My Mental Health Advocacy now takes on another dimension, with the demise of my brother. I will tell his story, because he lives on in me forever. But today, I want to briefly look at what his demise does to Arithmetic. Is he just another figure to add or to subtract? Does it signal a green or a red light?
Research and more research
On the eve of my brother’s demise, I was as ever so often, reading some article or the other on Mental Health. The one I was reading this time around, was on Mark Cogan’s blog where he posted an article titled:
He shares how being dedicated and determined to do his job as an editor right, got him into serious trouble and ushered him in to the Mental Health World. These are his own words:
As the editor, my punishment was ten-fold. I received protection from the police, was banned from eating at several restaurants, coffee shops, and petrol stations. I had to do my shopping at night. I was now a pariah. Months of ridicule and isolation were too much to handle. I became aggressive, hollow and distant.
I had post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.
The article moves on with some global statistics probably ‘well researched’, and wraps up with some fickle of hope as he unearths that Mental Health and Well Being, is for once mentioned as a conclusion of the third suggested goal for post 2015 MDGs. Here are his words again:
It’s a tribute to the work of the OWG and the outcome of the High-Level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases, that mental health has at least a brief mention in the outcome document. The third proposed goal, “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages” for the very first time includes everything from ending HIV/AIDS, reducing global maternal mortality, as well as water-borne diseases like malaria. It also includes “premature” mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment. The last few words under 3.4 grabbed my attention: “…and promote mental health and wellbeing.”
Ok, What has that got to do with Arithmetic?
The point I am trying to introduce is that, until the powers that be finish doing their own Arithmetic and decide whether they would rather get those huge taxes from the almighty Pharmaceutical Brotherhood (who use people like my brother and YOU – who ever is in the situation my brother was, as guinea pigs for the drugs mindful of the devastating side effects), any deaths from Mental Health, will just be another ‘shitty case’ to add or subtract depending on the angle you approach it from.
As for me, of course my brother’s is another case to add to the desperation and frustration against the SYSTEM. I care less of which ever system I refer to, giving that neither the African nor the Western Systems are any better with regards to stigmatizing and misunderstanding or ignoring Mental Health.
Well, looking at it from the last system he was in (US of A), his case is just one more ‘shit head’ to subtract from the welfare and disability or whatever list. After all, whose fault is it if your ‘Family’ can’t afford a private insurance so you see the best psychiatrist or go for the real therapy (not the sometimes damn group therapy or public therapists and professionals more interested in keeping their licenses and punching their sheets than in the ‘nut head’ sitting before them)? Is it their fault that your family can’t support you financially and otherwise? Common, give them a break they seem to beg, ‘They are doing their best right’?
What could be a plausible Scenario?
Maybe, if the SYSTEM, really thought of the real statistics, what it actually costs them to have all those ‘shit heads’ in the Community, they would think twice about forcefully revising their approach to Mental Health (MH). Let me use a personal and painful narrative to make my point clearer.
My Brother probably never harmed a fly intentionally, but I saw him come close to killing my son in a very manic episode he once had. He had picked up my son who was just 10 months old at the time, and I didn’t know then that he was ‘brewing’. All of a second, he got up and started pacing with those red eyes only those of us in the ‘Shaggy family’, know of. He scared the hell out of everyone in the house because he became furious and used one hand to push or break things while still holding my baby. Everybody ran out of the gate but I stayed with him. I never knew about therapy then, but I knew I loved both my brother and my son to see them in that situation. I calmly talked to my brother and told him I was scared of him and knew he wouldn’t drop my baby as he threatened. I told him he was so loved by us all and that I knew it wasn’t him being that furious. I appealed to his spirit in my own way and urged him to breathe. He ended up calming down and with his usual smile, gave me my baby who had been turned head down and was dangling from his hands as he held him just by one foot (imagine a chicken so held).
Imagine therefore what goes on in the minds of the psychopaths, those who go shoot in communities, schools and you name them. Imagine all the homes, families and communities affected. Imagine the suicide alarming statistics and the welfare roll.
I think it is high time there is a change of approach. Which light is currently on? I am losing my sight too it seems!
When I write such posts, I weep for my brother. I started learning lots on MH and trying to reach out the likes of us out here, somehow too late. I had my own issues too and I didn’t even know how bad I was close to total screw up.
For this reason also, I am making and have already made a conscious decision to take great care of my emotional and mental well being. I will be seeing a psychiatrist and eventually a therapist, and I also have a Life Coach. I don’t look forward to being put on any Medications, but I look forward to guidance on how to identify my triggers and symptons and how to ‘Breathe In and Out. Common pals, we can’t only blame the SYSTEM right? If you feel something is shifting up there, give stigma and shame a slap and reach out for help.
Yours respectfully, Marie Abanga