The Crusader of Mental Health

Rohit Seeks Refuge in Temples

Rohit’s* grandmother died when he was in college, studying B. Com. He had been attached to her; she had taken care of Rohit when he was a child and his mother had to go to work. When she became old and fell ill and was bed ridden, it Rohit helped in nursing her. Rohit did not mind; he and grandmother shared a special bond.

He did not display any emotion when she died, but when it was time for the body to be taken for cremation, he sobbed for a while. He seemed to become his normal self after a few months. He felt deeply that God had been unjust to his grandmother, since she had been very religious and would give to the needy. What was the point of living and doing good deeds, one might as well renounce everything and lead the life of a monk, he asked himself.

After about two years, his parents noticed that he would go and stand before houses where a death had occurred. He would come home and talk about it for days. He would wonder how the person had died, whether there had been someone to take care of the person, and so on. He would be troubled and could not sleep for days at a time.

After graduation, he got a job as a data entry operator in a factory. After about a year, inventory worth crores of rupees was found to be missing; management suspected that some employees were responsible. Rohit became anxious since he was in the materials department. Nobody questioned him about the missing stocks or insinuate anything about him. He observed people working in stores were being questioned. One day his supervisor fell down suddenly. He looked dazed, but got up and told Rohit not to report the incident. Rohit understood that his boss was under stress. He became depressed and was afraid that he would be blamed.

Over the next two weeks his condition worsened. He used to feel weak and tired all the time. His head felt heavy and his mind seemed to be out of control; obsessive thoughts and feelings would keep troubling him. He experienced spells of seeing black. One day he felt dizzy and was given drips at the factory dispensary. Sometimes he would sit and cry alone in the room. When his mother questioned him, he would express surprise and say that he had not cried.
He took leave and was taken to Cochin by his mother. He stayed at his aunt’s house for two weeks to rest and recover. He would get disturbed by any sudden sound. He heard steps and voices coming towards him; he felt that people from his company were coming to question him about the missing stocks. He was taken to a psychiatrist in a hospital by his aunt. He was prescribed medication. After the treatment started, his condition improved a little. The frequency of his crying and talking to himself reduced.

He came back from Cochin and resigned from his job. It was hoped that this would make his anxiety about the theft go away. He found another job. His mother took him to a psychiatrist in Bangalore. He was under treatment for about eight months and slowly he improved to the point his mother felt the tablets could be stopped. The psychiatrist in Cochin had said that the tablets were to be taken for 8 months.

For around five months Rohit seemed to be fine; he was going to work regularly. Then he started to suffer from insomnia. Initially he could not sleep during the whole of new moon nights. Then came a time he did not sleep for ten days at a stretch. Yet he was going to work. The family doctor prescribed some medication, due to which he could sleep for a few days. But the insomnia recurred. He lost appetite and started losing weight. The doctor, who was aware of his medical history, suggested that he be taken to a psychiatrist. They went to a psychiatrist, who prescribed medication.

Rohit worked in the customer care department. He started chatting about irrelevant things to customers. His bosses noticed it and warned him. He found it difficult to work in office. His parents asked him to quit and stay at home.

During this phase, which lasted about two months, he took to wandering away from home. He would get up after 4 am, unable to sleep any more. He would bathe and leave the house without informing anyone. He would walk to temples in and around Bangalore. If he had some money, he would take a bus or else he would walk long distances, and camp in a temple till it closed in the afternoon, without eating anything. Sometimes he would reach before the temple opened; he would wait patiently till it opened. Many priests, seeing him come often, and remaining there for hours, would feel sorry for him, and offer him food when they ate their lunch. His father took leave from job to care of Rohit. His parents were afraid he could come to some harm. His father would drive him to temples and the local park every day. Rohith never had any close friends even as a small boy, and then as a teenager. No friends came to visit him at home. The only close relationship he had had was with his grandmother.

They reported his condition to the psychiatrist; the doctor observed that Rohit was talking irrelevantly and there was tremor in hands. The doctor diagnosed the condition as mania. Rohit was put on Lithium tablet, apart from the earlier medication. Blood tests for Lithium were done periodically to monitor Lithium levels.

During the next phase, Rohit was unable to take care of himself. He was unable to walk on his own; he had to be held, else he would lose balance and fall. The new medication was making him drowsy. His father had to take his son to the bathroom and help him bathe, and put on clothes. Rohit would do obediently whatever he was told to do, but had to be guided at every step. He used to do the sandhya vandanam worship on his own. But in this period, his father had to sit by his side and make him recite. On his own, he could not even recite Gayathri mantra; his voice would trail off after few words, and he would simply stop and topple over. For about ten days, he talked continuously even through his troubled sleep; his speech was slurred. The doctor said that this was a reaction to Lithium, and prescribed a tablet.

People suggested to his mother to take Rohith to CRC, since CRC was a very good doctor and he would get counseling too. CRC changed his medication. Rohit slowly started improving. He could take bath on his own, sleep better and walk unaided. Parents were counseled to be more patient towards Rohit and show love. Earlier they would get frustrated and impatient with him.

Rohit is now much better; almost 90% of dysfunctional behavior has been controlled. He still tends to talk irrelevantly. His father has resumed work, but comes home early. His mother has a part time job. She goes to work in the afternoon, so Rohit is not left alone at home for more than a couple of hours. CRC has said that Rohit can take up a job, but his parents do not want him to undergo the stress of working until he is much better. His mother has joined the course for counselors in Samadhana. She thinks it will help her to deal with her son and perhaps help others.