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.