Monday, April 19, 2010

Emotional Scars Sometimes Worse Than Physical Injuries

The earthquake that took place on January 12th, 2010 took a devastating number of lives and left a country that cares very little about the handicapped, with thousands of handicapped individuals. Individuals now with a lost arm, a leg, both legs or both an arm and a leg or others being left paralyzed, from the neck or from the waist down.

Haiti is a country where many believe you must be mobile to survive, or you will be considered a dependent burden that will quickly exhaust families' resources. Emotional and psychological needs or problems are not an exception, and often times people will turn a blind eye on those suffering with mental health issues. If it cannot be seen it does not exist.

Each individual expresses his or her emotional state differently - some quietly and uncommunicatively, others vocally and physically and still others that sadly regress to a child-like state.

The psychologists here at Hôpital Albert Schweitzer(HAS) have continued to see some of the patients individually and in group sessions. I am told that things are going well, and each within the group are talking freely and sharing their experiences.

Nonetheless, I have concerns for V.C. the 19-year-old woman who lost her entire family in the earthquake, except for a newly found cousin. (I blogged about V.C. on previous entries on April 2 and April 5.) V.C. is doing extremely well with her physical therapy and is therefore ready for discharge. Unfortunately, her depression seems to continue. She appears to talk very little with those around her. She does not seem to hold any relationship or connection with any of the girls in her age group. Furthermore, it appears that most of her spare time is spent sleeping, by herself, or interacting with the men that are around.

Today one of the physical therapists brought a doll to V.C. V.C had put in several requests to the therapist for this doll and would always ask when the doll would become available. As I started to hand the doll to V.C., I asked her who the doll was for, with a great big smile on her face, she replied through the interpreter, “It's mine, I want a baby doll to play with.”

Why would a 19-year-old want a doll baby to play with? This is a little strange. My initial thought is that V.C is regressing to a child like state. This information will be communicated to the psychologist to hopefully encourage further evaluation and treatment as necessary before discharge. V.C. will most likely be sent to live with her cousin. This she does not want and has expressed concerns and fears regarding the possibility of having to sell stuff in the market, if she goes and lives with her cousin. V.C. wants to go to school.

Thanks for reading-Project HOPE volunteer Joy Williams

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1 comment:

  1. Joy,
    Strong work.. I know the people in Haiti are so grateful for all that is being done for them...
    Hope to see you when you get back...
    Marie-Ange Casimir