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Courage - Self defence or expediency? Saturday April 16, 2016

People on Moodscope and those I meet in my home town emphasize how 'courageous' I am.

It really puzzles me because I have no choice of action. (My husband is suffering with Dementia). I struggle to get my husband in the car or I don't go out. I have to look after him because his current behavior does not merit a care home and we don't have the money to pay for private care.

So what is real courage?

I would call what I do management of a life full of adversity.

My mother was totally deficient in any courage. She would issue dire warnings if I went out of the door. When our first Jack Russell terrier was dying of distemper she went and hid in the hall in order not to see her die. Daddy and I sat and nursed this suffering animal until she died.

I don't know whether my father had courage – he looked after his very sick mother as his drunken father did nothing. My father was in the marines in WW2, but at his age never went near any combat zone. He never went to a dentist as he was terrified.

I have assisted at three road accidents – onlookers said I was very 'brave'. But at the time, I did not think about it – one, where two elderly ladies had knocked an old man off his bike I leapt out of our car, stopped the traffic, stopped the bleeding and got help. Can't see the bravery.

I can only claim one act of REAL courage. In Albany, Western Australia, I was walking up to a museum with my 5 year old grandson, a snake crossed our path. Paranoia is not strong enough a word to describe me and snakes. But I would NOT show fear to the little boy. I said 'It's only a carpet python (only!), it won't hurt us, he's going away through the fence' and on we went.

Faced with a crisis, what do you do? Are you courageous? Does adrenalin overcome fear?

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Helen Sat, Apr 16th 2016 @ 6:48am

One of the very bravest people I know, and I have been around many years, is my friend with chronic terrible depression. What she has had to deal with in this life is staggering but she has done it, despite the dreadful depression she has suffered from for so many years. I admire her so much. She doesn't believe she is strong. The depression stops her from feeling any self worth.

I have come to believe courage is when you do something despite the fear or emotional struggle, not because you find it easy.

Sally Sat, Apr 16th 2016 @ 7:06am

What a good friend you are to her,Helen.

Sally Sat, Apr 16th 2016 @ 7:04am

You ARE courageous, because you could have run a mile from the caring role.
It is simple to palm off your responsibilities but you have not done that. I am not surprised people say you are brave: they are fearful of the caring role, which constrains you from many activities you would otherwise like to do, and they imagine themselves and fear that for themselves.

We brought up a severely disabled son with complex learning difficulties and profound autism, and people always said we were courageous. But there was no alternative to what we were doing unless we gave him up, and we wanted to keep him within our little family of four. Scant help, few helpful friends, relations perplexed but not helpful, some even hurtful in the extreme. It was very, very hard for 19 years. But I am glad we had those 19 years with him, because, tough going though it was, unbearable at times ( he was and remains doubly incontinent) WE HAD HIM . And there were fun times, moments which made it all worthwhile. Artless, he never MEANT to create extra work and worry for us, he was an innocent. As people with dementia are, really.
My mother was at one stage diagnosed with a brain tumour, from which she died. It mimicked dementia, and so, as a result of knowing how to handle our son, we found caring for her easier, and would take the two of them out together, which worked surprisingly well !

No, it is not easy but then neither is anything worth doing. For what is life without people? For me, that became the real test, which had stood the test of time. 11 years on, I am glad we did the caring role for Mum as well as for our son. If you'd asked me at the time, some days, I might have thrown my hands up in despair. And gritted my teeth when people called me courageous, for just what WAS the alternative? !

I understand your immense frustration I think because I have been there, or somewhere very similar. So ...rail as much as you want, get it out of your system, it is a necessary safety valve in an otherwise abnormal and incredibly frustrating and trying situation. "Courageous?" I wanted to respond to all those people. " You don't know the half of it!! " xxx

Zareen Sat, Apr 16th 2016 @ 7:08am

By Ernest Hemmingway's definition you showed courage. Isn't courage evident when an individual faces their fears and acts in spite of their phobias. I would like to echo Helen's last comment about doing what you perceive is the best thing despite the fear or emotional struggle.

