Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Announcements

Please take some time to click through these links to find out more about our community.

What is a Trigger and When to Trigger a Post
How and Why to Report a Post
Visit our Crisis Assistance Link for resources. For immediate help, call 911 or get to the ER.


Sister likes to live in the dark
avatar
An_248249 posted:
I think my sister has some sort of mental illness. Not sure if it is depression but something is a miss. Aside from the fact she prefers to associate herself with pets instead of people, is somewhat of a hoarder and messy person, she occasionally binges and purchases higher end pproducts despite her being unemployed and on a fixed income. She is divorced and stubborn as a mule.

That aside, our elderly father is visiting from outside of the country for a few weeks and will be residing with her for logistic reasons (myself and family is on the other side of the country). My sister prefers to to keep the lights on low or have no lights on at all. She refuses to replace burnt light bulbs and says there is sufficient ambient light in her house (which it is not) from her large television screen.

When she was married before, she insisted on renovating only one part of the house, the bathroom. She insisted on having black tiles on the floor, walls, and ceiling. She seems to be obessed with the dark look but she is not gothic or vampirish like one would think she would be from that kind of behavior.

I paid a brief visit to my sister's home a month ago when I was in town and I quickly got very upset that she likes to eat and live in the dark. I quickly had to leave and check-in to a hotel.

When I bought her a lamp, thinking maybe she didnt want to spend the money, she quickly asked where is it made? I said in China, where most things are made. She made another excuse and had me return the lamp because she refuses to have any Chinese made products. She said that she will get a lamp when she sees fit, a vintage lamp from a garage sale or on Craigs List. My sister's home is a mess, not organized at all. She's full of excuses.

I guess the reason for my post is perhaps I can get some info that I can send to her by email so she can see that her specific behavior about the lamp thing is totally unacceptable. I am thinking of my father and I know that it will be dangerous for him to stay there in the dark if she does not see the error or her ways. I also think she has some sort of mood disorder as well.

Any insight is appreciated.

Thanks
Reply
 
avatar
Jeune1 responded:
Well, it certainly sounds like your sister does her own thing, but I understand your concern for your father. From the tone of your email it sounds like you're a bit miffed with her and don't approve of the way she lives. That happens. (As an aside, the part about low lighting made me smile. I have really good night vision and my husband is constantly exclaiming over the fact that I'm reading "in the dark." It really isn't dark to me!)

However, I don't see how sending her emails meant to show that her refusal of the lamp is unacceptable will help for a number of reasons. The top two being: 1) Even if she is suffering from some sort of mental illness, info presented in that manner and for that reason won't cause her to "see the light" if you'll pardon the pun. 2) If you all normally don't get along, she'll just see it as confrontational and offensive.

The other thing I'd ask is, if you believe that she has some sort of untreated condition, should she really be stressed with the additional task of looking after your dad?

If your main concern is lighting in the house, I would suggest instead that you talk to her in terms of being concerned about you all's dad. Sure there may be plenty of light for her (a younger person with better vision) but your dad may not be able to see as well. If that doesn't work, look into having your father stay in a hotel.

Good luck!
 
avatar
susiemargaret responded:
hello, A284 --

i hear you asking about three problems here. first is how to handle, if you even can, the specific issue of your father's in/ability to get around your sister's house if she keeps it as dark as it was when you were there.

second is how to persuade your sister to change the decisions she has made about the way she handles her money and how she arranges and lives in her house.

third is whether your sister might be suffering from some kind of mental illness and, if so, what can be done about it.


how assertive is your father? if your sister's house is so dark that it is hard for him to see well enough to get around, will he say so?

is he likely to bring it up with you but not with her? my advice is not to get in the middle of any interaction on this subject between your sister and your father. in other words, if he complains to you but not to her, i would simply say, "daddy, this is between you and her. i see your choices as (1) telling her how difficult it is for you to see there and asking her to turn up the lights, or (2) telling her how difficult it is for you to see there, asking her to turn up the lights, and if she doesn't, moving to a hotel, for which i will help you pay the cost. but it is your decision how to handle this; i'm not acting as a go-between." and then stay out of it!

if he complains to both of you, i would say to your sister, "this is between you and daddy. whatever the two of you work out is between you; i'm not getting involved." and then stay out of it!

your father is a grownup; you are his daughter, not his mother. unless he is mentally incompetent, it is his responsibility and indeed his right -- not yours -- to decide what he can tolerate and what he can't. if you truly believe that he is in physical danger because of the conditions in your sister's house, then call whatever agency is responsible for the protection of older people where your sister lives and ask them to check things out.


the computer is telling me that i have almost reached the word limit, but i have a few more comments, so can you meet me at my subsequent post?

