- 40-year-old Kaveri talked with MindHelp about how she was abandoned by her husband after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
- A report suggested that many families willfully abandon mentally ill women due to social stigma and poor care.
Due to the presence of social stigma, discrimination, and poor care, many families willfully abandon mentally ill women, suggests a report by the National Commission for Women (2016). Another 2014 report on abuse against women showed that women with mental illnesses face prolonged detention, unsanitary conditions, neglect, and violence in a mental institution.
40-year-old Kaveri talked with MindHelp about how she was abandoned by her husband after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She used to live with her husband and two sons in a slum of Pune. She used to work as a domestic help in nearby houses.
When Kaveri was 30, she started experiencing several emotional and behavioral changes. One day, she was discussing her mental problems with one of her neighbors who advised her to consult with a psychologist. Kaveri was completely unaware of psychological illness before. After visiting a psychologist, she came to know about her having bipolar disorder.
“My husband was very stressed after knowing my mental condition. He used to keep my sons away from me. He thought I might harm my children. One day, my husband took me to the regional mental hospital. He said he would return with medicines for me. He never did,” Kaveri said in a flat voice.
She recalled the time when she was shifted to a shelter home in Chennai. After a few years, she started to feel better gradually after taking proper medication. She wanted to leave that place and start her own life.
With the help of a lady who was working in her shelter home, Kaveri went to a garment factory in Chennai and applied for a cloth-making job. The officials considered her application even she didn’t have any proper knowledge about making clothes. The job gave her a second life and helped her learn to live for herself. She currently lives in a rented apartment and earns enough to sustain herself.
“Many mentally ill women are (seen as being) not of any use to the household. On the contrary, they become a burden on their families,” said Reni Thomas who has researched Indian women’s mental health. According to her, many women develop symptoms of mental illness because they are abandoned and forced to live on the streets.
However, National Alliance on Mental illness (NAMI) experts suggest that recovery from a psychological disorder is very much possible with sustained medication, care, and support from peers and family members.
P.S- Name and place changed due to privacy concerns