I live with my aunt, my grandma, my sister, and my uncle. I used to live with my grandpa, but he passed away and my mom doesn't live with us. My aunt has many issues that my family & I can't stand. For instance, she gets angry very easily. She told me that it is because of my grandpa who drove her nuts as he was taking medicines which made him act in a weird way. She said she had never gotten angry very easily in the past before my grandpa started taking medicines.
She is kind of bossy in the house. Everyone should listen to her, even though she is wrong, however, she never apologizes for her mistakes or takes someone’s suggestion. My aunt tends to shout and raise her voice at us whenever she can't stand what someone is doing. She is stressed and takes medicine for depression. In addition, she suffers from pain in her body about which her doctor said to be due to stress.
I understand that Islam tells us to respect all humans, especially our family, but my aunt is driving me up the walls! I sometimes wish that I was married so that I don’t have to live with this family, especially with my aunt! This morning, she told my grandma that she doesn't want to talk to me at all or even look at my face until she goes back to her country. I know I did a mistake, but even if I apologize to her, she wouldn't accept it right away.
It takes time for her to calm down and talk to us. I feel my aunt needs to see a psychologist to work out her problems, but I don't think she would listen to my advice.
My major is psychology and she wants me to be her psychologist to work out her problems, but to be honest, I have no desire to help her.
In this counseling answer:
• Ask your uncle or another family member to perhaps speak with her doctor about her behaviors at home. Possibly, she needs a medication adjustment or other interventions.
• Distance yourself emotionally from her behavior.
• Keep yourself busy.
Salamu ‘Alaikum sister,
Thank you for writing to us. I am sorry to hear what you have been going through with your aunt. However, her statement to you about how your grandfather “drove her to act like that” makes me confused. As you did not indicate any prior problem with your grandfather, I am not sure how his medication and/or behavior would cause your aunt to act in this way.
You also stated that your aunt visits a doctor and takes medication for depression. She also has stress-related physical symptoms which may be psychosomatic. Psychosomatic illnesses such as your aunt’s pain/soreness can be caused by stress and unconscious thought patterns which affect how we internalize our bodily experiences. In fact, AboutHealth states that approximately 90% of doctor visits for health problems are due in part to unmanaged stress.
Communicate with Her Doctor
While I cannot diagnose your aunt based on limited information, it seems that she suffers from depression, stress, and probably anxiety based on her own doctor’s prescription of anti-depressants. In addition, her outbursts and behaviors upset the family. As she mentioned your grandfather, I suspect there are some unresolved issues between them.
Dear sister, I understand how difficult this must be for you and your other family members. I would suggest that, if possible, you ask your uncle or another family member to perhaps speak with her doctor about her behaviors at home. Possibly, she needs a medication adjustment or other interventions such as weekly ongoing therapy, stress management techniques, and anger management classes. However, dear sister, it is she who must be willing to engage in her well-being and healing, so it is really out of your hands.
Check out this counseling video:
Control Your Anger
Meeting hostility with good manners is the best means of discourse. When someone is hostile towards you, anger is a natural response. However, just because you have been provoked gives you no excuse to react in a hostile manner. There is great wisdom in controlling anger as succumbing to it can lead to a host of negative scenarios that are difficult to extricate yourself from.
The Prophet said: “The strong man is not the one who can wrestle (fight); the strong man is the one who controls himself at the time of anger.” (Al-Bukhari)
Our Prophet even gave us the advice to either sit or lay down as a means of controlling anger. And while you may not always be in a position to sit or lay down when angry, you can create a mental image of yourself in such a position to help alleviate anger.
This will take great effort on your part, sister, as it would mean overlooking your aunt’s behaviors and defects and, in turn, presenting yourself with kindness and understanding as well as controlling your own responses in regards to anger, feeling upset, and so forth.
As you have indicated, you do understand your aunt has several emotional/psychological problems. In order to cope with her behavior in the home, until, in sha’ Allah, she is ready to proactively address her issues further, I suggest you distance yourself emotionally from her behavior. do not take it personally and try as best as you can to not let it interfere with your moods, emotions, or life. Again, I realize this is difficult as you live with her, but your reactions and the internalization of this in healthy ways may lead to more peace in your own self.
And no sister, as you know, you cannot be her “psychologist”. However, by her asking, it shows that deep down, she does trust and respect you, and it is an admission that she knows she needs help. I would encourage her in a loving way to possibly get a referral from her doctor to see a psychologist and let her know you will support her efforts 100% and be there for her as long as she is taking positive steps.
Sister, keep yourself busy, focus on your studies as well as engaging in other social activities to uplift your spirits. Make du’aa’, recite Qur’an and stay close to Allah (swt). Through Allah (swt), all things are possible, so do not lose hope!
Also, don’t let your aunt’s problems become yours. In other words, while we care and love our family, we cannot force them to seek help or listen to advice. At the same time, we cannot blame ourselves nor should we become upset, distracted or otherwise give up when a family member is acting in ways which are not conducive for the familial relationships. In this case, her resolving her issues lies within her, and in sha’ Allah your uncle will be able to make some progress with her doctor regarding her need for further assessment and treatments based on her disruptive behavior at home.
Please let us know how things are going sister. We do care, and you are in our prayers.
Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.