“Get out of the bus or I will drag you out myself”, the furious Conductor exclaimed. Shadrack (not his real name) had just entered a public Vehicle and according to the bus conductor, he had refused to pay and what annoyed him most was how he was babbling like a small child.
He could not bear the kind of bizarre mannerism he was exhibiting. He was Chanting jingles that sounded silly with his age. Other travelers had started to complain too and they were threatening to look for another means of transport. “What is wrong with this stupid moron?” One of the passengers verbalized with a lot of rage.
The verdict of Shadrack’s case was quiet obvious. He had to be thrown out of that old banger for his “nuisance”. It was not easy as they thought. The conductor and two other passengers tried to pull him out of the vehicle with no success. The driver tried to rescue the day but all his efforts were fruitless too.
A commotion had already been created along the busy highway. This attracted other Matatu operators who came for the rescue of their colleagues. They landed countless blows on this young man and before they knew it, he was already unconscious. As usual, the blame game started to unveil and all the temper flare was reduced to mourning and remorse.
Fortunately the law enforcers arrived at the scene on time and the lad was rushed to the hospital for emergency medical care. The driver and his conductor were apprehended immediately and were taken to the police custody to record a statement.
It later emerged that this young boy was a schizoaffective patient. This is a mental condition that involves a complete loss of reality and hyperactivity. That is why he was making incoherent speeches and he was not willing to drift out of the bus. The damage was already done. The poor boy was fighting for his life in one of the public hospitals.
That incident is one of the many deplorable acts of violence that are subjected to mental patients by fellow citizens who are ignorant enough to consider the fact that mental illness is real and we need to accord the sufferers all the necessary support that they may need from us.
How many times have you judged psychotic patients wrongly? You find someone with a neglected physical appearance and what comes in your mind is a wreck less and unfocused fellow who needs to be stripped in the public and be subjected to a pressurized washing machine as if they are inanimate objects. The fact that an individual is always mute, sad and isolated does not necessarily mean that he/she is an introvert by choice. He/she could be struggling with depression and what he/she needs is a specialized medical care.
Do you know that all of us have some degree of insanity and we tend to exhibit it once in a while? Are you aware of what you consider normal could be abnormal to others and vice versa? This implies that we should learn to treat others with dignity irrespective of their mental state.
Let us try to be wakeful on how we perceive and treat those whom we feel that their behaviors have deviated from our beliefs. It will be very unfortunate if you happen to treat them badly only for you to realize later on that whatever motivates their ”bad behavior” is beyond their control too.
Am disturbed by the fact that we still have people who are locking up their mentally ill relatives in cages and house cellar even when they are not a threat to their lives. They rarely see sunlight and this has rendered them photophobic. How do you expect your loved one to recuperate when you have decided to denounce him/her through your dehumanizing and primitive actions? What warrants you to imprison them in those dirty house basements? Why don’t you take them to a psychiatric hospital where they will be taken care of in a more humane way?
Gone are days when mental illness was attributed to demonology. It is high time we start correlating mental illness with science so that we can get rid of superstition which has contributed significantly in stigmatizing these patients who need our support to recover. Ritualistic exorcism will never cure a bipolar or a drug induced psychotic patient.
Most Mental conditions are reversible provided they are detected early and treated promptly. However there are instances where the condition can be irreversible and debilitating. Such patients require close monitoring in psychiatric units to ensure that they don’t inflict harm to themselves and others.
Let us polish the kind of language and names we use when referring to mental patients. No one is sane and no one is insane either. It sounds complicated right? Everyone has his/her own reality. Respecting their world is the best gift that you will ever give them.
#Mental illness turns people inwards. That’s what I reckon, It keeps us forever trapped by the pain of our own minds in the same way that the pain of a broken leg or a cut thumb will grab your attention, holding it so tightly that your good leg or your good thumb seem to cease to exist:Nathan Filer.
Author: Eliud Kigotho Maina. KRN, HTC Counsellor