Normally, I don't launder my personal life on social media, but what is happening with me right now is a story that needs to be told. Mental illness is a brutal reality for so many people in this country and not enough....NOT ENOUGH...is being done to help them. With that in mind I'm going to put down something very personal to me, but it needs to be said. We need to do more. There has to be more help for the people suffering and the family members desperate to help but can't do anything except watch their loved ones implode.
I had to do something today that I know will destroy my relationship with a woman I love.
My little sister was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia twenty years ago. In that time I was helpless to do anything but watch her fight and struggle to come back. She spent years treading water through a white water rapid of pharmaceutical medications as doctors tried to get her brain chemistry balanced. 1 part guess work, 1 part education and a 100 parts guinea pig.
But she did it. Slowly my quirky sister with the easy smile and wicked sense of humour came back. She had two beautiful girls and always astounded me with what a great and creative mom she could be.
Then about a year ago I noticed that things were changing.
It was the tone of her voice at first, the high pitched sing-songy tone that I remembered from decades ago. Then the stories of men standing in her back yard, and her fears that people were in her apartment when she wasn't home. Unknown to us, she'd decided that she was cured, didn't need her meds and stopped taking them. Cold turkey. Done. No amount of pleading or facts would changer her mind. Things got bad....real bad. CAS was called in and my Dad took my nieces to stop them from going into foster care until my sister got her life together.
But that was just meant to be temporary and there is the fact that CAS could step in and take them from their grandfather at any moment. So to protect my nieces from ending up in the homes of strangers, my dad chose to petition the court for full custody. That drove my sister, in an already fragile mental state, over the edge.
She sees it as my dad trying to steal her kids away from her. Everyone was against her, out to get her.
In a small corner of my baby sisters brain, she held on to the fact that I would do anything for her. As I live three hours away I wasn't directly involved with everything so she considered me safe. When she took off...she showed up at my house. I talked her into going to the hospital. I convinced her to go back on her meds, to fight for her girls. I told her repeatedly that that I had her back, I would always be there for her and she said. "I know that's why I came to you."
She stayed a couple days, took her meds....but then went home. Three hours away from me and stopped taking her pills again.
Today I had to write a letter to the courts explaining everything that happened the day she showed up at my house. I had to be truthful, My sister shouldn't be driving. I believe that she's a danger to her self and I don't believe that she has the ability to care for her children right now, not forever, just for now.
Only I know she's going to find out what I did and I know it will shatter that small bit of belief she had in me. I'll be lumped in with everyone else that is out to get her and my heart is breaking because I terrified that if my little sister doesn't come back this time, she'll hate me for the rest of her life.