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A compassionate discussion about mental health

 
Posts: 9002
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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I'm glad this thread is in the cider press. I didn't see the need for that when I first posted the thread, that was rolled into this one, but something has come up. Decisions have been made based on that. These are my decisions to make, since I'm the one paying for it all. I won't be forcing anyone to do anything, just in case someone wants to get all uptight over that. I will simply make my financial  contribution, contingent on doing as I say.
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I think we may have gotten to the root of Sonny's mental condition.

Sonny appears to be a victim of religion. Catholicism specifically. A jungle version, that probably incorporates some of what was going on, in Mindanao, in prehistoric times. He was a normal functioning young man until he joined a bush cult that encouraged members to go up into the mountains on various quests. They were not to eat during this time. He was encouraged to go weeks without eating. Water was also sometimes withheld and they did drugs. Visions and apparitions were considered good things. His mission was to find a white bird, bring it back, and sacrifice it. I'm not sure what that was supposed to accomplish. This group practices crucifixion, self-flagellation, starvation and treks into the wilderness similar to the story of Jesus in the wilderness. Nova's grandmother has been a long-term member of a group like that. She hasn't seen her in five years and isn't sure if she will see her again. They have a mixture of peace and love Jesus stuff, and lots of evil spirits stuff.

Sonny has never been right since his trek. The villagers took this to mean that he had picked up a demon along the way. That's why they killed the pig in front of him, two years ago. The demon was supposed to enter the pig.

 A thinking person might conclude that it could be starvation and drug-induced psychosis. There are drugs that can help with this. During starvation events, the body can consume essential proteins that the brain needs. So we are going to pursue that.

 If he is able to get right in his head, I will make a complete abstinence from religion, a condition of further help with education, housing and everything else. It will not be allowed. It's always going to be a bit of a challenge, because the minute I turn my back on anyone except Nova, they go running right back to the Stone Age.

 I bought him a tablet last year. Sometimes he walked around the apartment chanting things that he saw on religious sites. I'm going to see what I can do, to block religious content on the internet. He needs to not involve himself in any of that. Once he's a self sustaining adult, he can decide if he wants to go back to religion.
 
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Dale, as you continue to learn about Sonny's condition, please keep in mind that it is possible that the event you describe "caused" his entire issue, but it's equally possible that it "triggered" an underlying condition.

Either way, good nutrition involving nutrient dense ingredients and ideally naturally fermented foods that help nutrients be absorbed, will help the brain even if there is an underlying manic/depression condition.

Certainly, I have heard cases of religion being an asset or a liability for different people, but beyond religion, a stable, consistent, secure life situation is critical. Your earlier plans of getting Sonny into controlled housing with a few animals to interact with and care for seems like a good first approach. Since mental illness has frequent ups and downs, I would not push formal education until he's had consistent nutrition, sleep, and a sense of safety. Over all the internet is a fast-moving, sensory stimulating media, so restricting that to calm, specifically chosen sites - possibly informational about animal husbandry for example - is a reasonable approach, as would be to make sure it gets turned off early in the evening.

Situations like Sonny's are frequently complex with many interacting issues. A friend of mine's son kept self-medicating with alcohol or worse because of a combination of low thyroid function and insomnia. When a doctor finally managed to use *multiple* drugs to manage the insomnia, and consistently got a good level on the thyroid, things stabilized and now the man *only* needs the thyroid meds to maintain a decent work schedule. My friend's reaction was to say, "If *only* he'd taken his thyroid meds it would have been fine." I pointed out that the sleep issues were *very* long standing - the thyroid meds on their own probably couldn't fix the problem, and the other drugs were essential to get the brain "reprogrammed" and only then could he be maintained on the thyroid meds alone. I saw the light bulb go on in her brain! She realized that, yes, it took a holistic approach that fixed a bunch of things all at once that allowed balance to be reached. Sonny's been sick long enough, that I suspect a similar holistic approach will be required for any lasting successful outcome.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Yes, nutrition is very important and nutritional knowledge almost non-existent even amongst educated Filipinos. Many believe that rice is very essential, although it's mostly empty calories. There have been many times when Sunny may have had enough calories but it was all starch. I totally understand the trigger thing. One of my brothers allowed his children to run rampant and do drugs as young as 13. They now have what is believed to be a lifelong schizophrenic condition. There's bits of mania in there but it's hard to tell where one begins and the other ends. Nova is the only member of the family who seems to have a good grasp on nutrition and on the importance of being very consistent, with medication, sleep and behavioral expectations. The others are simply into putting out fires when they come up.

We will eventually leave Sonny in the hands of his youngest sister , Isabel. The older sister is done with him.

We tried education 7 months ago and it was a complete failure. Sonny has seen enough failure in his life. That's part of why I want to come up with something simple for him, where he is likely to succeed. Once we get some land, I will put thousands of stakes in the ground and it will be his job to dig holes to a certain depth, for tree planting. It will later be his job to make sure the trees are all watered. Being paid anything will be contingent on survival.

When Sonny is thinking clearly , he has a burning desire to get a job that will allow him to get a motorcycle and to buy animals. I want to provide him with the animals to look after and once he can show that he's stable enough, he will be able to ride a motorcycle that I already own. I'd like him to get good enough at it that he can either become a farm manager for me, or we could set him up with a small acreage nearby. His sister would need to own that land, because I wouldn't want to risk him being duped out of it. Anyone with a condition like his, is easy prey for those looking to take advantage. We were in a small town on Bohol, where a guy living at the market, obviously had mental issues. The culture of this town is not so dog eat dog, as it is where Sunny is from. Everyone at the market gets that man to do little tasks, and they make sure that he is fed and clothed and has other things that he needs. It's amazing the difference in cultures one Island over, or even within the same island. My wife's family have the misfortune of coming from a village dominated by drunkards. We are seeking land in the better places, and I expect that Sonny will remain with us for quite a while. no matter where we go
 
Dale Hodgins
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Yesterday, Nova talked for half an hour, about how Sonny used to be. When she was 11 or 12, she was offered a full time job that paid 1500 pesos a month. About $35. This was far more money than she had ever had. Working 7 hours a day while going to school, paid $0.25 which wasn't enough for transportation both ways and her lunch. So it was tempting. All of them started jobs when they were six years old. Sonny is 5 years older and was working full time, also earning a pittance. He strongly discouraged his sister's quitting school to work full time and he brought them money whenever he could, so that they could eat well. Nova was not to eat anything expensive like chicken or fish at her restaurant job. Instead she was expected to live on rice and whatever she could glean from the tables as she cleaned up the mess. Many times her employer wouldn't give her the 10 pesos she was owed each day. Sonny brought her food and gave her money during five years where she was essentially a slave... He was a top student and an aspiring boxer. He had friends and lots of ambitions for a guy who was raised around people who had seemingly none. Once his mental problems started , he moved back to the village with his mother, and has been with her ever since. Nova wants the old Sonny back , and I have promised to do my best.
 
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