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How I Fell in Love with a Schizophrenic
January 1, 2013 12:39 PM   Subscribe

Kas Thomas writes about his "all-in" relationship with Sally, a woman diagnosed with schizophrenia. Yesterday, my true love, Sally, had a psychotic break and went into the (mental) hospital, where she'll probably be for the next two weeks. Today, I'm writing as a means of therapy. Therapy for me. I knew going into this relationship that it would entail ups and downs, and hard work...

Our meeting was the fluke of the century. I happened to be scrounging around on Craigslist one day looking for a furniture item. Sally happened to be on Craigslist looking for pet supplies. On a lark, I posted a personals ad, something I'd never done (on Craigslist). It was a short ad, maybe three or four sentences total. The heading was something goofy like "Intelligent guy looking for sharp gal."
posted by winecork (86 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
Sounds like a good man. I hope they last.
posted by dazed_one at 12:52 PM on January 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


A lovely read. Thanks for posting.
posted by wittgenstein at 12:55 PM on January 1, 2013


Best of luck to them!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:55 PM on January 1, 2013


I totally popped over to craigslist, just for a minute, just in case.
posted by greta simone at 1:05 PM on January 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Love and mental illness is tough, tough, tough.
posted by infinitewindow at 1:05 PM on January 1, 2013 [27 favorites]


I tend to be a bit of a cynic when it comes to people discussing their relationships in swoony terms, because the real test of a relationship isn't how great it is when it's great, but how well you address it, and what sort of tools you have to address it, when it ain't. This fellow is obviously a romantic, but he also seems unusually clear-eyed and committed even during the rough patches -- which, thanks to the specific circumstances of his relationship, are especially and unusually rough.

It sounds as though both have excellent qualities -- he certainly articulated hers with great detail, which is always nice to see somebody be able to do for somebody they love. And both know precisely what they are dealing with, and aren't kidding themselves or each other. All this gives me great hope, as I don't really want to be a cynic about such things. Everybody deserves somebody in their life who loves and supports them when things get rough. But deserving don't mean having, and so all I can do in this new year is wish them the very best, and hope that the times when the relationship is at its best are the most common times of all, even during the times that are hardest.

Hell, I wish that for all of us.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:09 PM on January 1, 2013 [34 favorites]


I feel a little sick reading this. I hope it works out better than I fear, but in my experience these just never ever work out.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:10 PM on January 1, 2013 [14 favorites]


What, an intelligent person wouldn't fall in love with someone with serious mental issues? A prudent person wouldn't, probably, but I am not sure what intelligence has to do with it.

I was a bothered by his sharing of her details rather than his own. I don't know what their arrangement is, so I can't really judge, but it seems to me that her story is not his story to tell, and he tells us a lot more about her situation than his own. I would have been more interested in how he deals with his situation. I have been in relationships (romantic and otherwise) with people with drug problems and mental heath issues, and they are somewhat the same, since, in both cases, the addiction and the condition will always be more important than you, and learning to live with that is hard. A post about how he feels and adapts to a complex and often painful situation would have been riskier but more honest than this.

Also, he seems to be deeply invested in telling a fable of "all-in" love. If you are going to be in a successful relationship with someone with a frequently "at odds with the world" worldview, it's best that you have a clear vision of reality, both your partners or your own. Meeting fable with fable is not a recipe for "happily ever after."

So, I wish them both the best, but this unnerved me more than gave me a nice glowing feeling inside.
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:11 PM on January 1, 2013 [58 favorites]


Love and mental illness is tough, tough, tough.

Love is a mental illness.
posted by Nomyte at 1:27 PM on January 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm sure he has good intentions in mind, but I found the whole blog post to be very off-putting and it made me really uncomfortable to read. Perhaps I'm cynical or maybe I don't understand his sense of humor (was he being serious or sarcastically ironic in the Craigslist bit?)...And I would keep this opinion to myself, but I really do wonder if I'm alone on this and stand to be corrected (or perhaps just need a hug)? Or if other people are picking up on the squicky bits too?

I was particularly bothered by this photo caption "This is as much of Sally as I can show without triggering her paranoia." I get that he is wild about her and that's great, but there's something here that seems a bit objectifying, and exoticizing her and her condition. Not to mention that, if she has these triggers, then why post ANY photo of her at all? And why publicly blog about her struggles? Lastly, why does he not frame his post with some context, letting the readers know that his girlfriend is aware of the blog, ok with it, something? Because otherwise it just looks like he's screaming his love from the rooftops with reckless abandon, without her consent and oblivious to wishes she may have to privacy.

I'll stop here...I don't want to pick his post apart (I don't even think it very nice that I'm publicly expressing my dislike of it), but it wasn't just the caption that made me so uneasy. I wish them the best just the same, of course...falling in love is fun and their story seems to be a sweet one of being undaunted by complex circumstances from the outset.

Also, minor quibble but synesthesia is a real and well-studied thing.
posted by iamkimiam at 1:30 PM on January 1, 2013 [55 favorites]


I should point out that there are people who have had loving relationship with people with profound schizophrenia where the relationship wasn't so much a test of their ability to stay committed as it was deeply meaningful in its own way. The first example that pops into my head is James Joyce's relationship with his daughter Lucia -- who dated Samuel Beckett until her schizophrenia became so profound that she was institutionalized (this being 1935, there was no psychoparmacological treatments available.)

Joyce was constantly in touch with her, and there has been a compelling case made that he was fascinated by her free-associative thought process (schizophasia) and it inspired his approach to Finnegan's Wake. Beckett was a bit of a jerk -- he told her that it was actually her father that was his interest, and not her, although he corresponded with her and visited her once in the insitution. But Joyce's relationship with his daughter was profound not in spite of her illness, but encompassed it.

Obviously there is a difference between fathering somebody who is mentally ill and dating the same person, but I think it is valuable to realize that it's not a relationship exclusively fraught with problems, and sometimes people find unique value in the relationship. There is a tendency to think a profound mental illness is going to offer too great a challenge for romance, but I don't think this is always, or necessarily, the case. In fact, there are quite a few famous examples of people with mental illness, possibly schizophrenia, who managed to have longstanding and loving relationships, even recognizing that this offers unique challenges: Mary Todd Lincoln, Elyn Saks, John Nash, Darrell Hammond.

Yes, these relationships haven't necessarily been easy. But what is? Before my current girlfriend, the longest I ever dates was for one year, and I don't have a single friend my age who hasn't been married and divorced, or at least been through a few serious long-term relationships that ended.

If this relationship has a healthy life span, even if it isn't forever, it has done as well as most.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:33 PM on January 1, 2013 [17 favorites]


"This is as much of Sally as I can show without triggering her paranoia."

Shoot, if my boyfriend posted a picture of me on his blog in a story about my mental health the day after I went into the hospital, it would trigger my paranoia too. That doesn't seem unreasonable.
posted by wam at 1:34 PM on January 1, 2013 [36 favorites]


Hurm. Good luck them to them both and all that, but I can't help but be dubious about this relationship.

