Kanchhi, a 40 year old woman smiles with happiness as she states, “The ladies that have helped me rise and live a better life are like my sisters”, referring to the counselor and staff members of KOSHISH,. She further adds, "I was never allowed to leave my house and never went to school because of my problem. Everybody used to call me mad. But now things have changed. My life has changed."
She was born in a low class family in Malpi, Panauti Municipality. She has three siblings and she is the third child. One and a half years after her birth her mother passed away, and she doesn’t have any memory of her mother. A short while after her mother’s death, her father remarried. She does not have any step siblings and life continued normally for her. Her step mother did not show much love but she also didn't show any kind of hatred either.
At the age of seven she experienced her first seizure. She was left alone at home as both her parents had gone out to work and during that time she had the seizure. At that time her father got worried as he was previously unaware of her condition. For a moment he thought that she had died but after some time she regained consciousness and she was normal. She did not undergo any further seizures for the next year, so the family did not pay any kind of attention to that attack. After a year she had her second seizure and this time it was serious. She had to be admitted to the hospital, however she was not diagnosed for her seizure and was only treated for her physical conditions, like her eyesight and burns that she got after falling while cooking. After that her seizure episodes continued and she visited the hospital multiple times but was always only treated for her physical problems.
At the age of 15 her father decided to get her married. Her older brother was against it because of her condition and said that it would be difficult for her to adjust in another household but her father was persistent with his decision, this was due mainly to the society’s thinking and mentality about keeping a daughter. After her marriage she lived with her husband and three years into the marriage her mother-in-law died. Her husband rarely returned home during those years as he was having an affair. However she still lived there because of societal pressure. A few months after her mother-in-law’s death, she experienced a severe seizure attack. It was very serious, so the neighbors called her brother as her husband did not bother to help. Her brother took her back to her home and she stayed there for a while. In that period her father realized that she was not being taken care of in her husband’s house so she began to live with her father and brother again. Her living conditions became better but the seizures continued. Sometimes she would not eat anything for a period of 15-20 days because she would have wounds in her mouth. She was continuously hurt physically because of the constant passing out at random places and time. Her father took her to traditional healers thinking that she might be possessed by some souls, ghosts and witches. For many years she was taken only to see traditional healers. Never in her lifetime was she diagnosed with the actual problem. People used to call her mad and abnormal due to which she was discouraged with. Her parents have supported her but she did not want to be a burden on them so she worked as a daily wage worker, but due to her condition it was difficult for her to earn.
About five years ago, one of the health workers from nearby health post suggested her to visit a doctor. They went to a hospital in Lalitpur, with the help of the health worker and started medication. She was continuously taking medication but her seizures didn’t subside. She didn’t visit the doctor regularly as the hospital was very far from her home and she didn’t know how to reach there.
About two years ago she was recommended to monthly Psychiatric OPD service conducted by KOSHISH in Panauti health post, by staff of Panauti health post where she met with the doctor and was diagnosed correctly with epileptic seizures. Since the people of the village were not aware of this kind of condition, they were unable to provide her the help she needed. The organization gave her counselling, follow-ups on her condition and medical support. Her family members were provided psycho-education regarding her problem. Her condition has improved since she came to her first OPD and she visits the doctor every month. She is also a member of a self help group. She used to hesitate to communicate with people, but now she is more open and comfortable to communicate. She is very grateful to KOSHISH for helping her. She now works and is saving money to support herself and her family. She has become more sociable. She says, "My life has become much better and now people around me have begun to look at me differently". Her step mother further adds, "KOSHISH has become a savior for her. She has no seizure episodes and her anger has subsided significantly".