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Helping my sister understand
5 Replies
PracticeSafeLunch33 - March 8

My mom was diagnosed with fibromyalgia about eight years ago. It's been getting steadily worse since. But it's not really her I'm worried about. I've come to terms with it. It's my little sister who I can't stop stressing over.

She was only in kindergarten when my mom started really having problems with pain, so you'd think she would be used to how my mom is now (she spends a lot of time in bed, can't hug or snuggle without it hurting, doesn't go out much, is very forgetful, often depressed and crying, etc), but she seems to be having the most trouble with it. She's a preteen now, so she is already going through the "I hate my parents" stage, but that rage is so much worse when directed at our mom.

Just the other night at dinner, my mom was saying how she was hoping she'd be able to make it to my sister's meet, since she wasn't feeling that badly. My sister just said "Don't bother. You'll just complain the whole time," and got up and left. My mom started crying and didn't come out of her room until noon the next day.

I understand where my sister is coming from. She's never had the mom I had when I was younger: the one who came to all my dance recitals, who walked me to school every morning, who cooked and cleaned, who let me climb onto her lap when we watched TV. My sister never got that. She can't even rememeber when my mom used to try to deal with the pain. When she used to just put a smile on and work through it. She's only ever seen the depressed, overweight mom who sits at the computer every day.

I don't really know what to do. I want to be able to talk to her about it, maybe help her understand how much my mom is going through, but I don't know how to say it. I don't even know if it's my job to say it.

Does anyone have any advice?


Jocelyn - March 9

I am so sorry to hear what your family is going through. I have Fibro, but I am lucky my children grew up before it hit really hard.

As for your situation, I am assuming that counseling for your mother and sister is out of the question. Your sister is at a very bad age and needs a mother, but things happen and this is one of them. Your sister needs to understand that your mother would LOVE to be a mother and get rid of all the pain she is in 24/7. Try to have your sister think of what it would be like to be in pain all day and all night with no relief, think of what that does to you physically and menatally. Perhaps your sister could read up on your mothers condition. The preteen age is a difficult age, because life is really all about themselves and their friends etc. You had your mom, so you were lucky.

You are in a tough situation, and if no one else will talk to your sister, perhaps you can. I'm not sure your sister is approachable at this point. I'm thinking you have already tried to buffer her and your mother to keep peace between them, but this is an illness. There is no buffering of wishing things could be different, things are going to continue to be tough and your sister is going to have to learn to deal with it, and not take it out on your mother. Your mother doesn't need her acting out, when she has so much to deal with. Luckily, you mother won't die from Fibro...maybe that is a positive point to bring up to your sister. It could be worse, many kids would love to have a mother, even if she isn't 100%, just someone who cared and was there when she could be. There are a lot of kids that have a lot worse situation than your sister. Ask the many children that do not have a living mother. Their mother's will never try to attend anything when they feel well, because they are no longer with them.

If you sisters attitude changed, I'm sure that would relieve some stress of your mother because the more stress she causes your mother, the more pain your mother will be in. Try to explain that to her.

If all fails, I would suggest that you get in touch with her school guidance counselor and have them work with her and the situation. Schools can be a good resource for these situations.

I didn't hear mention of a Dad in the house...another issue? Is this why this is falling on you?

Please keep me posted. I do really care.


PracticeSafeLunch33 - March 9

Thank you so much for replying.

My dad is at work from the time we leave for school until just before dinner, so he isn't necessarily around to see what's going on between my mom and my sister. I really only see him for about three hours every day. I know he's aware of the tension, and he tries to keep my sister from being a total pest, but in the end he just isn't there enough to be really effective. So, it ends up falling on me, yes.

I've been thinking of talking to my sister about all the things you've mentioned, but I really don't know how to bring it up. She is the kind of person who, once they're upset, completely shuts down. If she's angry or hurt, it's impossible to talk to her (and it doesn't help that my mom is the same way). I was thinking about maybe writing a letter, but if my mother ever saw it it would break her heart.

