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Hello,

My little sister, unfortunately, suffers from severe social anxiety. She no longer goes to school because of this. She is 16 years old.

She spends her days at home watching cartoons, and browsing sites like reddit or stumble upon. She is bored out of her mind.

Both our parents suck. Our mom is a somewhat functioning alcoholic that puts a huge strain on the family. Our dad, on the other hand, doesn't play nearly a big enough of a part in our lives as he should. He does everything in his power to not involve himself with us, conflict, family issues etc. He'd rather shove a problem under the rug than deal with it, or better yet, dump it on someone else and run.

About a year and a half ago I approached my dad and told him I was really concerned with my sister being depressed, not attending school etc.

He told me "she'd snap out of it" and that everything would be fine in the end. I told him I didn't think so and forced him to find her a counsellor for her to see. He told me he didn't know how (typical response from him when you try to get him to do something he doesn't want to do). Finally we got a counsellor set up for her who she's been seeing on a weekly basis for the past 18 months. The counsellor suggested that my sister take cipralex (lexapro). The therapy and the medication have made a significant positive difference for my sister. I then helped my sister find a volunteer job as an information desk clerk at the local hospital, which she worked weekly up until last September. The job was great for her for a number of reasons. It provided her with a great form of non-threatening social interaction, gave her some responsibility, a bit of a purporse etc. Things changed unfortunately when September rolled around and my parents decided it would be best for my sister to attend a prestigious private school. She was extremely nervous about this school, as was I. I thought it was a terrible idea for a number of reasons. The school was tougher, it had a reputation for being cliquey etc. No one listened to me though and my dad told me "everything would work out great."

Things did not work out great. She dropped out after three months and is now staying home again everyday doing nothing.

I'm trying to get her into a special government run social anxiety group for teens, but there's a wait list and it could still be a little while before she gets accepted.

I recently had a talk with my dad about him needing to do more to help my sister out. This is pretty much what he told me:

- She needs to figure things out on her own
- Why don't you do things for her (I told him I was and he told me that he thought I was getting her into some special group, but I obviously failed at doing that)
- It's all our alcoholic mom's fault
- I was just venting at him because I was mad at our alcoholic mom

So, my question is, what can I do:

A) To help my sister out
B) Do about my dad

Thanks for reading!!
 

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I'm very sorry for your situation. Since my situation is completely different I can't give you any good advice besides maybe bring the situation up with some other relative(s) you trust (grandparents?) and hope they help you. Is she still getting counseling and treatment?
 

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First of all I'm not really a believer in medication to help resolve this problem. It sounds like a very hard situation, but at least you are trying on your part to help your sister out. You need to keep supporting her I guess, keep pursuing different avenues like councelling, self help materials and groups. I'm not of the belief that SA can be cured, but it can be managed more effectively in everyday life through a better understanding of the disorder and changing your psychology. I also think you need to take things slowly and by the looks of it it was too early or just an all round bad idea to go to the private school. I'm not sure what you can do regarding your parents besides persistance. Are there no other relatives like aunts uncles and so on who would help you get through to your parents or just offer their own support.
 

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Lateralus
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Your sister can be thankful she's got a great brother who's on the look out for her. Kudos to you, sir.

"A) To help my sister out
B) Do about my dad"

A) Stay there for her, encourage her. Let her know she has your back always. Bring up some ideas you think may be helpful, although she'll likely shoot them down due to her anxiety.

Does your sister also have co-morbid depression?

B) I wouldn't waste my time. Your dad sounds unempathic, insensitive and frankly idiotic. I hope I'm not offending you by saying this, but I'm guessing you're not a big fan of your dad anyway. He sounds like a guy who can't be counted on for anything, to put it mildly.

What's this special government run program you mentioned?

Both our parents suck. Our mom is a somewhat functioning alcoholic that puts a huge strain on the family. Our dad, on the other hand, doesn't play nearly a big enough of a part in our lives as he should. He does everything in his power to not involve himself with us, conflict, family issues etc. He'd rather shove a problem under the rug than deal with it, or better yet, dump it on someone else and run.
My older sister was a raging alcoholic who verbally abused me and my parents and went into fits of rage. She was a major pain, and I blame her primarly for my mental destruction.
 

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I wish that I had a sister like you. Could she do some home schooling? There are now programs in highschools for kids with mental health concerns e.g., anxiety, depression. You could check if there are any alternative school programs in your area. It would focus on the emotional aspects of health and focus on the strengths of the children e.g., one is a guitar player, a good baker, an artist, good at dance, etc. and I think the timetable would be modified so that she could do just a few credits at a time so she does not feel overwhelmed.

I agree with the rest and I do not think that people can be changed. I do not think that your father will ever change. I think that your support has been immensely helpful to your sister. You should be really proud of yourself.
 
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