National Eating Disorders Association

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My sister is evil

I am really struggling to come to terms with my sister ruining my family. She has been ill for approx 12 years now, and I am at breaking point. I was still growing up when her issues began, and as she is my older sister, I assumed all older sisters were nasty, hysterical, violent, manipulative, and generally unstable. As I got older, this became quite obviously untrue. My sister struggles with lots of mental health issues, but the ones which manifest themselves most obviously are the anorexia and bulimia b/p. To preface this, I am well aware, all too aware, of the affects of eating disorders on the brain. I know she is not in control/her brain is starved, she does not choose to be unwell. Unfortunately, when it comes to my sister, it is not that simple. The fact of the matter is that before she even got ill, she was quite horrible. Now she is unwell, everyone says, 'oh, its not her fault, she's sick! poor her'. For starters, she was nasty before, so it's not all the illness. Second of all, poor her?! Poor my mum, poor my dad, poor me? My mother cries herself to sleep every night, my sister is very abusive to her and constantly tries to blame her and inflict pain on her. She is a nasty, nasty girl, and I don't know what to do. When people hear she is mentally ill, they immediately gravitate toward sympathy. I don't understand where the sympathy or understanding for family members who are under the complete control of the ill person is? She rules my family like a despotic leader, my parents are so scared of her harming herself that they will do whatever she wants. She steals, she lies, she abuses, and no one says anything. I don't know her at all. Before I was 10, she was horrible, and from the age of 10-21, she was horrible and mentally ill. It's incredibly hard to feel supportive, and in fact I no longer feel supportive at all. For a while, I tried to help her - for years, in fact, to have it thrown back in my face. She refuses to live with my parents despite the fact that they pay for everything as she dropped out of school, uni, and refuses to get a job. So now she is living with me - she leaves mouldy food everywhere, breaks appliances by purging into them, blocks my plumbing, makes me gets rats, and I have no choice because where else would she go? On top of it all, she is horrible. My parents don't want to get her committed as they fear she would hate them forever, yet her weight is lower than ever and she is very obviously deeply unwell. I am sick and tired of her and I am sick and tired of her abusing and manipulating my family. I feel horrible writing that I have given up on a family member, but I can't take it anymore. I just want to know that some other people have also reached the end of their tether. Please don't lecture me/say I am being mean. I don't have capacity for that.


Hello. I am so, so sorry for you pain. I get the feeling that you were probably also neglected as your parents have put all their attention onto your sister who doesn't seem to want their help, just their handouts. You are not selfish nor are you being mean. You are suffering and are in a lot of pain. You are probably worried, angry, worried about your parents, feeling badly that you have been overlooked, correct me if I am wrong. When a member of the family is so sick, often parent's are unable to let go and say no more. Not no more love, but until the individual, your sister, is wanting to get help, to change, than something has to change. I would like to explain my situation because I feel it is similar. My sister pretty much lives in her room in bed. I don't know when she eats or even goes to the bathroom. She has ligit medical problems, but she isn't getting the help she needs. She had been living at her house for twenty years rarely leaving her couch. Then she moved in with me about two years ago. She rarely leaves her room and now claims intractable pain, isn't eating, sleeping, so she says, and I am angry. She never asks how I am doing. She is very self absorbed and I am upset that my parent's allow her to do this. for the better part of two years my sister has been a control freak, never contributing to household expenses, never cleans, everything is done for her. Just recently she has been mandated to contribute to household expenses by our father who is our landlord. There were such fights even though she hardly came out of her room. I was ready to leave, but I can not afford to. She doesn't listen to anyone even doctors. My Mom is conflicted because of her medical issues. I think they are doing too much for her. I know they are worried about her physical health but what they can not grasp is that they are hurting her more than they are helping her. And I am angry. I am told not to be, that I have a choice to be angry or not, but I am also afraid that she is going to die.
Back to you sister. To have someone who is mean, cruel perhaps, running the two households and holding everyone hostage is not fair. Does she have to live with you? Can you find your own place? It may not bode well with your parents but that is not your responsibility. Right now you need to take care of you before you get sick. People can take advantage of their mental illness and use it as an excuse, my idea. If someone isn't willing or able to get the help they need someone needs to be called in and an assessment needs to take place to see if she is safe to be living by herself. You can not take care of her. You have your own life. It is not fair for your parent's to expect you to, especially if she is abusing you. That is not to be tolerated. Mentally ill or not.

I am really sorry for all the fear you have lived with all these years, the years that were stolen from you due to your sisters illness. Your own losses and confusion. What do your other siblings have to say about all of this? Can you talk to a therapist and ask them what they think you should do? Get help for yourself to talk about your pain and suffering? You can't keep doing this forever. She needs help and you can not help her as her needs are too great.

I do not think you are being mean or selfish. You have lived with all of this rage, pain, hurt, anger, seeing what is happening to your mom, it is a lot. Please continue to reach out and please let me know what you think about what I said. You are not alone here.



After IW2L's note, it's hard to know what to add, but here's a few thoughts.

These situations are abusive. We are taught that abuse is when the person with the most power takes advantage of those with less power, but sometimes it's just the opposite - The person who casts themselves as ill or powerless is the one who takes the role of the tyrant.

As westernized modern humans, we are also taught to believe that if somehow we manage to discover the proper response, and discover how do the right thing, that things will somehow work out in the end. And if things don't work out, somehow it's because of our own shortcomings or even worse - our selfishness. I'm not sure if other cultures see things that way, but others can use those beliefs against us. When things are working out in ways that are ideal.

Then there's the notion of personal responsibility, and responsibility as a whole. And how it applies to our family and friends, and how it applies to ourselves.

So yeah, we try and be helpful. We are trying to hold up our end of the bargain. But when the other person seems not to be holding up their end, then what should we do ?

And how should we feel about ourselves ? And what do we owe our own selves ?

It's a rough situation for sure.

Fellow Sister

Hi Sue, I've just joined the site therefore just read your post. As a fellow younger sister of an eating disorder sufferer I can absolutely relate. In fact your story sounds very similar to mine, at least at the beginning. Fortunately at the age of 21 and after 10 years of suffering, my sister moved away from our family and started her own healing journey. It came about after my parents threw up their hands and said she could no longer stay. It was the hardest thing for my parents to do, and it broke my heart to give up on my older sister. We didn't know if she would live or die, but we knew she couldn't stay and continue to destroy our family and herself.
She went through a hard road, but she is now much healthier than before. I'm not sure you can say she is free from mental illness, but her physical health is good and that has helped substantially with her mental health.
I commend you Sue for doing so much for your sister, for not giving up. You are a kind and loving person. From my experience though, the care you provide her may be allowing her to continue to manipulate you and your family and hence prolong her (and your suffering). She's not evil, this illness is evil and it's taken her over. It hurts me to say it, but you need to let her go. You need to show the illness that you will no longer let it control your life, and this will also show your sister that it doesn't have to control hers. Please have hope, and tell her to have hope, cuz it is curable, but it will take space and time and discipline on your part to commit to letting her begin to heal on her own (and with the help of prodessionals if she chooses).
My heart goes out to you girl, and to your sister. Good luck, let me know if you wanna chat more.