Mary S Sat, Apr 16th 2016 @ 7:19am

I used to live in Albany!
Wow a Carpet Python? You were pretty lucky. Theyre uncommon and I never saw one in the wild.
I often came across Tiger Snakes and Dugites when out walking. Tigers also seem to be the most common here in Tassie (but not nearly as many as in WA).

Leah Sat, Apr 16th 2016 @ 11:52pm

Mary S I have never been to Tassie mainland but have been to king island 40 yearsago! In coastal NSW we have many snakes but we agree to respect each other! Take care!

Anonymous Sat, Apr 16th 2016 @ 8:05am

When I read this post I thought this could be my mum writing this .You have made me realise that this is what she feels. I don't know if she is courageous but I think she like you has immense inner strength that has helped my family and me throughout my life more than can be imagined and more than she knows.She would not realise the strength she has as she would say you 'just get on with it'but without her 'getting on with things' I don't think I'd have got on with so many things in my life.Thankyou for your post and your strength.My mum is also a gardener .

Anonymous Sat, Apr 16th 2016 @ 8:13am

I also think that when you have this strength other people think that it is easy for you- that you are just strong or courageous naturally. But I hope that you have people you can go to for for help without making you feel burdensome and that if you need a break from being there for everyone else that there is somewhere you can go .

Anonymous Sat, Apr 16th 2016 @ 8:50am

Good morning Gardener. It's so nice to see your name under the blog today. I always think I would be able to deal with a crisis of an emotional nature. After all I've had alot of practice. But faced with a car crash or something life threatening involving children I don't know. I am absolutely certain that it must be one of the hardest things to have to care for a husband of many years who has dementia. The carer, ie yourself, is no longer young and naturally in the process of getting older,needs looking after too in many ways. Throughout a long marriage there are disputes, irritations and anger and I imagine all these are exaggerated and amplified when one partner (particularly the wife ..sorry if this sounds sexist and unfair. I think it could be. However women of some generations have been brought up to "look after" others to "care") is forced to look after the husband's every need, mental and emotional. I don't think I would cope at all. I would be tearing my hair out, exasperated and resentful at having the peace or whatever one can call it, of my later years snatched from me by duty to my husband. Does Dementia affect everyone the same? Or does the personality of the person affected "shine" through with all the annoyances of when they were not so afflicted? It strikes me that through no fault of their own, the person afflicted with dementia is in a much happier position (although it's a dread of most older people to have it because of the burden they will impose on loved ones) than the one caring for him or her. I am open to be challenged on all this by those who have had more direct experience of it. So Gardener, I am not sure I would be able to cope and I am 100% behind you cheering you on, symapathising and tearing my hair out with you. Julxx

The Gardener Sat, Apr 16th 2016 @ 9:02am

What a hugely thought provoking lot of answers. Dementia - statistically, 50% will just 'lose' it and slide away, but still smiling and good natured. The other, worst aspect, is total change of character - I was warned - treat carer like sponge, punch bag, demanding, selfish - you have to deal with the shock, sheer disbelief, and loss of freedom. And for the 'scared' ones, mostly people are far stronger than they imagine.

The Gardener Sat, Apr 16th 2016 @ 9:05am

Re the accident, sounds as if I was playing superwoman. Not at all. The old dears who had caused it were traumatised. No mobile phones. A small crowd had gathered - had anyone gone for help? No. People 'freeze', well known phenomenon. I seont people to slow traffif not to cause another accident, flag down a car to go and phone, and found a huge, if grubby towel in the car and staunched the blood (no first aid training) and help arrived quickly

Holly Sat, Apr 16th 2016 @ 10:34am

You are definitely braver than me, by far! I don't deal with crisis very well. I tend to panic, run away or dissociate. I would like to be calmer, given everything that I've been through and all the other different crisis out there, running around like a chicken with no head isn't very helpful lol