I was in a therapy group with someone very much like "Sally." Most of the time, she was bright, personable and friendly. Yet, over the course of the three years we were in group together, she would periodically go completely off the rails, convinced that her husband and the other group members were all part of a secret conspiracy against her. The therapist was able to talk her down each time, but I always had the sense that she yielded on the "conspiracy" only very reluctantly, as if there were something attractive about the delusion, something that made her prefer it to simple reality.

I hope he's not kidding himself, thinking that "Sally" will get better. Because, odds are, she never will, and he'll have to deal with these storms periodically for as long as he's with her.
posted by SPrintF at 1:37 PM on January 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yep, GenjiandProust articulated it much better than I did. i couldn't agree more, especially that, a) her story is not his story to tell, b) would have been more interested in how he deals with his situation, and c) this unnerved me more than gave me a nice glowing feeling inside.
posted by iamkimiam at 1:38 PM on January 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


In the absence of evidence to the contrary, I wonder if we can presume that he knows what she would be okay with him posting online, has given him permission, and he's not violating her trust in any meaningful way? He describes her as being no-nonsense about her mental illness, and the photo doesn't demonstrate his willingness to violate her comfort level but instead an understanding of exactly where that comfort ends.

I mean, people can have criticisms of what he's written, but that's not the same as assuming a breach of trust that is undemonstrated and then taking him to task for that.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:38 PM on January 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


I didn't intend to assume anything, or take him to task here. But I do think that it's really easy to have the best intentions, aim to be respectful of privacy and boundaries, and still unintentionally cross a line or leave the reader to wonder about such things. Especially in this type of one-way public communication, where the sharing of very personal details about someone else is involved.
posted by iamkimiam at 1:45 PM on January 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


That's absolutely true, and something worth being sensitive to. In general, I think it's a good idea, when telling private stories about somebody else, to include a disclaimer stating that the other person is aware of this and has given permission.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:50 PM on January 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


I mean, people can have criticisms of what he's written, but that's not the same as assuming a breach of trust that is undemonstrated and then taking him to task for that.

I wasn't thinking so much breach of trust -- I don't know their relationship, obviously, and, unless this guy is an utter dick, I assume he wouldn't, say, post a picture if he thought that would make her feel bad -- as it's off-putting that he spends so much more time telling us about her rather than about him. She has her story, and, despite what he may think, he's never going to know what that story is (I mean, none of us know each others' stories, really, and it's harder when dealing with a profoundly different experience of the world). Besides, talking about her and glossing it all as "all in" love seems like a great way to avoid his own feelings (although I confess I may be projecting here, but, trust me, self-delusion is really easy).

I would be far more interested in hearing about his experience of the situation, told bravely and honestly, partly because that is a story he can actually tell and partly because that would useful to me in exploring my own feelings about similar relationships of my own. Of course, it's his blog, so he can do what he likes; he certainly doesn't have to write something I will find personally useful.
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:54 PM on January 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


I apologize for misstating your objection. Your curiosity about his side of the story is entirely reasonable.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:58 PM on January 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is one of those stories that while I am sure his intentions are pure, really made me uncomfortable. At a certain level, I went through a similar thing recently, when I actually came to the conclusion that I wanted to be with someone that had MS...I think luckily, it didn't work out for other reasons.
posted by sfts2 at 2:00 PM on January 1, 2013


Sally "knew" the alien visitation wasn't real. But it felt real enough to her when it happened. So I asked her to tell me about it in detail. And I listened, without passing judgment. She ultimately laughed the whole thing off, but I knew it was an important part of her reality. It had stayed with her. It was still real to her. Who was I to question her reality?
I hope he's not kidding himself, thinking that "Sally" will get better. Because, odds are, she never will, and he'll have to deal with these storms periodically for as long as he's with her.

Odds are against a lot of things when it comes to love, but that doesn't mean it should be abandoned as hopeless. I guess since I share her diagnosis (among others depending on which doctor you ask) I've gotta believe that. My psychic hardware may still not be standard issue, but it's been 6 years since my last psychotic episode -- time enough to have the longest (and healthiest) relationship of my life two times over.
posted by Lorin at 2:11 PM on January 1, 2013 [12 favorites]


Ugh I broke something when I tried to edit, but what I meant to say is I commend him for the attitude quoted at the top. Too many people seem hung up on negating the reality of psychosis instead of understanding how very real it is to those experiencing it.
posted by Lorin at 2:14 PM on January 1, 2013


I'll throw myself in front of a bus for her if she wants it. I'll run naked through the streets if she says to. (I pray she never becomes that crazy, of course.) There isn't anything I wouldn't do for Sally.

Color me cynical, but I would not throw myself in front of a bus or run naked through the streets merely upon being asked to, even by my wife. The author of this is clearly very dedicated to his girlfriend, but I get the sense of a man who is both attached to the idea of her, and somewhat codependent.
posted by ellF at 2:27 PM on January 1, 2013 [35 favorites]


I would be far more interested in hearing about his experience of the situation, told bravely and honestly, partly because that is a story he can actually tell and partly because that would useful to me in exploring my own feelings about similar relationships of my own. Of course, it's his blog, so he can do what he likes; he certainly doesn't have to write something I will find personally useful.


Maybe that will come later. She had her breakdown and was hospitalized only yesterday.

I read this as a struggling and public act of reaffirming his love for Sally in the midst of her personal psychological crisis. Obviously it's off-putting in its honesty and the depth of its disclosure. But then again, these people are trying to cope with something profoundly difficult. I don't really think it's my place to judge either of them, or to wish that this was said differently. People cope with crises in different ways and I've found that it's best either to look away, or to offer what gentle affirmations one can.

Those with profound psychological illnesses are often in a double bind. In addition to their own symptoms, they frequently experience social alienation and ostracism. I'm glad this seems not to be the case for Sally. I hope they both have the strength to weather this storm together.
posted by R. Schlock at 2:33 PM on January 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


Not to derail, but does anyone know what 843 word long article published in Nature circa 1952 resulted in a Nobel Prize?
posted by StickyCarpet at 2:37 PM on January 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


and somewhat codependent.

Yup. At first my thought was, "Wow, it would be so nice to have a guy like this, one who would run in traffic for me...I can't even get a guy to make me chicken soup when I'm sick." But then I realized that such a guy probably has some sort of unhealthy white-knight syndrome, and I don't need that much rescuing. Oh well.
posted by Melismata at 2:41 PM on January 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


So... My mother suffers from recurring bouts of mental illness and has done so since just after the birth of my brother, 35 odd years ago. My dad is still together with her even though they have had periods where illness has torn that relationship, and often my mothers relationship with everybody else in the world, apart. I wouldn't want anyone else in the world to be my parents but fuck has it been hard for the both of them, and me and my brother as well.

Not sure I have any real insight beyond that "it's hard", except maybe "sometimes it's really hard" and "sometimes you have to look after yourself to look after others, and that's okay", but anyone in that situation has my empathy and best wishes.
posted by Artw at 2:47 PM on January 1, 2013 [11 favorites]


StickyCarpet, according to Wikipedia it is probably Crick and Watson's article on DNA.

Regarding the OP, I think it's admirable of Kas to write about this situation. I think he's simply reaching out and catharting, and other people can obviously relate and feel less alone.

