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Last week we went to the psychiatrist. Its a monthly visit-these days. After coming out of the clinic, we saw a man sitting on the kerb, with a basket on his lap. He stood out because of the way he dressed. He was from the countryside. Looking at him, I was so sure that the basket with the lid would have a snake. It did. When I asked him he opened it and predictably a huge, spectacled, black cobra uncoiled itself, spread its hood and hissed threateningly. I felt suddenly happy for watching the man and his snake, brought back pleasant childhood memories when life moved at a slower pace and snake charmers were a common sight. As the man explained how he made a living with the snake, occasionaly selling its venom, he struck such a contrast to the chaotic traffic behind him. Later as we were coming home, my daughter remarked as to how the man seemed so content despite his choice of leading a life where he couldn't be sure of earning enough for his next meal.
As I thought over her words I wondered if that man had achieved or was blessed with that rare quality of equanimity, where he could exist in peace amidst the chaos. The wise ascetics and the ancient scriptures urge us to stay calm in this eternally changing world. With schizophrenia in our lives the magnitude of turbulence in our lives, at times, is at unimaginable levels. It is so difficult to always stay calm, it is so difficult to love and yet stay detached, so difficult to give while overcoming the desire for a return...the list is endless. Perhaps some are blessed and for some, well- they have to take different paths to achieve that state.
I hope and pray the over-conscientious wild-life authorities do not ever catch that snake charmer and imprison him.
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How I wish books such as the one you mentioned, “The Day the Voices Stopped a Memoir of Madness and Hope” by Ken Steele and Claire Berman are available here. Our country has over ten million people battling schizophrenia and it is so difficult to get a book on this illness, even in New Delhi-its capital. I read Fuller Torrey's 'Surviving Schizophrenia' only this May after I borrowed it from the courageous boy, who is battling this illness - I met on this site. He is twenty years old, ordered this book from an Indian site which is akin to Amazon, now no longer functioning and has also read it. Few in India, would have read this book for its not available and even if it is, for the ones who have this illness it must be disturbing to read all that is written. Currently, there is only one book on this illness which is written by an Indian psychiatrist this year.
My prayers are with you, Cassie and your family.
My daughter works mostly from home. Occasionally she goes to her place of work where she clarifies doubts regarding her work or when there is there is no access to the internet either due to the telephone not working or when there is no electrical power. Initially her employer did not know about her illness. He used to chide her when she made any errors in her work like he did the others. One day my daughter almost dropped some tea on his notepad - somedays she finds it difficult to hold on to cups, books...they slip off from her fingers. Her employer berated her angrily. She was so distraught that it took some days for her to feel 'normal' again. She said she knew that her employer was responding normally but what could she do for she had become acutely sensitive to a critical remark even when she deserved it.
I found it agonizing to stand by and watch her go through the despondency, the withdrawal, hear her speak out the old fears and recriminations...till they petered out and she was back to being normal again. It took me a couple of days before I decided that I had to tell him. I had to take that risk whatever be the outcome. I went and spoke to him. I was taken aback when he responded with understanding. He didn't flinch when the illness was mentioned. I saw then within him, a glimpse of a vast ocean of compassion and kindness. This was what I had always been yearning from our families and I discovered it elsewhere.
After that conversation that day, he has been gentle though firm with my daughter. I spoke to him for over an hour that day. I dont think it had to do with the way I spoke, for I have been speaking in the same way to my parents and my husband's family. He has an innate understanding. My daughter says he helps many of his students. He has assuaged partly-the sorrow, which I often feel when I think about the lack of support from our families. I will always feel immense gratitude towards him.
Today, I impulsively rang up my one of my sister's-in-law who lives in a distant town. We exchanged news. Although she was keen for me to send some reading material regarding this illness, I felt the old feeling of frustration when she asked me, if the p-doc we were consulting was a competent one and she also went on to say that there were hardly any such cases in the city where she was staying. Why is it I wonder we continue to seek solace from the ones that cannot understand or give ?
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Thank you for sharing the moving story of Garrett Lee of Oregon. His loving parents have transcended the sorrow of losing their son to do something for other children who suffer. Not many in power will have the courage to take such a bold step. I wish one of the ministers from the new cabinet in the Indian government, who is in charge of an important portifolio would read about it and do something. This minister's daughter-in law and a few months later his daughter committed suicide. They were both being treated for depression. The newspapers write sporadically, about the great tragedy and the suffering he underwent but I often wonder about his wife who is little seen or written about.
My prayers are with you dear mother.
A few days ago, the Indian media was full of reports about an ex-Miss India who had taken her own life. This beautiful girl was only twenty five years old. Besides being an MTV veejay who hosted many shows on television, she was also an animal activist who was very popular in Bangalore. The newspapers reported that her mother had blamed her fiance who had called off the marriage two weeks before the event. The reports went on to say that she had three broken engagemants before this one. It was so surprising that such a 'strong' girl had done said such a terrible thing said her friends. Most of the people who were interviewed except one expressed surprise about 'a strong person doing such a thing'. This one person was an aunt who said that her niece was depressed about several things.
It was so strange that the media did not write about the link - severe depression and suicide. If it had, it would have created so much of awareness. So much of ignorance would have dispelled and parents would take their children to the p-doc for help, when they see their child becoming increasingly withdrawn after a stressful life-event.
That evening, I went for an official dinner. While people discussed this tragic incident, one gentleman remarked to my husband wondering why nowadays a lot of young people are doing such things. Even his daughter had once cut her wrists, he said.
When I heard this later, I understood why his wife no longer smiled and looked so preoccupied. There were three mothers that night at that dinner whose children at some time had tried to take their lives, experiencing the terror of almost losing their child. I was one of them. Only after going through such a frightening experience, I know how imperative it is, to rush for help when one detects the warning symptoms.
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I am so happy to hear that Cassie is getting even better. Yes, the small milestones which our children cross- be it showing enthusiasm, being able to speak in a complete sentence or being able to sew are as you put it 'sweet victories'.Thank you for sharing your moments with Cassie. My prayers are with you.
Thank you for the inspiring response. My love and prayers are always with you.