– teaser of the forthcoming Shoot4Change on mental health issues in Mexico –
A Shoot4Change production
[thanks for the support to: Armstrong and The Lotus Flower co.] ————————————–
The freedom in a hug
“It´s fucked up having a shitty mind, doctor, one gets locked up for it.” Ubaldo 2013
According to the World Health Organization, mental health, in the world, is deteriorating. The number of people suffering of mental illness is growing every day. We could think this means schizophrenia or some sort of psychotic breakdown but the spectrum includes more than that; depression, anxiety, substance abuse, phobias… Our world’s complexity is ever growing. Our lives are plagued with needs and there’s less and less space to feel and analyse.
Here we speak of stories, of openly lived lives, of feelings. Many studies, many patients of some sort of metal illness refer to their trapped, not understood feelings and how they occasionally turn into anxiety and occasionally turn into voices in their heads… This voices inside their minds, according to schizophrenic patient Dr. Elanor Longden, responded, in her case, to evaded emotions. Her best treatment has to literally pay attention to each one of her voices that where nothing more than whispers of her soul.
Mundo, was the first schizophrenia patient we found in Chiapas, it happened three years ago, he escaped his cage and looked for us and through a synergy of efforts we managed to tell his story and to get him help. And after him came many others; Mateo, Don Humberto, Ubaldo… but the question was always the same. How can a human being survive to years of confinement? The truth is that mental illness still lingers in many parts of the world: discriminated, stigmatized. They are the monsters, the ones that lost their mind, the victims of some sort of witchcraft. They are the people that, in my red lands of Chiapas, are chained because of the lack of a healthcare system that helps them. All it takes is two or three pills a day o one shot per month and it would mark the difference between survival and a life.
But the system and their illness isn’t enough to overcome them: patients like Rosemberg who where forgotten for over nine years survive the darkness, the need to eat their own excrement, the humiliation and total confinement all of which nourishes their illness.
And it is then that the chained become harsh truths, ever present, waiting to be heard or remembered, to recover their human quality. Because in some point in time someone forgot that they aren’t “a mad man”, a monster, a patient, a forgotten cage or a distant scream, they are Ubaldo, Humberto, Iver or Ramiro… and it could’ve been you or me if we had the bad luck of being born in that beautiful but cruel mountain range. But it is also a family, cruelly polluted by ignorance and isolation.
According to Dr. V. Patel, mental illness is more common in marginal areas. And, sadly enough, it is there where the most serious ailments blossom; Just far enough to be out of the reach of our public healthcare system, just close enough to still be reached by stigma. Stigma that must be undertood as “the social devaluation of a person” (Thara and Srinivasan, 2000) based on ignorance, lack of information, and a profound discrimination that turn the patient into an isolated being unable to have any social and economicaly active life.
Irronically, I wonder if this distraction of a system thata should contemplate the analisys and care for mental patients isn’t, in the end, more costly (in every way) than actually doing their job.
The most vulnerable stories are those of the confined; the ones that wait. But we are no longer in a position where we can turn our heads and choos not to see them. We are now in a place where we can join together and give something back. So once again we are here to tell the story of those that lack a voice and to call for volunteer work and creative solutions of those that wish to join us ad offer something to our people.
Clothes, food, medicine or knowledge, everything is welcome. But especially, lets listen to their stories; hug them, because, as Foucault says, mental illnesses are those that we keep at bay, those that we choose not to see because there is something of us in their confinement.
So lets go, together, them and us, out of our cage, and enjoy a second of the true freedom of hug.