Sunday, July 15, 2007

Under Pressure

My brother and his family live in Norway, and for the past four or more years he’s been asking me the same question: “When are you coming to visit us?”

As I’ve told him time and time again, I would love to visit him in Norway but Mr Man wouldn’t be well enough for the journey, and he couldn’t cope with being away from the home for more than a few nights, either in Norway or in a respite home.

Everyone keeps telling me how it would do Mr Man so much good if he would go - the fresh mountain air and picnics by the sea; it’s so tranquil – as if one trip to Norway will cure him forever. Now wouldn’t that be great? But back to planet Earth...

Until recently, getting to the part of Norway where my brother lives meant a long drive to Newcastle, followed by a ferry, followed by another long car drive, followed by 3 more ferry trips and car drives – about two days of travelling in all. Now that there is a more direct flight, we would “only” have to drive to Stansted airport which is maybe a couple of hours away, and fly for a couple of hours as well. That’s great. But Mr Man can’t stand being in the car for a couple of minutes, so how exactly am I supposed to get him there?

My brother recently sent me this beautiful picture of the scenery where he lives, and asked me the same question yet again, as if somehow seeing the view will miraculously make Mr Man well enough to go.

When will people understand that their “gentle encouragement” doesn’t help me to find a solution, it just depresses me? I’ve learnt to accept my situation the way it is, so why can’t other people just accept it as well? Why do they have to keep reminding me of what I can’t have instead of encouraging me to be grateful for what I’ve got?

I have the same problem with my family when it comes to babies. As I’ve explained before, when Mr Man and I married it was actually me who was the sick one. From the moment we married my family asked me nearly every week when we were going to start a family, especially my Mum. I would try to explain to her that I didn’t think we would be able to cope because of my health problems, but every week she would ask again and we would go through the same conversation every time. In the end I had to explain to her how painful it was for me to discuss it. I didn’t need persuading; I wanted a baby desperately, but I just wouldn’t be able to cope. She finally let it go.

Then of course Mr Man became ill too. We always said we would review the baby situation when we had been married for 5 years, but on our 5th anniversary Mr Man was an inpatient on a Psychiatric ward. He had been there for 5 long months and had attempted suicide 3 weeks earlier, and at that time I couldn’t imagine him being well ever again.

Strangely, I remember sitting with him at the hospital and out of the window I could see two metal brackets attached either side of a post for hanging flower baskets, and I thought how much it looked like a womb and ovaries. Empty ones. Barren. I would sit there every evening looking at the same sight. A constant reminder of my situation.

Of course, Mr Mans health has improved dramatically since then, and I have gone through various stages of remission and relapse. For a while we seriously considered having a baby, but for some reason we didn’t hear about this “well known fact” that Anti-Psychotic medication causes fertility problems until Mr Man had already been taking them for a few years. Despite being childless and of child bearing age, no one considered it important to tell us. We started going to a fertility clinic for investigations, but since I relapsed again we cancelled our other appointments.

It’s probably because we seriously considered parenthood for a while that I now have problems with my family going on about children again.
“You’re not getting any younger, it might be too late soon”
“Thank you Mum, I’m aware of that”
What exactly am I supposed to do about it? I don’t have a magic wand. I can’t make Mr Man well. I can’t make myself well. I can’t make us fertile.

So, as I said earlier:
When will people understand that their “gentle encouragement” doesn’t help me to find a solution, it just depresses me? I’ve learnt to accept my situation the way it is, so why can’t other people just accept it as well? Why do they have to keep reminding me of what I can’t have instead of encouraging me to be grateful for what I’ve got?


Slurry said...

I have often thought of the what ifs, and what could have been ect, but i know I cant have changed the past and now live with the current and for the future what ever that holds.

I didnt find out about the fertility aspects of the meds till about 2yrs after i had been prescribed them, I wish they had told me, if just so i could have made a balanced decision, not been told when it might be to late, like everything else, they dont tell you about weight gain, how they damage your eyes ect.
When i first got ill there was alot of telling me to pull my socks up ect, if only it was as easy as that. most people have no real understanding of mental illness and i think relate it on recovery as getting over a cold, or never getting beter at all.

My family fail to see alltho I am not as unwell as i have been, I am also not as well as i could have been had I not had the illness.

Who knows one day you and MrMan might be well enough to go over to Norway, and you will enojy it all the more for having waited till there was doubt that you are both well enough. Sorry if that sounds patronising.

Mr Mans Wife said...

No it doesn't at all. Thank you Slurry. You're right, it has to be when we are both well enough otherwise it would just cause a relapse for both of us.

