Tag Archives: Marriage

Fifty Years From Now

In the future… This is this week’s prompt from Finish the Sentence Friday. The future could be next week or next month or next year or fifty years from now. As I am currently in a bit of an anxious mood regarding my physical health, I am more than aware of my finite existence here on earth. This however also got me to buy a book, really to distract myself but it ties in nicely with the theme, about women who survived breast cancer twenty to fifty years past diagnosis. (No, I don’t think I have breast cancer.) Even though I am not the healthiest person in the world, it is very well possible that I’ll live for fifty more years. For this post, I am going to pretend I am 79 and look back at my life.

It is currently 2066. I am 79. I have lived a much longer life than as a twentysomething I expected to. There have been many times I thought I wouldn’t live for another year. Yet here I am in old age.

I look back on a happy marriage with my husband. We have been living in our home in the tiny village for fifty years. When the housing corporation wanted to get rid of it and my husband earned enough money, we bought the house. It now has a bathtub, which was pretty much the only thing I wanted to get added to its interior fifty years ago. Of course, now that I’m old and my mobility is failing, I can’t use it anymore.

I look back on a nice volunteering career for myself. In fact, I still volunteer. I am a language-learning buddy for an immigrant, just like my grandma was when she was my age. I haven’t earned any sort of royal recognition, but that could be because I changed volunterring careers so often I can’t say I’ve served a particular community for long enough. nO, that was a joke. If I live for another twenty years, five months and twelve days, I’ll meet the mayor because of my 100th birthday. I do plan to live that long now that I got this far, just like my grandma did, only without the cognitive decline please.

Speaking of fame though, I did get some international recognition by publishing my memoir. It wasn’t titled Some Former Preemies Will Go to University after all, because that title was ironic, referring to my lack of successful college studies. As it turned out, I did earn a college degree. It was in language and cultural studies at the university I tried studying linguistics at too. The same professor still taught the intro to linguistics class that I had completed half of just before I ended up in the psychiatric hospital in 2007. Since I didn’t go to graduate school, my sister is still the only one of our generation to have earned a Master’s degree. I don’t care about that graduate degree though, as I mostly studied for the fun of it and to prove myself that I could. After graduating, I now regularly attend sit-in classes in education, psychology and sociology. My heart’s still with the social sciences, but I still can’t do statistics.

I just mentioned the psychiatric hospital. It’s a place I’d rather not revisit. Its treatment methods have “advanced” to a level worse than they were 100 years ago. Instead of getting a sembleance of care, psychiatric patients are just drugged into submission. We have better psychiatric drugs now, at least by the sane population’s standards. There are more of them too and much more people taking them, whether they want it or not. Unfortunately, the neurodiversity and mad pride movements are dead now. The curebies got their way. I can’t say society is a better place for it.

Technolgy has evolved quite a bit in the last fifty years, obviously. I can now easily take pictures with a camera that gives me spoken directions. Oh, this probably doesn’t sound that advanced to my 29-year-old self, but it opened quite the world to me. There are great imaging tools that work with screen readers now. Still doesn’t sound advanced, but I lost pace with technology several decades ago. Even though I was pretty tech savvy as a teen, I was quite a bit behind fifty years ago already, let alone now. Thankfully, I did learn to use a smartphone or I would’ve lost track much sooner than I did. My husband still keeps pace with technology, of course. He’s 77 now and “drives” an autonomous car. He didn’t like it at first, but now that he’s getting old himself, he finds it quite relaxing.

As I look back to 2016, I’m glad I made the choices I made that year. It took more than just 2016 to get physically healthy, but I did set my first steps in the right direction. I also finally left the psychiatric institution. As I said, it isn’t a nice place now, so I’m so glad I left before it deteriorated. Besides, if I hadn’t, I might not have lived this life with my husband.

Success

One of last year’s NaBlPoMo prompts for January challenges us to write about a time we were particularly successful at achieving your goals. Since I always made long lists of new yer’s and birthday goals each year, far too long to keep up with, I never succeeded at keeping my resolutions. That doesn’t mean I’ve never been successful. Today, I’m sharing some ways in which I’ve been successful in life.

