Friday, August 19, 2011

Following Up

I had written sometime back on a few cases of schizophrenia in two parts and had commended the care givers on their role in taking care of these people. I had heard of these cases from people close to them and was full of admiration for the decisions made by them. I’ve been following their case from time to time and updated myself on the course their lives have taken since then. I refer in particular to the case of Preeti and Montu.

I had mentioned that Preeti surprised everyone by deciding to give her marriage a try although she was under no compulsion to do so. Her parents in law were so grateful to her that they pampered her to the core and provided her with the necessary support in running the house and attending to her whimsical husband. Now that the couple opted to have a child one would expect her to bond well with the husband and their marriage would be near normal. With many of our marriages having their own ups and downs, even without having to deal with a mentally imbalanced spouse, one ought not to imagine that life was very easy for the girl who was totally unprepared to deal with the situation. However, to be fair to her, she did try her best. I don’t mean to say that she has failed in her effort or has given up. Her problem was different.

Preeti had a baby boy some three years after her marriage. She loved her son alright but had a nagging doubt as to whether her husband’s condition was genetic and if he would inherit the condition from his father. Schizophrenia does not necessarily show up till adolescence or even much later and she had no means of knowing about the possibility of her son ‘turning mad’ as those around her cruelly described her husband. She looked for indications where there were none and even the slightest tantrum shown by the child was attributed to faulty genes. It was very distressing for her parents in law to cope with the mindless insinuations heaped by her on an innocent toddler but could do little about it. Things came to a head when she refused to return after a visit to her parent’s place saying that she did not want the child to pick up ‘mad ways’ from his father. Her parents did not feel free to advise her since they partly blamed themselves for the mess that she made of her marriage. Her husband went for a patch up but he was manhandled by her brothers and uncles. They conveniently forgot that he had to take medicines for life or that his condition had to be managed only with the help of medicines unlike a physical affliction that could be completely cured after a period of treatment. He could not muster courage to go again. The rift widened and it appeared that they would never patch up. However, counseling came from unexpected quarters.

Her paternal grandmother was the one who intervened and set things right. She was sympathetic towards her granddaughter but also questioned her decision to opt for a biological child. Did she not know that he had a 50:50 chance if inheriting his father’s trait? No one was perfect she claimed. The boy could derive some shortcomings - both physical and mental - from her as well. Did she expect her brothers to take care of her once her parents were dead and gone? She could opt for separation but not until she found a means to support herself and her son.

“Stop pouting and sulking.” Were her final words. “You made a choice earlier and were glad to be hailed as a sacrificing wife. You were amply counseled by his doctor and were advised on what could be expected of him. Please don’t think that I am not supporting you. You must admit that you are also partly responsible for the situation. Be brave and face the situation. What if it were your brother instead of your husband? Would you love him less on account of his mental condition? ”.

Somehow, her grandmother’s words made sense and Preeti returned to her husband. She went for counseling sessions and felt better after that. She got enrolled in computer classes and is able to divert her mind from negative thoughts and doubts that earlier haunted her. Her parents in law refrain from ever referring to her prolonged stay at her parent’s place or her tantrums when Montu went to fetch her. It is just as if she has returned from a well deserved break which was perhaps just what it was.


Renu said...

I wish everyone has a grandmother like that, who could think rationally.

Ugich Konitari said...

Wonderful lady, the grandmother !

About this business of inheriting the condition, chances 50-50 and all that, I dont think it is true. I know of a case ( a family I have known and interacted with for the last 55 years), where the father became schizo after 2 kids . They had a 3rd kid, a daughter . All 3 kids are wonderful, none of them are schizo, and all are now above 45 years of age, and settled in their own lives. Maybe this thing skips generations. I dont know. But it needs to be found out and such misconceptions changed.

hillgrandmom said...

The grandmother sounds like a very grounded person and so very practical. But my prayers for Preeti so that she may be able to continue her life without negativity drowning her.

