Today is two days away from the end of October, a month that has seen me grieve my brother as intense as my spirit led me. This month saw me blog ferociously both here and via comments on others’ blogs. I am honoured that I was asked by Judy of the recall centre to blog on the ‘sensitive’ topic of medecines.
This month for me was Mental Health Awareness month; both in words and in challenges too. I am going through another difficult period of my life but I trust and have faith that all will work out Amen!!!
To share my brother’s journey with you all, especially my ‘shaggy’ friends out there who may not even have money for their ‘meds’ not to talk of buy a book, I scheduled a free book promotion. It will run from Thursday the 30th to Sunday the 2nd of November.
I also thought of doing a free promotion of my own thriller of a memoir. These two works of mine are therefore free to download on amazon kindle on those days. Kindle apps are equally free out there, so if you really want to read my works, all you need do is click.
I really wish us all the best and look forward to the month of November.
I hope many of you find it to join me from this evening from 9.30 -11 pm Brussels time, as I launch my Brother’s Journey on his facebook page : My Brother’s Journey from Genius to Simpleton
One day, after our parents had split, we were at mum’s about to eat before returning to what we called ‘limbo’. Yes, that is what our father’s house had become to us especially since he got married to this other woman who wouldn’t let us touch ‘her things’ (fridge, pans, spoons, just name it). It was then during that meal, a sumptuous one of different dishes, that my brother coined the term ‘last supper’.
On that particular day, a Saturday which I very well remember, the fun was that it wasn’t even in the evening. We had just returned from some shopping and I had insisted we go into a photo studio and take the above picture. We had our ‘last supper’ and returned to ‘limbo’ with some more foodstuffs which I would cook on the stove we had in our room.
Our meals in ‘limbo’ very often consisted of rice and whatever. There is no doubt I think that rice up to this date is my favorite dish , just like he wrote in his journal it was his. In short, I must have his rice cooker whatever it takes.
And so, each time we were having a delicious meal, we would joke that it is our ‘last supper’.
Yes, and sadly so, when my brother started living and toiling on his own, his cooking abilities were eventually limited to doing rice in his cooker and mixing ketchup and water in a large sauce pan. He would eat only that day in day out, as many times a day as the side effects of his meds urged him to appease ‘hunger’.
Mum got him to send her a picture of what he was going to have for supper on the eve of his death. She had been there recently and did cook lots of stuff and leave with him. He had maybe eaten all by then and so this is the picture he sent her:
Yes, life really has twists and turns!!!
When I first saw this picture, I didn’t know the expression that could very well show the emotions waging up inside me just then. Whose brother was now going around with a lunch box and an apron? Whose brother was now reduced to arranging shopping bags and carts when he had in form one of college been brought in to lecture form five students? Someone tell me whose brother was this, not in any real way related to the one who had taught us all maths, physics, chemistry …
I narrate this period of his life in the stage four of his journey as chronicled.
This is part of what mum wrote in her tribute to her dearest son :
Gabriel worked with Market Basket as a “bagger” for about one year but the depth of the blow on his self-esteem got him to quit. He was aware that his performance was deeply below his potential…
As I narrate in that book, here are some recollections of that period:
When he was a bagger, he would complain to me about someone pushing his jacket on the rack, surely out of jealousy he claimed, and the proof was that he now found his precious jacket on the floor.
He told me about a colleague who despised him and about his card which refused to be properly punched just so that he could be signed in as late. His boss was a nice man but he was suspicious of the later whom he thought wanted to demean him further.
He was getting tired with carrying a lunch box to work each day as if he were in primary school. That Lunch box finally found its way to me and oh how I treasured it…
To make matters worse, it was like we were going to really loose him after all. There was decreasing hope in the ‘system’ out there in which he was now entrapped ‘thanks’ to some ‘lottery’ of a win. Mum and us all were frustrated. She couldn’t manage her son’s treatment and even his legal proxy was eventually to be grossly ignored by his ‘medical team’.
His life to me had all but been reduced to call my meds. How could he even manage to keep a job for about one year with those meds and their side effects? Sure his situation deteriorated and soon I heard he was now a ‘criminal’, going around in scrubs and handcuffs. Wow, he became a number at that so called Bridgewater State Hospital.
Dear gentle readers and followers, I really believe mum’s prayers were not in vain. For Gabriel to try so hard to lean in there inspite the barely recognizable young man he’d become? He himself had such strong faith and sang his hymns and praises to his God with all his might. I think that ‘almighty system’ is not in any haste to release his autopsy results because well, he’s just another figure to add or substract now.
I sincerely wish my brother’s soul and the souls of all those like him; consumed and lost to mental illness and ‘shabby systems’, to RIP!!!
A short and concise poem on Mental Illness Awareness.
Originally posted on Poetry On A Roll:
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.
written by: Kimalee Jones
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.
Gayathri Ramprasad‘s impressive website is as captivating as it is simple to navigate.
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.
by Marie A. Abanga (Goodreads Author)
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.