1. Education. It may’ve been over ten years ago, but I am still proud of the fact that I earned a hig level high school diploma from a mainstream school. I am prouder now that I know most people don’t attach expectations of my current functioning to it. I mean, when I had just fallen apart in 2007, at every phone call to my family, if I wasn’t moaning about my crisis state, or even if I was, I’d be asked when I was going to find myself a job. Now that it’s pretty much known that I won’t find myself a job anytime soon, or most likely anytime, I can celebrate my successful education as the achievement it was. It shows that, deep down, I have some perseverance. Sometimes I credit my parents for this, but it was I who wrote in my journal, a month into high school, that I hated it but regardless I wanted to complete this level of education.

2. Blogging. I still have a blog post in the works about why blindness sucks sometimes, and one of the reasons is I can’t seem to compete on equal footing with sighted people in the visually-driven world of social media. The thing is, I am still a pretty successful blogger, because I’ve been able to keep up a blog for nearly 2 1/2 years now (and four years with my old one). I also get a fair bit of interaction from my blog. Most of all, I do what I love and I love what I do with regards to blogging. I don’t get more joy (or traffic) from posts that have pictures in them than from those that don’t. I think, in a sense, of course I am not a great blogger in the bigger scheme of things, but I’m much more successful now than I was with my old blog.

3. Relationships. I often credit my husband for our successful marriage, but of course, it comes from both direcitons. I can say that one of only a few borderline personality disorder traits I don’t have is disloyalty in relationships. It feels a bit narcissistic to chalk this up as a success, because ideally no-one is unfaithful. I could go on to chalk up the whole fact of my marriage as a success, but that sounds even worse. Then again, this whole post could be seen as a bit self-centered. Let me just say my husband is hugely successful at keeping me as his wife, too. Oh crap, that sounds horrible.

4. Little things in life. I remember once getting an assignment for reading comprehension in like fourth grade about a kid who was in regular education and his brother, a special ed kid with intellectual disabilities. It was said that this brother was successful if he tore a piece of paper. This is of course ahuge stereotype of people with intellectual disabilities, but I mean it to illustrate that success can be found in little things. Like my blogging success, my success in many other areas is relative. I can make coffee with some help. I can put my dry laundry into the closet. I can clean my desk if reminded of it. These could be seen as just as useless to a non-disabled person as tearing a piece of paper. So what?

In this category also fall the daily successes that people without disabilities should also be celebrating. For example, I spent fifteen minutes on the elliptical today and have been exercising four out of six days this year so far. Celebrating this daily success can help us stay focused on the positive and reach our long-term goals. What have you been successful at today?

The Best Decision of My Life

Today I heard about a type of journal where you get a question for every day of the year and answer it each year for five consecutive years. It unfortunately is a paper journal and there is no eBook version or website for the questions. I however heard that one of the questions the person writing about this found the most inspiring was: “What was the best decision you ever made?” I find this question inspiring too so am going to answer it on my blog.

I’m going to be pretty selfish here. I mean, I should of course say the best decision I ever made was to marry my husband. Maybe I’ll answer that next year, when I’ve lived with him for a while. I hope so. This year, however, I’m going to choose a decision that was hardly a conscious decision. I mean the decision, in 2007, to allow the crisis service psychiatrist to hospitalize me.

I wonder what it says about me that this came to mind first, rather than the decision to marry my husband or to enter in a romantic relationship with him. I’m a bit afraid it means I’m not fully ready to see myself as a wife first and a psych patient only after that. I have to be honest, after all, that when my staff push me regarding going to live with my husband, I still say I have no other options and only then say that I of course want to be with my husband. I for clarity’s sake don’t mean this to say that I don’t want to be with my husband most of the time. Instead, I use these phrases to counter the staff’s assertion that I choose to enter independent living. I never chose independent living, I chose to be with my husband, and part of the reason I’m going to live with my husband in our new house in the tiny village is no other options have come up.

My relationship with my husband obviously means a lot to me, and I don’t think I’d be remotely as happy as I am now without him. But without being hospitalized, I’d be off a lot worse. Never mind the fact that my husband most likely wouldn’t have pursued a relationship with me had I not been hospitalized.