Frankie Sat, Apr 16th 2016 @ 10:42am

"Management of a life full of adversity" ... sounds like courage to me! Knowing what the day holds, yet getting on with it anyway ... And your posts reveal you as a "can-do" person - you do not come across as a victim to me, yet I am sure many in your position would ... Once again, I salute you dear Gardener. Candles burning brightly for you, Mr. G. and Moodscopers struggling today ... Frankie

The Gardener Sat, Apr 16th 2016 @ 10:50am

I must 'come clean'. We are market gardeners - children grew up with tempting machines to climb on, sharp knives for cutting vegetables. Farm accident statistics horrendous, so, without being pessimistic I was ready for anything. and five children whose games were of such an investiveness that you could write 'visit A & E' at the bottom. Visiting children were the worst, no built-in sense of self preservation.

Leah Sat, Apr 16th 2016 @ 12:21pm

Great to read your wonderful blog!
Courage is so subjective.
Snakes are my friends.
Hairdressers scare me!
Looking after your husband demands patience and courage.

The Gardener Sat, Apr 16th 2016 @ 12:59pm

G'dye Leah. Do you count Western Browns as friends? Hairdressers will destroy the most ebullient personality. With built-in cash registers, they will tell you your hair makes you look old, has split ends, is going to fall out - and you come out looking awful, scare your children and the bill gives you a heart attack. And the girls are all young and slim - and the mirrors make you look older and fatter. If you like snakes so much, cultivate Medusa locks!

Mary Sat, Apr 16th 2016 @ 3:09pm

Always love your advice! Medusa locks indeed! Super idea.

Leah Sun, Apr 17th 2016 @ 12:01am

:Gardener How did you guess? Medusa locks are what every hairdresser fearing Aussie lass has as her hair do! Love your description of most hairdressers luckily some are changing. Take carexx

Mary Sat, Apr 16th 2016 @ 3:14pm

Courage is often just getting up day after day after day and doing what has to be done. Courageous people rarely see it in themselves. I'm good in an emergency but fall apart afterward. I hate to see suffering, but could not allow anyone I loved (animal or human) to die alone. Albus Dumbledore says at one point (I think in The Philosopher's Stone) that there will come a time when you have to make a choice between the right thing and the easy thing. It is courage that makes the right thing the only thing, even if it is never easy. And - how brilliant to see a blog up here from you! Fantastic!

The Gardener Sat, Apr 16th 2016 @ 4:42pm

Sally, you've really been through the mill - I agree about being a carer 'willingly' rather than a resentful duty.amazes me we stay sane, having a terrible day with Mr G - exhausting me physically as well as mentally - which is worrying, so much only I can do. He has done nothing but take clothes on and off, change chairs, complain of the heating, the light, the sunlight - I mowed a lawn - such a pleasure.

The Gardener Sat, Apr 16th 2016 @ 4:45pm

Accidents and reactions. Two teenage girls going past our farmhouse on horses, one 'spooked' and threw rider on head on road (hat fell off). I saw it - phoned for help immediately - told Mr G - he had some training - called to 17 year old son to get downies off bed - shock = warmth. she was lying in the road - normally don't move in case of spinal injuries, but head had to be turned to stop her drowning in blood and vomit.

The Gardener Sat, Apr 16th 2016 @ 4:48pm

Son coped brilliantly traffic and comforting, ambulance men said parents myst be found, girl might need life threatening surgery. Other girl knew nothing of parents - only they both worked. I knew where mum was thought. Straight to Rose and Crown, she was pretty paralyting. Other people tried to knock sense into her - when she realised, she had hysterics, most helpful, knew nothing of parents. I know the girl was not paralysed but had serious head injuries, never normal again.

The Gardener Sat, Apr 16th 2016 @ 4:53pm

Typing - mother .of unhurt girl paralytic, noted local drunk. This poor girl, with her terrified horse, had to be comforted in our garden, her mum, of course, being useless. Presumably somebody hadto deal with the hurt girls horse - hazy about all those details.Do we ever thinkof the days before mobile phones? When you had to knock at someone'sdoor or find a phone box?Would still haveajob to differentiate between courage and presence of mind.

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