Friday, March 29, 2013

Broken Relationships

Some relationships are robust vessels and weather many a storm without concern.  Others are fragile and easily break apart or lose their balance in the onslaught of experience.  Among the fragile ones are those of youth, when the bond is a shared experiment when neither partner has the experience to steer and batten down the hatches.  These tend to have a rapid, painful passing, moving on to the next pairing with relative ease.

Far more destructive than these is the class of relationships with and between the mentally ill.  One or both partners actually have a broken relationship in many ways with themselves and it is extraordinary when pairing with another can truly succeed.  It is almost like trying to create a construction bond between parts using some form of cement while one or both of the parts is constantly in chaotic motion.  It is generally the healthier partner that eventually separates for their own survival, but the wounds often last well beyond that point.

I am careful on this blog to not point to individuals in my close experience as examples, especially in such a way that they might read my writings and be hurt.  Nonetheless, I have had several examples around me that are still being dealt with in a myriad of ways.

Some are aware of the difficulty they present in the care they require, but none are fully aware of the cost to others.  Of course, which of us is aware of that?  Two should probably be under institutional care.  Our society is taking less and less institutional responsibility for mental health care and trying to shift the burden to families.  The result is often financial failure coming from fixing all that the ill destroy or the cost of the medicine they require.  It can also lead to physical abuse and in one case in our family ultimately led to murder.  The end destination of many of these people is now prison, which is not really equipped to deal with mental illness.

The problem is achingly real and the questions it raises for those involved are some of the most difficult and ambiguous they will ever face.  I venture to say that not a one of my readers has fully escaped this challenge.  Have you?

This topic was brought to the Loose Blogger Consortium by Ramana.  His link and others of the LBC are available on the right hand side of the page.  Find writers and thinkers all, I encourage you to see what their views on this topic are.


  1. When you're up to your ample ass in aligators it is tough to remember the objective is to drain the swamp.

    Everyone knows it costs too much to care for the mentally ill so that cost should be born by individual families, 80-90% experiencing financial ruin in the process. Our attitude toward mental health as a nation is a disgrace. Our state & national governments are an embarasment.

  2. "Our attitude toward mental health as a nation is a disgrace."

    I would correct shackman here, and say that our attitude toward mental health across the globe is a disgrace. Big time!

  3. @shackman

    This problem cannot be pushed under the rug, nor should it, even if it could. I am disappointed in our collective attitudes toward the problem.

  4. @Grannymar

    You have a better handle on the European attitude toward mental health than either shackman or me. We just see the willful ignorance on our side of the pond and know it is wrong!

  5. I totally agree about the mentally ill. There really is no good place for them in our society. I have a couple of mentally ill brothers in law. One of them is living on the streets because he can't function in a normal living environment. He lived with us for awhile, but the burden on our family was great. He really needs to be institutionalized, but the law won't force him to do that. This is an issue that really needs to be resolved.

  6. @Delirious

    People with the knowledge and credentials need to get together with the people with the power and hammer out some solutions and the rest of us need to listen when they do. I am not holding my breath, because it doesn't seem to be enough of a priority.

  7. Fos you know what will happen -hands rasies skyward, shoulders shrugged and " ho will pay for it?" asked. There it will lie. Too much experience to expect any different and to this day I remember some chilling tales from you & Lady Fos while having dinner at our condo one night.

  8. @shackman

    Unfortunately, I agree with you totally. I was working at a mental health facility in San Francisco when Reagan came into office and cut the funds. The destruction was dramatic and many places simply did not survive.

    And, yes, those were scary times and I was glad we were recounting our past.

  9. Very interesting approach to a difficult topic and the discussion in the comments is as interesting. Let me not beat around the bush. Mental illnesses unless they cover addiction too, is just one part of the story. Physical illnesses where the individual is incapable of contributing to the relationship too is not being discussed here. In India, the culture still demands that the family take care of these problems and I have had personal experience of all three varieties of illnesses affecting relationships. So much so that I recently told someone without even having to think about it that 12 years of my life at a time when it was at its productive peak just passed me by, leaving me to catch up with developments 12 years older and that much less able to cope with the physical challenges involved.

    Normal human beings pay a price one way or the other in such circumstances. By that I mean that it does not seem to affect heartless people who abandon difficult situations whereas people who stick on pay a high emotional and physical price for the experience. This is so even where the state takes over the care as the guilt never quite leaves one.

    These observations form part of the logic for my conviction that we do not really live our lives. Our lives are being lived for us.

  10. These observations form part of the logic for my conviction that we do not really live our lives. Our lives are being lived for us.

    Perhaps we simply do not have the courage to take the heartless approach. I am about to match your number of years lost and am not nearly as magnanimous about it as you. I am rapidly becoming bitter as hell and angrier by the day. I'm not sure it will pass this time.

  11. @Rummuser

    This post chose to focus on only one factor that can break a relationship, mental illness, because this is the issue that is prevalent at one level in my experience right now. Clearly, there are many other illnesses, physical and social, and misunderstandings of various kinds that can lead to fractured bonds. When it is family, it is particularly onerous, for it doesn't really go away and it cannot leave a person untouched.

    I don't have it leading me to the feeling that our lives are being lived for us, but neither am I disagreeing. If my life is being lived for me, whatever or whoever is living it is not concerned with that right now. Then again, I don't really know the full dimensions of what you are implying by that and it sounds like a very interesting topic. It will need to wait for another time for me, though, for I am trying to noodle out the best solution to a very complex situation in the midst of other occupying issues.

  12. @shackman

    I've become increasingly impressed with your depth and honesty of self-reflection. Our former lives and occupations did not lead to this type of sharing. My concern is that your situation is so extreme, painful and seemingly totally unfair that I don't know how a man can deal with it. Hopefully, communication with others helps even though nothing solves or cures.

    1. Fos I suspect our former lives and occupations might have had led here had we managed to stay in closer contact as we are seemingly kindred spirits of a sort. As to the fairness of my situation - well life's a bitch and then you die. Why not me? I'd rather win the lottery but that has never happened either. Communication with others helps but there is a fear as they find more they'll run for cover. That has happened here. It's part of the anger - along with the simple fact that my dark side conceals a very serious temper I've kept under wraps most of my life. And being constantly told I need to effing die by the one to whom I provide the care and the more than occasional violence directed my way feeds into it. Yes I realize that's just part of HD - just like striking out with the bases loaded is part of baseball. It still pissed me off thoroughly.

    2. Makes sense to me. It seems like about the best you can do is find the friends that WON'T go hide and get it out with them. A man has to have some people he can pour anything out to unfiltered.

      I'd like to think I'm one of those friends. Of course, if you start swinging, I might look for cover. But then, I'd do that for your fastball!

    3. You are - as are GM and Ramana - those kind of friends


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