My hospitalization, frankly, allowed me a chance to live. I know, I most likely wouldn’t have died by suicide had I not been hospitalized. Even though back then was the darkest time of my life and I seriously contemplated suicide, I know in hindsight that I didn’t have the means to take my own life. I also would most likely not have died by any other means if I hadn’t been hospitalized. In this sense, was my hospitalization maybe not necessary? I don’t know, but it certainly gave me a chance to live rather than merely survive. This is why consenting to psychiatric hospitalization was the best decision of my life.

Seven Things

Last week, one of Friday Reflections’ prompts was to list seven things about yourself. I was at my parents’ for the week-end, where the desk I had my computer on was uncomfortably high. I also I had a hard time concentrating with my parents, husband, sister and her boyfriend in the room. For this reason, I didn’t write a post this week-end. (On Friday, I attended a concert so didn’t have the time to blog at all.) I’m still not very inspired today, so I just choose to use last Friday’s prompt. Here are seven keywords that describe me.

1. Preemie. Last week was World Prematurity Day, so I just got to choose “preemie” as my first descriptive word. I was born a little over three months premature in 1986. I was very lucky to have been born in the city of what I believe is the oldest children’s hospital of the Netherlands and even luckier that the Netherlands is a developed country with good health care. Read this article on Preemie Babies 101 to find out more about preemie care in developing countries. This made me realize how fortunate I am.

2. Intelligent. This is the first thing my parents would say if they had to describe me, or at least it was when I grew up. When I was twelve, my verbal IQ was measured at 154 (my performance IQ cannot be measured because I’m blind). This means I may be intellectually gifted. At least, Mensa considers a verbal IQ of over 130 to suffice for membership if you’re blind. Yes, I did at one point consider joining Mensa.

3. Blind. Okay, let’s start the collection of disability labels here. I am blind. I have always been legally blind and have been practically totally blind since age eighteen, although I still keep noticing that my vision can get better or worse. I notice even tiny changes that are not measureable by ophthalmologists. I am clasified as having light perception only and have been classfied as such ever since 2004, but I still use the tiny bit of vision I have for orientation sometimes. Maybe I shouldn’t, but I can’t shut it off.

4. Autistic. And possibly otherwise neurodiverse. I wasn’t diagnosed with autism till age twenty but suspected it from age twelve on. My parents didn’t want to hear of it, so after they voiced thir strong disapproval of my “hypochondriasis”, I pretended I was completely neurotypical. I failed, of course. Even though my autism diagnosis has been questioned a few times, most professionals are sure that I’m not neurotypical.

5. Mentally ill. After all, I have a mental health diagnosis. I am not one of those neurodiversity activists who believe that a psychiatric disorder is completely separate from a neurodevelopmental disorder. That distinction is, in my opinion, entirely political. I however do sometimes wish I didn’t have the diagnosis of borderline personality disorder, but that’s because BPD is one of the more stigmatized mental health diagnoses.

6. Blogger. I have been a blogger since 2007 (or 2002, if you count my online diaries that have been republished on my old blog). I don’t like to be associated with my old blogs though. I have this idea in my mind that I need to blog regularly or i need to start over and not associate with my old blog at all. It’s really surprising that this blog has been active for over two years, because I’ve started and restarted my Dutch blogs half a dozen times in the last year.

7. Wife. I don’t like this word, although I do like to refer to my husband as such. It’s probably because, in Dutch, the word “wijf”, which sounds like “wife”, is an insult for a woman. I always feel that the word “wife” sounds slightly submissive. However, I like being my husband’s wife.

When I’d Grow Up…

Last Friday when I was at my parents’, we had a long discussion. We often do. My sister was frustrated that she still doens’t have a “real” job at 27. Neither do I at 29, but it doesn’t frustrate me as much unless others are talking about how much of a failure they are for not having a “real” (or “real” enough) job. After all, we measure what we want to achieve by what the people around us (want to) achieve.

