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An update on my sister

Posted by Kathy G on 2/06/04 at 10:43 (143766)

As you know, my younger sister suffers from bipolar disorder. She hasn't worked in about five years. They have finally got her meds to a point where she is the best she's ever been. She still suffers from occasional panic attacks but she's back to being the person we all knew and loved and it's been wonderful to see. She was an alcoholic as well, something that often accompanies bipolar disorder, and she stopped drinking a couple of months after first seeing her psychiatrist, so she hasn't had a drink in four years. She also went through a period of agorophobia for a period but I think we caught that soon enough and she's overcome it. I'm so proud of her!

She used to be a bar manager and bartender for an excellent restaurant that went out of business when the owner decided to change careers. That was when she stopped work.

A couple of days ago, out of the blue, an acquaintance who works at a high scale restaurant called her and asked her if she would be interested in a job because their daytime bartender was leaving. In a matter of days, she had a job when she wasn't even planning on going back to work. I think it's good it happened that way because if she'd had time to think about it or if she'd had to look for a job, the stress would have been so much greater.

The problem she faces is that she had a Morton's Neuroma removed about five or six years ago. She is very stubborn and refuses to wear appropriate footwear and the last time she saw her doctor, shortly after her surgery, he got so mad at her for not following orders that she has never gone back. Remember, this was when she was still untreated and was drinking. Nonetheless, she doesn't wear appropriate shoes and after just two days on the job, her foot started going into spasm on her.

I am encouraging her to go back to the doctor and get orthotics. Since the guy she lives with ( I won't even get into that because you don't need to hear it) was just laid off, money is short. That's another reason the phone call was so fortuitous. She would probably have had to find a job anyway. I volunteered to lend her the money to get the orthotics and I, for the hundredth time, recommended a sports shoe store nearby, where they really know feet and would be able to steer her to appropriate running shoes for her foot problem.

So why am I telling you all this? I guess because I'm so worried that she won't be able to keep this job because she's so stubborn she thinks how her footwear looks is important. It occurred to me when I was talking to her that one thing I discovered, back when I was still able to work, is that people don't look at your feet; they look at your face! By the time they get to your feet, they couldn't care less what's on them.

So I guess I'm just asking you if you'll keep her in your mind and in your prayers because this could be a pivotal point in her life and she needs all the prayers and good thoughts she can get!


Re: An update on my sister

Julie on 2/06/04 at 11:05 (143769)

I will certainly do that, Kathy.

And you could perhaps remind her that if she's behind a bar NO-ONE will ever see her feet.

Re: An update on my sister

Suzanne D. on 2/06/04 at 11:41 (143773)

Right, Julie! And, Kathy, if you still can't convince her, perhaps you might get her to keep 'good' shoes behind the bar to change into once she is ready to begin work. That way she could walk in wearing the shoes that make her feel confident and then change when her feet are out of sight.

Then, hopefully, she would notice such a difference in how her feet feel in the proper shoes that she might decide to wear them all the time.

I will certainly keep her in my thoughts and prayers.
Suzanne :)

Re: An update on my sister

Carole C in NOLA on 2/06/04 at 12:37 (143779)

Thanks for the update on your sister! Overall, it sounds like things are looking up for her. Getting a job is a wonderful confidence boost for most people, especially right now when jobs are scarce.

I'll definitely send my best thoughts her way! I am hoping that her foot problems are resolved soon so that they do not hold her back.

One thing I found out when Bob had his strokes and memory losses, is that there is only so much one can do for a grown sibling. One can offer help, but there's no way to force them to take that help. So, my other brother and I try to be supportive and to keep checking on him but we had to let go some, too. Not that that is easy, but there's no choice.

Carole C

Re: An update on my sister

Carole C in NOLA on 2/06/04 at 15:52 (143805)

What I meant is that I have been going through some of the same feelings and concerns about Bob as you describe with your sister, and it's not easy! I hope your sister's feet improve.

I liked the idea of having sensible shoes behind the bar, where nobody can see them.

Carole C

Re: An update on my sister

Pam S. on 2/06/04 at 16:20 (143811)

I certainly join the other posters here in wishing all the best for your sister. She certainly has plenty to deal with without FOOT PROBLEMS too. Life can be a challenge. I want to say your sister is very lucky to have a sister like you, grounded and caring. I'm hoping all the best for her. Hope you are doing well too. Warmly, pam

Re: the stop light analogy

marie on 2/06/04 at 17:28 (143814)


I know what it means to have your sister again. My sister is also bi-polar and after 9 years of some pretty rough times I have my sister back. I even wrestled a knife away from her while she was in the emergency room....so as you can see it was pretty bad. We actually do normal things sisters would do together....it's been a blessing.

This is my stop light analogy. It's been my experience with my own family members that bi-polar personalities are stuck on the green light. They don't exercise caution when it's clearly a yellow light and they often run the red light. A normal person can see the caution light and it's frustrating because the bi-polar person just keeps going full speed ahead. We know there's going to be a crash but they don't. All I can say is be there for her when she crashes. Eventually she'll work it out and hopefully continue with her medication. It takes a long time before she'll be completely adjusted to her meds. I am happy to have my sister back. She was out of work for about 7 years. She is working about 30 hours a week now. I also worry about her but so far so good. She is an excellent nurse and her patients benefit from her friendship. Best wishes to you and I will certainly add your sister to my prayers.


Re: An update on my sister

Lari S. on 2/07/04 at 12:04 (143861)

My heart goes out to your sister, you and your family. My cousin is also bi-polar, and it is heart wrenching to see what they go through. No amount of family intervention and good intentions could seem to keep her on her medications. She ended up having 2 daughters (don't know who the father(s)are/were)that my aunt raised to keep them from the child social services system. I'm happy to say that after years of struggle, she is finally taking meds, and is working 30 hours a week through a social service program and living in an apartment for those with mental/physical handicaps. (They also monitor her, check if she doesn't show up, etc.) She now has a good relationship with her daughters and loves being a grandma.

Hopefully, your sister will at least try the suggestion of keeping 'work shoes' at the bar to use. Maybe once she sees how much of a difference good shoes make, she'll try the orthoics. I hope it won't be difficult for her to not drink while working at the bar since she has been free of alcohol for 4 years.

I'll keep positive thought for her and hope all goes well.