-- susie margaret
what good is gold, or silver too, if your heart's not good and true -- hank williams, sr.
 
avatar
susiemargaret responded:
hello again, A284 --

this is the second part of my response to your inquiry about what, if anything, you can do about your father's impending visit and your sister's living in what you consider to be virtual darkness.


it is clear that you and your sister do not agree on what living conditions are acceptable. you are concerned about the choices she has made with respect to how she spends her money (or doesn't) or accepts gifts from you (or doesn't) intended to help her improve her living conditions. you are also concerned about the physical danger to both your sister and your father from what you perceive to be the lack of light in her house. however, i would not raise these issues by focusing on the lamp episode; it is just one example of the real problem -- your sister apparently living in the dark.

these are her decisions to make, tho. you are her sister, not her husband or her mother. you are not living with her and therefore have no right to participate in the decision-making about how the furniture is arranged, whether there is a fence around the yard, or how much light should be available inside. if you truly think she is in physical danger from her living conditions or that they indicate the possibility that she is suffering from a mental illness, call whatever agency is responsible for the protection of adults where your sister lives and ask them to check things out.

since you've already brought up your concern about her living conditions at least once, i think it is likely that she will be "touchy" about discussing it with you again. this is another reason to bring in an objective observer in the form of a protective agency. in the alternative, does your sister have close friends or other relatives who might be able to bring up this subject without sounding as if they are judging her as a person? perhaps the head of her church?


you are also concerned that your sister's preference for living in what you consider the dark indicates that she may be suffering from a mental illness of some kind. again, if you think her living conditions are dangerous to her or that she has become unable to manage her own affairs, you should call whatever protective agency looks after adults and ask them to check things out.


i have just a little bit more to say, i promise. i guarantee that my next post will be the last! can you meet me there?

-- susie margaret
what good is gold, or silver too, if your heart's not good and true -- hank williams, sr.
 
avatar
susiemargaret responded:
hello again, again, A284 --

this is the third -- and final, i bet you are glad to hear! -- part of my response to your inquiry about what, if anything, you can do about your father's impending visit and your sister's living in what you consider to be virtual darkness.


another idea has occurred to me, and it is that your sister's predilection for what seems darkness to you may reflect a medical or mechanical problem rather than (or in addition to) an emotional one. will she go out of the house? can you tell if her eyes are sensitive to light?

some meds or physical problems make people sensitive to light; this is called "photophobia" (see PS). do you know what meds she takes regularly or when this preference for the dark began? has it always been of the same intensity, or has it gotten worse over time? along this line, you might want to post an inquiry on photophobia and its causes in the eye health community, http://exchanges.webmd.com/eye-health-community , where there is an expert on-board.

finally, is your sister physically capable to getting to the lights (i'm thinking of ceiling lights in particular) where light bulbs need to be changed? is she uncoordinated and therefore nervous about getting on a ladder? (i'm terrified every time a light burns out!) would she accept an offer of (paid-for) handyman services for an hr or so to replace the burned-out bulbs and do some quickie house fixups (does she need some pictures hung, some shelves put up)?

i'm afraid i don't have any great ideas for how to bring up these suggestions diplomatically, but you might frame it very delicately in terms of "getting ready" for your father's visit, rather than as "making your house livable." i agree with J above that a productive approach might well be to compare your sister's younger eyes and more agile physical coordination with your father's likely age-related deteriorating vision and possible restrictions on mobility.


you and your sister do not have the same opinion about how much light a house requires for the residents to be comfortable. this does not make either of you a bad person; it simply makes you two people who have different opinions about how much light a house requires.

i hope you and your sister can come to some resolution or at least compromise on this Q, at minimum for the duration of your father's visit. this is not a Q of what is "right" or "wrong"; it is simply a look at the range of practical options available for making accommodations to avoid potential logistical hassles during your father's visit. start there for now. you can deal with the larger problems after he leaves.

i send caring thoughts to all three of you; please keep us posted on how things work out.

-- susie margaret

PS -- a good description of photophobia is at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003041.htm .
what good is gold, or silver too, if your heart's not good and true -- hank williams, sr.
 
avatar
itmatsb replied to susiemargaret's response:
I think that your first two replies were more on target. I think the sister has problems which the writer will not be able to correct. Isn't photophobia fairly unusual from meds or physical conditions? A thought, but bringing it up is more likely to alienate the sister further. Good advice about the father's visit as well. You have great perceptions and a great way of expressing them.
 
avatar
susiemargaret replied to itmatsb's response:
hello, I --

thanks for the kind words!

-- susie margaret
what good is gold, or silver too, if your heart's not good and true -- hank williams, sr.


Featuring Experts

Thomas L. Schwartz, MD, received his medical degree from and completed his residency in adult psychiatry at the State University of New York (SUNY) Up...More

Helpful Tips

Bringing Peace Back to the Holiday Season Through Mindfulness
http://ezinearticles.com/?Bringing-Peace-Back-to-the-Holiday-Season-Through-Mindfulness&id=8165694 More
Was this Helpful?
0 of 0 found this helpful

Related News

There was an error with this newsfeed

Related Drug Reviews

  • Drug Name User Reviews

Report Problems With Your Medications to the FDA

FDAYou are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.