Family support

There is a patient in the wards. She has major depression, recurrent it seems. She is, or was a student. When you are held involuntarily under the Mental Health Act, you have got to put everything else on hold, don’t you?

She is not from here. She speaks minimal English. She has a few extended family members in this foreign place. Her immediate family is back home.

This patient is not doing too well. Her depression is not lifting and she is actively suicidal. She’s classified high risk and has been placed in the most secure wing of the mental health ward. She has been here for a few months already. Within the first few weeks of her admission, her extended family has abandoned and disowned her. So much for family huh?

Her parents have been notified but for some inexplicable reason, they are unable to come down to at least visit their youngest child. Now this young woman is in limbo. Surrounded by strange faces, far removed from her familiar environment, and forced to take medications by people who speak a different tongue; i really am not surprised she is not feeling a little better.

From a medical standpoint of view, even if we are able to release this patient back into the community, where is she going to go? She cannot fend for herself. As it is, she has been bullied and assaulted by the other more domineering patients. So we keep her in hospital where at least there’s someone to keep an eye on her 24/7. But she is not a citizen. Her visa is expiring. Maybe it has already expired. Who knows?

Patients like her really need strong family support. That her extended family has ditched her without a bat of an eyelid is horrifying. How can you ditch your brother’s or sister’s children when they are in need of serious help? How do you account for your behaviour to your sibling? You are related by blood, and by virtue of that, there are some familial obligations and responsibilities that you cannot shirk. This is astounding. I am shocked beyond words. I understand how difficult it is to care for someone with a mental illness, but right now, no one is compelling you to be a carer. All you have to do is visit your relative once a day, or hell at least once a week. They just need some reassurance, and trust me, they will get better. Slowly yes, but surely.

And the patient’s parents. I don’t know what difficulties you are in, but i think your child should be highest priority. Always. I for one, know you are not in financial difficulty, so i am not exactly sure what is holding you back. The shame and stigma of a mental disorder? Shame on you. And if you are truly finding it hard to come visit your child due to some dire circumstances please liase with your daughter’s doctors. We can help. We are here to help. We know your anguish as a parent to be kept away from your child who so desperately needs you.

Sometimes the solution is plain to see. But i am not sure why everyone does not take to it.

Nothing beats the pain of having your own family give up on you.