My Sister had Bipolar and Now She is Gone and I can't help her...

by Kim Miller
(Jacksonville, Florida)

My mom called me last night and told me that my sister, Monica, is dead. She said she fell from a second floor balcony. I have not spoken to my sister in seven years and she was 14 years younger than me. I was my mom's birthing coach and was there when Monica came into the world with wide open eyes that captured my heart. I joined the Navy in 1980 and asked my single parent mom to bring Monica and come live with me. They lived with me for eight years of my military service. Our last duty station was in Hawaii. I became my sister's mother because my mom was incapable of protecting her. When I was honorably discharged from the Navy I met someone and moved to Massachusetts and had a baby of my own. My sister always felt I abandoned her. My mom met a man who did not get along with Monica and Monica tried to commit suicide as a teenager. My mom sent her to live with our brother and even a karate instructor. Monica always wanted more from me than I could provide. I got married in 2000 and remained in touch with Monica with a very shaky sisterly relationship.

Seven years ago we had a huge fight and I felt she was not right to have a relationship with and I didn't want contact with her or our mom because it was interfering with my family and by then I had my daughter and son and my husband. Being brought up dysfunctional left me with only enough strength to care for my children and I could not bear relationships with my siblings or mother.

I am now lost and grieving. In 1986 our brother, Keith was killed in a car accident. Now Monica is killed from a fall in New York when she lived in Boston. I am confused as to whether it was an accident or suicide and my mom and brother won't speak to me. My mom told me that no one (meaning me) was welcome to the "Life Celebration of Monica" but she just wanted me to know she was dead. My brother refused to let me talk to my mom again.

I was comforted by my husband and children but still have a very deep deep pain...but don't know how much of it is guilt or just sorry for the loss of my little sister. I don't really know how to grieve. I had detached from my brother prior to his death too. I know that if she and I would have continued our toxic relationship she would have still died, but I don't know what to take away from this. I miss my kid sister who I protected when she was a child. I comforted her when she was crying in a closet at four years old because she said kids made fun of her speech. Her father was never there and my mom was a terrible mother.

I also regret not understanding bipolar better. I am back in school and plan to have psychology as my minor for my Fine Arts major. Monica had a Masters degree in education and I want to pursue my Masters as well. She loved education. What do I do with this? How can I fix the unfixable?

Comments for My Sister had Bipolar and Now She is Gone and I can't help her...

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Apr 05, 2014
Reply to Compassion
by: Kim

Thank you so much for your compassionate comment. I am sorry about the loss of your husband. I have gotten counseling since November2013 and am feeling much better about my decisions as well as feeling much less guilt and more sad that my sister lived with so much pain. Since I wrote my initial story I have found out that my sister took herself off meds three months prior to her death and it appeared to be a tragic suicide. I am not in contact with my mother and I am coming to terms with that. My therapist is an amazing young woman who has actually shed a lot of light in my life and today I am a much better wife and mother because of her support. I am also part of a grief group as well as getting help from my rabbi. Learning how to put the past in a small rearview mirror and keeping focus on the road ahead has been very helpful. Again, I am sorry for your loss and believe your courage and strength in raising your siblings contributes to your beautiful outlook on life and the strength you have offered me as well as others. Thank you!

Nov 02, 2013
My Sister had bipolar and now she is gone and I can't help her....
by: Doreen UK

Kim I am sorry for your loss of your sister Monica and also your brother. I am sorry for your distress your mother is giving to you. I understand where you are at.
You cared for Monica the best way you could. You are not responsible for her neediness. Your mother is. I think your mother is evading her responsibilities and putting them on you. You just simply refuse to accept them. You made a wise decision to put your full energies into your immediate family, husband and children. I came from a dysfunctional family where my mother couldn't cope and at the age of 14yrs I became caretaker to 5 siblings. I enjoyed the responsibility but sometimes it became too much and I couldn't tell anyone how I felt. I just carried on. Got married at 19yrs. and had 3 children. In my 40's my repressed memories started pressing for resolution. I took myself off to counselling and had the best ever psychologist/counsellor who gave me back my life. This was the best investment I ever made. I related better and all the depression I felt for 40yrs just evaporated. I was married for 44yrs. and lost my husband 18 months ago to a deadly cancer.
Having 5 siblings feels good, but Oh! we have separated and come back together, and separated again due to the usual jealousies etc that exist in family life. I am familiar with Bi-polar and it is not an easy disease to associate with. You would have eventually been affected by this mental illness. I gave 8yrs. in voluntary work to a counselling centre. I am also well read. You may be feeling guilt about the absence in your relationship with your sister and for how your mother is now treating you. But this is also a normal part of grief. Guilt usually presents itself as a symptom, but should pass in time. If not try and get some counselling for you so you can maintain a healthy life with your immediate family. Your mother will be the loser by keeping you at a distance. Often in life there is nothing we can do about our circumstances. We have to accept we have limitations. But your mother should not demand more of you than you can give. My mother gave me too much responsibility. It was only later in life that is caused me a breakdown. After counselling I see things clearly. I challenge situations that are wrong and I walk away from relationships that do not benefit me or that can in actual fact be harmless to me. I feel no guilt either. Maturity levels also have a lot to do with the changes we feel in our emotions, and when family members are not on this same level it can make things difficult. Seeing a grief counsellor may help you get some perspective on how you are feeling just now. It will get better. Take one day at a time.

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