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Case Study: Alice and Emily (Part 2)

So what are we watching? It’s called My Cousin Vinny, and I chose it especially for you. Because since you’re going off to be a hotshot lawyer, this is going to be you if you don’t concentrate and you don’t work hard in class. OK. So we’re also talking about Uni. I have some news. What? Well, you know I put my first option to be London, and I didn’t think I was going to get in. Yes. I’ve heard back and they’ve offered me a place. Emily, that’s amazing. I mean, that’s fantastic news. I knew you’d get in. See, I didn’t. I’m still in shock. Why? It’s going to be amazing.
We’re gonna go to London, and I’m going to come and visit all the time. We can go to Camden. We can see the bands. Please, can we go to the Top Shop on Oxford Street? Promise me that, and we’ll go to The Shard. And– why aren’t you excited? I am. It’s just I’ve always wanted to go to uni in London, but I just can’t go. Why can’t you go? Oh, I can’t, can I? You know I can’t. I can’t leave mum and Alice, can I? Yeah, but Alice is old enough to look after herself. Maybe, but she can’t look after mum. Emily, we’ve spoken about this. It would be good for her to take some responsibility for a change.
Yeah, but it’s too much. With mum, it’s her pills and her moods. And if she’s not very well, it’s dealing with the whole house, the cooking, the cleaning, the shopping. It’s just– it’s too much. Yeah, but you manage it. I’m used to it. Well, Alice will just have to get used to it, too. You can show her before you go how to do the tablets and the appointments. Just doesn’t seem fair. Well, she’s not going to be doing it on her own. She’s got you to show her what to do. You did it by yourself. It’s not that easy. I don’t think Alice can deal with the pressure. I’ll just go to uni here. It’ll be fine.
I’ll just look after both of them. No. No. Em, you deserve this. Think of yourself for once. It’s time. It’s time to go to London. Yeah, you deserve this. You owe it to yourself, and you owe it to them. If you spoke to them, they would tell you to go. Do you think so? Of course I do. You’ve been doing so much recently, and it’s only London. It’s not the other side of the world, is it? You can still call them and visit on weekends and holidays. I’m only going to college down the road. I can keep an eye on Alice and pop in and see if everything’s OK. Yeah. Maybe.
And my mum said, if you ever need anything, just ask. Yeah. She was really good when mum was in hospital. They really used to get on. Yeah. Yeah. She said the other day that she’d like to see your mum. Maybe it could work then. Yes. Yes, it could work. It could exactly work, OK? You speak to your mum, speak to Alice, make a plan. Yeah, I suppose I could talk to them to see what they have to say. And I could always show Alice how to do mum the pills just in case I can’t do it. Exactly. So we’re going to London. It’s going to be amazing, and I’m going to go get the popcorn. OK.
So there’s one on Monday morning. That’s the pink one. And then on Tuesday morning, there’s another pink one, but in the afternoon it’s a black one. Alice. On Wednesday morning it’s a pink one, and then in the afternoon it’s the red and white one. And on Thursday morning it’s the pink one with a white one in the afternoon. Alice. Go. Then on Friday it’s just the pink one in the morning, but on Saturday it’s the pink one in the morning. In the afternoon it’s the white one. Alice? Are you listening? Yeah. Then what did I just say? One on Sunday. No. No, Alice. You’ve got to pay attention because you need to learn this. But why?
You do the pills for mum every week. Not for much longer. If I’m going to uni, I won’t be able to do it. Not if you go to uni here. Why do you have to go to London? Because the course I want to do is there. You know how much this means to me. You need to take over. Look, look, I’ll go over again. So it’s a pink one on the Monday morning. Then on Tuesday it’s a pink one in the morning and a black one on– Alice. I’m meeting up with Darcy, because we’re– Alice. –going to get our outfits for the party on Saturday. Alice, come back. You can tell me again later. Alice!
So what do you think of London so far? I don’t know. It’s big and it’s busy. It was busy in Topshop today, wasn’t it? I know. I can’t believe I got lost for 20 minutes. You didn’t get lost. I was right there. Yeah. This is nice for you to finally be here. I’ve been asking for you to come and stay in London for ages. It’s been hard to get away from everything like mum and school. How is everything? Everything’s fine. You still remembering to do mum’s tablets like I told you? Of course I am. I said everything’s fine. What’s it like going to university in London? It’s so good. I love it, because it’s so interesting.
I meet new people all the time. I’m happy for you. You worked really hard to get here. I’m finally doing something for me. I’m living my life. You seem different. I feel different. I feel free. I didn’t mean it like that, Alice. I’m sorry. It’s OK. I’m glad you’re happy and doing things for yourself. I didn’t realise how much you were doing at home for me and mum. There’s so much responsibility. You never moaned or complained. I did, maybe not to you and mum, but sometimes to Sasha. Ask her. Not that I minded. We’re family. Mum does her best, and when she’s well, it’s brilliant. And when she’s not well, well, we just have to step up.
You made it seem easy. it isn’t. It’s hard. It is hard at times.
So what’s been going on? So much. I know what I’m doing with the pills and that, but me and mum have had to get a routine sorted about the food and the housework and stuff. It sounds like you’re doing brilliantly. I don’t think am. I never finish any of my homework, and I’m falling behind at school. I never get to see my friends anymore, and I had a big row with Darcy because I couldn’t go to Amy’s party with her. She’s my best friend and I let her down. And I keep forgetting things when I’m doing the shopping after school. I’m messing everything up. Alice, I’m really sorry. I didn’t know you felt like this. Why didn’t you say anything?
I tried to call you, but it kept going to answer phone. My phone’s been playing up. I’m really sorry. It’s sorted now, though. You’re mot messing anything up. You’re doing really well. We need to make a plan. To start, why don’t we check in every now and then, like every couple of days? We could FaceTime maybe. I’d like that. It’d feel like you’re there. Maybe I could be there. Maybe I could come back every other weekend or something till it settles down. And I could get Sasha to pop in every now and then. And as for the food shop, how about we set something up for weekly food shop online or something, take the pressure off. How’s mum?
She’s been all right, but recently she’s been asking me to give her a head massage. OK, it could be a sign. Has she been getting any headaches? No, not yet. It might be all right. She might be OK. Have you spoken to her about how she’s feeling? No. You need to talk to her, ask her. But what if she starts saying weird things? I’m all on my own. Are you scared? It can be scary. You do know it is still mum, even though she’s saying all these weird things. She’s just– she’s not very well. I’ll talk to her. You’re not on your own. You’ve got me and Sasha. Has Sasha’s mum been in yet? Oh. She said she would.
I’ll give her a call. You know, there are other things that we can try. What do you mean? Well, there’s this boy from uni, and his dad had a mental illness. And he said he went to some group to talk about it with his family. There are other families like ours? Yeah. I used to think we’re the only ones, too. I can find some more stuff about it, and we can talk about it next time I come down. Why don’t we just get out of here? Why don’t I take you for dinner, and I can show you around Camden or something? And then you can tell me all about Darcy and your friends, and we’ll sort something out. Yeah? Good.

In this video, we understand more about the difficulties facing the sisters, focussing on Emily’s perspective.

Please post your thoughts on this discussion point using the comments section.

  • How would you support the sisters in your own professional setting and help them to continue to pursue their own goals and aspirations?
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How To Support Young People Living with Parental Mental Illness

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