The Voices of Solace

By Maryam Iman

GOMBAK, 12 October 2019: A forum entitled “Solace” designed to create an awareness on mental illness among the campus community was successfully held at Human Sciences Seminar Room, at IIUM campus here on Thursday (10 October).

The forum was organised by the Secretariat of Psychology (PSYCSTA) in conjunction with IIUM Mental Health Week 2019 (WMHW).

It started off with a brief speech by the event’s moderator, Afrina, a psychology major student, highlighting the need for people to understand and empathise with the stories of the guests who have been diagnosed with mental illness.

Asked by the moderator how their families and friends reacted to their mental illness, one of the guests who suffered from ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), answered that it took so long for them to learn about ADHD but after realising the symptoms, they were all getting support especially from family members.

The other speakers agreed on that too but admitted that some of their friends were gone. Indeed, family is the best supportive system of all, they said.

They also discussed the consequences of skipping their daily medications.

“I skipped once and I had some sort of an electric shock in the brain,” said Afrina who was diagnosed with depression.

Another speaker who was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) added, “Compliance is the key. You skipped it once, the whole day will be ruined.”

Afrina then proceeded by asking, “How do you cope with your work and your relationship with your friends while having mental illness?”

Being diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) which is almost the same as ADHD but minus the hyperactive symptom, one of the guests voiced out that he managed his life well.

He does sports and runs to release endorphins which makes him feel good all the time. Another speaker who was suffering from ADHD stated that exercising is his way too.

“Some people said exercise is only for physical purpose but it’s actually more than that. I became less hyper and more controlled,” adding “with an unconsciously continuous leg-shaking in my chair”.

It looks like everyone has his or her own way to cope with their own problem.

It was saddening to hear that they often discriminate themselves and got discriminated by people around them.

Among their answers regarding the above issue are:

“I feel weak by being weird and cannot handle the day”.

“People even thought that I have gangguan jin.”

Talking about how medication works on them, it actually won’t cure the illness yet it is helpful to control the body in order to function normally as for the time being.

They also included that metal illness sometimes comes genetically but most of the time it’s the environment itself.

After the Q & A session ended, the guests emphasised that all they need is just an understanding and support from us.

Sometimes, “even a smile could make someone not committing suicide,” said one of them. Plus, don’t use offensive words to call them. Be gentle, be kind. After all, we are just the same human beings in this world.

To preserve our mind and emotions, one of them even spitted out, “Stay away from social media, the devil. They told us to try have a break and solve the problems in our best way.”

Above all, it was a heart-warming session and the event had raised awareness on mental illness among the students with the hope of spreading it for a more meaningful life. ***

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