My younger sister suffers from mental illness, that being bipolar disorder. She also has intellect issues. For well over ten years she has been under mental health and disability organisations. Discharged here, then there, re-referred back again with no clear direction or certainty – being flogged off from one network to another and so on to the point of unbearable stress.

We have been through almost all services in and around three areas, have dealt with a number of different people coming in and out having explained the same needs over and over again. It becomes a repetitive cycle of “nothing is happening” – many plans put in place yet no execution of any. No action or motivational support given. No guidance and no definitive means of anything. This is tearing our family apart. Yet we still are trying.

My sister is stuck in confusion. She slips in and out of so many different emotions and feelings it becomes all too much for her brain to deal with. She becomes erratic due to all of this. This can lead to her attacking either herself, her family and she can become very psychotic on some levels. Beneath all of that however, she is a caring, sensitive being with a heart of gold. It’s hard to witness this continuous path to nothingness.

Numerous times she has had her hopes lifted through all these plans written out before her eyes and explained to her, however her capacity to understand the totality of such plans put in place, is not of a high level of understanding. So although she doesn’t quite get the full picture – like others who don’t have intellect or mental health problems do – she does however sense hope and waits patiently, only to wait and wait for years on end to have that hope shattered time and time again. So many plans, yet none have been followed through with, nor acted upon.

When is enough enough? This is killing her soul. And as a family we are breaking.

Regarding her mental health I am unsure who or what to contact for an explanation as to why she was discharged from mental health services and no longer falls within that category – all the while knowing that mental health networks/services have more resources and tools to support her actual needs. She’s prescribed antipsychotic medication (olanzapine) yet is deemed more of a disability/intellectually impaired case rather than one with mental health issues. We have no discharge summary nor any discharge explanations. We have nothing. And I do not say this to disregard her new services she has on board as they (being disability support) have their limitations and will not be able to meet the full requirements of her needs. This we understand.

We have most certainly lost direction, lost faith and as time presses on we are losing a loved one to her own entrapment. She has no sense of belonging, and we have a sense of helplessness – we are forever on shaky grounds unsure on what’s meant to be happening, unsure where to go, or how to go about it. When is it going to end?

We are highly disappointed that we have been given the beat around. And believe her rights as a human have been totally diminished – even breached.

Two years ago I made a few complaints – one with the HDC (Health & Disability Commissioner) regarding the welfare of my sister when she was in residential care. We feel we have been failed by the system and we have expressed our concerns with all different types of support networks.

How can we be noticed? How can we be heard? Having to go through many networks with outstanding core values and core beliefs to having absolutely no punch or effect behind it whatsoever.

How is this right? And why with so many networks out there for the public to utilise and lean on, do we not get the support that is embedded within them.

We are completely at our wits’ end.

The author of this opinion article is the older sister of an Auckland woman in her 20s with mental health and intellectual disability issues. To protect the privacy of all involved Health Central agreed to publish the article anonymously.



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