It was a (usual) busy emergency Sunday for me. Had a couple of calls, a few references, and around 30 ward patients to look after. It took me around 12.30 in the night to finally breath a sigh of relief and go to the doctor’s room to have some rest. Everything was fine until 5.00 AM when my phone started buzzing with a call from my colleague from Emergency Medicine.
“Come fast”, he said.
“There is a patient crying inconsolably.”
I got up with a start, grabbed my small emergency medicine kit and hurried to the Emergency Department. Upon reaching there I saw this 20 something boy who was crying and breathing heavily as if the entire hell had broken loose on him. There was his father in mid-50s almost panicking himself seeing the sight of his son. I offered the emergency medicines to the patient and sat down with the father to talk about the case. (I refrain to keep the name of medicines in the blog for ethical purposes.)
The father informed me that his son was a final year student of Engineering and was great in studies. He further added that the patient was the younger of his two sons. The elder son, (let’s call him Vijay) with whom the family often had conflicts due to his wife was staying away from them for last one year and suddenly a week back the elder son along with his wife had come home and requested the father to allow them to stay with them since they were facing some financial crisis but the father had denied because well, male ego.!!
(That’s for another blog.)
So Vijay and his wife felt disheartened and Vijay swore vengeance(because, male ego!).
Now Vijay might not have money but he had contacts with the goons. So, Vijay sent a few goons to the house to take possession of the house. (Any reference to, “Apun ghar khali karwane aayela hai”, from Lage raho Munnabhai is purely coincidental.)
When the goons arrived at the house, only the younger son, Ajay was around. The goons beat him black and blue and threatened him. Afraid of what had happened, Ajay panicked and went inside the toilet and consumed half a bottle of phenyl. He fainted and was carried to the emergency department of Civil hospital where he was admitted in Medicine ward for 2 days. Once the patient was medically stable, the family took a discharge and went home.
But it is upon reaching home when the problem started. Ajay couldn’t sleep. He would wake up with a start, become hypervigilant and would keep shouting, “They will come and kill me.” on Sunday night his neurochemicals went haywire and he had one of the worst panic attacks. He was breathing heavily, panting and crying loudly. It was in this condition that he was brought to the emergency department. After assessing the patient and confirming that he was vitally and physically stable, he was referred to Psychiatry. I arrived on the scene and immediately knew what to do. I saw his father and he requested me, “Sahab. Dakhal kar do isse.” (Sir, please admit him).
I assessed the condition and called my Assistant Professor over the phone and as per his advise, decided to admit him.
I went to the father, who was himself sobbing, put an arm on his shoulder and told him, “We are admitting him in Psychiatry ward for observation.”
My only mistake was I spoke the above statement in Hindi. “Hum Ise MANSIK ke vibhag me daakhil kar rahe hai observation ke liye.”
Hearing this, the father woke up and gave me the title of this blog.
The father said, “Sahib. Mere beta Padha likha Engineer hai. Mere beta koi MANSIK nahi hai!”
I explained to him that this was a case of severe panic attack and his son has suicidal ideas for which he needs to be admitted in Psychiatry ward. But the ‘Padha likha’ father just wouldn’t listen. “Iske Sar pe phenyl Chad gaya hoga uss din ka. Baki mera beta engineer hai. Mera beta MANSIK nahi hai.”
He refused admission in Psychiatry ward.
I rest my case here.
It pains me to have to listen to this stigmatized rhetoric day in and day out and ironically it comes mostly from ‘padhe likhe’ log. Yes, we the literates, have made such a brouhaha about the word MANSIK.
Why do we fail to understand that anybody in the goddamned world can suffer from a mental illness?
Why do we have to hide it?
Why are we not ready to accept it?
Should we really call ourselves educated??
I guess sometimes, ignorance is bliss. The poor and the uneducated father would have complied and got the patient admitted. The educated father denied for admission in MANSIK ward and probably took the son away.
Nobody knows what the son would do next? Phenyl? Acid? Poison?
I have no answers.
But just questions to the ‘padhe likhe’ log reading this blog.
Read. Spread. Introspect.
And more importantly, open up your mind and release the stigmatized dogmas surrounding mental health.
Is that too much to ask?
Peace to all.
And a prayer for sanity.
( Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Indian Feed. The blog first appeared here and has been republished with permission.)