People treat mental illness like a slap on the wrist.
They think nothing is wrong,
that it must be some kind of trick
or something simple that can be explained away.
If only, it was really simple and a quick fix.
They don’t understand there’s a technical glitch,
a serious disease of the mind.
It’s not to be taken lightly.
I am taking a break once more from writing reviews about lives we end up losing. I just realized for over two months, all of my book reviews have a sad ending. Not that the tales in themselves were not pale and full of pain anyway. Look at Nick Traina, Paul Sharples, Debbie, Gabriel, David, weren’t their tales all but that?
But today, I get back to what I call breakthrough tales. Tales of those who somehow made it through their ‘madness’, to get to share their journeys with us. I admire Sebastien Aiden Daniels who keep it up over at Personal Growth for Life. I want to write today about another phenomenal woman I very much look forward to meeting someday.
As a young girl in Bangalore, Gayathri was surrounded by the fragrance of jasmine and flickering oil lamps, her family protected by Hindu gods and goddesses. But as she grew older, demons came forth from the dark corners of her fairytale-like kingdom—with the scariest creatures lurking within her.
The daughter of a respected Brahmin family, Gayathri began to feel different. “I can hardly eat, sleep, or think straight. The only thing I can do is cry unending tears.” Her parents insisted it was all in her head. Because traditional Hindu culture has no concept of depression as an illness, no doctor could diagnose and no medicine could heal her mysterious illness.
This beautifully written memoir traces Gayathri’s courageous thirty-year battle with the depression that consumed her from adolescence through marriage and a move to the United States. It was only after the birth of her first child, when her husband discovered her in the backyard “clawing the earth furiously with my bare hands, intent on digging a grave so that I could bury myself alive,” that she finally got the help she needed. After a stay in a psych ward she eventually found “the light within,” an emotional and spiritual awakening from the darkness of her tortured mind.
Gayathri’s inspiring story provides a first-of-its-kind cross-cultural lens to mental illness —how it is regarded in India and in America, and the way she drew on both her rich Hindu heritage and Western medicine to find healing.
My Musings on this
Once I read the book, I first let out a big wow.!!! I was like, how close could that be to you? Men, do people from India also have such tales? Ofcourse she was courageous to put it all out there and now dedicate herself so passionately to mental health Advocacy. It is needless for me to rate this book. A five is not enough because there is much more in there than I could ever muse about. I just wish many more get a copy or attend one of her free webinars, use a resource or reach out.
Dear gentle readers and followers, as I wrote in my poem on the dark lining, it is possible to stay on top. It ain’t easy, no it ain’t – but it can!!!
As if waiting is not hard I have to wait so long Could it be mere malice? or simple fabric? Life is indeed one long wait It all starts from within the womb Sometimes 9 months isn’t all it takes With each passing moment is an increased trepidation to be or not to be To wait or to wait no longer good things they say comes to those who wait I just wonder how long that wait should be And yet it it only makes some logic That we put in all our magic We’d sure wanna wait for the good But that wait musn’t be all that long!!!
When a neat guy, a gentleman like the one we see on that picture, starts having trouble doing even the most basic of tasks – shouldn’t it be a cause for concern?
When I received this note below from my brother, I wept!!!
“… I did my laundry today … Gabriel Bebonbechem 13/05/2014 20:36.”
Frankly speaking, I felt so bad, not because I had never felt depressed enough not to even want to get out of bed, bathe or even talk to anyone, but because I realized how distorted my hero’s brain and thought pattern had become. I could identify with that feeling of ‘huge accomplishment’ after you had battled to even take that laundry to the washing machine and just dump it in there.
I must confess that some day, not to far ago (yes only last week), I did dump some laundry in there and just forgot about them until two days later. On another ocassion, I saw 1 pm meet me in bed, not asleep – but not finding it to get out of the ‘bad bed’.
And so what’s the big deal?
These episodes may be mild especially for those mentally challenged and ill who find even taking their meds, brushing their teeth, eating or refrain from eating – doing the mundane on a daily basis, an excruciating challenge.
