Did I do the Right Thing?


I had a very rough day today. I have been trying to help my sister find a job but she has been complaining about painful headaches that prevent her from functioning. I told her that she needed to go to the ER or a doctor if they are that bad. She wouldn’t go because she does not have insurance. My mom and I found her a free clinic, made the appointment, and took her there personally. The problem is that while there, the Dr. wanted to talk to me. He told me that I had to take my sister straight to the ER because she was threatening to hurt herself. I told him that I could not take her because I had my two young children with me and I could not trust her to comply. I have tried to get her to go to the ER or some kind of Dr. before with no luck. I would not agree to take her to the ER because I knew she wouldn’t cooperate. I had to go sit in the exam room with her and I asked her if she would go to the ER but she said she would not and that if I tried to take her she would just walk home. Of course, at this point the dr’s and social worker were already making arrangements for an ambulance and the police to come pick her up. When the EMT’s came, she refused to go with them. I told everyone that I would not leave with her because of what she said to the doctor. I tried to talk to her about what she told the dr. and she denied ever saying anything to him. She said he took everything out of context. She lied to me, her daughter, our mom and everyone else. I stood firm on not leaving the clinic with her. Apparently, she went to the hospital and has been calling and harassing my mom. She is saying that we set her up and all kinds of crazy stuff. I am emotionally drained and am starting to wonder if I did the right thing. My sister is really good at lying and being devious to get attention. She has attempted suicide several times in the past and has spent considerable time in mental institutions. I am just tired and exhausted and need someone to tell me that I did the right thing. My sister could also use some prayers.


You did absolutely the right thing. What was the alternative? Babysitting your mentally ill sister while hoping she doesn’t do something drastic in front of your two children? I mean, seriously!

I have read many of your posts about your mother/sister issues and it sounds like they are all but killing you with the burden of having highly enmeshed boundaries. It’s not your responsibility to get your sister to the doctor, the ER or find a job for her. If she was sincere in asking for help and compliant, that’s one thing, but she shows you again and again that she is not. It’s not your responsibility to listen to your mother’s rants, expectations or updates concerning your sister or whatever else.

There is plenty I might say about what you should do or could do, but I just really encourage you to get some counseling and sort out your need for their approval and why you put yourself last in these situations. If anything hopefully a counselor can help you establish better boundaries–though I think you did a great job in starting today by not being manipulated in taking responsibility for your sister’s ‘needs.’ I’m sure it was tough but you did great.


It sounds like you are caught between what you want to do (to help your sister) and what you are actually able to accomplish because your sister’s problems stymie your best, most sincere efforts. Examine your conscience sincerely. Surely you are doing what you can under the circumstances and given your responsibilities to your own family. God does not ask more than what you can do. Don’t hold yourself to impossible standards. Forgive yourself. You are not all-powerful. You are human and have human limitations. Keep praying for strength. And remember the serenity prayer–God grant me the courage to change the things I can change, the serenity to accept those I cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference. You have a tough situation, but you did the best you could. Blessings.


Yes, you did the right thing.

Save a lot of that energy for your kids. Let your sister handle what she can on her own. Mom, too.


Thank you all for the kind words and guidance. I was blindsided today. I thought I was just providing transportation for her to go see a doctor about her headaches. My mom and niece were both there. They were the ones responsible for my sister not me. That is why I was floored when the nurse came looking for me. My mom and niece figure that my sister told the doctor to talk to me because she figured she could put one over on me or somehow manipulate me. She was completely wrong. Now she is safe at the hospital being monitored by a police officer. All I can do now is pray for her and hope she gets the help she needs. My parents have enabled her to behave this way so I am kind of glad that the nurse did call me in. If it had been my mom, she probably would have caved in and agreed to take my sister to the hospital and then just taken her home. The police officer with my sister said that she wasn’t going anywhere until they said she could. She has threatened to walk out and who knows what else. Anyway, that is off my shoulders now.


I am angry with my sister and social services. I spent the better part of today trying to find out what my niece can do for her mom since they released my sister from the hospital last night with nothing more than a few prescriptions and some instructions on following up with a doctor. My sister did go to work this morning but my niece found some journals and to do lists that were rather disturbing. Apparently, my sister put “kill myself” on her to do list for tomorrow. I have called and told numerous people about this to see if there is any way to get help for her. I called adult protective services and they can’t do anything because she is not disabled or over the age of 65. I called the local mental health authorities and they said all we could do was get a mental health warrant but all that would do is get her evaluated. If she does not disclose her intentions, then they can only let her go. The last 2 times she was committed it was because she had attempted suicide via overdosing. None of that is being taken into consideration. The bottom line is that if she doesn’t want help, then there is nothing anyone can do even if she is planning on harming herself. She must have lied her way out of the hospital. She left the hospital with nothing more than a prescription for antibiotics and pain medication. I still do not understand why a hospital would prescribe pain medication for someone who came in because they were talking about suicide. Please pray for my sister.


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