Listen, encourage those facing mental health problems

“Sara, help me,” Xavier called his daughter-in-law before passing out.

It was three in the morning when Xavier walked into Sara’s bedroom.

At first, Sara thought her mind was playing tricks, but to her horror, she realised Xavier’s wrists were covered with fresh blood while he lay flat on their floor.

“Sam, wake up! We need to bring Dad to the hospital now!” Sarah yelled to her husband, sleeping soundly beside her.

They rushed Xavier to the nearest hospital.

Sara had never felt as helpless in her life. Sam was in a daze. But both couldn’t help but ask why Xavier would harm himself.

“We have stabilised your father, but he needs to be admitted for us to monitor his condition. I suggest you return home and get some rest. You can visit him tomorrow,” Dr Isaac told Sara and Sam.

They could only nod their heads. They had not recovered from their shock.

When Xavier woke up the following day, he felt like he was waking from a dream. Reality kicked in when he saw the bandage over his wrists.

“Did I really do it?” Xavier asked himself.

“Good morning, Mr Xavier. I’m Dr Tia, and I am in charge of your case.

“As this is our first meeting, I want to get to know you better. Would you like to continue resting, or can we proceed with our interview?”

Dr Tia stood beside his bed, smiling sweetly, encouragingly, hoping that he would agree to the interview.

“I … I honestly don’t know where to start,” Xavier spoke in a low tone.

“I missed my wife since she passed away a few months ago. We were together for 50 years. I don’t know how to live without her by my side. We did everything together,” Xavier started to get teary-eyed.

“We used to wake up at 5am, and she would prepare food before we walked to our paddy field, about 2km from our house.

“We would return before dusk and have our meal at home with our children.”

Dr Tia jotted down short notes in her medium-sized notebook, nodding briefly.

“I always imagined that God would take me first as I have many medical issues. My wife was much fitter and younger.

“She was involved in a fatal car accident when she went to the city to buy gifts for our children. It felt like the whole world was pressing me in every way it could till I couldn’t breathe if I didn’t end my life.

“I lost someone I trust, someone with whom I shared everything.

“I know I don’t live alone, but I feel so lonely at home when everyone goes to work, shopping or staying in their rooms. I feel alone amid the crowd.

“I take alcohol to cope with my loneliness and sadness. I get drunk to not think about my wife.

“I miss her so much that I felt nothing was holding me back from meeting her again if I ended my life last night.”

Xavier stared at the bedsheet and started to cry.

“I have nothing to do anymore in this life. Everything means nothing without her by my side,” he added.

Dr Tia handed tissues to Xavier.

“I’m aware of the harm I did to myself.  I didn’t want to burden my son and daughter-in-law. They take good care of me.”

Dr Tia nodded and said: “It’s normal to feel sad when we lose someone we love, Mr Xavier. What we discourage is self-harm or suicidal intention. If anyone feels this way, it’s time to arrange a visit to our department.”

Dr Tia’s explanation made Xavier feel his feelings were validated.

“I will talk to your children about how we can accommodate your needs so you won’t feel this perceived loneliness anymore.

“We suggest you join our activities with other elderly patients so we can have social engagements to occupy your time.

“There are also activities suitable for you, with help from your family. Let’s cherish the time we have right now and look after ourselves better, shall we?”

Dr Tia left Xavier with supportive and encouraging words, making him feel that life was the most precious gift.

This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.

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