When I read my lovely granny Jill’s memoir of her son David, one think that struck me was her determination to help her boy keep or stay neat. I am sure she understood that he just couldn’t do it anymore, and she even hired a help once or twice. Then she took it upon herself to go to his apartment on the agreed tuesday evenings – as she writes that they had agreed to do ‘cleaning’ of his apartment together. She says she ended up doing it all by herself and took his laundry back with her. Yes, this was an even bigger deal than my brother’s.
It is easy for those who have never had to face such a challenge or be a caregiver to a loved one going through such, to understand or even empathise. They are quick to remind you to ‘put a grip on yourself’, ‘pull yourself together’, ‘take care of your shit’ and what have you?
We see the people we often label ‘mad’, pulling their ‘gabs’ on the street, having the same outfit on since New Year’s eve whereas Christmas is already around the corner. They stench, irritate, embarass, and maybe get a nasty stare from us? Simpletons like that, how dare they even walk on the same streets right?
Many Families give up, they are helpless and hopeless. What resources do you have to feed yourselves before thinking on picking up and understanding such perilous care of a now mentally ill member? Has it boiled down to his not even able to bathe or do his laundry? No that’s not my son some may say.
I sincerely hope we do a lot of retrospection and take on resolutions. Yes, doing your laundry may be an uphill task for some. I once had a blogger friend in here whom I haven’t read from for long: She blogged over at paddling for Peace – but I just checked and they say the blog has been deleted. She once tracked her efforts to do her laundry and it took almost two weeks. I called her Pax and I always wished her to find peace.
Dear gentle readers and followers, maybe we can’t do much much but we sure can feel and wish others well. May we start there, and may caregivers not give up on their faith for their loved one even if they can no longer do their Laundry.
” The National Institute of Health (NIH) reported on October, 8, 2014 that, “Results strongly suggest that clinicians need to pay much more attention to promoting physical health in people with severe mental illness.” This statement has been needed for years. Unfortunately, doctors in family practice, internists and specialists haven’t embraced adding the mentally ill to their patient roster “. I save my breathe and wrath!!!
The American Recall Center/Personal Experience
by – Sheri de Grom
Each day begins with my swallowing a handful of pills and injecting a shot. Each medication has more side effects than I care to think about. Four of the pills I swallow in the a.m. are for panic attacks resulting from a nasty case of PTSD. I’ve worked hard in therapy and thought I had managed to put everything in a pretty box and handed it to God. The move to DC I’ve talked about a lot brought on other events leading to more severe panic attacks. After my second brain injury, I was diagnosed with Narcolepsy and here came another pill and more panic. I suddenly found myself in one dangerous situation after another and I had no idea when my body would betray me and…
I know siblings usually grieve much more ‘internally’ than do the parents of the bereaved. Yet I couldn’t bring myself to “Grieve In” because I had once tried and it haunts me up to this date. Yup, it was my own one day old daughter I lost and as per ‘conventions’, you don’t openly grieve for such an ‘abomination’. The pain is there for real, the tale ever so pale especially if he died a simpleton like ours. No, I am in so much pain and it seems to be bearable the more I grieve it out.
Today dear readers, I want to share some pictures with you of this lone hero of ours (his three sisters left behind). I keep saying, if the fighter I am, the mouthful and strong headed and all, affirms that he is the only sibling I never had an argument with nor fought with, then that bond was rightly beyond blood. He was my angel Gabriel and surely same to us three.
Our journey starts with this dearest and pretty African Queen:
Several years down the lane it became this:
Our darling was very often jolly:
And some years later:
He loved to ‘sap’ (always elegantly dressed):
And then it was Boarding school era when it all started:
And the journeys became very painful to watch him do so bad – and yet keep his smile:
But all our love couldn’t stop his life from spiraling out of ours; meds and yes too many meds got into the way. His doctors said he needs to and must take them all. One said he weighed more than him so no need to worry. The journey get so bad and on the 2nd of August, 2014, we all learn our Angel is back to Paradise.