I've been half raising her since I was a kid, so I almost feel like some of this is my fault. Like I should have been able to prevent her from being so awful.

I wish I could just not care about it all, but I do.


Jocelyn - March 10

Oh my have no idea how MUCH of a help you have been to your family. Please remember that how your sister acts is NOT your fault, it never was nor will ever be. You are doing your best and you are not a parent and should not have had to take over that role. You deserve a good life of your own as much as anyone and you have given so much of yourself already.

There seems to be so much tension in your home and that doesn't help the anger that is present all around you. You haven't mentioned how old you are, but noting what you said above, you are still in school, so you still must be in your teens. You have an awful burden placed on you and truthfully, your mother and father shouldn't put you in that situation. I know your mother is ill, but she is still a mother and needs to take charge of her Fibro in order to help take care of your sister. I don't know if she realizes that the less she does, the worse she will feel. I was close to being in a wheel chair but started physical therapy. It hurts, a lot, but it does make me feel better and better as time goes by. My flare ups are calming down. It takes time to do these easy exercises, which will seem difficult at first, but it is necessary for your mother to get out of bed. Perhaps your mother also suffers from Chronic Fatigue, I don't want to judge her situation because everyone is different. What works for one person, doesn't necessarily work for another.

That being said, and since your situation is so difficult, and you are concerned about writing a letter to your sister or talking to your mother or sister because they both shut down, and your father is really not a help, then I would suggest that you seek out your school counselor.

Your school counselor can help you deal with the situation at home. It is possible that you may not be able to change your sister or mothers way of coping, but they should be able to help you cope with your feelings about what is going on.

The one thing you need is support, no one is supporting you through all of this. Your father really needs to become more involved in this situation, but, he too, seems to just let it go.

Is there anyway you can talk to your dad? Explain that your sister and mother both need some help if at all possible. Even if the school can help your sister. I'm concerned that your sisters bitterness is going to get her into trouble. Anger usually does. Perhaps your sister could get into a program Big Sister. This would take the burden off of you and she would have a mentor to help her deal with her feelings. Some one outside of the family. Someone who could help her open up and she could trust and know what she says will not get back to your mother or father.

Please let me know how things are going for YOU!

I am concerned about your stressful situation. Hang in there and keep in touch.


piper30 - March 12

I agree, it is NOT your fault. Please don't think that.

Could it be that your sister is in a sort of grieving stage? Younger she may have known mom was sick, but not understood the full ramifications of that. Now that she is older, she knows certains things will never, ever be..such as mom magically getting better. Also growing up you had your sister to look after, to help with. She doesn't have that responsibility. She has more time to think of what she is missing, what she wants, what isn't. A support group, counseling, even you stating what she knows, that it won't change, no she doesn't have any control over it..but she does have control of the memories she is creating with your mother. Her biggest regret when she is older will be looking back at how she has acted.

I say this because I take care of my mother. I suffer from Fibro, but my mother is bipolar, and has RA. She attempted suicide last year on my birthday...thankfully she is still here. She isn't the same though, everyday I see her, talk to her, but it isn't "her" ..I would give anything to talk to my mother again.

I don't think how your sister is acting is right, I do think it is a normal part of growing up, grieving, dealing with these things. I think it VERY important that you look after yourself. Put you first honey, you have the weight of the family on your shoulders as I do mine, and there is only one can't burn out. As much as someone should help you, take the burden off...reality is that might not happen as it is in my case.

So, take a step back...and take any steps you need to in order to keep you ok. Even if that means going away for a few days. Sounds impossible I know. You have to take care of you. Best Wishes ..and this is only my two cents ...fibro foggy two cents at that lol


revermeek - April 10

Is there a fibro support group in your area. I don't know the size of the town you live in, but if there is not then maybe you should talk to your moms doctor about one. Or at the very least talk to your moms doctor about what you are going through. That is way to big of a burden for someone your age, let alone an adult. My husband has to deal with this daily and try to make my ADULT children and family members understand. I pray for him daily.
Good Luck, and God bless such a wonderful daughter and sister



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