Sunday, October 14, 2007

Insanity,madness, mental health..

I was a young teacher at my school when I came across an incident which touched my heart.

A young boy stood up for his mother who was not quite right in the head. The students were giggling,some in fact laughed out loud and pointed at the poor lady who was standing outside the classroom. They were all supposed to be learning in the class when they saw this "mad woman" coming to look for her son.And their attention was diverted. The teacher pretended that nothing untoward was happening as she was not equipped to handle the matter. She continued writing on the blackboard.

The boy got up from his desk in the class and bravely said,"Don't laugh at her. She is my mother." He then left the class, leaving the teacher dumbfounded and took his mother by the hand out of the corridor and out through the school gates. I watched this and it strengthened me as a growing woman. I would not let the men of this world cause so much mental torture to women. And women as a whole must be kinder and more helpful towards their distressed sisters. The world must have a new attitude towards mental health and young children like this classroom of students must be trained to look at the mental health of the society as a whole, and at an individual in particular. I had a lot of admiration for the poor young boy who was so courageous. He was chivalrous in defending his mother.

Some years later, after I was married I saw my neighbour's wife walking up and down the road every day, dressed smartly as if she was going to work early in the morning, and then coming back in the evening as if she had finished her day's work. She was mentally unsound because her husband had taken a second wife, leaving her to look after her children while she herself was sick in the head. But somehow her dear and loving children just grew into very responsible people and treated the mother very well until she died at quite a ripe old age. According to her relatives she had "locked herself inside". Years later when I studied about mental health I realised how accurate they had been in describing her.

So many Foochow women suffered from mental ill health and it was a pity that the society at that time was not equipped with the right skills to help them, to enable them to lead a better life.

(More later...)

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