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17 Apr 2018, 6:36 am

Yesterday was an interesting day for me. My 13-year-old niece was placed on the spectrum (which I had been trying to point out to my sister for years now), so I decided to touch bases with everyone and see if there was anything I could do to help or explain. My niece has been struggling with depression, anxiety, and so many other things for several years now--and was placed on an antidepressant and an antipsychotic a few weeks ago (she was diagnosed with Psychotic Depression by another doctor).

So, I ended calling my sister last night because my niece reported having suicidal ideations these past two weeks. She disclosed that she was afraid of telling the doctor or her mother as they would swiftly send her back to a mental hospital. With the medications she is taking (and the possible side effects in young teens), I could not sit by silently and just let the situation "pan out."

The problem is that her mother has never really taken mental health care very seriously (nor has she understood the mental health problems that others are affected by). Not only that, but she thinks that her 13 year old daughter is making up drama for attention or (in her words) "playing the system." She didn't take my advice seriously, and actually ended up making the entire situation about herself. Rather than talk seriously about her child's recent autism diagnosis, she told me that she (herself) "might be on the spectrum too" because she "took an introversion test once and rated really high" and keeps her "desk just a particular way." I was so furious and hurt that my selective mutism just took grip and I couldn't even respond properly. My sister is neurotypical in almost every way with the exception of being a perfectionist. I not only feel like she is doing her daughter a great disservice--but I feel like she has reduced my decades of debilitation and struggle (and her daughter's recent struggles) to NOTHING. How can I even respond properly?

I worry that if I call my sister out, I may not be able to be in my niece's life.



Sarahsmith
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18 Apr 2018, 1:43 pm

My mom didnt take my mental problems seriousely and I got worse over time because of it. I needed therapy and there was always some excuse as to why I couldnt get it. She would insist I didnt need it or it was to expensive for her. We didnt know it but therapy is free where we live.

Im not sure how you should deal with your sister. I would keep trying to get through to her. Its very important if you think your niece is a danger to herself.



BeaArthur
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18 Apr 2018, 6:18 pm

Why don't you communicate with your niece directly, tell her you understand some of what she is going through, and offer that she can talk to you anytime and tell you anything. Qualify that by mentioning if she is planning to commit self-harm, you may contact the authorities, but as long as she can promise you she will abstain, you will keep her confidences. (That's the out that mental health professionals give themselves, and you can, too.)

Don't make this about you; she already has her mother making the diagnosis about herself.


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19 Apr 2018, 6:16 am

Sarahsmith wrote:
My mom didnt take my mental problems seriousely and I got worse over time because of it. I needed therapy and there was always some excuse as to why I couldnt get it. She would insist I didnt need it or it was to expensive for her. We didnt know it but therapy is free where we live.

Im not sure how you should deal with your sister. I would keep trying to get through to her. Its very important if you think your niece is a danger to herself.


Thanks, Sarah. It is a difficult situation for sure.



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19 Apr 2018, 6:30 am

BeaArthur wrote:
Why don't you communicate with your niece directly, tell her you understand some of what she is going through, and offer that she can talk to you anytime and tell you anything. Qualify that by mentioning if she is planning to commit self-harm, you may contact the authorities, but as long as she can promise you she will abstain, you will keep her confidences. (That's the out that mental health professionals give themselves, and you can, too.)

Don't make this about you; she already has her mother making the diagnosis about herself.


I really appreciate it.

I keep in close contact with my niece on a daily basis despite us being over an hour apart. I consider her to be one of my best buds--and I let her know CONSTANTLY that she has my support (and that I understand what she is going through). Her parents are not understanding of anything outside of their "white picket fence" dream, so I have been witness to her struggles to conform to their wishes for many years now. If anything, my sister has been emotionally negligent of her children--and any of my past attempts to sway her in a different direction have led to defensive (or even aggressive) posturing on her part.

My niece informed me yesterday that her parents confronted her and flat out told her that they don't believe her--and that they think that she is just trying to find ways to get more attention. Furthermore, they have been ignoring her since that conversation. I am completely baffled as to what their goals are with their daughter. If they don't believe that her conditions are real, then why do they have her on medications with potentially dangerous side effects?

I know what you mean about "not making this about me." I'm trying my best not to get stuck in an emotional loop! It can be so hard to keep my old wounds closed when my sister pulls stunts like this. Brings so many old memories back to the surface!