Let’s Talk About (Mental) Health

Picasso - Girl Before Mirror

Picasso, Girl Before Mirror

I’ve always been an oddball, a fact that anyone who knows me and especially those who have known me for years will promptly agree to. At 26-years-old, soon to be 27, I’ve been called many things… dark, crazy, ‘special’, etc but the words weird or odd tend to be used most frequently. I really don’t mind because I know it’s true, and I know those who throw the labels around would be quite astonished to realise just how right they are. I am odd, and I accept that. I have been through, and continue to endure a lot, both personally and by extension as I tend to empathise deeply with the people I love, almost to the point of self-ruin… a good and bad thing, I hear.

This post, however, is not about me. Well, not entirely. Today I am introducing a new feature/series of sorts (I have created a tag called The Mental Health Diaries) that will explore my experiences with mental illness in Jamaica, as well as factual information from actual mental health young professionals (and other persons like myself for whom the issue is close to home) who will be contributing to my blog.

Why am I taking this on?

I deal with mental illness, the effects, the stigma, the highs and lows daily. In fact, it is not an issue that’s close to home for me… it is IN my home. My mother and younger sister, who I am VERY close to, are both schizophrenic and I am very heavily involved in their ‘medical lives’. Also, over the years I’ve realised that mental illness is highly misunderstood and more often than not, automatically stigmatised as ‘madness’ in Jamaica. A sad state of affairs, but a very real one, and the more I hear of cases that come up and how they are handled, or hear comments from uneducated persons on the matter, the more it hurts me. But I am a woman of action so I’ve decided to do my part (however small some may deem it to be) to change this by speaking out… starting right here with my blog. If you would like to get involved, please feel free to send me an e-mail to tamitsansai@gmail.com

As you can understand, this is and has always been a highly stressful situation and I don’t purport to be a mental health specialist. I’m still learning more about it every day and continue to crave new information, but I do realise that people with these diseases are often treated as outcasts once they ‘come out’, and that having a great support group makes a world of difference, so yes, I think I am qualified to speak on the matter… and speak I will. Especially after so many years of being ridiculed and blighted as a result, and given the at-risk ‘hmmm you might just be next on the crazy train’ treatment by idiots who just don’t fucking get it. That has always been extremely difficult for me, especially as I also suffer from depression. I can only begin to imagine how my mother and sister, and anyone else living with one feels… even more so in Jamaica. Today has been particularly trying for me mentally/emotionally, because there’s a lot to think about and a lot of hurt recalled as I am now activating this idea I’ve had forever to put pen to paper, or in this case, fingers to keyboard. I’ve actually been sitting before my laptop for the past four hours, and now, finally, after reminding myself that every journey begins with that one first step, I’m happy to be here.

I leave you with one of my favourite songs that I find perfectly explains how I feel now and pretty much always, as well as a request to share these posts when they do go up to help educate others. We do need a wake-up call where this is concerned. Especially in Jamaica.

Love and light,

Tami

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9 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About (Mental) Health

  1. i cannot begin to understand what you must have gone through with having both your mother and sister having schizophrenia, how much it must have affected your life, family and possibly relationships. I know it could not have been easy (and thats just putting it lightly). My best friend has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder from we were both teenagers and i have seen how it has affected her right throughout her life. i’ve also seen what it has done to her family and how she interacts with people around her. But she is a fighter and she has really pushed her self to be the best and most functional she can be. Everyday i tell her how proud i am of her. Her family does support her but it has also worn them out. We do need better awareness in Ja. Parents should sensitize their children so they can be more understanding and compassionate from very early. There’s so much more i would want to say on this topic because it does mean alot to me too. Really appreciate this post.

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  2. Thank you both very much for your kind words, it really isn’t easy for me to put myself out there like this but I am hoping it will be worth it. Melsa, if you’d like to share your story based on a ‘how to be supportive’ standpoint, do let me know.

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  3. Wow! I have 2 friends and a cousin diagnosed with bipolar disorder and we suspect the sibling of said cousin but she refuse to get ‘tested’.
    Providing the necessary support sometimes takes a toll and can prove challenging but you press on.
    Thanks for sharing. We each have our story.

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  4. Pingback: 6 illustrations that tackle mental health x stigma brilliantly #MHAW15 #IAMStigmaFree (cc: @aishathalia) | Sour Skittles

  5. Pingback: Jamaican reggae artistes, public figures join JAMHAN for #mentalhealthmatters campaign – TAMI TSANSAI

  6. Pingback: Re-blog: 6 illustrations that tackle mental health x stigma brilliantly | Mindful Over Matter

  7. Pingback: Coming out ‘crazy’ – One Mind At A Time

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