My sister is the only memeber of my family with a college degree. Nonetheless, my father attended college and my mother would’ve wanted to attend post-secondary education at least, which she never got the opportunity for. Therefore, it was instilled in me that I need to achieve. I knew at an early age that I was later going to a high level high school and maybe even university. When I was twelve and starting secondary education, I wanted to be a mathematician or a linguist when I grew up.

It hadn’t always been this way. When I was in Kindergarten, probably I wanted to be a princess or a Mommy like every other girl in my class. Starting by first grade however, I wanted to be a writer and I continued to want to be a writer far into high school.

My parents did of course tell me that you couldn’t make a lviing out of writing, so I had various other aspirations throughout school. For the longest time, I wanted to be a teacher, switching form elementary education when I was myself in elementary school to various secondary subjects when I was in high school to finally wanting to be a college professor when I’d finished high school. I did have some bad thoughts about burning out while teaching and landing on disability, but never quite gave into these thoughts.

I also for a long time wanted to get married and start a family. When I was an adolescent, I for a while thought I was a lesbian. I can’t remember what I thought regarding marriage and children at that time. Of course, gay couples have been able to legally marry since 2001 here in the Netherlands, but this was the same time when I thought (as it turns out correctly) that I was on the autism spectrum. I thought this meant (as it turns out incorrectly) that autistics didn’t marry, so probably neither would I. In fact, I didn’t give a long-term relationship much thought until it happened with my husband.

As it turns out, I did study linguistics for a bit in 2007 and was planning on becoming a scientist in this field. It never worked out. Obviously, I never even attempted to become a teacher. I am however somewhat of a writer now, having had my first piece published in a book last June. I am also of course married and happily so!

Mama’s Losin’ It

Everyday Gyaan

Ten Achievements of the Past Decade

Today in Blog Everyday in May, the prompt is to list ten achievements of the past ten years. Now I already did my 28 Before 28 post in February, so it’s an extra challenge not to repeat myself. I am just going to write, and if I don’t get to ten, well, screw it.

1. Graduated from high school. This happened just shy of a decade ago. I am not particularly proud of myself for graduating, probably because my parents were super over the top proud of me and I still can’t let go of a little parent-defying. I forgot most of what I learned in high school anyway.

2. Learned to clean and cook semi-independently. I went to an independence training home for the disabled in 2006 and 2007, where I learned many skilsl ncessary for independent living. I lost most of these skills again, but the fact that I learned them once, makes me confident that I can relearn them.

3. Overcame a mental crisis. It surprises me that, in the 28 Before 28 list, though I did include my diagnoses, I didn’t include the actual achievement of overcoming the darkest of aspects of mental illness. In all honesty, and I hope this doesn’t get me kicked out of care before I’m ready, I can say I’m much better able to cope than I was back when I was first hospitalized in 2007.

4. Finished two Open University psychology courses with a passing grade. IN 28 Before 28, I did mention that I took five courses in total, but the achievement of passing two of them in 2009 was largely overshadowed by the fact of the three that I didn’t pass.

5. Was able to let go of some of the darker trauma-based emotions and perceptions. As regular readers might know, I’m a childhood trauma survivor, which largely came to the surface when I was at my old rehabilitation unit in 2010. Though I got no evidence-based treatment for PTSD or dissociation, through a lot of talking and some work done on my own, I overcame most of the classic PTSD symptoms. I still have attachment issues, emotion regulation difficulties, etc., but I am confident that I will overcome the debilitating effects of these too.

6. Got married. I don’t usually credit myself for our relationship success, but then again it’s a mutual effort I guess, so I should deserve half the credit. If not, then well, I’m still happy I got married, so this fact still belongs here!

7. Started and restarted yoga. I took yoga classes in 2009 or 2010, but eventually quit because the emotions it brought on were too overwhelming. I recetnly restarted and am becoming quite successful at basic poses and exercises.

8. Was able to participate in group recreational therapy. In my old institution, I used to get individual day activities only. Due to budget cuts, I couldn’t get these for a long while in my current institution so I tried the day activity group. It’s still quite hard, but I can at least usually keep up.

9. Was able to enter the recovery stage with regards to my eating disorder. That is, I comletely stopped purging and recently was able to reduce my binge eating significantly too. I gained lots of weight in the past decade and have only started losing it again little by little over the past couple of months, but at least I’m improving. I also haven’t self-harmed in a few months, but that has not been a conscious effort as much.

