Thursday, July 7, 2011

Valet service

Chris is doing everything for us except donning the uniform and flicking lint off our shoulders with a brush. His agenda is blank now that the summer is here and his voice teacher is on vacation, choir and amateur opera rehearsals are in hiatus, and his part time employer is also away. Oh, yes, Dr. Stern is away for most of the summer, too.

So, here's what he's doing. Menu planning, grocery shopping, cooking, laundry, pick-up and delivery of Ian's shirts, cleaning the apartment once a week, sorting the mail and accepting the delivery of packages. In his spare time (there's still a lot of it), he has initiated the process for becoming a citizen in this fair country and is dealing with the bureaucracy involved.

Though he says he's feeling overwhelmed (he's a young man, after all, housework is stressful), he does this all so enthusiastically and well that it raises the question, why isn't he in full time work or back at university or in vocational training? It's been seven years now since his first hospitalization, and ten years since we began to suspect something was not right. His intellect is not impaired, he's much better than he's ever been, but he's still hanging around the apartment with Ian and me, his parental units.

I do believe that people who have experienced what Chris has gone through tend to be too self-sacrificing for their parents and others, no thought for themselves. This is something to be worked through, but how? Being a valet to his parents surely isn't helping, unless this is just something he has to do as part of the working it out process. Our situation is a bit complex in that we are not citizens of the country we are living in, and Ian and I do not intend to stay here after we retire. This means that if Chris wants to remain here with his brother Alex after we leave, he'll need citizenship. What he would do here without a skill is beyond me, but that's a long way off, in any case, and maybe by then he'll have one.

I know Chris is thinking about possible directions, but this is still in the thinking stage. I will be overjoyed when he exercises more structure to his day in a field of his choosing.


  1. I know you're not really looking for feedback on this one Rossa, but I just wanted to say that he is lucky to have you both to look after him. I guess at least while he is with you, you know he is safe. But I am sure he is capable of looking after himself if he had to. By which, I don't mean that you should abandon him or make him move out!

    I am only trying to say that if and when you retire and leave the country he will be able to choose whether to follow you or whether to stay with his brother, and if he chooses to stay then he will be able to manage, one way or another. I hold this opinion because I managed for many years with the same 'illness' and with little or no family support. I survived, and these days I am doing a lot better than just surviving.

    Does co-dependency apply to mental health as it does to alcoholism? I am only wondering aloud here, really not wanting to be rude.

    Finally, sometimes I think we all worry too much about our children and about the future in general. I hope this helps. I couldn't resist sticking my oar in.

    Louise x

  2. Rossa, fellow readers, online friends,

    RE: Final comment on this and other blogs

    I've been reading, writing, commenting online about the current paradigm known as 'psychiatry' for over five years...

    Along with helping as many people as possible to begin to realize there are other options besides psychiatry...

    I'm exhausted.

    Also, it's time...
    Time to move on now.

    I hope that you will understand...
    Life is good, and I feel the strong urge to get back into life... really, really live (again)!

    So, I'd like to take a moment to say, "Goodbye"

    This site is a central gathering point for the folks I've met online, so I'd like to do so here (if that be okay):

    Thank you for all you've done.
    I have faith that the conventional (one-size-fits all)model will be replaced by one that works.... one that works quite well!

    I have faith that this will take place, because I believe in people...

    I believe in their common sense, their tenacity, their willingness to explore, and their desire to be whole... to be well, to seek more peace and happiness in their lives, and to find those things!

    And so, I know (way down where I live... the only place that really matters) that each of you will find those things that work best for you... furthermore, that you will do the great things you were placed on this earth to do!

    Please know that you each remain in my thoughts and prayers.

    My best,


  3. Duane - I can fully understand your position. Blogging and commenting can take over if we don't put a check on ourselves. Good luck and good health to you. It's not the end, I'm sure I'll hear from you, just not as often!

  4. Louise, your comments are always welcome. Co-dependency is a term that NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) seems to throw around a lot. I have no idea what they mean by it, but they also use the term "enabling" a lot, if my memory serves me. I wonder if the use of these terms actually makes the situation worse, meaning that the relatives will eventually toss the "patient" into the arms of social services because they are feeling used or because they are told they are enablers. Here's a quick definition: "An enabler is a person who by their actions make it easier for an addict to continue their self-destructive behavior by criticizing or rescuing. The term codependency refers to a relationship where one or both parties enable the other to act in certain maladaptive ways. Many times, the act of the enabler satisfies a need for the codependent person because his or her actions foster a need from the other person or persons in the relationship." Frankly, I don't find these terms especially helpful and they can be potentially damaging.

  5. Oh, you're right Rossa, which is why I said I didn't want to be rude. This clinical sounding terminology can be used to distance people from each other - which is not good, and why I said I wouldn't dream of advising you to abandon your son. You are lucky to have one another...I was just trying to reassure you that if and when a time comes when you have to live separately, he will probably manage better than you think - although his path may be harder and I wouldn't wish that on him or anybody else. You are doing the right thing, and all the credit to you. And try not to worry, I am sure it will all turn out well. As you probably know - you were just thinking out loud on here, and I shouldn't have butted in! Louise x

  6. Louise, I am not at all offended in any way, shape or form by what you said, so you don't need to apologize. Really. Please don't muzzle yourself. Seriously. Now, have another great week-end!


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