Diary (6) – The possibly mentally handicapped carer proceeds to think (and needs help in the process)

I must admit that I felt degraded and humiliated when it was suggested that I ask to be recognised as mentally handicapped. That was my first thought of hurt pride. Alright, it was misplaced: I am no genius; I have an average intelligence and understanding, no more. Nonetheless, the fact that I already feel I have been robbed of my life – I mean a normal life in a place I chose, doing things I chose, having friends, hobbies, a job, my own possessions – trivial things like my own crockery, my own books, my own records -, a financial independence – all this is difficult. I try to live it as a Christian: giving one’s life for others without restriction and with love. I can tell you I am a bad Christian because this does not come easily to me!

Therefore, being deprived of full intellectual means “for the good cause” seemed to me a little over the top.

Dr Quack left, thinking I would rush to do what he had told me. He insisted that it could be easily proven that I suffer from chronic nervous breakdown verging on melancholia. He would write it. He would convince his colleagues on the Red Tape board or panel. I would not be deprived of my civic rights and my own disposition of my money and properties. I would manage my life as I would please. I would be given help that would help The Little Family. I would be given a status of “mentally handicapped” or “mentally disabled” that entailed a small allowance. All I had to do was to see a social worker who would ask for the file to be sent from the local bureaucracy for disabled and handicapped people (the same who has declared Anne-Fleur mentally handicapped) fill the papers, give them to him, to add his certificate about my mental disease, and to send the whole to the same office in Périgueux. Then, there would be some months before I would be called before a panel of administration (read intellectually limited and bureaucratic MDs) who would corroborate the decision. Then again, some more months with social workers to determine the amount of my allowance (not much – somewhere about 200 or 300€ per month) and the material help that I would need.

Verba volant, scripta manent. Who can guarantee and sign the warrant? Who can guarantee that things will evolve like this? Can Dr Quack do it? I don’t believe so.

The material needs are in the hands of the bureaucratic psychologists and social workers. They may very well decide that being mentally handicapped does not forbid my doing the whole house cleaning, cooking and gardening. These may well be seen as therapies.

So what would I earn? A small financial allowance and a status of a mentally handicapped or mentally disabled person. The rest is a full question mark. The answer, if I adopt this solution, will be found in a year or so.

Meanwhile, we still have to live.

A blogger friend picked up another hole in the seemingly perfect fabric. And my thoughts had already jumped to it, after my pride had started to abate.

If I am declared mentally handicapped, or mentally disabled with the relevant status, I stop being the person with which The Girls can live without danger. One further step may easily be made by the Court, or by the social services, or by the administrator: The Girls would be better with “normal people”, neither handicapped nor disabled, and be entrusted to a family paid to take care of them or to a specialised institution.

One more step and I could be deemed unable to live by myself and sent to a specialised institution myself.

Doesn’t it need thought before rushing to issue that was so temptingly presented to me yesterday? Perhaps a consultation of our legal advisor in Paris, specialised in all things relevant to handicap and disability? To friends having jobs dealing with same social law? With social workers of the Foreign Office and the ministry of defence where family members worked for years and years?

Other thoughts?

I still believe that giving the carer, when he or she is family, a status is the proper solution. We do the job. Why are we not paid and helped for it?

But the job is a matter for another post.


4 thoughts on “Diary (6) – The possibly mentally handicapped carer proceeds to think (and needs help in the process)

  1. So difficult Camille, and I understand what you’re saying – why should you be labelled incorrectly just because of red tape. Also the risk of this affecting your status as someone who can care for another is high. Yes, definitely time to consult with some experts before rushing into anything….

    Liked by 1 person

  2. OK. We have language difficulties here, but I would regard someone with “melancholia” as someone who has depression/dépression. Depression is a common mental illness, in the same way that la grippe (influenza) is a common physical illness.

    It’s estimated that 1 in 5 of the population in New Zealand will suffer from depression at some time in their lives. I don’t think that France would be any different.

    Day-to-day, most people with depression function normally, though many take medication to help them. Depression is not a sign of mental inability. If you were to look into the lives of the writers you admire (and your blogger friends) you would find many stories of depression, both mild and severe.

    IF Dr Quack is saying that you are suffering from depression as a result of your responsibilities, and IF the Red Tape in France understands that depression does not mean you can’t behave normally and take care of Anne-Fleur, THEN you would probably be safe to agree with what he suggests. But you would be wise to get more advice on this if you can.

    I’m gobsmacked (estomaqué?) that there seems to be no financial allowance for carers in France.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly my point.
      1) Everybody suddenly saddled with this kind of caring after (and due to) traumatic deaths, plus the domestic tasks of a big house and garden when life has been spent travelling, studying, and living in flats in big cities (Paris) among congenial minds, would feel depressed.
      2) My depression was a burnout first and then a depression treated with medication that I do take regularly. It is now stabilised.
      3) I function normally – not for the people around me but that would be considered normal for my Paris friends (and most of my blogger friends). I cannot take care of this great big garden and house cleaning has never been my cup of tea: I am more useful talking with Anne-Fleur, teaching her things, reading with her, looking on the net elements to prepare her watching a TV programme about history or geography than washing the floor – and it is better for her than “socialising” at the supermarket among the yogurts.
      4) My only fear is that the Red Tape would be vicious enough to declare that being officially “mentally disabled” or “mentally handicapped”, I would not be able to take care of Anne-Fleur.
      6) This is why, after reading your advice and other blogger friends’ advice, and after having thought and thought again about this issue, I have resolved to ask legal advice from our lawyer and practical advice from the local social worker of the MOD who is trying to get me a pension from the MOD because of family ties and deaths (other story).
      One thing is for certain: I shall not rush into any conclusion.
      Meanwhile, I shall still refer to the ministers in charge of disabled and handicapped persons to ask why carers have no status and why they do not receive any allowance. Dr Quack has confirmed these last two points.
      Thank you for your rational approach and for spending time thinking about our problems. You may well be “estomaquée”!!!! Talking/writing openly about these issues has allowed me to see the differences from one country to the other. Should I still be in the academic system, I would say that it would be a good theme for a paper. I think it might be a good paper in a French newspaper.
      Thanks again. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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