Skip to main content

Through the looking glass.

                     I stared at the open wardrobe, engulfed in a feeling of numbness.  The sarees, the countless blouses, the innumerable bindi and safety pin packets (some half-used, some empty), and the scores of plastic bags  and paper cuttings stored in every nook and corner, left me unsettled. The wardrobe that I had planned on sorting and cleaning, seemed to hold countless stories of my mother-in-law. It had belonged to her.  It had held her precious belongings for years.  It had been her world, her domain.
           My mother-in-law  passed away exactly four months ago, due to multiple organ failure. And, the complications arose due to the abuse her body had been through because of years of suffering from the dreaded illness - schizophrenia. The debilitating electric shocks she received in the early years  ( before meeting the psychiatrist, who was a blessing in disguise),  the number of anti depressants and drugs she had to consume to maintain her equilibrium, had all left her system weak and defenceless. In hindsight, her end came by so quickly, as if she was waiting to be whisked away from this world of suffering.    It all seemed  very well planned - well  planned by her destiny.
          However, it is the destiny of others like her, that I wonder about, worry about.  Many a times, we read about mentally ill patients being mistreated because of their illness,  because of lack of knowledge of their illness. Being chained to a post, or  confined to a room, away from sunlight and  fresh air, hidden from  the world, they lead a pathetic life. There are also some, who get forsaken by their families, and live their  lives getting battered by life on the mean streets. And, all this for no fault of theirs.
        I won't say life was not tough for us.  It was a battle, which we fought, but, with a lot of help and support from our angel - our psychiatrist.  How many people, who suffer at the hands of a mental illness, receive the care they deserve?  Mental illness, in our country, is completely misunderstood.  Depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar mood disorder, personality disorder, all of these, as we know,   fall under  this category and have a great many myths surrounding it;  myths that hinder the treatment that should be started at its earliest.
         It is not only the myths, but also our attitude towards mental illness, which further proves to be  a hurdle  in its  treatment and care. The social stigma attached to mental illness is the sufferer's undoing. The inability to notice  the symptoms, accept the reality that there is a problem, and share it with the society we live in, has a number of repercussions on the sufferer, leading to a  delay in the treatment. Why is it that diseases like diabetes and cardiac problems get tagged as lifestyle diseases, and receive  all the limelight, while mental illness gets swept under the carpet?
        Timely diagnosis and its treatment and care can give patients a fair chance to  live the life that they are entitled to live, and  reach their potential. My mother- in- law was a fabulous cook. Watching cookery shows and then experimenting in the kitchen was all that her life was all about. It was a constant source of happiness for her and she could make use of her potential only because of the medical treatment she received all these years. The happiness that exuded from her every pore after preparing a brilliant recipe was incomparable! It was during those moments she spent in the kitchen that she really came alive.
       She was also fond of dressing up. Wherever she had to go, whatever occasion she had to attend, she would dress up immaculately. People found it hard to believe she was a patient of a mental illness so grave as schizophrenia! Her ability to indulge in her hobbies, to live her life the way she liked, was all possible only because of her treatment. And, I am glad we could give her those moments of happiness in a life fraught with struggles.
        The side effects of the drugs she took were plenty, but she never let those get in the way of her and her passion. I remember the tremors in  her hands, and how, in spite of them, the quantity of salt or spices in a particular recipe would always be accurate. Those moments of sheer bliss that she experienced sure must have been manna from heaven for  the poor soul. How I wish that the scores of souls suffering a similar fate could be given one chance at living the life they truly deserve!
       There are helplines, therapy, counselling  for the patients as well as the care givers, which can go a long way in rehabilitating the patients of mental illness and help them lead better lives, as well as help their families and care givers by  guiding them  in their treatment and care. Awareness regarding mental illness is being carried out to quite an extent, but, it's the stigma attached to mental illness that needs to be dealt with. We, as a society, have come a long way in accepting certain realities of life, accepting people and their varied ways of living. Then, why are we unable to accept an illness, which is not the fault of the sufferers?
        I am hopeful that in the years to come, mental illness will be viewed in a better light and given the attention it deserves.  And, this in turn, will go a long way in banishing the  shame and disgrace attached to it, giving its patients a well-deserved chance to living their life to its fullest.
     






Comments

  1. Its viewed as a nuisance in so many cases...or just disregarded as something that cannot be helped or as a curse and i hope in the future it will be treated as any other debilitating disease. It starts so silently for some people that over the years as it develops , people near and dear to them cannot recognize it for what it is. My family has someone that i suspect is suffering from it but my relatives will probably pooh pooh the idea.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh! That is so sad! I do hope your family member gets the required help soon.

      Delete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

On love and attachments.

Learning to live without the person whom we loved more than our life is one of the toughest things we humans experience during our life.
Almost every moment of our day we spend in their shadows, enveloped in their love; we don't even realise when they became an extension of our selves. We come to accept them along with their flaws, their peculiarities, which often have the potential to drain us of our patience. Yet, we love them, unconditionally, at times wondering how we survived before they entered our world. Often, we also wonder how we will ever survive after they leave our world.

The human mind is such.  Its ability to give birth to a thought and then mull over it however unpleasant it may be, is quite baffling! We realise we stand to lose our sanity if we don't get rid of that negative thought; we understand how important it is to live in the moment and enjoy it with the loved ones we fear losing someday, yet we keep worrying ourselves to death about what would happen t…

You are The Man!

I admit, I am late in discussing this event, but did you watch the controversial 'Koffee with Karan' episode, two weeks ago? The one where the ubertalented Kangana Ranaut and Saif Ali Khan were Karan Johar's guests on his famous couch, sipping coffee along with him? Did you notice Kangana's confidence and her sassiness?   Do you remember her repartees, her jibes, her ripostes that were well-aimed at Mr. Johar? How fearlessly she spoke her mind without mincing words! And, she was in conversation with one of the Big Daddies of Bollywood.

I confess, I am an admirer of Ms. Ranaut, and I was blown away by her candour. The fact that she gave two hoots about diplomacy, and about the men in power in the hindi film industry,  shows how self-assured she is. She wasn't born into the industry, with a silver spoon; she entered the industry as an "outsider", who, despite being written off by the industry bigwigs, worked her way up the very competitive ladder, right to…

A pleasant surprise.

Life does that. Springs surprises when you are least expecting any. And  you are left baffled, overwhelmed, ecstatic, and, surprised, too! You find it unbelievable that such a thing could happen with you. And, it takes a lot of probing and analysing to finally accept that something this unimaginable could happen to you, too!

              The above emotions are  what I went through when I received a message from the Manager of Baggout that my blog had been selected as one of the 15 best love and relationships blogs in India. I must have read the message 5 times and still found it unbelievable. In fact, I thought someone was playing a prank. I made enquiries, tried finding out all about Baggout and went back to where I was - in a state of utter disbelief! Call it low self esteem if you wish, but I wondered how  anyone could find my one and a half year old blog worthy of any such mention.

        The feeling was  good, nay, great. But, unless I saw it all in black and w…