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Advice and Reassurance For My Sister



New member
Oct 21, 2008
I’d like to share my experiences with you all. My experiences concerning my younger sister that is, and her recently deteriorating condition.

I hope to get reassurance and advice from other people in a similar situation, because at the moment our family is struggling to find any answers.

I’m only just discovering that mental health is such a complicated subject. If you break a leg, you put it in a cast and wait a couple of months. The mind however, is an infinitely more complex problem to fix. With genetic, environmental and social influences affecting millions of chemical reactions happening in our brains every day, my understanding is that any mental health problem will take time, love, patience, and lots of hard work to repair (or at least, to manage).

My sister is 22 years old, and over the past 3 years or so has developed serious depression. She attended university for two years at the age of 18-20, but dropped out due to the stress and lack of interest. She’s never really had a job, and lived with my parents, and more recently with her boyfriend.

She seemed to be getting better, and this September had been accepted at university to finish her degree, but after a lot of thinking she ended up not going.

Last week my mum received a rare text message from her, she wanted to be brought home as her relationship with her boyfriend wasn’t going very well.

She’s been at home for the past week, and her condition is bad to say the least. It’s transpired that she has attempted suicide on more than one occasion over the past month.

Now without her boyfriend, and without the hope of starting university again, she spends her days in her room, she drinks heavily, she self-harms, she takes a large dose of sleeping tablets every night as she cannot sleep, she smokes cannabis, and takes speed if she can get hold of it. I believe this is to numb her pain of feeling absolutely worthless.

After waking up at 3am this morning to find her staggering back to her room with a pint of red wine, we chatted all night. I had a drink with her and tried to get an understanding of how she is feeling. I did lots of listening, no arguing or passing judgement.

From what I have gathered, she is extremely over-analytical of every aspect of her life, she feels overwhelmingly useless, she is very negative to talk with and has said there is no point in her being here anymore. She feels like an ‘evolutionary mistake’. She has an eating disorder, and feels her body is disgusting. She is constantly picking at scabs and other scars. Her over-analysis of people leads to paranoia and anger, as a result she struggles to make friends.

Doctors have suggested she is psychotic, she is prescribed sleeping tablets and has tried a number of different anti-depressants which she admits does ‘help suppress the constant feeling of emptiness’.

She used to be interested in art, her degree was ceramics and jewellery making. But now she has no interest in anything apart from numbing the pain she feels.

I’ve been frantically reading up on mental health conditions, depression, self-harm, bipolar/manic, etc. It’s hard to place exactly what my sister has, but I suppose that is the case with the majority of mental health illnesses. Like I say, it’s not black or white like a broken leg.

Whatever it is, whatever caused it, it’s here. What I would like to know is how other people have coped, how people have improved their conditions, what do people do?

Another point I’d like to make – there is plenty of help out there in the form of NHS, Samaritans, care, but all these things assuming the ill individual is willing to help themselves. My sister has no motivation to improve her situation. So my big question is what to do with people who don’t want to be helped?

Thank you for reading, and please leave some comments, all would be reassuring.



Well-known member
Founding Member
Feb 14, 2008
Birmingham UK
This is a very difficult question to answer Sam. When someone is in the 'black pit' or whatever you like to call it - in a seriously depressed state - then it appears to them impossible that they will ever get well. Because your thinking is totally distorted all modes of help can seem almost irrelevant. One is in the grip of one's own misery and pain. It is very difficult to describe this because even for those of us who have experienced it, once we are 'out' of the pit it is hard to re-capture what we felt and thought in that state, and we certainly don't want to try!

In this situation everyone's route out will be individual and different. There are really two issues; the first is how to keep safe when you are in the pit. This is paramount and loving relatives/partners/friends can really help by ensuring as far as they can that the person is in a safe environment and by constantly urging the person to get help, explaining the situation to the appropriate medical people, accompanying them and so on. I know this is much easier said than done and know that I have often rejected help even though my wife was doing everything she could to get it for me. Good medical professionals should understand this situation and help carers to work through it. So you should try getting professional advice yourself on how to deal with the situation.

The second issue is of course the longer term one of devising coping strategies, figuring out the whats and whys of the particular condition and getting the right help. Unfortunately this can be a long process and it does depend on some degree of co-operation from the person themself. So that is for a later date.

I realise that my advice comes down to you seeking some professional medical advice yourself but this really is the most important thing.

Your sister is very lucky to have a supportive and loving family about her though I am afraid that she will not appreciate it at present.

Keep letting us know how you and she are getting on.



Well-known member
Founding Member
Mar 17, 2008
I am 26 and have had this complex condition for the past 8 years but for me the worst period had been in the last 18 months. I to attempted to kill myself but most of all felt unable to talk to my family and to this day they dont know this part of me.

Its hard but there is an element of wanting to accept help and often this is just a case of finding the right people who seem connect with you that makes all the difference. I have been able to get together a good team of professionals for support and have slowly been able to start gettin better. Its a long road and often a degree of flexibility is needed from all. Hope this helps.. keep messeging and let us know how your sister gets on.
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