I do not believe in judging another person's relationship. We don't know what goes on inside, only the people involved do. It is hard enough to understand ourselves and our own relationships. I prefer to "tend my own garden" unless asked to assess another's, and I wish the best to Kas and Sally.
posted by xenophile at 2:48 PM on January 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


I read this expecting to see all the "look how great I am for taking care of this helpless female" bologna. But it doesn't come off that way at all. To me anyway. Maybe he is delusional, but it doesn't read that way to me.
posted by gjc at 2:51 PM on January 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


People sometimes fall in love with a person's illness, especially one as all consuming and disabling as schizophrenia. I'd be interested to see how his feelings might change in the face of a close to full recovery. If Sally got a job, for example, and started flourishing in a career, made new friends and so on. As it stands now the dynamic is that he is her sole support and saviour, and people often don't like being made redundant from that (parents who keep their children undermined and dependent, for example).
posted by jokeefe at 2:55 PM on January 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm in the "reading this made me feel a little icky" camp. I don't have experience with schizophrenia, but I've dated many people with mental illness and I've suffered from it during my relationships and in every case things happened where any normal person would have run far away - but something was "off" enough with either me or them that we stayed.

I find it a little strange that he was still interested after discussing her four suicide attempts on their first date... and then the whole running naked through the streets thing (but maybe he was exaggerating) but nonetheless, the article was sweet and it's good that she's found someone who isn't going to go running to the hills.
posted by Autumn at 2:59 PM on January 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is one of those stories that while I am sure his intentions are pure, really made me uncomfortable.

This is my feeling as well, and I feel like an utter hypocrite for feeling it given that I spent my entire graduate career researching mental illness stigma in close relationships (with a focus on schizophrenia specifically).

On one hand, she was honest and open about her illness, treatments, etc. and he chose to be with her despite the information she revealed. Whether that was a logical decision is not anyone's to analyze. On the other, I've seen this happen in new relationships where just a description of symptoms can't possibly prepare someone for the sort of strife that is inevitable when you're involved in a close relationship with someone who has a severe, chronic mental illness in a country with a pitiful mental health infrastructure. Once symptoms manifest it is always a different story. Even if rejection didn't occur at first there is always a risk for anger and resentment later when expectations of recovery are not met. At the same time, it is true that all relationships are difficult on some level, but when someone has the label of "mentally ill" it is almost impossible NOT to attribute all of the difficulties that arise in a close relationship (from the everyday, mundane problems of cohabitation to the traumatic) to that mental illness.

In an ideal world, this couple would thrive because she would have optimal treatment that would allow her to live a comfortable, successful and fulfilling life (either on disability or off) and he would have a thorough understanding of her illness, limitless patience, and a strong institutional and social support network to help them both through the worst of times. But everything about mental health is convoluted and so many factors can throw a wrench in someone's successful recovery that may or may not be related to whatever relationships they have at the time but that wrench will, unfortunately, affect them all in ways that are beyond anyone's control.

That being said, I WANT them to work, I really do, and I hope they do.
posted by Young Kullervo at 3:00 PM on January 1, 2013 [12 favorites]


God love 'em. A lot of people have expressed very sensible and strong concerns, but I can't bear to do anything but hope for the best for them.

What struck me particularly about this was something that took me a moment to figure out. It's that this story is a man's narrative of unconditional heterosexual love for a partner that needs his lifelong patience and care. I wish we heard more about this. It happens every day, but it's not discussed. The typical pop-culture narrative is that men are shamed, goaded, cajoled into acknowledging romantic love for women, so women mustn't be more trouble than they're worth. This man's selflessness moves me. Sure, the white-knight business probably feeds an underlying need in him as well -- but isn't that true of everything we do for each other?
posted by Countess Elena at 3:13 PM on January 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


I wasn't nuts about the piece but I also didn't get the sense that he loves her illness more than he loves her or that he is unhealthily codependent. I say this as a woman with bipolar* married to an unbelievably kind, funny, wonderful man who genuinely supports me. Yes, sometimes this means taking care of me but that doesn't make him a white-knight figure. He is my hero because of how amazing he is but (apparently) I'm also his because I work really, really hard to manage my issues. One of the ways I do this is by having caring and supportive people in my life and that includes my husband. It's not easy for him having a wife with bipolar (and he is obviously welcome to comment on his own if he wants to but we're having dinner soon so that might not happen) but that doesn't mean he's codependent and it doesn't mean that the ways he cares for me are unhealthy. Sometimes it is simple acts of caring like making dinner so I don't have that added challenge or petting me while I cry at the end of a rough day (sometimes there are a lot of rough days). When you're in a relationship, you support each other.

I totally get the people who are uncomfortable with the idea that this man might be sharing Sally's private information but I also feel like some of these comments read to me as saying basically that there's no way to have a healthy relationship with someone with a mental illness. I really don't think that's true; I think my relationship with my husband is one of the strongest, healthiest relationships there could ever be and both of our lives are enriched by it. He's not exploiting me for my mental illness, he's not just in love with the idea of taking care of me, we have a full, real, strong, adult relationship and while of course there are ups and downs (every relationship has them) I'm not somehow cut off from the real world of grown-up relationships and marriage and real connections with people just because I have some mental health issues, and neither is Sally.

*I have bipolar II which is easier to deal with than bipolar I and I obviously don't have the same struggles Sally does but I CAN speak to the experience of being in love and having a mental illness. I'm very fortunate in that I have fantastic support from family, friends, and doctors and medicine has worked reasonably well for me but it's still really, REALLY tough sometimes.

On preview, thank you to Young Kullervo for her/his point. A big part of the challenge is, I think, realizing that a lot of mental illnesses are not going to go away and that even though your quality of life might improve, you have to learn to live with these issues and build a relationship acknowledging them and responding to them and knowing that even though things get better and worse, they're not going to disappear and they're not going to be cured and you have to build your lives dealing with and accepting that.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 3:20 PM on January 1, 2013 [11 favorites]


Not to derail, but does anyone know what 843 word long article published in Nature circa 1952 resulted in a Nobel Prize?

Watson & Crick announced the double helix structure of DNA in the Journal Nature in 1953. If I was a betting man that would be my choice.

A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid
J. D. Watson and F. H. C. Crick (1)

April 25, 1953 (2), Nature (3), 171, 737-738

We wish to suggest a structure for the salt of deoxyribose nucleic acid (D.N.A.). This structure has novel features which are of considerable biological interest.

A structure for nucleic acid has already been proposed by Pauling (4) and Corey1. They kindly made their manuscript available to us in advance of publication. Their model consists of three intertwined chains, with the phosphates near the fibre axis, and the bases on the outside. In our opinion, this structure is unsatisfactory for two reasons:

(1) We believe that the material which gives the X-ray diagrams is the salt, not the free acid. Without the acidic hydrogen atoms it is not clear what forces would hold the structure together, especially as the negatively charged phosphates near the axis will repel each other.

(2) Some of the van der Waals distances appear to be too small.

