Sister w/ ADHD, I'm out of patience and she thinks I'm selfish

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    • #184297

      Hi all. New here, hoping for some advice or even just words of encouragement.

      My sister and I live together, we’re both in our early 30s. I’ll say up front that if I could afford to live on my own, I would, but it’s just not an option right now. Both of us are furloughed from our jobs due to Covid so we’re together 24/7, which has made things pretty tense. She’s only recently started to go through the process of getting an ADHD diagnosis and possible treatment. She’s had executive dysfunction her whole life and it seems to have gotten worse recently. She also has a sleep disorder (similar to narcolepsy) which is newly diagnosed, so in addition to having attention issues and no concept of time passing, she’s really tired all the time and has a hard time getting a handle on how much/when she sleeps. She was having a hard time before the pandemic even happened, and I try to have empathy for that as someone who also has more than one chronic illness.

      The problem is that we’ve had multiple fights now where she tries to tell me that because I’m her sister and I love her, I should be helping her more. We just had a big one tonight about her chronic problem with lateness. She’s late to about 95% of her life and I’ve been putting up with it our entire lives. I’m tired of having the same fight about it over and over. It causes me anxiety to be late so I told her the simplest solution is to just not drive together sometimes. She told me the first time she heard that it was like “a knife in the back,” that’s a direct quote. She said she’d feel like I was abandoning her if I left without her. She told me that the answer to her lateness is for me to help her get ready for things. Instead of saying “hey we have to leave in 5” or “it’s time to leave,” she wants me to say “is there anything I can do for you [to help you be on time]?” and then do tasks for her. Her examples were finding her keys, filling her water bottle, finding her shoes. Our mom does these things for her when she’s visiting. IMO she’s a grown adult woman, she shouldn’t have to have someone do these things for her, she should make those accommodations herself. She said when she’s getting ready for something she has no concept of time, so she can’t plan ahead for how long it’ll take her. She gets mad and snaps at me if I ask her how long she’ll be, or even if I pace back and forth watching the clock (which I do because, like I said, I have anxiety). I know I could be more patient with her, but it’s almost as if the opportunity for patience passed and all I have left is frustration.

      It’s just a fundamental disagreement on what “sisters should do for each other” right now. I don’t feel an obligation to help her just because she’s my sister, and now I feel callous for even thinking that. Her acknowledgment and diagnosis of her ADHD is still a new thing so I know she has to develop her ways of dealing with it and strategies for herself. I’m just not sure where the line between helpfulness and enabling is. She claims she’s been fighting against these issues her whole life and has been trying and trying to fix them, and I don’t see that effort at all. No progress seems to have been made. She never apologizes for making anyone late. And the simple answer is I don’t *want* to help her. That makes me feel selfish, and she definitely called me selfish. I just… I do my best not to make dealing with *my* chronic illnesses anyone else’s job. Living with her feels like a full time job at this point and I’ve had anxiety stomachaches for a month because of these fights we’ve had.

      I’d really appreciate some advice or even just new perspectives on the situation. Thanks in advance.

    • #184300

      Hello iknowofit

      I have ADHD but am obsessed with being on time, and I have a similar problem with my mother; I too have suggested we leave at different times and her response is “Well there is no point going then is there”.

      My mum has social anxiety issues related to PSD so she needs me there as a buffer, if people talk to her she can dump the conversation on me (which I hate).

      You need to fund out what your sister expects of you, then think about what you are or arn’t willing to help with and then just set up clear boundaries.

      It sounds like your mum just dors anything your sister can’t/won’t do for herself.

      So for example if you don’t want to run around looking for her shoes every day (I wouldn’t either), tell her you will help her make an organisational system where she can find them easily, there are some good tips on this website for different organisational strategies.

      You are being supportive but also pushing for independence.

      Also just for yourself maybe look at a few of the parenting teenagers with ADHD articles, it might help you frame how you talk to her or approach subjects differently to help prevent arguments – it worked with my 50+ year old mum.

    • #184305

      Your sister should seek out the help of a cognitive-behavioral therapist. The therapist can help her figure out a way to remember to do things. To develop a plan to become organized so that she’s not late getting out the door. My fiance developed a system with the help of a BT. He is very organized for the most part, and is rarely late.

      It is not up to you to do things for her you are correct. She is a grown woman, and by doing all these things for her you are just enabling her.

      Boundaries need to be set. On the website the ADHD effect on marriage, there is a “Non” ADHD spouse who comments that he does the exact same thing when it comes to his wife. They often drive separately when they have to go somewhere, because she’s not organized enough to leave on time and he wants to be punctual.

