not responsible for her actions?

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New Member

Date Joined Feb 2006
Total Posts : 5
   Posted 2/9/2006 8:44 AM (GMT -7)   
Our family is absolutely falling apart.  My brother-in-law tells us my sister has no control over her behavior and therefore is not responsible for her actions. He said we should forgive her for everything she does and says. As a family we want to help, we support her through difficult times which is all the time, hate the disease and love the person, we read, research, listen, standby, but at what point are you not responsible for what you've done and said to the people you love, to friends and family and even strangers.  How much should I take?  My brother-in-law says it's the disease talking and doing these things and we should just let it roll off our backs. My sister is under numerous doctor's care and takes all kinds of meds but is never stable.  She says "nothing works" for her.  We can't seem to ever just be family; it's always episodes, crisis, wild behavior, melt downs and hurt feelings.  There are no "normal" dealings in our family and some are beginning to disconnect from our sister because we just don't know what else to do.  The posts are so helpful in explaining that I need to stand by, be there, understand, etc. but lately the only way to do that is to not call.  Even a  "Hi, how was your weekend" can set off fireworks.  Also, the world is ONLY about her and it's getting tough to take.  I'm at a loss and feel so bad for my sister (who is not speaking to me right now).  Can anyone give me some insight?  Thanks.

Ellie 1
Veteran Member

Date Joined Apr 2005
Total Posts : 1291
   Posted 2/9/2006 9:17 AM (GMT -7)   
It may indeed be "not her fault" but it isn't your's either I commend you for standing by your sister in her time of need, but that doesn't mean that you must stand by and allow her illness to destroy you as well. BP has a history of fragmenting families. It isn't only the ill person that is affected, it can take the family unit as a whole into the depths of hell.
I know she is on meds but have they tried any inpatient programs to stablize her? Your brother-in-law must love your sister very much and have the patience of a saint. This is such a difficult time for all of you. Perhaps they will find a combo of meds soon that will work for her. There is alot of trial and error involved in Bipolar medications. Until then you will be in my thoughts and prayers,
Good judgement comes from experience and alot of that comes from bad judgement.

Regular Member

Date Joined Feb 2006
Total Posts : 105
   Posted 2/9/2006 10:34 AM (GMT -7)   

It sounds like you are a good sister for standing by your sister through this hard time.  Your sister most likely can't control what she says and does when she is manic.  I wouldn't take any of the manic conversations personally. 

However, your sister is responsible for getting on the right drugs and keeping herself stable.  In an earlier post about your sister you said that she drinks alcohol while on meds.  Alcohol will decrease the effectiveness of most mood stabalizer.  And the alcohol itself can intensify the bipolar symptoms.  So it is her responsibility to stop drinking.  If she can't stop on her own, then she needs help to stop.  It can take a while to find the right combination of medications that fits each individual.  You might have to search around for a good  psychiatrists that can work well with your sister.  Good Luck!

Regular Member

Date Joined May 2005
Total Posts : 204
   Posted 2/10/2006 3:58 PM (GMT -7)   
I want to commend you for taking such a proactive approach to your sister's health and wellbeing. It certainly sounds like you are well versed in the chaos such an illness can create. It sounds like your sister has had a rough go of trying to find the best option, but its obvious the current approach (meds, therapy, lifestyle, etc.) isn't working. I'm sorry to be blunt, but I'm not easily bought into the "nothing works" argument. Until your sister has religously tried several different treatment options with a doctor she feels comfortable with, its not fair to make a blanket statement that there are no other options. The tough part is sticking with the treatment long enough for it to reach a theraputic level. Most medication takes a few weeks to really start to show any benefit. If she's been mixing all sorts of different things there's no wonder she's not feeling well and the chaos is taking over.
Its also an incredibly sensitive debate regarding accountability and fault. No one is ever to blame for being ill. But it is ultimately the responsiblity of the person suffering BP to take control of their own life and seek help and comply with treatment and care directions. I think if you pondered a lifetime you might never decide whether a person with BP is responsible for their actions when ill. The best you can do is realize there are resources available to create a better future in spite of the illness and use all the tools available. I know there will forever be things that I know I could have done differently in the absence of BP, but I am learning that I have to focus on the future and try to better next time.
Take care and I hope that you'll find some comfort in knowing that you are among people who understand the situation and who have a great deal of respect for your effort,

Regular Member

Date Joined Feb 2006
Total Posts : 42
   Posted 2/10/2006 6:42 PM (GMT -7)   
I do agree with everyone else here...and I too commend you for sticking beside your sister. It takes a caring, loving, and strong person to stand with someone who is suffering BP. I know it must be tough, as I know what my hubby goes through in standing with myself.
Altho one with BP can say and do things totally out of character...and uncontrollably... I know for myself it is just as important to own up to anything I have said or done during an episode. I agree that it is your sister's responsibility to seek treatment and veer away from anything that is causing that not to work. (be it alcohol or such) I can only imagine what it must feel like to have someone that you love do and say things that bring so much pain and hurt. But I would make sure, if not already, that your sister is aware after she comes out of the episodes what she has said and done. Perhaps this will give her the chance to realize and see the whole picture, as well as give her the chance to express to the family how she wants to get this thing under control rather than having your brothernlaw relay the message. Just a thought :)

At any rate..... strength to you. If you feel you need to back off, then I would.... for your own peace of mind! Doesnt mean you dont care... but that you are looking out for yourself!

Good Luck!
"I doubt sometimes whether a quiet and unagitated life would have suited me--- yet, I sometimes long for it."   ~Byron

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