14 Aug 2012 | 02:23:04
I'm actually writing in hopes of help with diagnosing my sister. She's currently in therapy but I know nothing of the specifics except that she isn't getting better. I want to search for another, perhaps specialized therapist for her and would appreciate any and all advice and insight into what's going on with her and whether or not there's an existing term for her issues.
My sister is very intelligent. She has a graduate degree in linguistics and is fluent in a couple languages. She's always been very proud if not arrogant about her intellect and is seemingly at her best when amongst her intellectual peers. She has always been physically large and has been morbidly obese for many years. She defines herself by her intellect and seems to use her brilliance as a cop out for her other failures; as in she seems to think she's too smart to "do housework", or get a menial job, or worry about her weight etc. She is very entitled and always has been. And she's really failing at life now.
She has always been a slob but now has gotten to where it's not safe for her children to live amongst the trash and pet poop that she allows to accumulate in her house. She has had trouble walking in the past due to her weight and wears a mask at night for her sleep apnea. She blames much of her unhappiness on her husband and has gotten into the habit of "shop therapy". Now that she's without his income she is struggling greatly financially but still spends impulsively on manicures, purses, etc.. (She is in the process of divorcing her husband because she felt unloved and un-attended to). She hasn't held a real job in many years because she was raising her kids (now 11 and 14) and because she too smart, good, educated to take something beneath her. I find it hard not to simply call her lazy, irresponsible, undisciplined, etc.. She continues to make bad and selfish choices and is seemingly completely helpless to get her act together.
She was not granted custody of her children during her initial divorce hearing and the final divorce court date is next week. It was months between the two court dates and despite her claim that she'd do anything for her kids, she hasn't cleaned up her apartment, hasn't fully unpacked (after 6 months), has gotten a couple new cats she doesn't clean up after, and several other things that in no way help her look like a good mother.
She's hurting herself, her kids, and now my mother, who is the last person who has not deserted her over her frustratingly bad and selfish behavior. We all have grown to calling her "ill" in attempts to understand her seemingly substantial potential and her actual lack of competence. Personally, I don't understand where her shame/pride is to drive her to function better. My mother did humiliate her recently by scolding her in disgust over the continued unsafe living conditions she witnessed at my sister's new apartment. My sister claimed she knows she has problems and why isn't mom helping her more? This then led to sister dredging up perceived neglect from mom from over a decade ago. As the oldest child, she was always openly envious of any attention us younger siblings got and very vocal about perceived unfairness or favoritism to this day. She is 42. We take her recent humiliation as a good sign that at least she's got some fire in her still. We still wonder where her "bottom" is and have concluded that she may not have one. Obviously there's a lot of denial going on and she remains arrogant in the face of her downward spiral.
We desperately want to help her but are out of our depth. My sister is willing to go to therapy but how open and ready she is to truly change I don't know. I'm hoping there is some established diagnosis that she may fit which could possibly help me proceed to find her the correct type of help. I personally am not saintly enough to talk to her without angrily asking her the hard questions, so I have been avoiding her which helps nothing but my sanity. any suggestions? growing more desperate. thanks for your time.