My sister's holding me responsible for her daughter's emotional problems

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-16-2013
My sister's holding me responsible for her daughter's emotional problems
Mon, 09-16-2013 - 1:46pm

In January of this year I moved in with my younger sister and her family. Reader's Digest version? It was a bad situation, the building was bought by new owners who moved in thugs and mental patients and forced out older residents so that they could jack up the rent and move in even more people whose rent was paid by churches and social agencies. I was grateful to my sister for taking me in. Even though I work part-time, I pay rent, I contribute food and household supplies. I do chores around the house.

I have plans in motion to move out before the end of the year. I've had it. One of the biggest problems is my sister's 30 year old daughter. She's bi-polar, takes two meds for it, but half the time she feels she doesn't need those meds, so she doesn't take them. She spends her money on Harry Potter and Wii games. She has a history of going off her meds and becoming violent. She's fought her mother and her father. The police have been called. Last week she decided not to take her meds and she went to the adult day care she attends. She fought two people on the bus, cussed out the director of the program and tried to fight her mother when she showed up after the center called her. She comes home, goes up to her room, isolates herself from the rest of the family. She has to be called down to eat and after she eats she goes right back upstairs and listens to her music or plays her games. She doesn't bathe and she does chores around the house only when threatened. She steals everything that isn't nailed down. I hide my belongings. I keep what I really treasure in boxes that are taped shut.

My sister (I'll call her Vivian) came into my room this morning and told me that "this thing between me and the daughter (I'll call her Abby) has got to stop." I told her I didn't know what she was talking about. We don't say anything to each other. I've walked through Abby's room and said hello, and she's ignored me. And she didn't have her headphones on. I've seen Abby stand there and stare at me long and hard as if she's waiting for me to say hello first. I don't say anything. Yes, I have a stubborn streak too.

This morning Abby went to her mom and bitterly complained about me. I keep her up at night. I put another curtain on the doorway between our rooms, just to block out the light even more. I don't stay up all night. That doesn't satisfy her. Of course, if Abby would stop playing that stupid handheld Wii game in bed at 2 in the morning maybe she could get some sleep. She says I disrespect her because I don't speak first. I make noise. I use headphones when I listen to my music.

Of course, this morning Abby got up in one of her moods. She blasted her tv (I couldn't hear it because I had in ear plugs) so loud it woke her mom up. She stomped through the house, slammed doors, snarled at her mom. I asked Vivian if Abby was on her meds, and she said yes. But Vivian always buys those meds. Abby doesn't, and she won't tell anyone that she's out. Each prescription is only 3 bux each. It's not like she has to take out a loan to get them filled.

I've had it. I feel like I'm being held responsible for this girl's mental problems. I knew she had emotional problems before I moved in, but I had no idea they were this bad. Now Vivian tells me I HAVE TO reach out to Abby. "We can't have that sort of thing in this house."

WHAT sort of thing? I'm not Dr. Phil. Vivian's shifting responsibility for Abby's illness onto me.

When I go home this afternoon I am going to get the two of them together and tell Abby: "If I speak to you and you don't speak, then that tells me that you don't want to talk, and I will ignore you. There have been times when I've seen you stare at me long and hard, and you don't say a word. You're not a kid. You're a grown woman. Wouldn't kill you to say Hello when you see me. I've said Hello when I walk through your room, and you ignore me. And you don't have your headphones on, either. Now when this happens again, and it will happen again before I move out, don't complain about it. I'm not responsible for your moods."

If I could move out tomorrow, I would. When I do move out I'm changing my phone number and I will make sure they don't know where I moved to. And if I had known about all this crazy stuff before I would have rented a room somewhere and called it a day. I turned my three cats in to the Humane Society. That's what really ticks me off. Those cats were loyal to me, they loved me, and I had to give them up only to put up with this kind of crazy human crap? I feel like I betrayed them. I'm not too fond of humans right now. And if you finished this thing I apologize for the rant.

Community Leader
Registered: 08-25-2006

Well, I can see how this all happened.  It is the typical triangulation thing that kids do. 

So, I take it that if the DD is 30, still living at home and visits an adult daycare, that she must have more than just bi-polar going on.   People that are bi-polar can still take care of themselves. 

What we are doing with my teenager, is teaching her to go strait to my DH when she is upset.  In your case, you and your Neice need to pound this out.  You might be surprised what a one-on-one might accomplish.  Just make sure you don't point fingers and remember that neither of you is right or wrong. 

Then, I would get out of there as soon as you can.  I don't know that you need to hide from them though.  What was your R like with them before you moved in? 