Read this wonderful post on what the system brainwashes desperate families with and what the author is doing in her modest but salutory way to help families heal together. I mean, as if having a loved one ill with some mental/neuro or whatever illness it is, is not heartache enough, stigma even from the ‘pschiatry community’ adds to the helplessness and hopelessness. I wonder how many family find the system’s blockage as frustrating? They shun you especially if you ‘paupers’.
I’ve worked in the mental health system for twelve years now, and prior to that was a patient for three. My family was educated to believe that I would be sick my whole life, and that they should have very little hope for my future. When I became a family counsellor, I vowed to never “educate” anyone in such a way. Since then, I’ve watched “Recovery” grow from a subversive whisper to a full-blown growing paradigm in mental health services. Countries have adopted Recovery and implemented its model into their health care planning, academics have studied it and written thousands of articles in peer-reviewed journals, organizations have restructured and reorganized their teams to reflect it’s principles, and brave everyday people have told their personal recovery stories to friends, colleagues, conferences, and the media. Recovery is a strong political force, a narrative, a system, a way of life, and a tool. So…
Back in high school, we studied a novel in litterature class where the protagonist had been struck by the sokugo disease. It was a disease that caused him to wander aimlessly and he could be gone for days. His family gave up trying to restrain him, and instead resolved to put a talisman round his neck so that he always came back home.
Now, we also learned that Abubakar as he was called, got the disease because he was possessed. Could that be their understanding of mental illness? I know that my brother got the disease too especially during his stage two as narrated in his book (now live in Kindle and Paperback though grand launch still weeks away). My brother’s talisman was his dearest and loving mum whom he always called wherever he stopped even if he often left before she organised any ‘rescue team’.
My Brother’s wanderings which he sometimes narrated with such hero like air, took him to Spain, France, Italy, Switzerland and back to Germany. I am still in awe at how he survived without any papers, money and all.
I mean, when I see pan handlers, street children, mentally challenged and all those marginalized of society, I can’t help but see my beloved brother in each of them somehow. I am also mentally challenged so to speak, but I do my best to cope and thrive and to help out all those I can in whichever way I can.
Back to his tours, he said train conductors never asked him for a ticket. He hopped in at the last minute, and went to the very last coach and sat very quiet with his head bent. He said he sometimes dashed into the loo if he sensed he was going to be arrested. He said he never felt cold and didn’t care about his clothes, looks at all. He told me he sometimes begged passer bys for money and some gave while others chased.
In Spain, some kind lady (whose name and phone number he sometimes reminded me of and urged me to call and thank her), took him in and kept him there for 2 days. He left on his own he says. Where to I asked, to Paris to see the ‘Tour d’Eiffel’ he answered.
In Paris, this I know because my mum told me, he called a colleague of hers whom he loved so much. She informed my mum who managed to speak with him and encouraged him to seek for help from some contacts she knew. She made calls and I think he was fetched or helped somehow until he unfortunately disappeared again.
His next stop he told me, took him to Italy where it had been his dream to sleep in the famous Stadio San Siro in Milan. He said he loved both A.C Milan and Inter de Milan and he could even remember the sitting capacity and other details of that stadium.
I just checked out this stadium on the internet and it is indeed among the 10 best stadia in Italy. Wow, my brother did have a journey.
And now, my poor brother’s still wandering in as much as the samples collected from him are yet to produce an autopsy report. His casket had traveled for four days to get to Cameroon and his US passport disappeared along the line…
Dear gentle readers and followers of mine, I wanted to share this with you today because I know many sometimes ‘wander off’ like I have done at times. The brain goes on fire and the raging heat propels you to flee in which ever direction. At such moments, we should be fortunate to have talismen; or are we just shunned off and given up for possessed?
P.S In my literary wanderings, I decided to try out a new font – hope it blends somehow with the topic – I vouch my talisman to return me to …
A site about my thrilling life, emotions and mental illness
Inspiring Personalities is a profiling journal that seeks to motivate , elevate , recognise women who have defied odds and excelled in their careers across the globe. It is a diary of Women of inspiration and Mothers of hope