Another three-chain structure has also been suggested by Fraser (in the press). In his model the phosphates are on the outside and the bases on the inside, linked together by hydrogen bonds. This structure as described is rather ill-defined, and for this reason we shall not comment on it.

We wish to put forward a radically different structure for the salt of deoxyribose nucleic acid (5). This structure has two helical chains each coiled round the same axis (see diagram). We have made the usual chemical assumptions, namely, that each chain consists of phosphate diester groups joining beta-D-deoxyribofuranose residues with 3',5' linkages. The two chains (but not their bases) are related by a dyad perpendicular to the fibre axis. Both chains follow right-handed helices, but owing to the dyad the sequences of the atoms in the two chains run in opposite directions (6) . Each chain loosely resembles Furberg's2 model No. 1 (7); that is, the bases are on the inside of the helix and the phosphates on the outside. The configuration of the sugar and the atoms near it is close to Furberg's "standard configuration," the sugar being roughly perpendicular to the attached base. There is a residue on each every 3.4 A. in the z-direction. We have assumed an angle of 36° between adjacent residues in the same chain, so that the structure repeats after 10 residues on each chain, that is, after 34 A. The distance of a phosphorus atom from the fibre axis is 10 A. As the phosphates are on the outside, cations have easy access to them.

Figure 1
This figure is purely diagrammatic (8). The two ribbons symbolize the two phophate-sugar chains, and the horizonal rods the pairs of bases holding the chains together. The vertical line marks the fibre axis.
The structure is an open one, and its water content is rather high. At lower water contents we would expect the bases to tilt so that the structure could become more compact.

The novel feature of the structure is the manner in which the two chains are held together by the purine and pyrimidine bases. The planes of the bases are perpendicular to the fibre axis. They are joined together in pairs, a single base from one chain being hydroden-bonded to a single base from the other chain, so that the two lie side by side with identical z-coordinates. One of the pair must be a purine and the other a pyrimidine for bonding to occur. The hydrogen bonds are made as follows: purine position 1 to pyrimidine position 1; purine position 6 to pyrimidine position 6.

If it is assumed that the bases only occur in the structure in the most plausible tautomeric forms (that is, with the keto rather than the enol configurations) it is found that only specific pairs of bases can bond together. These pairs are: adenine (purine) with thymine (pyrimidine), and guanine (purine) with cytosine (pyrimidine) (9).

In other words, if an adenine forms one member of a pair, on either chain, then on these assumptions the other member must be thymine; similarly for guanine and cytosine. The sequence of bases on a single chain does not appear to be restricted in any way. However, if only specific pairs of bases can be formed, it follows that if the sequence of bases on one chain is given, then the sequence on the other chain is automatically determined.

It has been found experimentally (10)3,4 that the ratio of the amounts of adenine to thymine, and the ratio of guanine to cytosine, are always very close to unity for deoxyribose nucleic acid.

It is probably impossible to build this structure with a ribose sugar in place of the deoxyribose, as the extra oxygen atom would make too close a van der Waals contact.

The previously published X-ray data5,6 on deoxyribose nucleic acid are insufficient for a rigorous test of our structure. So far as we can tell, it is roughly compatible with the experimental data, but it must be regarded as unproved until it has been checked against more exact results. Some of these are given in the following communications (11). We were not aware of the details of the results presented there when we devised our structure (12), which rests mainly though not entirely on published experimental data and stereochemical arguments.

It has not escaped our notice (13) that the specific pairing we have postulated immediately suggests a possible copying mechanism for the genetic material.

Full details of the structure, including the conditions assumed in building it, together with a set of coordinates for the atoms, will be published elsewhere (14).

We are much indebted to Dr. Jerry Donohue for constant advice and criticism, especially on interatomic distances.
posted by pdxpogo at 3:38 PM on January 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


Perhaps I haven't read this story attentively enough, but it seems like a breath of fresh air compared to the daily deluge of "dreadful crisis in awful relationship, what to do?" questions on the green.
posted by tel3path at 3:50 PM on January 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


On December 1, 2012, we rented a house in Jacksonville and moved in together. But after three weeks, Sally fell into a deep depression.

So... about two weeks ago. I could be wrong, but I get the impression that their relationship has been smooth sailing thus far, and this is the first time that Sally's illness has presented a real obstacle. If you enter a relationship with a partner and you know that they have a mental illness, but you've only ever seen that illness in a completely managed state, it can be easy to think that that's as bad as it gets. And maybe the first time the illness gets out of hand, you figure it's not so bad and things will get back to the way they were soon enough. But try five years of intermittent hospital stays, or repeatedly trying and failing to get the right combination of meds to feel normal again. I worry that this guy will burn out if Sally doesn't recover quickly. I wouldn't blame him, but I still don't want that to happen.

I hope for the best for these two. I hope this is the right relationship for both of them, and if it is I hope it stays strong for many years to come.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:16 PM on January 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


Oh dear god that DNA article is beautiful. Incidentally they were wrong about "It is probably impossible to build this structure with a ribose sugar in place of the deoxyribose." They are describing RNA, where the instability caused by those too close van der Waals contacts they mention is a feature not a bug, for its purposes in the cell.

Anyway, re this blog post, I am reminded of the movie Boxing Helena where the guy is into cutting off his girlfriend's limbs so she'll be dependent on him. There is definitely something sexy about disability. On the other gender side of it, I've definitely developed strong feelings for guys who were so mentally broken that there was a sense that they neeeeeeddded me. In those situations, you can really get that "all in" feeling because logic has to be eschewed in order to stick around... so it has to be an "all in" love as a precondition of existing at all. Also, when you are around dysfunction, it is a chance to take off your own mask and be more real and honest yourself. This article is definitely one of the most poignant examples I've read about the sexy side of disability and codependency. Some of that intensity is hard to achieve in relationships with totally healthy people.

Not to put this guy's love into a cynical box. (Heh, box.) It is nice that he is having something enjoyable and interesting.
posted by kellybird at 4:16 PM on January 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


I've said it before here, but it bugs the fuck out of me hearing someone described as "a schizophrenic". It's defining her by her illness. She's a person with schizophrenia.

That said, in many ways she's lucky to have found someone who wants to be with her and take care of her, but only time will tell if there's an unhealthy element to that. If not, and she's taken care of (and as happy as possible given a very debilitating illness), and he's happy doing it and being with her despite her illness, then what's the problem?

I got a creepy vibe from the post as well (mostly related to the short time scale and codepency aspects mentioned above), but I wonder if I'm taking a more cynical reading because of my annoyance at the title and its implications of reducing her to her illness.
posted by supercres at 4:40 PM on January 1, 2013 [18 favorites]



I'll throw myself in front of a bus for her if she wants it. I'll run naked through the streets if she says to. (I pray she never becomes that crazy, of course.) There isn't anything I wouldn't do for Sally.

Color me cynical, but I would not throw myself in front of a bus or run naked through the streets merely upon being asked to, even by my wife. The author of this is clearly very dedicated to his girlfriend, but I get the sense of a man who is both attached to the idea of her, and somewhat codependent.



