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veighouda 11-18-08 08:13 PM

What to do for depressed sister?

My older sister E had a mental break down/ anxiety attack this april while i was away on vacation. I don't know much about what happened but it was serious enough that she took a month off work for disability and is now on daily anti depressents.

The reason i don't know much about what happened is because my sister refuses to talk to anyone about it, she doesn't even go to therapy. She went for a few sessions when it first started and then got on meds a few weeks later and has since given up on therapy and i believe on real healing.

The whole situation has our entire family depressed.

E has had some problems over the years that i think contributed to her depression, she was a hard partier, she drank a lot usually a couple of beers a day during the week and a total party binge on weekends, some bad break ups and unsatisfying relationships, and an abortion about a year ago, which she did not seek therapy for afterwards either.

Now that she is on meds some of that behaviour has stopped, she hardly ever drinks anymore and doesn't go out much, nor does she have a desire to date. She has gotten involved with big sisters and is back at work and taking courses at school and planning on going back to school in the new year to pursue a career of her choice.

However since the meds she also has trouble getting up in the morning and has gaine ALOT of weight, she must have gained 30+ pounds in the space of the month that she took off work and has since been unable and unwilling to do anything about it. About two months ago she joined jenny craig and was really dedicated about it but has since seemed to fall off the wagon. E was always a bit of a binge eater when she was upset, as we sometimes all are, but with the meds and a lack of exercise and the depression she binge eats alot lately, just last night she ate an entire package of cookies in an hour.

This really frieghtens me, E is the kind of person who is always smiling on the outside and never wants to talk about her problems so its very hard to outwardly tell if shes upset. But with the weight gain and the binge eating i can clearly see that she is in deep. I always want to say something to her but its hard, no one wants to be told to stop eating, it makes them feel fat, and i don't doubt she all ready feels that way and if i say anything it'll only make her feel worse.

But how long am i supposed to wait? Am i supposed to wait until she's morbidly obese and losing weight becomes a medical issue, a strain on her health and constant factor in her mental health?

It made feel so angry at her that i almost didn't want to be in the same room with her. Which is how my mother feels everyday, she's had a hard time coping with this too.

E also has trouble managing her money and has borrowed 10 000 dollars from my mother and has yet to pay it back and doesn't look like she will be any time soon what with her going to school soon. Whats worse, instead of paying my mom back she went on a trip to paris this year instead to make herself feel better.

My mother herself has sought out therapy to control her feelings of anger and frustration but still just locks herself away in her bedroom every night rather than face E.

I feel like E's depression and her refusal to talk about it and seek out real help is pushing all of us further apart and is making us all depressed. Which makes me even more angry and frustrated. Sometimes i just want to walk up to E and shake a god d**n answer out of her! To tell her to stop being so afraid of crying, of the pain, of the shame or whatever and f***ing tell us what her problem is so we can help her.

I've thought about going to therapy and asking my sister to come with me to get her in there and make sure she goes but I doubt if she would go. I feel like our family has to hold an intervention and do some group therapy at home just to get her some help.

What should I do? Last night was the last straw for me when i couldn't even sit in the same room with her. I'd made a batch of cookies and actually had to take them away from her so she wouldn't binge on them but she just went for something else instead. I know i've enabled her for awhile but i'm not willing anymore, she seems to be slipping backwards and it scares me how fast it all happened and where she might end up. i don't want this to be her life or my life forever but i on't know what to do.

Does anyone have any suggestions?

Thanks for listening.


asherr 12-20-08 08:44 AM

Somthing you may or may not know about anti depressants. one of there notorious side effects is loss of appetite, or more accurately, removal of inhibitions regarding eating. She could eat all day without feeling sattisfied, feel full but not sattisfied, she could also "forget" to eat a meal a day and hardly notice. its hard to explain it to people who haven't used them.
I also have experience with a impatient sibling, my older brother. We would get into fights on a weekly basis, because he didn't understand, he thought i could and should just snap out of it, sadly that was not the case.
If there is one piece of advice of mine you choose to take,please let it be this. Be firm yet supportive, and be patient. Don't let your anger or frustration make you do something you will regret.
if she doesn't want to talk about it, it might be because she doesn't trust you, fearful of judgment or critisism. or maybe she is confused about it herself.
If she likes to binge on food, perhaps you could stock up on healthier foods? for me it didnt matter which i ate, so i asked my mother to do the food swap and it turned out OK.
As far as working/exercise and study is concerned, with depression, it can be incredibly difficult to mottivate yourself into doing anything, and i mean anything at all.
Refusal to talk about it. well its actually quite common. Usually because they feel like they should be able to take care of it themselves. Then again it may be some thing so personal,or embaressing that she wants to keep it hidden.
I hope somthing iv said helps, i really do, i hope she gats better.

CrazyBirdLady 12-20-08 11:23 AM

I just wanted to add in a bit - Some antideppressants make you gain weight more than others. I was on one where I gained over 30 pounds in less than 30 days. I told my doctor and she put me on a different pill, the weight gain stopped.

I also had a breakdown, it cost me my chosen career when I was only 25. I have never discussed my illness with my family. My therapy is none of their bussiness and my battle with depression that don't understand. We have a great relationship as long as we don't discuss it. There are days I can't motivate to do anything but 16 years later I am learning to overcome it. It takes time and as her sister you should give her that time. Try to involve her in little things on the days she can't get up but know when to accept no as no. The more space you give her the better your relationship will become and in her own time she will open up to you.

purplefluff 12-28-08 02:08 PM

It's true, some anti-depressants may make her put on weight, and lose her inhibitions about eating. But, you've said some really positive things about her in your post - she's involved with Big Sisters, is at work, taking courses to pursue a career of her choice. It doesn't sound like she's as deep in depression as she might have been previously. Those things take a lot of effort to do, and it sounds like it's things she likes and wants to do.

Not drinking so much is also a positive thing as alcohol is a depressant. And, maybe she's not interested in dating because she wants to get herself sorted and more stable before entering into another relationship? Maybe it's a conscious decision?

It sounds really difficult for your family to cope with her behaviours. It is possible for you to attend family counselling without her if she won't go, and the rest of the family may still benefit, and learn some strategies to help yourselves as well as helping your sister. But, it's worth suggesting to her as well, as you'll probably get more out of it if she goes along too.

You could try having healthier alternatives in the house. Or join a slimming group along with her, for some moral support, and to learn how to help her according to the slimming plan she wants to follow. And, perhaps if you (or another family member) went along too, she wouldn't feel so alone in it, and would feel more inspired to do something positive about her weight.

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