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February is one of the pleasant months of the year in Delhi. February is also when I relive the pain, turmoil and helplessness I had to go through eight years ago. My daughter was going through hell too, far worse than mine - her mind wracked by the demons of the past and losing control of her mind. Thats what she told me when I asked her why was she looking so sad. 'Mamma I am losing control of my mind', she said in a calm voice. I could not understand.
By then I no longer insisted that she go to college. A lot of rest would make her better my husband and I thought. I rushed and enrolled for Yoga classes for both of us. It didn't help. She couldn't do even a simple exercise like lifting both her feet together before an 'asana'. I remember feeling very uneasy as I watched the instructor telling her gently how to go about the movements and she couldn't do it. I urged her repeatedly not to give up and she said ,' I cant.'
After three sessions we didn't go. By then she was awake most nights and talking about incidents from the past which had hurt her deeply. She was lapsing into silences. She wasn't listening. She wasn't taking care of her appearance, something which she was normally so fastidious about. Her movements seemed to be regressing - the way she walked, not swinging her arms but hanging lifelessly by her side. When she ate her meals, crumbs fell on her dress and she was unaware of it.
Sometimes she wanted us to drive to some place and eat out, sometimes go sight-seeing where she would click photographs of us. Sometimes I felt she was in a desperate hurry to do what she liked to do before something catastrophic happened. Most of the time I felt the cold hand of fear over my heart. My husband and I took her wherever she wanted to go.
I went and got cloth, and embroidery threads so that she could embroider and sew. A cousin of mine who had a 'nervous breakdown' used to sew. I did not know there were medications for mental illnesses. I sensed my daughter was having a breakdown but I was terrified to take her to a psychiatrist because of the stigma. Who would marry her, I thought then. Desperately I read books on Naturopathy which said a diet rich in almonds, saffron and cardamoms were good for the brain. I gave her large amounts with milk. She got worse.
So my husband and I took her to a psychiatrist. He was a man in his seventies(private practice). My husband and I went and spoke to him. Then he called my daughter in, asked us to wait out. She was with him for sometime. Then we were called in while she waited out. He told us that she was a deep introvert and she has had a breakdown. When I asked him what was a breakdown, he said it was the disintegration of the Nervous System. I remember the fear enveloping me. He prescribed some medications and he said ,'Take this and if you see any side effect take the other one .' We were too terrified to ask him anything.
I went to the drug store and showed the prescription while my husband waited in the car with my daughter. I asked the chemist for the book on medications which are normally kept there. I read under the medication beginning with F.. ( I cant remember)...is generally used for the treatment of Schizophrenia.. I closed the book, paid for it and ran out sobbing loudly. I walked , I dont remember where but thinking with terror that my daughter was turning into a split personality. I didnt tell my husband then but when we got home I told him and wept with the doors closed so that the children would not hear.
I rang up a distant cousin who was a doctor working in a government hospital and asked her to ask their psychiatrist about the medication. There was no access to any information. I looked up the dictionary for the meaning of Schizophrenia which stated 'that the person suffering from the illness was split from reality'. I gave my daughter the medication and she slept for a few hours that night.
The next day I rang up the p-doc and asked him whether I should buy a dog because my daughter wanted us to buy one. He told me not to as she could be manic. I couldnot understand so I asked him what would be the best thing for me to do. He told me to make sure things were calm, pretend that everything was normal and carry on with the day-to-day routine of a household. He said the medication could cause convulsions and to give her the other tablet when it happened. He also said not to buy a dog.
Later my cousin rang up to say that the she had checked up with the government p-doc who said that the medications were too strong so she would fix an appointment to meet him. She told us that he had said to stop all the strong medications as they would have long lasting side-effects. So we did. I cant recall the medication. Was it Fluoxetine? Well, does it matter now? Terror ruled our lives then because we felt so helpless.
Sometimes we wish that we hadn't stopped the medication then. But then we console ourselves that what we did was because of our ignorance and we would never have done so if we had known the consequences.
Its late in the night here now.. I shall continue later.Posted by survivor at February 22, 2004 08:01 PM