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HariMaya (pseudonym), a female of 40 years born in Maru Tol in Thimi lives a happy life along with her mother in a small home that they own. Even though she has been encouraged by her near ones to get married, she has not bowed down under pressure as she does not consider marriage to be in the list of priority at this point of life. The priority for her as she says is to “raise awareness among people regarding psychosocial disability and reduce stigma in my society to make sure no one having psychosocial disability has to think twice before coming out of their home”. The confidence and determination in her voice is a testament to how far she come in terms of development of her personality in a short span of time as she puts it in her own words “I used to get very scared to stand in front of a group and speak. I felt I would rather hide behind than have to face a crowd”. As can be figured out from the statement that she had been low in confidence and self-esteem and she credits it to her mental health problem which she had to deal with since she was 15. She first started showing signs of mental health problem after she fell down from the roof and hurt her head. She recalls “the wound I received after falling from the roof has been healed but it gave me another wound which has not subsided even now. Seizure.”
The problem she has had since has affected her development and the uncertainty regarding seizure attack prevented her from continuing education beyond 8th grade. She started to confine herself inside her home more often and it severely affected socialization in her community resulting in loss of confidence and reduced self-esteem. Realizing the need to treat her, her family took her to traditional healers but it resulted in no luck as her problem still persisted. She was then taken to various hospitals and had been prescribed numerous medicines which she says “created lot of problem for me. What did not help either was lack of knowledge about the problem for not just me but my family as well”.
She was then introduced to Peer Support Program almost 2 years ago by a peer support member and participated in peer support meetings regularly. She also benefitted from OPD service which had been provided after the meetings as the medicines prescribed by the psychiatrist worked for her and the seizure attacks became less frequent. She says, “Since I joined peer support program, the fear I had of speaking in front of other people has gone. Moreover, as we meet from time to time and share our feelings, I feel very relieved to express freely. I have become more positive and it has helped me socialize and meet new people who understand me”. Now, she is employed in a paper making company and moves around without fear of having seizure attack. She says, “I have not had seizure attack for a long time now because of regular intake of medicine and my participation in peer support program.” Similarly, she does not fear speaking about the issue before her society and after the training she received on mental health and human rights, she has been spreading awareness on mental health issues in gatherings and interaction programs. She now truly considers herself as a self-advocate and is prepared to fight for the rights of persons with psychosocial disabilities.