Untouched by pain

Smita PrakashRobin Williams’ suicide shocked us all, though for most of us our only connection to the Hollywood actor was through his films or comic acts. Yet, he was part of our growing up years and brought us immense joy and laughter. On Twitter, Facebook and TV, people spoke endlessly with disbelief that a man who seemed so accomplished and famous could be so lonely, a person loved by millions could feel so unloved and a person who won so many awards could have such a low sense of self worth that he ended his life. A final solution, maybe to frustration, to the inability to make sense of the world.

THE REAL ROBIN: On Twitter, Facebook and TV, people spoke endlessly with disbelief that a man who seemed so accomplished and famous could be so lonely. File Pic
THE REAL ROBIN: On Twitter, Facebook and TV, people spoke endlessly with disbelief that a man who seemed so accomplished and famous could be so lonely. File Pic

Did he seek out help? Yes. Did it help? Yes. Did he want to help himself? Yes. And yet he killed himself. Depression is that unfathomable dark deep pit which keeps pulling down its victims even as they try to claw their way out. I spend hours every day talking to my brother who is in a hospital room physically, but mentally he has gone into a chamber of solitude. The doctors call it Catatonia, which occurred as a result of a seizure, which in turn happened due to a clot in his brain after an accident six months ago.

It is three weeks now and he refuses to come out of the chamber. Stares at nothing and is totally immobile. He feels no pain and no happiness, say the doctors. A deep depression that he is not coming out of. One day he says a word, and we yelp with joy. Some days he makes eye contact for a fleeting moment and the parents smile through their tears. I try to nudge him back into the world by wetting his lips with ice cream, reading out the newspaper, switching on the TV set to some sports channel. Anything to wake him out of stupour. Out of this catatonic state.

Six months ago he had gone into a comatose state after his surgery to remove a clot in his brain caused by an accident. Since visiting hours were restricted in the ICU, I would record an hour of chatter everyday and have the nurses play it for him. The poor guy had to hear about Kejriwal’s resignation, he was right I told him… details about Modi’s mammoth rallies versus depleting crowds at Rahul Gandhi’s rallies, cricket scores, traffic jams. This went on for ten days. One day he suddenly woke up. Of course he had no recollection of the period when he was lost to us. What happened in his brain then, why did he decide to come out when he did. Nobody has an answer. Just like nobody can tell us when he will come out of the deep depression he is in now.

We refuse to give up hope. He has come out of it before, he will come out again. He voted in May, walked 10 miles a day in June and expressed the desire to drive and resume his medical practice in July. My parents were supporting him and encouraging him every step of the way, juggling his medicines and moods, trying to fathom complex medical terminology. And then this setback. We call upon friends and relatives in all corners of the globe who have medical expertise, to help us — no embarrassment, no awkwardness in seeking help and dealing with a monster called mental ailment. I wont hide it because I know there is no shame in it. I won’t be counted among those who did not try because they thought it was a fault. There is a chemical imbalance in my brother’s brain that is locking him up in a chamber where he feels no happiness and no pain, where he can see but can’t comprehend. I wont let him be there for long. In our family, there will be no regrets for not trying to help. There will be no regrets. I harass doctors, physiotherapists, cousins, uncles, aunts, friends and colleagues, give me your time, your expertise now.

When doctors say patience and prayers are the answers to your questions, you know you are knocking on solid doors and walls. But which wall hasn’t crumbled under pressure? Somewhere we will find a chink, a window, and we will break in and bring out my brother. All of us together. We will never let him feel that it is his battle alone, or that it is silly and small battle. He might push us away and we might feel frustrated but we will be there for him. Get up. Feel the pain and happiness. Feel life.

Smita Prakash is Editor, News at Asian News International. You can follow her on twitter @smitaprakash

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