Mental Illness series

person holding baby s feet
Kenneth Lee was a child who used to be normal.
Turning mentally ill becomes a fault.
Accepted societal behaviors deem formal.
People with odd behaviors balk
at societal stigma and non-acceptance with strain
to claim a rightful place in society with much pain.

For that child who used to be normal,
is ours, in good mental health or bad mental health,
while he strives be proper and formal,
training to live again at day-care in stealth
amidst his manic or depressive episodes,
least the secret of his mental status explodes.

Like a child inserting different shaped blocks
into matching holes of a structure main,
for these specially shaped blocks,
will society allow them to fit in with less pain?
For a child who used to be normal,
Anna tries to put the pieces together.
At what point did her son, Kenneth Lee, turned abnormal?
Was it the adolescence or a life less better?

‘How did I fail as a mother?’ Anna chokes on her own voice.
‘No, no. It’s not your fault!’ the doctor pacifies.
Think of the many children who still triumph after facing war’s adversities and nature‘s ire.
-Chen Song Ping, 2020
It was a hard year.
Mom and dad fight incessantly
in the middle of the night. And soon,
dad stopped coming home.

One evening,
the teenaged girl suddenly broke out
singing a Chinese opera song,
“cheng, cheng, cheng, cheng….
cheng cheng, cheng, cheng”
walking in a circle with a thin rattan cane
as a horse whip of a war general,
in the centre of the hall.

“Shh… do not disturb!” her grandmother whispered.
“Kuan Si Yin Pusa has descended,” she prayed
with hands together in front of her chest
As she bowed a few times towards
her grand-daughter, Wen Li, praying.

Wen Li’s mother, Li Na, watched helplessly and confused.

– Chen Song Ping , 2020-

Li Na passed by a house in a rural village.
An unkempt half-naked man was seen squatting
over a drain outside a half burned house.

The driver said, “he is a mentally-ill person.
He was probably trying to cook some food.”
A lady sitting next to Anna, chuckled,
“… and burning down his own house, crazy fella.”

Li Na was disappointed at the elderly lady.
“But, but, this house is so near the hospital! He needs treatment!” Li Na exclaimed.
“The police would not come and take him to the hospital because no one reported,” the driver explained.

… society has failed him.
… our mental health safety net has failed,
…his family members have failed him, for deserting him, and not getting him treated.
Li Na felt guilty, too, for not picking up the phone,
as the team moved on.

– Chen Song Ping, 2020-
Decriminalising suicide
Uncle Simon Wong was a loving grandfather.
When he was diagnosed with cancer of the colon,
His son and daughter admitted him to a hospital.
This diagnosis was a double blow during a time
when his business just suffered the recession, then.
He took his own life before surgery.

A suicide like this happens at a time when
the mind is at its utmost fragility and vulnerability.
Recent reports that attempted suicides were dealt
with being handcuffed, fines and imprisonment.
While the police force deals with criminals
‘hammering the hard-core nails into its place’,
such hammer would only smash these delicate puddings
to shreds, irretrievable.
Attempted suicide is a cry for help, not a crime!
The tool to use is not the ‘hammer’ of the police force,
but ‘gentle, compassionate hands’
of the healthcare and social welfare experts!

– Chen Song Ping, 2020-

Published by Chen S. P. @ TPTan

Serena Chen @TPTan, Master degree in nursing (Monash) . Serena teaches local and overseas nurses in a stomaltherapy program. She had presented papers internationally. Serena is a member of the ‘Golden Key International Society (Monash). She was an editor of a mental health bulletin and she enjoys pottery works, cartoons, painting and poems. She shares insightful experiences about being a carer for people with mental illness and cancer in this defining society.

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