Less Than Perfect Love Story


Less Than Perfect Love Story

Submitted by:
Diana Ann

It might not have been a “perfect” relationship, but it was good enough for them and has carried them through the many challenges that life has to offer.

Mental disorders can bring much difficulties to a family, especially for couples or a partner with some mental condition. The healthy partner might bill out and call it quits.

My parents have been married for almost 50 years. The commitment they have binds them together despite my Mom’s mental condition. From this I learned, a less than perfect relationship is actually good enough for them.

My mom had her first breakdown when I was 12 years old. It happened so suddenly that it felt almost like my family was struck by lightning. The loving mother I knew, the one who gave the best to her children had become unfamiliar to us overnight. We still have no clue what caused her mental breakdown that eventually was diagnosed as schizophrenia by the doctor. The doctor said there can be no clear explanation for what happened. Even experts cannot offer answers as such. Scientifically, it was often linked to genes.

Despite the challenges, my dad continued to provide for the family, making sure that we were well provided for and that we could live our lives just as normal as possible. My younger brother was only 8 years old. There were no support groups back then. Psycho education or coping skills for caregivers were unheard of. Even then, I remembered that during the early stages of my mom’s condition, my dad would buy her “ice kachang” when she refused to take her medication. He would pass the sweet dessert through the window and I would help use it to douse the medication so that mother could take it. In his own way, my dad was coping and managing my mom’s condition in his own creative way. But it worked and went on for nearly a year. I thank God that my mom was not diabetic.

This went on for 20-30 years. My dad would faithfully take my mom to see her doctor. He never once complained or wanted the treatment to stop. Eventually, it became a routine for my mom to see the psychiatrist and to take her medicine. She would let us know if she ran out of medication and she would remind us about her medical appointments.

My mom has not suffered any relapses for many years now. Today, she is independent when it comes to her medication and in some way motivated to resume live to a normal functioning family. My dad was diagnosed with early stages of dementia about a year ago. It seems to me the role of the caregiver has been switched from dad to mom. My mom now would guide him and help him cope with his failing memory. I think as a couple, my parents have become interdependent, looking out for each other as they age together, coping with their own mental conditions.

It might not have been a “perfect” relationship, but it was good enough for them and has carried them through the many challenges that life has to offer.

In my opinion, the reason for people to take on the role of a caregiver may vary. In the end, the reason may be as simple as unconditional love. Sometimes unique and difficult for science to explain, but real, nontheless.

Diana Ann
Caregiver leader

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