10. Am generally much happier than I was ten years ago. This pretty much sums up all of my achievements. I didn’t earn the Ph.D. or get the high-profile job I thought I envisioned for myself ten years ago, but so what? I’m generaly less angry, less hostile and also less anxious than I was in 2005. I’m still not the shiniest example of positivity on the planet, but I’m trying to keep a positive outlook, and that’s what matters!

Found Love. Now What?
The List

Moving On: Moving in With My Husband, Maybe

As regular readers will know, I reside in a psychiatric institution and have since 2007. Originally, the psychiatrist who admitted me did foresee that it would not just be crisis intervention – getting me to sleep better and pop out of my suicidal thoughts. In addition, we’d need to find a suited supported housing placement to move me to from the psychiatric hospital, because I’d ended up in a crisis from having to live on my own. It just didn’t happen. No suitable supported housing place could be found and, more than seven years on, I’m still residing on a psychiatric unit.

When my now husband became my boyfriend and then my husband, several times the thought of us living together crossed our minds. He usually was the one asking me whether I’d consider living with him. I had my reservations, because I didn’t know I’d be able to cope when he’d be at college or later at work. Also, I didn’t want him to take on a carer role, as we’re supposed to be husband and wife not carer and patient.

I still believe my husband isn’t my carer, but he keeps telling me that even though he does more for me practically than I do for him, what I give him in love amounts to the same. Since I moved to the small town institution in 2013 and my husband had moved to the next town in late 2012, we’ve been closer together than ever before.

There have been a few reasons why I started considering moving in with my husband again late last year. First is my difficult relationship with the nursing staff at my current unit, so that I ended up calling my husband when in a crisis situation rather than enlisting the staff’s help anyway. The staff have on at least one occasion refused to come out to help me when I had run off the ward in a crisis state, and my husband had to come to collect me and get me back to the ward. Of course, this isn’t his job, but when the staff don’t do theirs, someone’s got to do it.

Secondly, it’s become increasingly hard for me to function in a group setting with increasingly little staff support and more severely ill fellow patients. I do know I cause trouble to the other patients too, so this is in no way meant to insult them. I just didn’t choose to live with them, and I do choose my husband to be my husband and hopefully can choose to live with him. Of course, after all, amidst all the practicalities, I love my husband and would very much like to be with him most of the time.

So I called my social worker in December to schedule an appointment to discuss the possibilities of me getting home support while living with my husband. The laws changed significantly at the start of this year, so I had some worries. The appointment was yesterday.

First, one of the main things that absolutely need to be in place for me to live with my husband is an out-of-hours support service that I can call when in an emergency when my husband is at work. They will need to be able to send a support worker to my home should I need in-home support. The area supported housing organization for the mentally ill provides these services, but probably not in my husband’s town. My social worker will look into this.

Additional needs are some day activities for me and possibly a bit of scheduled home support for establishing a daily structure. Thankfully, we won’t need housekeeping, as most local governments have cut out funding for that unless you’re extremely poor.

I told my husband about the social worker’s answers to my questions, which weren’t particularly concrete yet as she’s got to ask the government about what they’ll fund and search around for a suitable support agency. My husband was totally cool, as he said he’s willing to relocate should the right services not be available in his current town. He doesn’t particularly like his town anyway, but I suggested moving to this area because of what I thought were good services. Maybe I was wrong on that.

I am trying to be optimistic that I will be able to live with my husband sometime in the not too distant future. I’ll keep hoping for a positive outcome!

Post Comment Love

The Twisted Twenties

Second Blooming

When the topic for this week’s spin cycle was announced, I was immediately interested. The topic is “aging”. Ginny Marie over at Lemon Drop Pie came up with the topic when she learned about the average age mothers gave birth to their first child. It is 29 here in the Netherlands, so Ginny Marie and her co-host Gretchen were significantly older than that. As I’ve written before, I’d always thought I’d have my first child at 27. This obviously didn’t come true. Now rest assured, I’m not going to write about childlessness again, if for no other reason, then only because my family is going to think I’m pregnant.

