My First Day As A Mental Health Trainee Taught Me About Life

Posted on September 1, 2016

By Sarah Hussain:

“He cannot do anything worthy. See, he cannot even speak properly. I don’t know why God has to do this to me. I am a poor widow with not enough money to support my 2 kids and then I have him, who does not understand anything or can do anything for that matter,” said the mother of the 12-year-old child.

That was my first real experience of being a clinical psychology student. Being naive and inexperienced, my encounter with my first client left my hands and legs cold. I was losing out on words to console the mother. Reality struck me hard. I was talking to the mother of a child with a mental disability. “It’s not an easy job, dear,” I said to myself. I mustered enough courage to compose myself and then started explaining to the mother about what her child was suffering from. About how low intellectual functioning is associated with developmental, cognitive and social impairment, present from birth.

While talking to her, I could see her eyes swell up as she continued to nod her head as a response to what I was saying. After a detailed psychometric assessment, I told her about the possible options she had to help her child have a better future. I knew she didn’t have enough money to eat, and so I felt stupid giving her advice. But she said she would try her best to get enough money to improve her child’s condition of living. That was probably the first time I saw a smile on the mother’s face.

I realised that day how hope tends to drive our life further. Handling an issue as sensitive as this on my very first day of training, got me thinking. My mind went back to that part of the day time and again, I realised how we, the so-called ‘normal” beings do not understand the difficult faced by so many others. For us, partying on the weekend is more important, while for someone else, just surviving one more day is important.

The mother who was initially angry with her fate and was feeling helpless left with a hopeful heart, a yearning to see her child in a little better condition. I stood there, waving the child goodbye and hoping that he would be better soon. That day, hope did its job again; it tied us with its magical thread.

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