I agree that throwing myself in front of a bus is beyond the pale, but as for running naked through the street? Honey, you don't even have to ask. Just point which direction you want me to run.
posted by math at 5:16 PM on January 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


A post about how he feels and adapts to a complex and often painful situation would have been riskier but more honest than this.

Considering that he said he's writing as a form of therapy to deal with her being admitted to the hospital, I'm not sure anyone here is in anyplace to judge whether he's being honest or not.

Not to mention that, if she has these triggers, then why post ANY photo of her at all?

Because they're a couple and as much as he'd like to post a photo of her or them, he's respecting her wishes and she is possibly attempting to compromise and open up a bit.

Remember y'all, the person he loves just has pyschotic break and was admitted to a hospital. That was yesterday. Today he's writing about. Thats' a lot to take in and he can be forgiven if his response doesn't match a particular idea of what should be done. He can only respond as he can.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:26 PM on January 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


Here's a thought: Maybe it's OK if one of the things that attracts him to her is her illness. Because, justified concerns about people-first language notwithstanding, schizophrenia IS part of the person that Sally is and will be.

It would be weird and creepy if the ONLY thing that he liked about her was schizophrenia, but I don't see that as the case. Maybe he needs to take care of someone a little, maybe that's part of his makeup. Things could be worse.
posted by Mister_A at 5:33 PM on January 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've said it before here, but it bugs the fuck out of me hearing someone described as "a schizophrenic". It's defining her by her illness. She's a person with schizophrenia.

That was my first thought when I saw it written that way, and I think it really tainted the article for me; the idea that it's not a love story about two people (one of whom has schizophrenia), but it's a love story about a guy and the object of his affection, a schizophrenic. It turns something that would be kinda cool and inspiring into a 'This is what I have to deal with, this is my cross to bear for my burdened soulmate'.

If he's doing this for therapeutic purposes, good for him for trying to work things out... but if I were in his situation, I don't know if I'd feel it appropriate to unleash it on people without some long thought ahead of time.
posted by mikurski at 5:40 PM on January 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ok, I have read the story....something about it just doesn't ring true.


If it is I wonder if he will still love her if they give her medications that will cause her to blow up like a balloon....one young schizophrenic I knew went from normally sized to extremely obese in one year, just because of the medication. That was the price she paid to be normal.


But at least he is thinking of her as a woman dealt a bad hand of mental health cards and not a monster. There is that.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:28 PM on January 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


This story gave a crazy fat man hope on a day he had little, if nothing else that is a good thing and I thank the author.
posted by Phred Phredson at 6:30 PM on January 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Eh, this is mental illness porn. Note to blogger: you can write as therapy without hitting 'publish'.
posted by unSane at 6:30 PM on January 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


No doubt I've told this story before but in my (long, long) experience of talking to and living with people with mental health issues, my favorite story remains the woman in Northern England whose husband thought he was God. Really, truly, thought he was God. She stuck with him through thick and thin because he was (is?) a really lovely man. When the two of them went to see a new psychiatrist, the shrink sat through her husbands description of his personal encapsulated eschatology (which he would describe in enormous detail whenever prompted, including bringing along diagrams of the hierarchies of aliens and angels), then turned to Mrs God and asked her "Tell me, do you believe your husband is God?"

To which she replied, "Do I fuck!".

They were a ridiculously devoted couple without a trace of co-dependency. It gave me great hope to meet them.
posted by unSane at 6:36 PM on January 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


Well, here goes.

My sister is a schizophrenic. Actually, she has the exact same symptoms as described by Kas.
Reading this, I felt something of a pang, a recognition, really: Somebody else understands.

I know this is the internet and the whole point of this is to have a discussion about it, but please remember, ya'll understand nothing. Not being mean, not being alpha-male aggressive, just stating matter of fact plain.

I don't think this is mental illness porn. I'm willing to bet the only people who think that it is don't know anyone with mental illness.
posted by bam at 6:40 PM on January 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


One part inspired to two parts doleful. I'd like to give him the benefit of the doubt. It sounds like he's really head-over-heels for his girlfriend regardless of her disabilities, and that's a rare thing.

But Thomas seems remarkably naive and idealistic about the harsh realities of long-term relationships. If I were in his girlfriend's shoes, I'd feel pretty violated by the brash sharing of such personal details. To most, it probably seems minor, but his willful sharing of her exact economic status is a huge violation. I've been on disability before, and that's a humbling, painful economic reality to acknowledge to even my closest friends and romantic partners. At the minimum, he seems to grasp the frustration of being disabled in a country that demands upward mobility while holding it at arm's length from certain disabled people.

Like most folks new to love, he is well-intentioned and very, very wrong.

It really breaks my heart knowing the most likely outcome for these two. I hate my cynicism.

I agree with everyone else. I wish he had the strength and honesty to look at this from a place that centers more on his experiences. He can't express her experiences in good faith. At best, he looks like a bumbling fool, at worst, a martyr. I don't mean to say that he's either one of these, just that if he'd tell us how this effects him personally, it would be easier to empathize and he wouldn't have to sacrifice any compassion for her in the process.

I wish the best for him, a speedy recovery for her, and harmony for them both.
posted by Ephelump Jockey at 6:42 PM on January 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


To most, it probably seems minor, but his willful sharing of her exact economic status is a huge violation.

It's understandable to come to that conclusion, but no one writing in this thread knows exactly what Kas herself does and does not consider a violation.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:12 PM on January 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't think this is mental illness porn. I'm willing to bet the only people who think that it is don't know anyone with mental illness.


Eh, well, you'd lose that bet pretty heavily, and I'll leave it at that.
posted by unSane at 7:26 PM on January 1, 2013 [14 favorites]


Threads like this are really difficult.

I read the blog and thought it was really nice that I can get some inspiration from someone with a crazy loved one.
posted by bam at 7:31 PM on January 1, 2013


I have nothing to lose by taking him at his word, assume he has not violated any trust and that he truly loves Sally and will stick with her through thick and thin.

But, I could not help thinking at the end of the article that as much as he does love Sally, he seems to also be in love with the idea that he is helping/saving Sally.

While I also get that he does a lot of talking about Sally, he seemed to be revealing a lot about himself in the way he talked about her.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:46 PM on January 1, 2013 [11 favorites]


It's understandable to come to that conclusion, but no one writing in this thread knows exactly what Kas herself does and does not consider a violation.

Nor does the author of the piece. She is so incapacitated as to need hospitalization. There is no possible way she could have consented to the publication of this information. Even if she had previously consented to the details of her illness, SSD, or whatever being published, there's no way she has consented to having her most recent crisis publicized.

I'm not saying he's the world's worst guy or that has any kind of bad intention, but I think it's important that the caregivers of people with disabilities don't automatically get a free pass for everything because it's hard to be a caregiver. I know you weren't saying that, but this touches on that kind of assumption that I see often, which is that we can't pass judgment on caregivers of the disabled because they need to do what they need to do to "cope". It leads to a lot of abuse and exploitation being ignored or justified and people with disabilities are especially vulnerable.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:14 PM on January 1, 2013 [24 favorites]


I wish them luck, but reading this just makes me feel... not hopeful inside, I am sorry to say. I think it's easy to say "I will stick with you no matter what" when you haven't dealt with the harsh realities of "as bad as it gets" for a long period of time yet. Now he's about to learn. I hope he's able to deal with it, but...that is freaking hard, and I don't think I could in the same situation. I haven't dealt with schizophrenia (just "less bad" ones, I guess), but those were bad enough for me.

