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Sunday, 12 July 2009

My sister has been arrested

I have just had a visit from The Police to inform me that my sister has been arrested (for the third time this year) for wasting Police time. Apparently she has been dialling 999 for non emergencies, half the time simply because she is lonely and wants someone to talk to. She has the right that her next of kin be informed of her arrest, and this time it seems that she chose to exercise that right.

I did not know about any of these previous episodes (although it doesn't come as a surprise), as I have not spoken to her since Christmas, when she told me to f*** off. Taking her at her word, I have done just that and stayed out of her life. I have tried to ring her a few times, but each time there has either been no reply, or the communal phone has been answered by someone who sounds drunk, who informs me that my sister is not at home. What then can I do?

Someone who does not know my sisters history could be forgiven for thinking me as selfish for not getting in touch, but I do not take this action lightly. She was diagnosed with schizophrenia 21 years ago, and her illness has been a major sadness in my life that has caused untold problems, especially for my poor mother (now deceased). I would not suggest that my sisters illness was the cause of Mum's death, but the stress did play a part.

It is the erratic nature of her behaviour that my brother and I find so hard to deal with. One day she is calling you and saying how much she loves and misses you, the next she is screaming blue murder and telling you that you have never cared about her and her problems are all your fault - it is never to do with her. Some would say that she is ill and cannot help it, but I beg to differ - she knows exactly what she is doing, and does this to manipulate people into getting what she wants - she has always done this, even as a child.

It causes me great sadness to see her like this, and I miss her terribly, but there is nothing I can do. My partner and I have tried everything we can to help her, listening to her, accompanying her to hospital appointments (we once spent the whole night with her in casualty waiting for her to be seen), arranging counselling for her, but she throws it all back in our faces and we can no longer put ourselves through this. It breaks my heart, but the only thing left for us to do is to leave her to her own devices. It has become clear that she will not move from where she is - it is easier to stay in the system, living off benefits with minions running around looking after her every need. This is sad, but true, and in some ways I cannot say that I blame her. Her illness has become her identity, and until this changes (which I can't see happening) neither will she.

I miss the sister that I grew up with but know that she will never come back. As children we were best friends, born just 21 months apart. We dressed alike, played with the same toys and shared the same friends, but everything changes. It was the death of my father in 1981 which really changed things for her - and also for me - but my reactions were different, perhaps because I was younger and had not yet left school. My sister had to leave school in order to bring some money into the house, and ended up in a job she hated. A year later, my father told her she could return to school, but by then it was too late and the damage had been done. Eventually she went to university but became ill halfway through the course, and never did complete her degree. A lot of her problems also then stem from the frustration of her thwarted dreams. We all have them, but choose not to let it ruin our lives - we can use those experiences to make us stronger not weaker, but she has been in the system now for so long that she no longer knows how to do this.

So, what a day it has been, coming after a hard day at work where I was the only housekeeper on duty and had to get a lot more work done in just one extra hour. When the alarm clock failed to go off and I realised I had half an hour in which to get ready and get to work, I should have taken the hint and stayed in bed myself. Roll on July 22nd when I shall be bombing down the A303 heading towards my favourite place in the whole wide world. It can't come soon enough.

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