Interview with Visha and Mum.
About a month ago, I had a rare but golden opportunity to interview Visha, a mental health advocator who is also undergoing counselling sessions as treatment for schizophrenia, and her mum, Maladavi, who is a Montessori educator. The interview conducted was part of a completion for my assignment on the subject of Counselling.
Visha appeared to me as a 22-year-old petite, but rather gutsy lady who can articulate her opinion and perception well, with much boldness and confidence. Initially, she was shy and had very few eye contact with me. However, as our conversation steered towards awareness on mental health and learning disabilities, her eyes started to spark as she ignited her words about her experiences along the road to recovery as a schizophrenic patient. Personally, I felt very fortunate and honoured to meet such a wonderful young lass who has discovered and mapped out a journey for her future and her ambition of helping people who share similar experiences as her. Mental health is still a stigma in Malaysia, but with the grace of Visha’s presence, I’m sure the public will open their eyes a little bit more to recognise and accept mental illnesses like any other physical illnesses. Prevention is better than cure. With early intervention strategies available especially for children of very young age, the risks and uncertainties of mental illnesses can be mitigated and patients/sufferers can live in harmony with their families and communities.
Visha’s mum, Maladavi, who is a Montessori educator, said that her experiences while studying and working in Montessori schools in Thailand and Malaysia, had actually helped her to detect the early symptoms of delayed developmental problem since Visha was in kindergarten. Mala’s acute observation skill had captured the signs but help was not available at that time. When Visha’s condition started to deteriorate as she stepped into primary and secondary schools, Mala decided to seek help from a psychiatrist and the healing journey began. Again, her skills as a Montessori trainer and educator, such as preparing Practical Life activities that assisted Visha in gaining in her independence, principle of isolation and utilising her strength rather than her weakness to enhance her quality of life, has given Visha the strength and motivation to emerge from the swamp of mental sickness.
Well, if you would like to meet the young lady behind the facade of schizophrenia, or if you would like her to talk about real life experience of being a mental health patient, do contact her at Facebook (Visha Arunagiri) or http://www.vishalsmindscreations.com. She has written about her experiences with schizophrenia in a self-published book ‘In My Shoes: Part One’ and has just embarked on a hobby/business similar to mine – Beading. Yes, love those beads!
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