      What could happen if you do this? It will force her to be accountable for her actions and she will eventually get with the program and figure out a way to organize herself. Leave on time or else she will continue to be late and that will be on her.

    • #184363
      Penny Williams

      The key is to not do things for people with ADHD, but help them find ways to succeed on their own. For instance, she says she has no concept of time when getting ready. She could try a TimeTimer that has a colored disc that disappears with the passage of time. Or you could help her set a series of alarms on her phone with how much time she should spend on each task. Or, an app like Routinery might be useful for this (this one was recommended by someone with ADHD in this forum). There are many more ideas in the following article too:

      41 Time Hacks Used by ADHD Ninjas (aka Our Favorite Experts)

      She’s telling you that she can’t meet your expectations and manage time on her own. So what can you help her set up so she can?

      And it really sounds like you don’t want to be involved in this, so maybe a therapist with a coach approach or an ADHD coach would be a good idea.

      The 7 Most Essential Benefits of ADHD Coaching

      ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Coach, Podcaster & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

    • #186355

      I would suggest a sit-down talk (but not after a fight on the topic). Explain to your sister how her lateness affects you and your anxiety. It’s important for her to understand how her actions affect others. Especially since your chronic condition is just as important as hers.

      Explain that you will not do things for her. It is perfectly acceptable to create boundaries, but they need to be clear and well-communicated. Then suggest that you help her create a system for the things that she finds she struggles with. Always losing her shoes? Create a space where the shoes always live. Losing keys? Put a bowl by the door–they always stay in the same place.

      That said, there may be times when your options are help her or leave without her, and it is important that you listen when she tells you what she needs. If she says “I need you to ask me this question,” then that’s how you can help. If you’re ready to go, staring at the clock, give her a time warning, and ask what she has left to do. If you feel so inclined to refill her water bottle for her, do it. If not, say “I’m getting in the car and leaving at x o’clock. If you aren’t ready, I’m leaving without you.”

      I feel like maybe part of your reluctance to help her is that you feel like she’s always getting help (maybe too much help) while you’re getting none. It is easy to get resentful over such things. But remember this: you also aren’t asking for help. People aren’t mind-readers.

      Try to find some tips for getting one’s teenagers out the door–I’m sure this website is rife with them. Help her develop a system and routine. And try to be understanding. As frustrating as it is for you, it is at least as frustrating for her.

      And if you just don’t want to help her at all, just be ready for the consequences of those actions. You can put your foot down, refuse to help, amd drive separately. But she isn’t just a roommate. She’s your sister. And while that doesn’t mean she’s entitled to anything from you, it is a lifelong relationship. Is this really worth hurting it for?

    • #186366

      WARNING: Triggered

      I have same problem with my sister, but I am one with a late diagnosis of ADHD.

      Please understand late diagnosis is hard , especially after feeling like you have been dismissed all your life by your family and teachers. It impacts your whole life , then go through a weird process of acceptance. You have this feeling of loss and grief and that you underachieve. It is hard to put strategies in place with late diagnosis because our behaviours are so set, why its important for a early diagnosis.

      Its not your place to judge her ways of coping to keep her head above water, because feels like you have been have betreading water all your life

      My sister is very dismissed and has no self awareness, doesn’t want hear my problems, but constantly forces me to listen to health and life problems, then tells me just to get over and thats she she dealing with problems on her own, which is not true.

      EVery conversation becomes all about her and I I have always been for her, I told her our relationship is about given and take, so if your not going support me then me, don’t expect me to do the same and we have no relationship now, because I block her.

      Please remember If you a sibling has ADHD, othersthers have a higher chance of it too, I think my sister has it worse then me and has the worst self assessment of her herself, so she doesn’t see it and a sign of ADHD.

      Maybe you should do some research, plenty of information on page, listen to your sister and support her, don’t tell her what to do, ask her about the impacts of ADHD before publicity blaming your sister on ADHD support page, because needs your your support , because maybe it may not be the ADHD thats is the problem.

      • This reply was modified 1 year ago by Jomaree.
      • This reply was modified 1 year ago by Jomaree.
      • This reply was modified 1 year ago by Jomaree.
      • This reply was modified 1 year ago by Jomaree.
      • This reply was modified 1 year ago by Jomaree.
      • This reply was modified 1 year ago by Penny Williams.
    • #186377

      Maybe its not the ADHD, sounds like they needed to work on their family relationship.

      • This reply was modified 1 year ago by Jomaree.
      • This reply was modified 1 year ago by Jomaree.
      • This reply was modified 1 year ago by Jomaree.
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