Posts Tagged ‘Mental Illness’

Friends, this is deeply personal and as public as I can get. I attempt to articulate the caverns in my mind and in my land by trying to tell Panjab’s story through the prism of rituals and mental illness.

On social media I asked the question: Can I build a book on this premise? The response was an overwhelming yes. I feel finally I am getting a grip on Panjab. Thank you Aditi Sengupta. I loved being pushed to articulate the demons that haunt me.

Please read here…

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Very happy that Sepia Leaves lives on and on. Nirupama Dutt covers it as part of the three important texts on mental illness in India. Others being Em and the Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto and Echoes in the Well by Belinder Dhanoa. The article made the lead story in The Hindu Literary Review.

Please read

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A locked iron door

   Posted by: aman    in Sepia Leaves

This Saturday I went to meet members of Roshni, the ACMI initiative. It was a mixed group of victims and care givers. As we started the session I realized that the notes I had made were not going to be very helpful.

These were real people and there was nothing new that I could have told them. A tragedy has befallen their lives and they come here to share their experiences. We must draw on those experiences, process them, strip them of presumptions, and make nuggets of knowledge that maybe other care givers can use. We did that by starting a conversation. For example,

1. When users feel the medication is not working we have to take into account that the pharmaceutical psychiatry industry is growing the fastest in the world today but they still do not have effective ways to find new drugs. There is no easy co-relation between chemicals and effectiveness because the results are not tied to figures. All they have are some subjective type tests and the users’ word, which also depends upon the mood of those who are trying the trial drugs.
2. Regular medication also has very hard side-effects. Most often we get angry with a victim for being lazy, but it might be that the medication that he or she is consuming is causing the blood sugar to rise and it is not as someone was saying ‘opium is mixed in drugs’.
3. The discipline of psychiatry has still not evolved enough for the practitioners to be able to make effective and absolute diagnoses. To reach a consensus that the same condition is called the same name by different people in different contexts. That is why it is important that the care givers make the effort to participate in the process of diagnoses and care.
4. Genetics plays an important role in transmitting the illnesses between generations in a family but it can again not be tied to exact percentages. Neither can we rule out the environment or individual behaviour patterns. Genes also work on the basis of whether they are active or dormant or repressive and so on.

We ended up with the question what is it that exactly happens in the mind of a victim. We had with us a lady who has successfully combated her schizophrenia. She said, ‘A strong iron door is locked on the mind. Whatever happens, washes over the person whose mind is locked. We do not have the right keys to open the locks. While the world grows around us, we live in the closed room.’

A very important point to consider, and this was the first time I heard it from a user. Thank you lady.

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HIV vs. Schizophrenia

   Posted by: aman    in Other

On December 1, I was playing the radio in my car and it was flooded with messages about AIDS and HIV. That is World AIDS Day, wear a Red ribbon.  Each message or conversation revolved around how AIDS is a limited contagious disease, it does not spread by touch or eating meals together, how we must learn not to discriminate a carrier or victim, and so on. Another important part of the messages was: practise safe sex. Very right. With 2.8 million people suffering from the illness we must do our best to spread the messages and educate ourselves.

But I also wondered. What about Schizophrenia? Or Bi Polar Disorder? Or Depression, Stress, Anxiety Disorder, or sheer inability to handle our lives. Those do not spread through touch, or meals together, or even through sex. Are we doing enough for them?

I have always felt that there is an essential difference between the two kinds of disabilities: mental and physical. When one is physically disable one can make a plea for better attention from the state or society. One can stand at Gandhi Statue in Bangalore or Jantar Mantar in Delhi and hold black flags to influence policy and compensation. But when one is mentally disabled one has only one place to go to, hide in a dark room in one’s heart and go silent.

We do not hear the voices, we do not know the sufferers. But there are many. I am no expert but at least one in every five people I meet I learn of someone in their family suffering from a mental breakdown. See this: Mental Illness 

Wonder if we can do more for mental illness while we try to work on AIDS.

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