My family seem so impatient for Mr Man to get back to "normal", and they always seem to think they have the solution to everything, but recovery really has to be at his own pace, as I know you are aware. For some reason people always seem to expect you to be either in hospital and really ill, or out of hospital and fully recovered. They don't seem to undertsand anything inbetween. It's so frustrating isn't it?

As for the fertility thing, I think I should write more about that another time. I know someone brought up the subject of children a long time ago in the comments section and I intended to write about it, but when I tried I found I wasn't quite as ready as I thought.

Slurry said...

Yes i have found the older generation think if you are out of hosp you are well and if your not, your in hosp, and back in the day those lines where defined but with care in the community its more a dotted line.

Yes fertility, is allways tough, I find it hard to have coversations about it also, but there is allways hope, thats what i hold on to, if not now then in the future.

Take care both of you!

Catherine said...

I am so sorry that I have not commented before now.

Maybe it is difficult for your family to understand the illness that Mr Man has? Maybe if you gave them some information about schizophrenia they would be more understanding? Or maybe you have already done this?

I am sorry that your family keeps pressuring you.

Mr Mans Wife said...

No need for apologies Catherine; I'm behind on my blog reading as well.

You raise some very valid points about education in my family. I started writing a comment to post here but it became quite long so I think I might make it into a blog post! (Again! That's what happened with my reply to Slurry!)

Thank you for your support Catherine and Slurry.


I wish I knew, WOSH, I wish I knew.
But you seem strong, and I'm sure as you so wonderfully put here how difficult it is..the one thing I would say is, you can't expect others to understand what you're going through. It's annoying, it's depressing and it hurts, but they just don't get it. I have similar "justdontgetumpeople" in my life, different situations, but still, and unfortunately what I've learned is that they never will learn to just listen to you.
Hang in there.
(i found your site via 4th avenue blues!)

Mr Mans Wife said...

Hi there Crusty, I'm sure you've posted before; your name seems familiar, but anyway - welcome!

I understand your point that we shouldn't expect others to understand, but somehow we have different expectations of our family members don't we? Especially when I've told them the same thing a million times before! You're right though; some people just aren't prepared to listen.

mslmgarner said...

I'm new hear my boyfriend is schizophrenic and I've just been all over talking to anyone who will talk back trying to understand how all this works SZ and all.
So I will ask you this question how long have you and Mr. Man been dealing with SZ?
and how do you deal his episodes in private and in public

Mr Mans Wife said...

Hi there Mslmgarner, welcome to my blog and thank you for your questions.

Mr Man has been suffering from Schizophrenia since his teens but I didn't become aware of it until we had been married for nearly 5 years, which was 5 years ago. (we celebrate our 10th anniversary this year)

Mr Man doesn't really suffer "episodes" as such; his symptoms are more ongoing. There really is no short answer about how we cope with his symptoms so I will write a blog post about it.

Thanks again for your comments. I hope you are managing to find the information you need.

Anonymous said...

Mrs Man,
Will you go to bloody Norway already!!!

Great name, just kept chuckling.

Now I am in no way taking the p*ss or being nasty or anything like that. However as Mrs Man will testify I do have an unusual taste in humour which normally serves me well & I don’t like to compromise my art, lovey. So anyway I would just like to point out your introduction. It made me smile. Not in a nasty way.

“I'm new hear my boyfriend is schizophrenic”.

I just couldn’t help picture your intro at a new place of work or at a party. Anyway hello!
Mrs Man will certainly be able to share a dilemma or 3 she’s lovely.


Mr Mans Wife said...

Ahh fanx! *blushes* What d'you wanna go an' say a fing like that for? You've made me go all girly! Talk to me like a man, damn it! Call me a "top bloke" or summat!

I still haven't got over the way "Robert Peel" was talking about chocolate brownies on my other blog...

Love Always Hopes said...

mr mans wife,

I understand how you feel about people not understanding what its like. To keep asking the questions even though the answer is always the same.

When ever my family would come to visit the always wanted my husband to go out to eat with them. He never wanted to, I never felt comfortable around other people, I never understood why until now. I always hated it when I would be questioned as to why he never went or when I went to visit why he didn't join me.

Its hard for people who do have our experience to understand. Thats why I think its so important to be involved with others who are experiencing this. Sometimes when someone shares with me their experience and I will try it out it works and sometimes it doesn't work for my situation.

This is why I am so grateful to have the sz website and the blogs, I know that I am not the only one and there are so many that understand and it helps me to just be in acceptance of the ones that never will. Some times I would just say thank you very much for the invitation but we have already discussed this and I no longer want to discuss it. If things ever change I will let you know. If they insist on talking about it, I just say that I love them but I need to go. Its hard at first but eventually they stop asking the questions and I save myself pain in the long run.