Why is it such a big taboo to be treated for mental illness in Libya? I find it so strange that people here are left to sit and suffer because their families think that admitting to mental illness and seeking help is just unacceptable. There are also those who will put off mental illness as being possessed by jinn and evil spirits and they will run back and forth to various 'sheikhs' to have the spirits removed by exorcism.
In America you often see homeless people who obviously suffer from mental illness. Here you sometimes see mentally ill in the streets but I don't think they are homeless, just being let out to roam free by families who have either given up or are in a stage of denial. Of course this is being made worse by the numerous heroin addicts that hang around all over town. I've got scores of them lurking about right on my street - buying themselves a fix from the local drug dealers and then waiting around until they can either buy another fix or find a friend willing to share. It's not only sad, but scary too. Young men with wasted lives; lack of any treatment programs complicates their problems.
Mental illness knows no gender. Females are affected as well, but their families deal with them differently. Usually they are kept at home, hidden from view. Sometimes you hear of girls committing suicide, usually hanging themselves. Occasionally if they aren't severely ill they are let out to mix and blend with society in the hopes that the interaction with 'normal people' will cure them.
I have a student in one of my classes who fits this category. She is like an empty shell, sitting in my classroom in a catatonic state. In the beginning I tried to include her in the discussions and activities, but it was hopeless. She quietly takes up space and we all basically just ignore her now. In the beginning I felt guilty doing this; teachers always want to do the best for all their students. But this girl doesn't need a teacher . . . she needs something I can never give her.
Yesterday her mother appeared at my door. She was a beautiful woman who was well dressed, looked in her mid 40's, seemed intelligent and was clearly fairly wealthy. She asked me how her daughter was doing and I told her I didn't think she was going to gain anything from the course. I asked her what the problem was. The girl's mother said that her daughter was always 'the top' in all her classes at school but in her final year at university she got a poor mark in one of her classes and she became 'sick'. She managed to finish university and now they were hoping that if she took this course it would help her to overcome her problems. I asked if she was under any kind of treatment and was told no. 'Please keep her in the class and try to motivate her in some way.' was the mother's plea. I told the woman she was just wasting her money but she was adamant that it would be good for her daughter. I said, 'Sigh . . . Ok, as long as she isn't disruptive.'
My life has many roles... mother, wife, teacher, blogger, secretary, and apparently I'm a social worker too.