The old school of thought has it that depression is “the common cold” of mental illness. A newer school of thought reckons that bi-polar mood disorder is more common than was previously thought. All the schools seem to agree that mental illness is common. That means you probably know someone who has some or other mental disorder.
The folks on the crazy farm seem ordinary enough. Many socialise in the outside smoking area (even non-smokers). The latest topic of gossip has to do with a patient, he reminds me of that looney toon “Yosemite Sam”, who everyone agrees should be in the cuckoo bin – the ward with the padded walls and straight jackets. “You just never know what he might do!”, they whisper behind his back. Maybe the pot calling the kettle cracked?
Yosemite Sam is quite a character. The real life version doesn’t carry two guns at the ready. But he does look pretty wired. The folks in the know reckon he has like a split personality. He just changes mid sentence. When he was admitted, apparently, and in a room full of people, he yelled out “I’m only here because my wife is cheating on me!”. His wife didn’t know where to look, apparently.
And then he made an “inappropriate comment” to one of the other patients. When she went to lay a complaint, she was told that ye olde Yosemite is 4 sandwiches short of a picnic and that its better not to pay him any attention.
And then there’s Wilma Flinstone. I spoke about her previously. She’s the lady whose kids staged an intervention and asked her not to fight the admission. She reminds me so of Wilma Flinstone (I think its the giggle). On her version, this is all just one big misunderstanding. She understands where her kids are coming from because, since she was retrenched, she has shut people out of her life. She has seen the psychiatrist, has had sessions with Dr Phil, met up with the medical team and her kids, but the “misunderstanding” persists. Hmmmmmmm.
I don’t know, hey. I’m sceptical. One cannot believe everything you hear. Especially on the funny farm. But I reckon people should be free to construct their own realities and if this tale makes Wilma happy, then Yabba Dabba Doo!
And then there’s the Rain Man. Fabulous chap with a huge personality. He has been diagnosed with “psychic” bi-polar mood disorder. He calls it psychic…maybe he can see a mood change coming or something! When Rain Man heard that I was a journo, he asked which publication I worked for. I told him SABC (the public broadcaster in SA), and he exclaimed “Oh! Hlaudi!!!!!!”. I told him the wind chased the cloud away, so now we only partly Hlaudi, and ever since then, he shouts “Cloudy!” whenever he sees me.
See what I mean? Ordinary people with highly stigmatised diagnosis. But, I’ve met plenty of Rain Men, Wilma’s and Yosemite Sam’s out there. I am one of them. And so are you.