The phone went off today. I answered and it was my older sister.
She was in tears, so much so it took a few attempts to get at the bottom of what was wrong. It turned out she was really dreading a counselling appointment she has tomorrow.
I talked her though writing things down so if she got so wound up she couldn't speak she should still communicate (her therapist apparently wants her to rehearse it all in her head), having something lined up to do afterwards to cheer herself up (her husband is an arsehole and won't do anything, and agreed with her that the things she's upset about are very upsetting.
I had to go, but then spoke to her again later. It was the same conversation, although I suggested she take up some sort of exercise as that helps (her back hurts), line up something to do with her kids (she might).
I found myself getting rather irritated a couple of times (and I hope it didn't show), when she wanted to talk about our brother dying and how she'd never got over it, and had I got over it? I still think about him, but generally get on with my day to day life, because that's what you do.
I find it frustrating that my sister rejected virtually all the suggestions.
At a loss to suggest anything else and not really knowing what else I could do, I got the conversation back onto more normal stuff, she chatted for a bit and said she had to go.
I also find it quite difficult because I genuinely have had mental health problems myself, to the point of being on ADs a few times. Twice through pregnancy losses, once through a career related drama last year.
To be honest I'm still not feeling entirely myself about the career thing and miscarriage happening so close to each other (I will blog about it at some point when I've figured out how to make it less identifying), but I have been religious about going to the gym recently, doing my actual job, spending time with the Boy and hobbies and just trying to tread water until I figure out what to do next.
It's difficult because you can't measure mental health problems so I know I can't tell her that x, y or worked for me so she needs to give herself a kick up the arse.
I also can't get sucked into her calling constantly as that will pull me back into bad mental health myself, which helps nobody.
I know from bitter experience that as a society we just aren't set up to help other people through depression or bad mental health, but I don't know what to do beyond what I have done.
I did, once, find a newspaper cutting that my mum was going to send my sister, that was from a right wing newspaper and inferred that the high rate of women on antidepressants was down to us wanting to "have it all".
I know this was a bit bad of me, but that article mysteriously found its way into a recycling bin outside of the house. It probably had a negative impact on my mother but not as bad as the one it would have had on my sister had she read it.
I guess it's all about trying to find a balance.