Narratives around the life in Rehabilitation

Narratives around the life in Rehabilitation

“I don’t have any intention of living. I can’t control my thoughts and my husband doesn’t understand my situation at all. My family hates me and my in-laws treat me like I am non-existent. I just can’t understand what is my mistake in all this in whatever I am going through? No one can understand what I am living….Mam you are the only support I have now"

These were the words of a patient taking who was undergoing therapies for Obsessive Compulsive disorder. People always tend to think that working with people who have mental disorders just require knowing the symptoms and treatment. The truth is that even as psychologists we sometimes are unable to understand what the hardships person with a disorder undergoes and it is much more than any set criteria. When these people are observed and treated by a psychologist in rehabilitation then only they realize that even doing the basic periodic routine is so challenging for them. People take life so granted. People with disorders just are ridiculed just because they appear or behave differently. Try to think for a moment, what if it happened to you or even with any of your closed one? What if the world started treating everyone else in the similar way? I guess we need some reflection over here.

While working in a rehabilitation counselors and a psychologists realizes that it is actually extremely challenging for patients to function normally on daily chores. Living with a disorder is actually like a fight against our own inner self for existence. Yet the stigma regarding the labels to be called “mentally ill” remains the same for them. They are left alone with their fight instead of supporting them as a society we mock them just because of the reason that people never really try to understand what happens in a mental disorder.

A mental disorder is a condition where the brain/mind/thoughts/emotions gives us enormous amounts of pain due to various reasons. The mind which was there working for us suddenly starts behaving differently. It’s just like an antibody in a body which starts working against our body mechanism. And it takes thousands of steel to bounce back and perhaps many people cannot manage to do so just because they face situations just like the narrative mentioned above.

“Mam I did nothing wrong I was just in love with a guy and my family thinks I am mentally ill. They have put me here because I don’t socially interact. I am fine please help me I want to go back home…please please….”

We dream to fall in love at all times. Nevertheless we do not realize that it can take us to any mental disorders as well. The narrative of the girl mentioned above who was just eighteen years old developed a condition of schizophrenia thinking that she loved some guy but in reality there was none. It was her mind who had messed up completely because she wanted to be loved by some guy. The longing became so deep that the mind created false beliefs causing her this condition. Her family supported her but the girl thought they are the ones responsible for everything. Her mother every time cried and said – “Please take care of my daughter. She has never lived alone before this and she might do something to herself. I remain scared and worried…please look after her.”  

And the girl thought it was her mother who hated her so much that she admitted her in a rehabilitation center. She use to cry day and night. She thought everybody was against her and against the love she had for the boy. This disorder creates false beliefs in the mind and makes us think that everybody is against us. As an outcome the girl used to remain scared and socially withdrawn.  

Try to imagine yourself in a situation where you have completely surrendered  yourself in love  but that person isn’t real. Treating  and making them aware of the reality such patients is so difficult, how difficult it would have been for them who live with it and face it. They continuously struggle to cope up with the reality.

We as professionals tend to say- “Crying will never give you a solution” but in reality it was the only thing that the girl could have done in that closed and locked room apart from the medicines and therapy. Then what mistake did the girl committed? ….She just wanted to be loved by someone and that’s what we all want. May be the strong denial for love in her orthodox and over conservative family lead her to something like this. And that’s why parents should talk to their children as friends when they become adolescents. Please open up to your child and listen to them. It might save them from leading to these conditions.

“Two years back when I was admitted here I had conditions which I thought would never change. But now I know what I am living and I have accepted it. I am trying to fight against it. I would not lie that it was really hard so much it made me almost to succumb but then I chose to fight just for myself and I know it does not matter to others but at least I will stand strong in my eyes.”

This is kind of surprising for a counsellor to encounter such a strong person in counseling sessions. Even after going through painful experiences and devastation side-effects of medications- a point where all patients lose hope the person decided to fight for himself. The person mentioned in this narrative had lost everything his business, family, friends and even his partner but not hope. According to him the disorder was now the new hope from which he wanted to fight. And we as people complain for our petty troubles each day saying “we don’t have enough of it” or “why it always happens with me”?

There were many more narratives which could reflect every single day about the kind of lives people live and how insensitively society treat them. They are called “crazy” “ill”, etc and so mistreated as they are considered a liability. We need to do some introspection why our teenagers are committing suicides due to depression in vast numbers? The question is what change is required? Try being more sensitive and humane.

It’s not for those who are living with disorders need to change because anyone can develop these conditions rather people need to change their mindsets. It’s the stigma which is more challenging. The labels which are given are more hurtful than the actual symptoms of the conditions. Disorders are not fashionable rather they are painful for the person facing them. It’s not a showoff when someone tells us a story of how they sustained a condition it’s just that they want us to listen. The brewing psychologist out there needs to be more empathetic towards their patients. We need to build acceptance and support for them in the society. As a culture we have done enough of the shaming its time that we develop some courtesy and become more of humans. It’s time that we show some love and kindness and treat those with mental disorders with respect. I agree that eliminating the stigma completely isn’t possible but can we at least try to bring a change? Can we at least stop judging and labeling people with mental health issues? If we do I believe we will find the satisfaction and happiness we never imagined.

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Ankita Rathod

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