Incidentally, that fuckwad who stepped over her dying body to play WoW? OMFG.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:45 PM on January 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


The WoW story struck me as extremely unlikely.
posted by Scram at 9:57 PM on January 1, 2013 [9 favorites]


That someone not well is not alone in this world is a good thing, though reading this felt like violating someone's privacy. This is not Cheryl Strayed.

Given his background, hard to believe the author didn’t realize there would be a huge question about the subject’s consent and relate that she had provided it… if she had.

Given the context — some identifying information — it would seem far from impossible for the vile ones to figure out who she is and post that information. Exactly how is that a chance worth taking?

If he had a walk-in-front-of-a-bus level of caring (which is disturbing in itself), can’t see how he would have posted this. Maybe nobody identifies her, maybe she gave consent and will change her mind, maybe she gave her consent and will always be okay or better about that. But how is erring on the side of extreme caution and care not the wisest approach?!

Too, it reads more as an ode to the glories of the author, who stated that writing it — and posting it — was therapy for himself.
posted by ambient2 at 12:01 AM on January 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


I do not live in this particular glass house, but it is right next door to mine own. I see it clearly when I step out back to smoke a cigarette and throw stones.
posted by riverlife at 12:25 AM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


I wish them all the best, and I hope it'll work for them. Maybe it will; one article on the Internet couldn't possibly give me enough information to know. I'd like to think so.

All I can really have is a personal reaction, as someone who's less familiar with schizophrenia but who has been close to couples where mood disorders - depression, mania - have been an issue. And on that score ... well, there was just one thing he said that bugged me: when she talked about aliens, he said, 'Who was I to question her reality?'

Now, I assume that he was saying that because he knew she didn't literally believe it and that there was no point trying to argue her out of her feelings towards it. Yep, that's fine and respectful; I've volunteered on a counselling line and it wasn't unusual to get people with schizophrenia talking about their delusions, and in terms of supporting them, listening to them as if they were telling a metaphorical story about their feelings was generally the best way to connect. Someone saying 'I'm being poisoned by my neighbours' was someone telling me they didn't feel safe in their own home; someone saying 'My father is bribing people to follow me' was someone telling me they never felt free of their family problems, and so on. (Examples invented to preserve privacy.) So listening to her say how she felt about it without trying to argue the reality could be a good way of dealing with it.

But that said ... Well, I'll just use myself as an example. I've been mentally ill. In my case, in a much more fortunate way, insofar as there's any good fortune in mental illness: following a bad birth and follow-on hospital experience, I had six months of severe postnatal depression. It wasn't a chronic problem, it was the psychological equivalent of a broken leg: something violent happened, something snapped, and it needed treatment to heal up. But by the end of it, I was pretty out of my mind; I was just about managing to look after my son, but beyond that I wasn't coping at all. And because I was all mixed up, I wasn't in a good place to judge how sane I was.

My husband was supportive, and he didn't try to argue with me every time I said that I felt this or that ... but at the same time, I needed him to question my reality. Because my perception of reality was diseased, and the more diseased it got, the less I was able to judge it. My husband was kind and concerned, but he was also on point: he was the person who started, after about five months, to say, 'You know, I think you might be depressed, maybe you should see a doctor.' When my view of reality got dangerous to myself - I was getting deep into suicidal ideation territory* and it felt like my personality was already dying; I wouldn't have actually done anything because my son needed a mother, but the lights were starting to go out in my head - he questioned it. And because he questioned it, I'm all right now. In the end, I had to take his version of reality over mine. And because I did, I went to the doctor and got medication. And I was very quickly, joyfully, blessedly back to my natural self, and fortunate that my natural self is not beset with a chronic mental illness.

And dark though that time was for us, it was a mild example compared with some people I know. I can think of at least one couple where questioning the mentally ill partner's reality - sometimes standing up and screaming about it - is probably the only reason that person is alive today. It took terrible courage and it put the relationship on the line, but sometimes saying 'I would rather lose you than stand by while this illness destroys you' is the most loving thing you can say. And loving to yourself as well; as GenjiandProust points out, mental illness can destroy the partner of a sick person as well. Like they taught us in lifesaving class, you don't help the drowning person if you let them pull you down to drown as well. You just both go under.

I'm not saying that the author of this piece would not, if it came to it, do that right thing. I hope he would; you need a big foundation of commitment and trust for that final drawing of the line to have any positive effects. They've been together a year and a half, and that's probably still the trust-building stage of the relationship. Clearly the commitment is there.

It's just that when it comes to drawing the boundaries, in my experience love has to be there, it has to be solid and committed and deep. But it can't be unconditional. Or at least, your loving presence can't be unconditional. You've got to be able to question the other person's reality enough that you don't lose sight of your own. You probably won't start believing in aliens, but the more insidious stuff - despair, hyper-vigilance, paranoia - can be catching; we all pick up attitudes from the people we're closest to, sane or not. You've got to be able, in the end, to say, 'Yes, I will leave you if it's the only thing to do.'

And maybe, hopefully, it'll never come to that. But no relationship can thrive, whether the lovers are well or sick, if ending it is not an option. Sometimes it's the only thing to do. You may never choose to walk through that door, but if you don't keep it open, at least a crack, then you're going to run out of air.



*For those who haven't experienced it, it can go like this: thoughts of death can turn into a symptom, like sneezing when you have a cold. The house was a mess? Well, I could tidy it up, but I was so tired, and it'd only get messy again, or I could live with it messy, but that was so depressing, or I could just die and then I wouldn't have to deal with it. I'd had a disagreement with someone? Well, I could talk to them about it, but probably they wouldn't listen, or maybe they would but I could be wrong, or else I could just die and then I wouldn't have to deal with it. Dying ceased to be a vision of the end, and became a practical option on my list of choices every time I had a problem to face. The illness knocked out both my ability to sustain any positive emotions and my fear of death. Even if you have no intention of acting on the thoughts - which I didn't - it's a dangerous combination.
posted by Kit W at 1:41 AM on January 2, 2013 [16 favorites]


"Love is a mental illness."

Then how come being deprived of it makes us go crazy?
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:30 AM on January 2, 2013


"Perhaps I haven't read this story attentively enough, but it seems like a breath of fresh air compared to the daily deluge of "dreadful crisis in awful relationship, what to do?" questions on the green."

Or, you know, the answers such as 'don't date someone with bipolar disorder'.
posted by mippy at 3:54 AM on January 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


I can believe the WoW story, having been in a couple of fairly dysfunctional relationships with people who basically couldn't be arsed thinking about me/other people (it's obviously much much less serious, but I could tell you a near identical story about me having a migraine and begging my then-partner to go out and get me painkillers because I was too nauseous and couldn't stand, and being told that he'd already bought me a newspaper today so he didn't want to spend any more money on me and that my head didn't hurt anyway) - and also reading a lot about WoW addiction.

