Because it’s an excellent school.
Because they have good transport services.
Because I don’t like their attitude towards parents.
The number of times we have moved from school to school… By the time I was 14, I had changed 6 and still did not have a clue which college or colleges I was going to land to.
My Mom is a strong, smart but a foolhardy woman. Once she sets her mind onto something, a decision has been made and almost nothing can change it. I could say that nature of her affected our childhood in many ways but I would be wrong to say that the overall footing was not on the positive side. Look at me, I’m a doctor in the UK. That is my biggest achievement.
Most of those pursuits for our ‘touristry’ was to be on a competitive English based private schools. One that compared to or stood at least on minimum standards to the international levels. Barely made to school herself in a rural area of Nepal, she emphasized all her life on education. My dad was a school teacher before he joined the army at the age of 17. From what he tells me, the principle was, ‘to learn and to pass on’. Once he upgraded from his class,he had to take a teaching position because there weren’t many or any to teach others.
I know anxiety and the forms emotional transformations it goes through. Our minds are like a maze, if you don’t know the route, it is one labyrinth after another. I don’t know much about my dad, he has never been an outspoken person, always kept things to himself but Mom… With every year I grew, I saw her pass through a lot of phases.
She didn’t know the language, the city people spoke. Yet there she was with 3 children and a fourth one on the way, alone, with no relatives, with no friends. She had travelled through different countries; Hongkong, Brunei and UK by that time but still didn’t have a right skill set to adjust in a society of learned men, who boasted their professions of being government officials, journalists, teachers and so on. She felt isolated, wasn’t particularly articulative as you can imagine but developed this over-protective sense of self for herself and for her children. She was constantly worried. She tried so many times in little words she could express that she wanted to be a part of this new society, but community seldom accepts ‘odds’; ‘a category’ people are placed in, if they don’t fit in their standards of normal, or are from different socio-economic or ethnic/racial profile. So, slowly she started turning to an angry woman, while trying to project herself as a strong one.
It wasn’t just about language, it was also about religion. People we were surrounded with were strictly hindus, she wasn’t as religious with rituals as they were and didn’t know her Bhagavad Gita by heart.
She slapped a policeman one. ‘Don’t you dare, look down upon me as a helpless woman with no husband in sight and 3 little children. You think I can’t step up to you?’. That was the day she stood for herself. There was no ignoring and fighting this woman then, if they wanted a black topped pitch road to go through their neighbourhood left and right; she had to be a part, she had to be willing to offer the land.
As we age, we start becoming mature and start to understand all these processes that are happening in our life. It is only when I came to UK, I really understood the hardships they had been through. It can’t have been easy for a couple who spoke only ethnic language and grew up in an isolated remote place where they had to walk at least 2 hours a day just to get to a school and 3 day to get to nearest town to even see a bus; to come to the UK, to Kathmandu city, to other developed countries, back and forth, back and forth and to start a life.
16 years of English education through top schools. Endless entrance exams. Never understood what she was chasing for, what was her hunger for. I wasn’t a happy teenager, I must admit. Top 3 positions didn’t mean anything if you weren’t 1st. I was excelling on every fields I worked on, but they only seemed frivolous. Nothing was enough. Till the day I came to UK. Imagine my dismay, when I couldn’t even understand and reply to an electrician where the problem was and since how long. I realised taht very minute, all those years of books and language training weren’t adequate, weren’t ever going to be adequate. If I didn’t want to be queer and an outcast in my society, I had to rise up, put in double the effort than a person standing next to me just to stay in the surface. All these chase and hunger throughout her life now made sense, she simply didn’t want her children to be rejected as she was.
A patient came to me sobbing like a child, her tears flowing constantly down her cheeks when I was on a training placement on GP. She said her mother had passed away recently, and she needed to make her funeral arrangements and go through a lot of paperworks, but her anxiety wasn’t letting her do any. She said, she sits in her room with a pile of envelopes that she barely goes through, even one by the end of the day, and weeps all night because she knows she has to do it but can’t find any courage. When the phone rings, her anxiety goes through the roof, and she starts panicking. And ever since she heard about her Mom, it has gotten much worse because she no longer has any emotional support that her mother used to offer . ‘There are bank procedures, gas and electricity bills, water bills, council tax, death registration… and I haven’t even seen my mom. I can’t get myself to step out of the house. I had to force myself to get here. So how do I do all these? I’m the only child, I have no siblings to turn to. It’s all overwhelming…’ She couldn’t stop sobbing. Her tears were relentless.
I could relate to her in some ways. I have seen my mom go through the bills. Go through the numbers over and over again until she finally gave up and requested me for help. You would think after all those years of moving, adjusting and meeting new faces everyday myself and seeing her go through those things; I would have become immune. You would think, I would have been well desensitised by now with all those triggers. But not everyone reacts that way I suppose. I feel overwhelmed too at times especially with moving places, with moving jobs, with new environments. I too perhaps over the years, have gathered along heightened response to ‘anxiety’ on my ‘fight and flight’ decisions.
I can understand why she would be stressed with these online forms, bills and subscriptions. World is changing fast, getting automated and computerised everyday; not everyone one of us is fast enough to keep up with the pace. Her triggers, now on COVID era has proven to be a major potential threat for a big disease burden on mental health, especially with older and vulnerable populations.
GPs are concerned that fewer older generations are requesting consults. There are phone consultations available I’m sure for every practice, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t apply through e-consult, in case phones were not available. What about setting video calls meeting with offices? I have just managed to learn it myself. Everything has now moved to online chats and help forums. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone is out there crying out of frustration unable to navigate through computer pages.
‘I called 111 saying I have a chest pain, because I’m tired doctor, waiting for someone to come and visit me. It’s always on the phone and just for few minutes. I haven’t seen my MH worker in person for ages. I just wanted to talk with someone in person’.
A support system is crucial for a well functioning community.
I applaud mental health care workers and social workers who are trying their best to curb the negative effects of lockdown on mental wellness of their patients. I know, at present, the focus is on physical well being; but to survive out of COVID we need to be aware of our emotional well being too.
We need to know that not every mother will have the courage to beat her fears, not every father will have a courage to undo their mistakes and not every children will learn ‘circumstances are only a part of life, it’s not the end’. COVID may shape us and our communities in lot of different ways than we can imagine.