Serenity CL making a second marriage work 

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-16-2013
I've tried talking to her in a calm, open manner. I don't believe my being the better person is going to help, not if her problems are that severe. The first time Abby flared up yelling and screaming and called me a b----h several times. I tried talking to her again after that and she sat there with this incredibly stubborn look on her face. She refused to say anything to me. I decided to reach out then. I told her that I didn't want things to be this way between us, and if I offended her I was sorry. Abby told me that she wasn't going to say anything to me unless I spoke to her first. I said okay. The next day I said "Hey, Abby, how are you?' and she ignored me. Vivian's fall-back excuse is always that Abby was wearing her headphones. She wasn't. Instead of saying something to me she does go running to her mom, like a teenager instead of a thirty year old. You're right, there's something else going on with her. I think her mom said one time that Abby's doctor thinks she manic-depressive. Vivian also said another diagnosis was schizophrenia. My relationship with her mom before this was cordial enough, but after going through months of this nonsense, I'm done. Vivian does not want to exert any direct influence on Abby; she puts pressure on me because she thinks I'll conform. If I can move out sooner, I will.  And their daily drama can continue without me.
Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998

Manic-depressive is another name for bipolar disorder. The PP is correct, your niece probably has some other condition(s) besides bipolar.

I would avoid being there as much as possible, but when you have to be then "conform". Be the adult, emotionally stable one and make a point of being cordial to Abby. Be the first one to speak, try to keep the peace for the remainder of the time that you are there. Of course its not your fault that your niece has these problems but your presence, which she may perceive as disruption to her life, may be exacerbating her moods/behavior. So from your sister's point of view taking you in may have really upset the emotional equilibrium in her home but at least she didn't let you live on the street--and maybe she didn't realize how bad it would get. In other words try to keep things calm for the next few months until you can get out of there. You can be just as stubborn as Abby but its not helping the situation, and I assume that your goal is to have the least trouble as possible. (Abby kind of has an excuse for her bad behavior. And even if she takes her meds they may not magically make her "normal", just help to lessen the degree of mood swings etc) Its too bad that you are stuck there for a year total but I really feel sorry for your sister....having a "kid" with those problems and that might never be able to leave home. I get that you are venting so sorry if you don't like what I said, hopefully getting another perspective can help. Good luck to you.

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-16-2013
I agree with most of what you said. I already decided to stay away as much as possible. Last night I spoke to Abby and it was like talking to a rock. She's in her own little world. I hope that the next time she flips out and gets violent I won't be around. When she's like that I rather doubt that anything anyone says to her does any good anyway. I do think now that the purpose of moving me in was to have another adult to babysit and do chores, because in the beginning Vivian wanted me to fuss at Abby everyday: "Don't eat everything, clean up after yourself." I felt funny about that and when I talked to my sister that was when I found out how bad off Abby was. My sister could have been straight with me, let me know about her daughter's history. I could have made my own decision then, rented a room somewhere. I don't like surprises. I can pretend to "conform", because really, that's all it will be. "Emotionally stable" is a quality that's in very short supply in this house. Vivian gets upset now when she sees me bring in moving boxes from work. Can't help that.
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-16-2008

"I felt funny about that and when I talked to my sister that was when I found out how bad off Abby was. My sister could have been straight with me, let me know about her daughter's history. I could have made my own decision then, rented a room somewhere. I don't like surprises. I can pretend to "conform", because really, that's all it will be. "Emotionally stable" is a quality that's in very short supply in this house".

The thing is, different people have difference tolerance level.  It is entirely possible that your sister has been dealing with Abby for so long that she considers her minor emotional issues "stable".  Just chuck it as a lesson-learned - when you have in live in someone else's house, very often, right or wrong, you sort of have to "conform".

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-22-2004

I have learned the hard way that if I need a place to live I better rent a small place. Living with someone else is hell. Try to  rent a room probably a very small one but there you will have pease.

There are many problems at your sisters place, and just the slighterst tighn turn into a fight or big dram.

Peace is the best on earth, try to find it. Thank your sister for receiving you and pack and move ASAP:



Good luck

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-13-2006

I'm glad that you are moving need to. The thing about family members who has someone in their immediate family who is bi-polar..they normally don't tell others the'whole' story. When I got with my exbf/exhusband....his family KNEW about his mental state...I had to find out through experience being with him.It's hard.People who are bi-polar can lead a normal life but only if they really want it.I think my ex husband is doing much better then when he was in his 20's so it's possible.Yeah..please get those cats back if you can.I'm sure they miss you very much.