Instead, I want to write about the looming idea of aging when you’re relatively young. I’m going to be 28 next month. However, I feel much older at times.

I’ve always had this feeling. When I was nine, I worried about needing to leave the parental house when I’d turn eighteen. This feeling of doom continued to haunt me until I was in my early twenties. In 2008, it was at its worst. I was convinced that I wouldn’t make it to the end of the year. I had my reasons for this, but most were completely outrageous and irrational.

Being in your twenties is interesting. It may be that most people in the online world are in their twenties, as I see no communities specifically for those my age. I’m too old for the teen communities or even the college communities, but I am still so significantly under 30 that I can’t get myself into communities catering even loosely to the over-30.

I remember when I was around fourteen reading an artilce in a youth magazine about college students and their identity crises: they’re too old to be protected by their parents, but too young for buying a house, marriage or children. I am older than all young adults quoted in the article that I remember, but I still feel this way at times, even though I got married at the rather young age of 25.

Now that I’m approaching age 30 (or at least, am close to my late twenties), I can feel the ticking of time again. I don’t have the feeling that I’ll die young anymore, but I do realize that it’s about time I get a life. And there, sadness sets in, as I may never have the life I planned for myself when I was young.

What Does Unconditional Love Mean?

On the World of Psychology blog, Eve Hogan wrote an interesitng article about unconditional love. This article got me thinking about the attitude we have towards people who harmed us, and the attitude people we harmed have to us. It is often thought that family members and spouses unconditionally love each other, but what if a parent becomes abusive towards their child, a child towards their parents, or one spouse towards the other?

Hogan says that spouses and family members love each other unconditionally with their hearts, but do not necessarily and should not accept everything their child, parent or spouse does to them. I can relate to this in my personal life, having grown up in a family that loved me with their hearts but did not accept everything I did. I still struggle with this, having a hard time distinguishing conditional love from accepting the person but not the behavior.

Hogan says that spouses really should view their vows as saying that they will love each other with their hearts no matter what, but will only stay together so long as the other doesn’t become irresponsible with money or time, doesn’t lie and doesn’t cheat. This leaves a lot of room for unlikeable behavior which doesn’t warrant a divorce. Similarly the integrity agreement Hogan discusses with teens only mentions not harming their family (or anyone, for that matter). This is where I struggle. I do know that setting limits on unlikeable but relatively harmless behavior such as laziness regarding schoolwork, is okay. This is quite different from not accepting the child or teen into the family home.

There is a grey area, especially with teens and young adults, where parents can decide their child’s life is no longer their responsibility. In this sense, there is a difference between unconditional love and unconditional caretaking. I know that married spousess and parents of children or teens under eighteen (or 21, in some situations) have a duty of care, but, once spouses divorce or children reach age eighteen, unconditional love becomes quite another thing than catering to each other’s needs no matter what.

Love Survives Mental Illness

Over at Bipolar Mom Life, there’s a great post for Valentine’s day on love surviving mental illness. This is a very powerful story. Unlike in my case, the author had not become mentally ill yet when she got married. Then again, with mental illness being unpredictable, it isn’t like my husband knew what to exppect when we started dating or even when we got married in 2011. IN fact, I didn’t know what to expect. Until roughly a year ago, we were expecting to go live together within the foreseeable future. We still hope to one day live together, of course.

Love does not always survive mental illness. In fact, love does not always survive the test of time, with around 40 percent of marriages failing in general. Then again, according to an article in BP magazine, 90 percent of marriages in which one partner has bipolar disorder, end in divorce. I bet that with borderline personality disorder, this percentage is at least as high.

There are several obstacles to a successful marriage for someone with BPD. There are of course those characteristics that are inherent in the disorder – higher risk of infidelity, aggression, idealizing and devaluing, etc. There are also problems that are not necessarily inherent in the condition, but which are more likely to occur due to the dynamics of partners not only being partners, but also having the patient or carer role. I cannot go into detail about this, but I want to warn mentally ill people who are in a relationship that their partner is their partner first, may be their carer second, and is not their therapist.