Helpline Diaries 9

Family always comes first as they are the most important thing in our lives. If even one member gets diagnosed with a dangerous and life-threatening disease, it really affects the whole family. This ends up affecting the physical health for sure.  But do we have the same approach with the diagnosis of a mental health disease or disorder? Why don’t we approach mental health-related problems with the same care & interest the way we do with physical issues? Families suffering from Drug/Drinking problems are one of the top examples of this study. 

It was almost 11:15 pm when I received a call on the ‘Sakal Sobat Boluya Helpline’. A middle-aged lady, who was in her early 50’s had been living a turbulent life since birth & needed a listening ear. Lata (the name is changed) was hardly three months old when her parents dropped her off to her maternal uncle’s house. She was raised by her Mama (mother’s brother) and Mami (mother’s brother’s wife). After completing Lata’s basic education, she was married to a person who was chosen by the family. 

This girl naturally started looking forward to leading a happy life only to find out that her husband was an alcoholic. At a very early stage in their marriage, after giving birth to 2 children, Lata’s husband left his job. She naturally had to find a way to make ends meet and feed her family, so she started a ‘Girls Hostel’.

Years after her father’s death, she realized that her brother had deliberately kept her away from the legal property matters. A wife of an unemployed person who was suffering from a drinking problem, a mother of two with no money left in hand, she felt that ending her life was the only solution to her problems! But somehow she managed to save herself from the thought of self-harm.  

Due to the lockdown imposed, the girls hostel was closed for the last 6 months, hence, disturbed Lata called us today! 

With an investment in the family for so many years, Lata called us up to talk about her share of struggles, hoping to get a pat on her back for all the hard work, probably to vent out her battles, or probably she was going through her low life state again. 

Listening to her from the other end, I kept admiring her efforts, encouraged her by giving an example of how a Lotus blooms beautifully right in the mud itself, and that is exactly what we must look at ourselves as. Appreciating her attitude towards life, I explained her two things, one: she has to accept the fact that in the end there is a patient in the family who needs personal care and change in attitude towards him, and second: ‘The Power of Resilience’. 

While ending the call, I managed to explain to her that she should be grateful that her husband was not diagnosed with cancer, TB, or any such serious disease! If he did, would one blame him for the same? Addiction is a disorder that needs proper treatment & professional help, and that it will not be fair to stay in the blame-game along with the stress attached to it for so long. Instead, she should now take charge of the steering wheel, have a clear vision about the road ahead, acknowledge the speed-breakers, switch on the music that she loves and drive home with a mindset to find alternative options but not to neglect self-care at any cost. 


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