. We are left being washed over by her illness, swamped with our guilt for the help we can’t provide, unable to talk to the people that are supposed to be helping her.

For me, I’ll return to my ordinary imperfect way of coping. I won’t communicate with her. I’ll still be overwhelmed by the grief and guilt that pours out of my mother, I will still be incredibly frustrated by the fact that there are no solutions, there is no assistance.

Sometimes, regardless of the relationship, you have to step away. Any positive effect you may have on the other person cannot outweigh the negative effect the relationship has on you.

 

 

Jangled me

Jangled me

I’m struggling this week. Not with weight loss, that just seems to happen. I’m struggling with life.

It’s been a week where a lot of old emotions, hurts and memories have been kicked up. Scars opening, scabs ripped off. Sometimes I forget that life isn’t always easy and that even breathing can be hard.

I feel jangled and raw. Look at me the wrong way and I’ll either burst into tears or rip you a new one, maybe even both. Like a poorly tuned violin my nerves are screeching, scalded by my thoughts.

Everything is just too much and I just want to stop. I need to escape. Escape from clients, family, my own body that seems to be letting me down just when I thought I was giving it better care.

It reminds me how important it is to seek help. Trauma never goes away, it just abates and it is amazing how quickly the fear, sadness, guilt, remorse can resurface – even 20 odd years later.

I’m lucky in that my workplace, while incredibly stressful at the minute, is also full of amazing, strong, empathetic women who get that sometimes you just need to fall apart to then come back together stronger.

And I will, it just might take a little bit longer to get the pieces to fit again.