Boyfriend thinking she's doing it for attention, as she has done before, and preferring to focus attention on the game rather than dealing with the problem, which again probably is just a 'cry for help', right? She's not *really* dying, she's done it before, it's all part of the disease.
posted by mippy at 3:59 AM on January 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm glad they're in love but there is no way to feel good about this: "I'll throw myself in front of a bus for her if she wants it. I'll run naked through the streets if she says to."

When I read that my first thought was, "To what end?"
posted by chrillsicka at 5:20 AM on January 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Nor does the author of the piece. She is so incapacitated as to need hospitalization. There is no possible way she could have consented to the publication of this information. Even if she had previously consented to the details of her illness, SSD, or whatever being published, there's no way she has consented to having her most recent crisis publicized.

All things considered, the author is much closer to Sally than any of us, so in the us vs him analysis, I'm gonna go with him until he does something that says he should not be trusted. Which doesn't mean he's faultless or hasn't mis-stepped here. The point is that we don't know and to unilaterally decide he has is presumptive.

My point of view here is from having recently gone through something similar as the author. Several conversations were had before that point and the patient was ok with me or anyone else saying whatever we felt comfortable with about their health and why they were in the hospital. After a certain point, said patient's attitude was "Fuck it, this is hard for me and those around me, so why should anyone be worrying about keeping anything in the dark? Seek solace and support where y'all need to."

I'm glad they're in love but there is no way to feel good about this: "I'll throw myself in front of a bus for her if she wants it. I'll run naked through the streets if she says to."

When I read that my first thought was, "To what end?"


It's doubtful that he's being literal here, just using a metaphor to express his depth of feeling for Sally.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:29 AM on January 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


There is a much more important nugget here, one people aren't talking about. People on disability CANNOT live on what is paid for disability. They end up on the streets if they can't get lovers or family to put up some of the cost.
posted by thelastcamel at 7:11 AM on January 2, 2013 [15 favorites]


I see i'm in after the ubiquitous multi paragraph personal story.
Yes, if only we questioned shizophrenic's versions of reality more, then indeed they would be all cured !

Nthing the strong codependent vibe running through this story - I know a guy who was a partner of one and it was like he was her doctor, prescribing beer and hash here and there with the utmost of consideration and carefulness.

Thats what I see here, a process of control, of power - that it's possibly a better option than a hospital says a lot.
posted by sgt.serenity at 8:23 AM on January 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


I would like to hear Sally's side of the story.

Wouldn't it be awful if they got in a fight and he told her she had to go into a mental hospital to continue living there, and then he wrote about how she thinks aliens visit her because he was angry at her?

I've been diagnosed with schizophrenia, and I have inserted thoughts sometimes. I was involuntarily committed once for 20 days, and voluntarily committed 2 other times, which were about a week each. The times I was voluntary I was coerced into signing in, with the threat that I would be involuntarily committed if I didn't sign in myself, and then have to stay longer.

When I was in the hospital, I noticed one woman wasn't allowed to leave unless she went to live in a group home. She had her own apartment to go back to. I hope Sally's hospital stay is voluntary.

No one likes mental hospitals unless you work there, especially not Fairmount Behavioral Health https://plus.google.com/106727783106250117279/about

"If it's forced, it's not treatment." -David Oaks.
posted by andy_t at 8:46 AM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


In college, I lived in a huge house on Holcomb Boulevard in Houston with ten other people. One of them had a girlfriend who was quiet and unassuming and extremely intelligent, like he was. All of us liked her a lot and were very happy for our friend's happiness. It was a shock when quite unexpectedly one day she had a psychotic break and had to be hospitalized. I saw the toll it took on him, to have his happiness stolen away by this illness and to see his lover turned into a babbling alien over night. It mystified he, as I had never before known someone with a serious psychosis in my young life. She bounced in and out of the hospital over the next few years and was somewhat controlled by medication, but she never seemed the same. I lost track of them after I moved away, but I hope they both found some happiness again, either together or separately.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:46 AM on January 2, 2013


I agree that this dude is either codependent or just new to relationships in general, to say nothing of relationships with people who have mental illness. He doesn't seem very grounded in reality. It's like seeing my 18 year old cousin post on Facebook about his sure-to-be-eternal love for his first real girlfriend. Everyone else is going, "aw that's sweet, but yeah, right".
posted by Jess the Mess at 10:02 AM on January 2, 2013


Good god, it's amazing how quickly and enthusiastically people around here assume the worst of people and situations that get posted on the blue. My thanks to the commenters who refrain from judging this guy.

> I'm not saying he's the world's worst guy

Well, that's a relief!
posted by languagehat at 11:05 AM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


People with clear-cut diagnoses of schizoaffective disorder and schizophrenia are dealing with neurological demons completely out of their control that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. But I have to say, as a non-clinician, my reaction to people with sub-clinical paranoia and/or grandiosity has always been, "But why is the CIA bothering to tap YOUR phones? Why does the government think YOU'RE a threat? Why are YOU the one who has been specially chosen to save the world?" The appeal of these delusions (unlike the self-loathing depressive), if there is one, seems to be that a person of no more consequence than the rest of us schlubs is suddenly convinced that literally the entire universe and the most powerful people in it are intensely focused on sending them messages, wringing their hands over their power, desiring of their aid. (If I really did think that Jodie Foster needed me to impress her/save her by shooting a president of the United States, how much more satisfying would that be, on a certain level, than to be back down with the rest of us, struggling with adequate employment, depression and self doubt, and nagging family members?) At one point, I was the target of someone on the spectrum that I barely knew, meant nothing to me, who was convinced that he needed to come out and show up at my doorstep to "save" me, and his certitude and disconnect from reality was terrifying.
posted by availablelight at 11:17 AM on January 2, 2013


Wouldn't it be awful if they got in a fight and he told her she had to go into a mental hospital to continue living there, and then he wrote about how she thinks aliens visit her because he was angry at her?

It would. But it would also be awful if she were mentally well and he deliberately wrote lies about her to spread the myth that she was mentally ill. And it would be awful if she were mentally ill but he was an abusive partner, and writing about how he'd never leave her was intended to be a warning to her not to leave him.

What all these scenarios have in common is that they're completely fictional. There's nothing in the blog post to contradict them, nor to support them; they're just things we're making up.

Let's not start accusing a stranger of doing stuff that only exists in our imaginary scenarios. That really is awful.
posted by Kit W at 11:21 AM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


> I'm not saying he's the world's worst guy

Well, that's a relief!


Nice snark. Do you have anything to say about the issue of consent to disclosure that I raised, or is it too obviously insignificant for you to bother with? Because I assure you that many people with disabilities, the people who advocate for them and provide services to them, and their caregivers actually care quite a lot about the balance between maintaining privacy and seeking support.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:36 AM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


>But why is the CIA bothering to tap YOUR phones? Why does the government think YOU'RE a threat? Why are YOU the one who has been specially chosen to save the world?

Read my story at
http://surroundedbyspies1.tumblr.com
http://andytriboletti.tumblr.com
http://twitter.com/andytriboletti

If you have questions after reading all that, email me at andy.triboletti@gmail.com.