Cocktail Party said...

It is so nice to hear of an amicable settlement that finally took place. She is so lucky to have an understanding inlaws who seems to have had the maturity to handle the situation so well.I don't blame her too as it is just human to be protective of one's child. May God bless them with lots of happiness from henceforth.

Kate said...

I wish good luck to Preeti and her family.Sorry to know about her disastrous marriage but now that things are back on track no more worries:) She seemed to have a very unnatural and weird fear towards her lil son back then.
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apu said...

HG, I think I am going to be a dissenter here. I did not feel Preeti's earlier decision (of staying with her husband) was a sound one. There was no pressure, you say, but isn't there always subtle pressure to make one's marriage work at any cost? What other incentive does a 25-year old woman have to stay and support a man who is a stranger to her? Why is she responsible for him? What made her think that she was? Just the fact that a wedding had happened and hence she considered herself bound to him? Certainly it cannot be out of love. I don't believe in this kind of "sacrifice" - sooner or later, the person doing that ends up feeling exactly like the sacrificial lamb. No doubt, resentment comes in, which is probably what also happened to Preeti - add to that the fear of the child becoming schizophrenic. I think it is plain dumb to throw away one's life like that. Just to make it clear, I am not against taking care of individuals with mental challenges - but it must not be a "sacrifice".

Hip Grandma said...

Renu: It was easy for the grandmother to say it. Not so for her parents. however, she also advised her to be independent and self reliant and that is a good sign.

Suranga: True, Preeti would have to sooner or later decide what course her life ought to take. As for schizophrenia, in the cases known to me except one there was no family history of mental instability. However, doctors do point out that marrying blood relatives could be a factor that could be responsible. Again none of these cases are examples of marriage between close relatives at least not in the parent's generation. I feel that certain circumstances trigger off the mental condition. I've read the book 'A beautiful Mind' and watched the movie too. The book was better and it does mention the professor's son inheriting the condition. and the book is a real life story of a noble laureate.

hillgrandmom: I am also a little skeptical regarding the girl's future.

cocktail party: i don't think her in law's could have reacted in aany different manner unless they were crooks and cheats who knew all along and deliberately withheld information. In Preeti's case they were truly unaware that their son had a problem. Even when Preeti over reacted to her son's behavior they kept mum for fear of aggravating the already souring relationship. But you are right. We hear more of parents who would say that their son was fine till his wife arrived on the scene. In her case I think that being merely protective is not enough. she need to be well informed on how to tackle the situation if her son unfortunately acquires the trait.

Kate: The marriage was disastrous and there can be no doubt about it. And her fear is also not baseless. I only hope she is able to tackle any similar situations that she may face in future.

Apu:Just the comment I wished to hear. I've been thinking on those lines too. Preeti was really under no compulsion to make her marriage work. She probably thought of her parents and decided to give her marriage a try. Preeti lacks both the courage to break the marriage and the mental strength to make it work to her favor. Right now her parents in law are there to support her. Soon they may be unable to do so physically if not mentally. She would be wise to take up a job and have a career and social circle of her own. This is where I appreciate the grandmother's stand.

You are right in saying that whether Preeti sacrificed her happiness for the sake of society or her parents, sacrifices of this kind become frustrating and leads to resentment sooner or later. I do not rule out the possibility of her facing similar problems in future and this is what she should think about.

Anonymous said...

What if the opposite had taken place? If Preeti was the sick person. Would her MIL or some other person have advised the husband to take care of his wife and live with her all his life? I doubt that.

Hip Grandma said...

The Brown vagabond: you may be surprised that there are several men who deal with whimsical wives who may or may not have a questionable mental condition. I've written about one such person in an earlier post. Their families prefer to remain in the background for fear of aggravating the situation. however, as you say many would have advised the man to divorce his wife if it had been the wife that was sick. The man would have got society's sympathy and support. He would not have had the need to weigh the pros and cons as preeti had to.