Will i ever have my own life?

Im 38 years old and my younger sister suffers from Psychosis, this is a condition that she has lived with for the last 3 years. She has had 3 episodes to date, all with suicide attempts and last Xmas (2019) spent a month sectioned in a psychiatric hospital. She has barely made it through this Xmas without episode developing severe health anxiety and today telling me the delusions have started again, she says she is managing them but this is how it always starts before episode kicks in so again I’m living on my nerves. As she is an adult until she attempts to hurt herself she is allowed to make her own decisions in terms of accepting treatment.

Even though she lives on her own and pre lockdown held down a job she relies on me in a support capacity as I’m the only family she has here in the UK. I spent all my time looking out for her as well as holding down my own job and at present trying to find myself somewhere to live which is stressful in itself. I feel every time she is in recovery i have a small window for me but when she starts to trigger my whole life takes two steps back. I’m single, haven’t had the chance to date as the last 3 years my life is always focussed on her and am so scared of being alone and never having the opportunity to meet someone or have children i just don’t know what to do.

The last time she ended up in hospital i struggled with my own mental health having a month off work suffering with stress and anxiety and i don’t know how i will cope if these latest symptoms turn into an episode. I still have all of the memories of the past and the horrific things I’ve seen in her suicide attempts, even though my sister doesn’t remember anything. My parents live overseas and although my mum has been here in the past to help she offloads all her emotions onto me and is always very negative. Sometimes its really hard to get through my own days as I’m always having to be everyone’s support and its so draining. I’ve tried to tell my mum so many times to seek her own avenues of support as I’m struggling but it never changes.

Any advice on how to have a life and how to support as a carer would be massively appreciated.

Hello Sophie
Welcome to the forum

The efforts you’re making for your sister is admirable, this is a difficult time for carers for all sorts of reasons.

We’re running series of online weekly meet ups for carers to get together and chat informally. People say they’ve found it really helpful and supportive and it’s nice to be able to take a little bit of time for yourself. There’s no pressure to share any more than you’re comfortable with. Join up details are here:


Do join if you’d like to

Best wishes

Hello Sophie,
You are in a difficult situation here. You have taken on all the responsibilities regarding your sister. This is not fair. Your sister is not your responsibility!
You say ‘I spend all my time looking out for her’, but this approach doesn’t seem to be working, does it?
I am not an expert or a professional on this subject but I think you need to start putting yourself first.
Don’t allow your mum to burden you with all her troubles, start being assertive towards her - start doing the things you want to do.
Perhaps your sister would be happier moving back home to your parents?

Thanks Karen, i feel so conflicted as a person I always look out for my family and am seen as the strong one in our family. I just want them to be happy and myself as well and i just don’t know how to have the balance of this. I find it really hard to be selfish even at times when i just want to escape it all for my own sanity!

Unfortunately my parents who now live overseas makes things difficult as the health care overseas wouldn’t be as good as what my sister currently has in the UK as they understand her and her mental health condition much better.

Thanks Ingrid for the link ill take a look, i speak to my friends where i can but i don’t always want to be a drain on them especially as they have their own lives going on. I know myself if someone is always talking sad things people tend to engage less.

I don’t have a support group as such or anyone that really understands.


Have you had a Carers Assessment from Social Services, so you can talk things through with them.

It seems very unfair that your parents have moved overseas and left you to deal with their ill daughter.

She is surely more their responsibility, than yours. They are living a nice happy life somewhere leaving you with all the problems that are rightfully theirs. I don’t buy into the excuse that the NHS is better than anywhere else, so they had to leave her behind. Have they always been this selfish?

You CANNOT be forced to care, you have an absolute right to do what you want with your life. I don’t know what the solution is, but I too was left to manage my disabled mum with no help from either of my brothers or their respective families, all doing what they wanted, making excuses as to why they couldn’t do more, and then if they did turn up, they’d start telling me what more I should be doing. All this despite me being recently widowed, recently disabled, with a brain damaged son to look after. We call people like this “helicopters”. I think you are the first to have Helicopter Parents though!

Everyone wants to kid themselves that you are managing, as it them gives them an excuse not to get involved. I would suggest that you stop being capable superwoman, and start yelling Help. Don’t let everyone use you for their own ends.

It feels like all a big mess if I’m honest!

I used to live with my sister and my parents sold their house and brought me out, so i could try and get on with my life but its a catch 22 situation because although i don’t live there anymore as can escape to a different location… I’ve now become the carer as such as my parents have retired overseas to a 2nd home they had. They wouldn’t have had enough money to buy in the UK. My sister when in recovery is independent and refused to live with my parents or sell her flat so as you can see its super complicated. They aren’t selfish but they are trying to please everyone and it just doesn’t work. Who would have thought through my sisters illness everything could become so messed up.

I haven’t had a carers assessment my mum had in the past but was very negative about the experience and my sister refuses to admit she has or needs a carer, even though i know that’s what i unofficially am.

Bowlingbun, its sounds like you’ve been through some awful times yourself and i can relate completely being left to cope alone with everything else in your own life to try and deal with. How did you deal with it and find time for yourself? Or did you never find the balance? I hope things aren’t still as difficult for you :slight_smile:

At one stage, my husband and I were juggling the needs of all four parents living near us, a son with learning difficulties, and running a business.
I developed a life threatening illness, major abdominal surgery.
My husband died of a massive heart attack in his sleep, about a year after his dad died.
Then I had a car accident and am only alive because at the time I was driving my late husband’s Range Rover, that was written off. Then I couldn’t walk without dreadful pain, but mum still wanted me to do all sorts of things for her. After 2 knee replacements, I’m fine now. My son with LD moved out of residential care and into supported living. I was working for my husband when he died, and inherited 30 tons of vintage lorry spares. I spent the next 10 years gradually selling them to earn a living.
Mum died in 2015.
How did I survive? Only at the expense of giving up almost everything that I personally wanted to do. I never put myself first, always considered everyone else first. I wish I’d been more selfish, and that’s why I think you should put your own needs first. You are not your sister’s keeper. She doesn’t even think she needs you!
Fight for the right to a life of your own. You deserve it.
I’ve had a very unconventional life in many ways, at one stage riding a road racing bike in hot pants and a midriff top in tropical Australia, stopped for speeding within 2 miles of ever taking it on the road! I’ve had awards from the National Traction Engine Trust, ran a lorry club for 20 years, although I had a Sierra for 8 years and never learned to lift the bonnet!
Now I lead a very different life. The day mum went into the nursing home for good I booked a holiday at a singles only hotel in Crete, and a whole new chapter in my life started. A group of us, all in our late Sixties, now meet up every year for a fortnight of eating, walking, swimming and laughing round Western Crete. It’s where I learned to live and laugh again.
You CAN have an interesting life, but you have to learn to say “No”, and when you sister says something, learn how to deal with it in a different way. I needed some counselling sessions before I learned how to do this, maybe after the virus has finally got under control, you would benefit from counselling too?
I would recommend a book called “Starting Again” by Sarah Litvinoff. Written with divorcees in mind, it has some thought provoking ideas for anyone at a crossroads in their life. Easy to read too.