Today a young duo came to meet me. The young girl had heard me in a college talk somewhere in a college in Delhi and the young man she brought along was her friend, going through a ‘tough’ spot. Just yesterday she had got in touch with me, by taking my number from her teacher who had facilitated my talk in their college. By chance I had time today, as I am also trying to take it a bit easy these last days of June- waiting to resolve my own back pain issues and in general having a low tempo on research in general.
She was insistent that the boy should meet me, rather than a psychologist or psychiatrist, because she knew that psychiatry cannot resolve the problems of growing up or coming of age or anything for that matter. She argued and debated with
the boy’s family and pushed them into meeting me. She was insistent that he ought not to go the psychiatric way. In the end however, she only came to meet me with him.
We spoke and I understood at least the initial roots of the suffering. I could see that he faced a certain mental blankness these days, which were not a part of his extroverted personality. They both insisted on that. And yet, the young woman was also insistent that instead of going to a psychiatrist they ought to come and meet me- for I may see something more into the scenario than a psychiatrist’s diagnosing sensibility. Which of course is not far from the truth- with patience I sit and listen to people, probing deeply sometimes and sometimes in a superficial manner, depending upon them.
Seeing her passion and commitment, I suddenly had tears in my eyes. Not because there was something extraordinary at work here only…but because I realized that how few such people would be whose loved ones, be it anyone- in the family or friends, would support them so passionately in a crisis – however big or small it be. Ordinarily the family would have taken him to a psychiatrist- as they had already been given a diagnosis of ‘clinical depression’ by a neurologist! (of all people). But this young lady’s insistence that no we will not go to a psychologist or psychiatrist- may make all the difference in her friend’s life.
Such few people would know that the ways out of depression are not medication but talking and building your lost sense of self and hope slowly. At critical moments having a supportive milieu can make all the difference- between disabling mental health conditions and recovering your self-hood.
That also brings me to the conversation I had yesterday with a young man who is going to be part of my research, hopefully. In talking about his family he said, that his parents let him go through his (psychotic) crisis, without pushing him into psychiatry’s arms entirely and he owes it to them that he could find his own bearings in the world. If only more parents and friends could understand that.
In a nutshell…
In distress there are many ways to deal with a situation. If we start looking at a psychiatric option, it usually overrides every other option and then people get into a net of medications,without any change in their situation significantly and a progressive deterioration.
The choice is with people how they want to see their loved ones- enabled or disabled and that is where the crux of the solution lies.The dominance of psychiatric discourse, which permeates society is another issue, and few can overcome that- while finding their path in a knowledge oriented way. It is difficult, arduous but worth the trouble.