I don't want to save the world, and I don't think I've been chosen to do that. I would like patients in mental hospitals to have access to the internet.
posted by andy_t at 11:40 AM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


There is no possible way she could have consented to the publication of this information. Even if she had previously consented to the details of her illness, SSD, or whatever being published, there's no way she has consented to having her most recent crisis publicized.

I think it's difficult to say that for sure, actually. We weren't present during this crisis. He might have said 'Do you mind if I blog about this?' as they parted before her hospitalisation, or they might have a general understanding that it's okay for him to blog about her as long as he stays within certain well understood limits. (And the fact that he seems aware of how much face she's willing to have shown in a picture might be taken as evidence in support of the latter.) I'm speculating, of course, but really, in saying that she couldn't possibly have consented, so are you. So are we all; we only have the blog post to go on. You might be right, but it's not as sure as you sound in your post.

I agree with you that one shouldn't blog intimate details about anyone without their permission, and it gets more important the more vulnerable they are. I think, though, that it's overstating to say that there's 'no possible way' that this post couldn't be a violation of her trust. It might be, but it might not. Again, we aren't in possession of all the facts, and should be wary of treating possibilities as certainties.
posted by Kit W at 12:03 PM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


I agree with the young rope-rider. Unless Kas and Sally had a lengthy discussion during a prior lucid period and she basically told him "you have my permission to publish accounts of any and all situations that arise due to my mental illness" (which would be creepy all by itself), then she is not in a position to give informed consent to do this.
posted by Kokopuff at 12:06 PM on January 2, 2013


I think it would have been much more promising if he had mentioned any kind of actual ongoing therapy for her or even for him since he apparently thinks he needs some.
posted by P.o.B. at 12:07 PM on January 2, 2013


And if one of their conversations prior to her admittance to a mental hospital due to a psychotic break was "do you mind if I blog about this?" well...see prior posts about mental illness porn, white knight syndrome, and general creepiness.
posted by Kokopuff at 12:07 PM on January 2, 2013


To clarify my earlier comment which sounded bad, I would save the world if it were up to me. I don't think I have been chosen to save the world.
posted by andy_t at 12:16 PM on January 2, 2013


And if one of their conversations prior to her admittance to a mental hospital due to a psychotic break was "do you mind if I blog about this?" well...see prior posts about mental illness porn, white knight syndrome, and general creepiness.

It was just an example. I didn't think it a likely event. It's certainly possible that he's blogging without her consent, and you might even argue that it's probable, though that gets into the realm of speculation. All I was trying to say was that saying that he absolutely definitely must be blogging with her consent is, based on the information we have, factually incorrect. We do not have definite proof to that effect. And if we don't have definite proof that a person is doing something wrong, then judging them for it is judging them for something they've only done in our own speculations. Which is not a good thing to do.

Raising questions about her consent is completely fair. Declaring that it's an absolute certainty that she can't have given it is just not accurate.
posted by Kit W at 12:39 PM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


From what I've heard about WoW, it actually sounds fairly likely with some people. I'd unfortunately buy it.

After I finished reading this thread last night, I got a phone call from a friend. She has a friend with a bipolar, alcoholic brother that lives with her. The two girls went out to dinner and left the brother home alone for an hour and a half, and by the time they came home, he'd smashed up the entire living room and sister's computer. Sister was all, "no big deal, stay and watch a movie with me," but my friend was terrified and got the hell out of there. I gather they'd spent the entire dinner talking about the brother's behavior and how the sister was in total denial about her life being at risk with this guy. His parents won't take him in because they're scared of him, but sister is all, "he'd never hurt me." Of course, before last night she was saying the same thing about her stuff. My friend kept asking me for advice and saying that she was convinced this guy may hurt his sister--but well, as long as the sister is in denial, what can you do except wait for it to get worse.

I kept thinking of this guy and wondering how deep the rabbit hole goes.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:30 PM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Love is a mental illness.
posted by Nomyte at 1:27 PM on January 1 [4 favorites +] [!]


This is totally going to be the name of my Morrissey cover band.
posted by 4ster at 1:43 PM on January 2, 2013


> Nice snark.

Thank you!

> Do you have anything to say about the issue of consent to disclosure that I raised, or is it too obviously insignificant for you to bother with?

No, because there's no way of knowing whether it's relevant. Neither of us knows a goddamn thing about this couple except what the guy wrote in his post, but one of us is willing to make up stories that make the guy look bad, and it ain't me. You know, I could make cutting psychological evaluations of you based on your comments on this thread, but I won't, because 1) I don't know you, so they would be worthless, and 2) it would be unfair and hurtful. I guess such considerations don't stop some people, though.
posted by languagehat at 4:56 PM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


In re-reading, it is quite remarkable how many personal details of Sally's life he reveals casually; her abortions and sterilization, her multiple suicide attempts, her hospitalisations and her financial situation, her hopes for the future and her despair over her current situation, but almost nothing about himself. Like others mentioned, it feels to me like he is planning on going through this alone; setting himself (and Sally) up for failure by making empathetic statements like "I will never give up" but apparently not building the necessary support structures they both need like friendships, professional support, healthy relationships with family members, etc. Perhaps supports are already in place, in which case it seems even more glaring to omit any mention of them, as if letting us know he isn't her only support diminishes the role he plays in Sally's life (which sounds like the self cast role of saviour). I really wish he had included even one line that Sally had pre-approved the blog post, that he ran it past her therapist or his therapist who affirmed that sharing such personal details (especially since he is using real names and including the name of their hometown) was okay. Looking through the blog, this is the first personal thing he has written - even his post on the jumpers of 9/11 was a clinical retelling of statistics. For his virtual friends, the first and only blog post about his significant other is only in the context of her disease; as though normal stories about her and their relationship were too boring to share.

He mentioned using the writing as therapy, but any therapist would have interrupted his narrative of Sally's life to ask about him, his feelings, his response to challenges beyond his "rah-rah, my love will conquer all" statements. His hope that Sally will be released from hospital in a week or two and be back to her old self almost immediately makes me worry about his unrealistic expectations that Sally may try to live up to, to the detriment of her health. Especially at the end, he puts a lot of faith in finding the right treatment or medication for Sally "so she can be the girl he met last summer". But living with someone with a mental illness requires living in the present, accepting them for who they are, and being okay with that. Sometimes the hard work isn't fighting the disease, but instead embracing acceptance.
posted by saucysault at 1:52 AM on January 3, 2013 [10 favorites]


unSane: "I don't think this is mental illness porn. I'm willing to bet the only people who think that it is don't know anyone with mental illness.


Eh, well, you'd lose that bet pretty heavily, and I'll leave it at that.
"

I usually get this directed at my username; it's refreshing when I get to say it: Eponysterical?
posted by Deathalicious at 6:15 PM on January 3, 2013


The guy has a twitter and he posted there that Sally was reading the replies to his blog, so she probably did give permission.

Then again she may not have the read the actual post itself. Who knows.
posted by Autumn at 12:18 AM on January 6, 2013


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