Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 8th 2013 Contents B5
Wednesday, May 8, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Maybe we embarrass them. Or
it could be we re difficult and the
unpredictability of our moods
really challenges them. They
probably just don t understand
what we go through and in a
world so fraught with personal
anxieties they re better off avoid-
ing our complicated presence.
Whatever the reason, and
despite our foregone infractions,
we who are ill need the support
of our family. I write this column
to my own peril because I am like
many with whom I've been speak-
ing who do not have this bolster.
It's not that our relatives do not
love us; they just use a long-dis-
So when I hear of a family sup-
porting each other through
decades of mental illnesses I am
heartened, but also envious. As
amply prominent family who has
seen her husband through 20 years
of depression, her son through his
entire life, and is now supporting
her granddaughter's bipolarity.
My anguish deepens when I
hear of families existing in the
same household and one commits
suicide, to the shock of the others.
I wonder, can we really be so busy
we don't notice? Or maybe those
who don't have mental health
problems are preoccupied with
other cares, making it impossible
to pay any attention to us.
I'm trying to determine if it's
the years of not having familial
support that have got me not to
expect any, and then become sus-
picious the few times it appears.
As I told someone I met after last
week's column, "I don't know
what would have become of me
had I not been a strong-willed
individual who knows the power
It's true that the depressive has the
ability to influence the moods of those
around them. The negative energy of
a person can suck the air out of joy
like a powerful vacuum cleaner, but
that cannot be the reason for family
Like faith-based beliefs, which I'll
address next, therapy, medication, and
support systems are all important in
the fight against the relentless black-
ness of this illness.
Living with someone who has a
mental illness can be very stressful for
the entire family---don't underestimate
the impact and don't overestimate your
ability to cope. For that reason, says
Wina Sturgeon in Conquering Depres-
sion, "We encourage you to get therapy
for yourself and the rest of the family
members---don't be embarrassed to
reach out and get help. You need to
stay healthy, both mentally and phys-
ically, in order to help your loved one.
Do it for them, if not for yourself."
My son and I checked into therapy
while he was at secondary school. To
my horror, he moved out at 18, my
only consolation being that he moved
in with young men from church.
It really hurt that he left, but in a
quiet place I fully understood his deci-
sion, and while I would've done any-
thing to have him with me until today,
I know the difficulty he faced through
years of my illness running from violent
to tear-filled days. I think he has fared
better with the separation.
He was not a problem child. I was
a problem parent.
My family seem never to recognise
the dynamics. Only recently, a nephew
came to me to explain his behaviour.
Having listened to another older rel-
ative describe me as a person with
whom no one could live or tolerate,
he never returned to my place where
he had come intending to spend a few
When he told her he had come to
my home to spend some time, she
responded, "That woman put her son
out on the highway, and you going to
stay by she? I'm giving you two days
before you leave running."
It's gossip, so I can only hope that
she told that story in the kindness it
deserves for my son and me; we really
were clueless about our difficulties---
his as a teenager doing adolescent stuff
and mine as a compromised existence.
You'd think that after talking sen-
sitively about my difficulties my family
would give me a bligh, right? No sah!
In their minds, no amount of exposé
could erase any of the evils I've done.
I did drop my son off so the police
could place him with his father. The
next morning, I defiantly told the police
inspector she could arrest me for child
abandonment if she so chose. To her
mind, he could not have done anything
so wrong as to warrant my action. To
me, it was beyond my capability.
My sister Debra, overhearing the
conversation, took the telephone and
arranged for him to stay with her until
I was over my crisis.
To hear that retelling saddened me.
I'm left wondering if there's anyone
in my family listening sufficiently to
appreciate my adversity.
Would anyone be able to help with
my therapeutic history with clarity or
confidence if I developed some com-
Brazil has begun negotiations to
hire at least 6,000 Cuban doctors to
work in rural areas, Brazilian Foreign
Minister Antonio Patriota says.
Both countries are consulting the
Pan American Health Organization to
allow Cuban doctors to practise in
Most Brazilian doctors are concen-
trated in the country's bigger cities,
leaving remote areas badly covered.
Cuba has already sent tens of thou-
sands of doctors to work in Venezuela,
which in turn provides Havana with
There was no deadline yet for the
doctors' arrival in Brazil, Mr Patriota
told reporters after meeting his Cuban
counterpart, Bruno Rodriguez, in the
A Brazilian doctors' organisation, the
Federal Medical Council, said the pro-
posal was "irresponsible" because of
questions surrounding medical qual-
ifications. It condemned the step as a
The talks with Cuba were initiated
by President Dilma Rousseff in January
last year, during her visit to Havana.
At the time, Ms Rousseff also spoke
about joint production of medicine,
another topic mentioned by Mr Patriota
"Cuba is very proficient in the areas
of medicine, pharmaceuticals and
biotechnology and Brazil is considering
receiving around 6,000 Cubans doctors
or a little more," said the Brazilian For-
Both countries also discussed infra-
structure projects in Cuba "such as the
Mariel port, and also the refurbishment
of the airports in Havana and Santiago,
which will also be financed by Brazil,"
Mr Patriota said.
Brazil is expected to loan US$176
million from its development bank
BNDES for work at Cuban airports,
Cuban authorities say Brazil is its
sixth biggest trading partner and main
Bilateral trade between the two coun-
tries reached a record US$661 million
last year, up six per cent on 2011.
Brazil in talks to hire
6,000 Cuban doctors
MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS
Family support critical to wellbeing
CAROLINE C RAVELLO
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