Posted by: Jack Hope | Monday August 20, 2012

It’s Really Happening

Well, my ticket is in hand to go to Hamburg. Suddenly what has only been a theoretical has switched to being an actual reality, that in a little under a month I am going to be in Germany attending my friend Angela’s wedding.

I can’t tell you how excited and nervous I am at this prospect.

Excited for all of the obvious reasons, an opportunity for travel and to visit with an old and dear friend whom I haven’t had much contact with for a number of years. Travel has always been one of my greatest joys in life, one of the things that has lifted me up.

Nervous at the prospect of organizing a trip on my own and managing and coping over the course of it. I think I’ll be alright but there’s no denying that I feel a bit more fragile than I would prefer going into this venture.

I also had ‘the talk’ with my parents in regards to going on this trip.

I didn’t talk to them until I was sure I had a reasonable plan in place for financing and otherwise managing it. They’re being very supportive of the idea, which I have to admit I was a little surprised about.

Despite their support, I can’t help but feel irked about the entire experience. I’m an adult, 32 years old, and I should have been at best simply informing them of what I intended to do.

Instead I had to seek out their ‘consent’ on this matter.

It’s not that they could really have stopped me, although I suppose they could have informed me that if I intended to do this that they would no longer be providing me with the support they have been. They’re not the sort of people to do that.

Still, there was no denying that the conversation I had with them once again highlighted the lack of personal autonomy that I have at the moment, something that is all too often a common occurrence for people experiencing mental illness. The option to make my own decisions simply isn’t there in full because of my need for ongoing family support while I battle Clinical Depression.

Does this make me sound whiny and ungrateful? I don’t think so.

I am very grateful to my parents for all of their support. It’s been invaluable in getting through these last difficult months. I am still optimistic that I am on an upward trajectory, despite recent bumps in the road. And if that’s so a huge part of it will be due to the support of my parents.

It’s just incredibly frustrating for me, on so many levels that a lot of the decisions that I should be making for myself require at the very least their agreement that I can make the choice.

I can’t imagine what it’s like for people trapped in worse family or domestic situations.

And yet what are the alternatives? There have been points where I haven’t been capable of making rational decisions for myself, where someone else has had to step in to help me through something.

This is a happy time for me and I am very excited, but it has also once again reminded me of my current lack of personal autonomy, and of the issues all of the mentally ill face. Mine is just a small and trivial example of this issue.

For me, I am going to try to use this as motivation to get healthier, to move onto the next step of my recovery and re-claim my independence. Still though, I can’t help but wonder about those for whom that option doesn’t exist.

What of them?

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Responses

  1. Congrats Jack on getting the ticket. Wonderful news–I am really excited for you. I can’t wait to read about your travelling adventures in upcoming posts.

    I agree, the issue of dependency is a big one with mental illness… I think co-dependency on the part of the dependent as well. However, I think some form of dependency is common across all illnesses and of course, as we grow old.

    It is frustrating and demoralizing when you feel things should be different. I have struggled with this as I have gone from being dependent on my husband for a lot of my needs during illness to now only be dependent on him financially. And for me, this is the worse dependency of all.

    It is something I practice to accept or my life becomes hell. It is what it is, for right now.

    Yet I am able to envision a future where I am financially independent and take small steps towards that. I am grateful for that much right now. There may come a time again where full-out dependency is my only choice.

    This is my experience with dependency and what I have learned from it so far.

    • You bring up some good points on dependency. There’s healthy levels of inter-dependency in any family I think but its too easy for that to devolve into destructive dependency and power/control struggles.

      I think ideally a person’s family should be in part a person’s safety net (not that I’m letting government off the hook either, but that’s a whole other issue) when trouble hits. But the reality is that families are made up of people, just as imperfect as everyone else. Families that are fine most of the time can come to bits in a crisis. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve benefited from the fact that my parents had experience of helping my Uncle through the last year of his life. My prognosis remains considerably more optimistic.

      Still, one of my ‘medium term’ priorities is looking at establishing better contingency planning for myself in the even of another crisis. So I’m not completely dependent on others if something happens again. So I’m not as much of a burden again.

  2. Dear Jack,

    By the sounds of it, you’ve made a good start on reclaiming your independence already by making your trip REAL with the purchase of the ticket. 🙂

    Love Dotty xxx

    • A very big step indeed. And hopefully in that direction. Or at least a nice diversion from the whole Depression thing (I am so over that 😉

      Thanks for the support, my Internet community has really helped make this possible, by making me believe it could be done and that I wasn’t crazy for thinking it.


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