Extremely Unique State of Mind

Saturday, August 31, 2013

It's been quite a while since I blogged, mainly because of the tons of things to do. But once a blogger, always a blogger. You may not have the time to put your thoughts into paper, or in your blog, for that matter, the thoughts haunt you until you finally make them alive in your posts.

What I have been thinking lately, in between, hustling and bustling, sending the kids to and from school and juggling two jobs, which are both starting to demand a lot of time from me, is something that we all may have noticed all the time, but just didn't give any importance to it.

If you live in the same place as I do, or even if you don't, these are common sights. But because I saw more and more of them every day, this is a cause for alarm.

I am talking about mentally-ill people roaming our streets. If you are the observant type of person, you would have noticed that there are more than many of them in our streets. I always see one woman near the Leyte Normal University, in Juan Luna St. She would be there mostly in midday all through the evening.

Earlier this morning, I saw one man clad in nothing but transparent plastic crossing the street somewhere near McDonalds. Last week, a woman, obviously wasn't in her right mind was also crossing the street wearing a dirty t-shirt and nothing else underneath.

Seeing them breaks my heart, because at some point in my life, I was on the verge of being a part of that statistic. On the other hand, I feel lucky and blessed not to have fallen as deep as they had. Mental illness has many causes and they may have experienced a different kind of trauma, or even an inherited genes from one of their family members.

But nevertheless, they are victims of circumstances, of something that they may did not want to happen in their life, or was just unlucky to be born to a family with Schizophrenic tendencies. And for this, I believe that they still deserve a portion of  humanity.

I don't want to sound political, because I don't wear any color on my sleeves, except that I really believe that these unfortunate souls should have somewhere to stay, rather than roam the streets, for their safety and ours too.

If we can rehabilitate and empower drug addicts and battered women to reinvent their lives, why can't we apply that to the mentally-ill since most cases of mental illnesses are results from the two mentioned earlier.

There is hope for them. If we know them or their families, please, let us not give up hope on them. Mental illness is a fast rising illness especially in progressive countries. The only difference is that, these countries put an emphasis on the mental conditions of their people.

This is a photo of CNN Hero Narayanan Krishnan, founder of Akshaya Trust, who left his
job as a chef in a five-star hotel to feed the homeless mentally-ill persons. He said he doesn't feed beggars
because they can feed themselves. His vision of setting up a home for them came true when Akshaya Home opened
its doors to the homeless mentally ill people in May 2013.

The Philippines do not have a Mental Health Law (there is one submitted by Sen. JPE, but still pending in the committee since 2009), which is the reason why there are less programs in proper handling of mental cases. Obviously, this is not a priority in our country.  Or maybe, it must have been one of the programs of the Napoles' fake NGOs and foundations.

Sometimes, it's difficult to turn your back from someone or something that needs your help. I do not give alms to just any beggar on the street, because that is a choice they made. But these poor souls tormented inside with thoughts of 'God-knows-what's-on-their-minds' are mere victims of circumstances. That or because they have a "weak mind" or because they have no choice.

I wrote a paper on the social context of mental health in the Philippines as a part of my final assessment for the course offered by University of Toronto through Coursera.org. Through this course, my mind was opened to a whole new level of understanding on mental illness, including how families influence the road to recovery for one mentally ill person.

I also came to learn about people's story , women especially who became so successful and influential while battling mental illness, among them are Elyn Saks and Caroline Fei- Yeng Kwok. Two women who are speaking out now, telling the world about their battle with mental illness, their experiences and cooperating with mental health practitioners to understand the other side of Psychiatry, the patient's side, in the hope of creating new and improved methods of diagnosis and treatment of mental health problems.

Here is a video of Elyn Saks, a legal scholar who came forward with her Schizoprenia. As successful as she is now, who would've thought she was battling Schizoprenia. Watch what she has to say and be inspired.

And here is an interview or introduction done by Professor Charmaine Williams of the University of Toronto and the course instructor to author Caroline Fei-yeng Kwok of the book Free to Fly:The Story of a Manic Depressive which was written while she was an in-patient for manic depression.

This video is a property of the University of Toronto

I wish to see one day that we will have less mentally-ill people around our city. They can be medicated and rehabilitated. If only their family members would be educated and counselled. If only each one of us will have the compassion to respect and give them another chance at life.

There is hope, just like the two women above had. We only need to make the change necessary so we can help them.

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