Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 1st 2013 Contents A35
Wednesday, May 1, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Last week, in response to recurring concerns
shared by readers, I wrote of my convictions about
taking medication as one method of therapy for
I ve had a relatively successful journey with coun-
selling and medication, the latter being the long-
term affair. I strongly recommend everyone do an
assessment of their mental health, especially if there
is suspicion of a problem. What s troubling are the
occasions where relatives are asking what to do if
someone who is assumed to be ill or exhibiting signs
of clinical depression refuses to go to the doctor.
There is no straightforward answer. Each situation
is different; each complication varies in severity; the
affected person could be anywhere along the scale
from mild to violent. So, for a non-clinician, it is
beyond my proficiency to make recommendations,
but I ll share my experience, if it would prompt
someone to accept responsibility.
Since the age of 16 I wanted to be well. In fact,
I wanted to be normal. But fate twisted me into a
tightly wound knot of overwhelming anxieties at
every stage. Since life does not offer alteration of the
past, it is what it is: for the most part I ve been a broken
vessel---a bountiful, yet flawed crucible.
These days I m given to introspection but there was
a time during the period of my breakdowns and sundry
diagnoses when I slighted any suggestion of illness. As
a young adult, I lived a life of excesses. I dated and
partied; worked hard and played harder. Leo Toro disco
in San Fernando and Atlantis, in the west were my
home-away-from-home. I drank, and recall on occasion
feting for five nights in a holiday weekend, and eight
nights in a row for Carnival.
I bought stuff: cosmetics, clothes, and shoes, five
pairs at a time, while wholly neglecting my financial
commitments. Sleep remained a three-hour affair and
getting to work on time was a nuisance. Managers who
thought they could correct this through disciplinary
action found they had barked up a thorny tree.
I drank what I want, ate what and when I want and
remained a size ten, which I flaunted. My wardrobe
was attention-getting slits and neckline plunges. I
shaved my head one morning on the way to work
because I did not like my hairstyle that day.
I was happy---or so I thought. I was having such a
good time believing I was normal. If anyone said to
me something was amiss and I should get help, I would
think they were mad.
The truth is I was manic. These were all indicative
of that fact.
Those with whom I engaged may remember an
erratic, neurotic, frenetic individual with almost no
regard for anyone s feelings. The world belonged to me
and everything was subject. You can imagine how pop-
ular (not) I was!
Retrospectively, my two friends at my workplace in
that period, Judy Ramcharan and Aldwyn Collins, were
the only ones I had. I know because they have remained
faithful friends until now, through sickness and in
health, theirs and mine.
It s at that place, too, I met the man who fathered
my child, and I hardly cared that that relationship was
an "extended" family, yet my choice of that rendezvous
would also contribute to my last fugue state.
It s easy to think or pretend you are "normal" even
when you know you re not. I wonder now, would I
have paid attention to my mental health if I had not
broken down in the middle of my first year at UWI,
And yet, in another ten-15 years I would again neglect
my mental health, making a comparable, costly mistake,
which one man described as courting an enraged beast
under my skin.
In 1999, I took absolute responsibility for my wellbeing
and there will be no turning back. I know myself. I
know my capacity. I understand my realities. My knowl-
edge about serotonin imbalance and sertraline were
gleaned to take control of the jagged graph that maps
At times I am anxious for the future: will I have
companionship, can I provide for my needs, would I
make a better grandparent than parent? It is a haunted
existence, but I remain steadfast.
I share this rollercoaster visual of my life to say to
the concerned parents that healing/stability is an indi-
vidual responsibility that comes with acceptance.
But getting some depressives to accept medical atten-
tion is difficult. There may be resistance, with guardians
having to resort to trickery, where threats have no
effect.In one instance, where the diagnosis is already
established and the medication is refused, my girlfriend
tricks her child into taking the required dosage by
preparing dinner each evening and including the med-
ication in the beverage or the meal, whichever is more
Accepting treatment comes from the desire for sta-
But the mentally challenged individual may not be
sufficiently stable to appreciate that and that s part of
the dilemma in view.
MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS
CAROLINE C RAVELLO
When the depressed refuse help
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