In 1942-1944 in Leningrad (now St.Petersburg) during the Nazi siege, a group of Russian botanists starved, some of them to death - surrounded by food. They weren't stupid, they were heroes - protecting the seeds for the next season of the next Russian cereal crop, because that's where it happened to be housed when the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union. They succeeded at the cost of their own wellbeing.

This true story of total self-sacrifice inspires me, and has influenced a decision. You see, I could, if I really wanted, have a new hip within a year. I could simply re-mortgage the house, get equity release, or maybe even a personal loan. But I won't. I won't even discuss it with anyone - except you lot on here. I will wait in the NHS queue with everyone else. Why? Because my life isn't about me - my agenda and purpose are about others.

My first priority is the care of my Missus, who is a paranoid schizophrenic - at least that's what I tell everyone. What she actually has is the related condition of Delusional Disorder. The difference is mainly that instead of hearing voices, she has paranoid ideas, that she perceives as reality, and has an unrealistic perception of her importance and abilities generally. But I really can't be bothered to continually explain this, not to mention it's upsetting to do so, so I just tell people she's a paranoid schizophrenic because people have heard of it and don't ask more questions.

Fortunately the condition is well-controlled, with a combination of drugs and a completely stress-free environment, where she can do what she likes, shop at M&S and generally enjoy life, with me as the sole part-time breadwinner, topped up by a half-pension from my professional days. Having got to this settled debt-free position, I really don't want to sacrifice it with a large debt around our necks and loan payments, limiting Missus lifestyle. I don't believe her robust enough to endure the consequent austerity consequences of borrowing 12-15 grand.

My second priority is my son. He's doing alright for himself - a well paid job in Shanghai living with his Chinese fiancée. The trouble is, he hates the country and his job. He wants to move back to the UK and start a family here - that requires A LOT of money and the end of the pandemic. It could all turn to ashes overnight. As it stands, we've got his back - in the worst case scenario, we could get him back here and give him a roof over his head which he will one day inherit. That won't be the case if we went for equity release. I don't want to take away that back stop from my son, at least until he definitely doesn't need it.

My Missus and son are blissfully ignorant of any of these options, and preoccupied, aren't asking any questions. I don't want them to. I don't want them guilt-tripping that they're not helping me. Both would, if pushed, readily sacrifice their security for me. But my agenda is them, not me. When you love someone, you'd much rather take a hit than watch them take it. Your own pain is easier to live with than theirs.


  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 27,719

    So many thousands starved to death in the siege of Leningrad! The botanists were brave and remained true to their life's work which, I guess, was a tiny fragment of compensation for them. Many people don't believe in pure altruism for that reason. There is always something in it, however small, for the 'altruist'. The thought used to quite shock me but, actually, I now think it's a more balanced understanding of the concept.

    I'm sincerely sorry about your wife's health problems. I know nothing at all about Delusional Disorder and my knowledge of schizophrenia is extremely limited. It seems, in sóme ways, to be an umbrella term where any difficult mental health problem is parked. I've known three diagnosed schizophrenics who had absolute zilch in common. The one who was closest to me was, prior to the onset, a beautiful person and an excellent wife and mother. After the disease, I really don't know how her husband coped. He joined a Carers' Group and he went, with Mr SW and friends, on a walking hoiday each year. His own mental health required it. 

    Perhaps your wife is not so ill but I would imagine that trying to provide someone else with 'a completely stress-free life' is one of the most stressful things one can aim for. I think, like our friend, you should take care of your own mental health too. But also, given my own experience of arthritis, I do feel a family is 'all in it together' and, if you shut yours out of your pain and difficulties, you essentially deny them what you say, at the end, is so important ie 'When you love someone, you'd much rather take a hit than watch them take it.' I totally agree about not re-distributing the pain but allowing those who love us to love us is absolutely essential. How about a family Zoom call?

    If at first you don't succeed, then skydiving definitely isn't for you.
    Steven Wright
  • Damned69
    Damned69 Member Posts: 55

    @stickywicket I keep in regular touch with my son, and I keep him fully in the loop, apart from the equity release option, so there is no communication issue. And I will this week be letting Missus loose with the mower after some tuition. I am unfortunately estranged from extended family - a whole other story!

    When an illness strikes you or a loved one, you rapidly become an expert in it! I've learned more about Physiology in six weeks than I previously knew in a lifetime! Similarly I'm an expert in psychotic disorders - but that's wandering off topic.

    Rest assured I will reach out for help when I need it. I can handle a long wait (for now). I prefer that to compromising my son's security or my wife's wellbeing.