Nahid* is a forty years old woman living in Sweden since the eighties. She has a job, is married and has three children. Her parents and siblings are living in her home country. Her relationship with her husband is based on respect, she emphasizes. In her whole life here in Sweden but also in her home country she has felt a sense of missing and sadness that she has been trying to manage in different ways. She cannot find an explanation for the way she is feeling. She made herself busy by raising her children in Sweden. She learned the language and got into the labor market. Thus, her most meningful tool that made her to go on living in forty years was her strong belief in God. The problem is that she is feeling that even this tool is loosing its power the older she gets
A friend of her at work who has a closer relationship with Nahid recommends her to see a psychiatrist who too speaks her language which makes it easier for Nahid to talk about her thoughts and feelings. She finally decides after quite a while hesitation to book an appointment with the doctor who is specialist in adult psychiatry and also a licensed psychotherapist. The doctor is too a woman and in the same age as Nahid is.
It is her first meeting and Nahid is trying to explain for the doctor that she has been feeling down in her whole life and can not feel any joy for anything. The doctor asks her about how she could go on living after all these years having this feeling?
Nahid´s explanation is spontaneous and she says:
– I think my strong belief in God could save me.
The doctor interrupts her quickly and says with an overtone:
– Hum, Do you really think that God is looking at you from the above and taking care of you, lady? Forget it. All these talks about God are just bowl sheet. The religion is taking advantage of people like you. Wake up.
It has not gone more than ten minutes of the session. And Nahid has absolutely no confidence in the doctor. She is seeing the doctor for the first time, also with a huge skepticism about the psychiatric health care. The only common denominator between them is that both are women and both are coming from the same country.
Nahid starts shaking, getting sweaty in her body and in her palms. She has just difficulty to manage her rage. She stands up and says:
– You are an idiot. I do not want to talk to you any more.
And she leaves the clinic.
The doctor who feels very assaulted gets so mad that she issues a medical letter and gives order to a nurse to call the police and report that Nahid is an unstable individual who threatened to commit suicide and left the doctor´s office in rage and without permission. She pointed out for the police that Nahid must be arrested and be taken to an inpatient psychiatric unit as soon as possible.
A half an hour later police is behind her door. In spite of Nahid´s denying suicidal thoughts and suicidal plans and her giving gathered impression they took her in front of her husband´s astonishment and her daughter´s terrifying eyes to an inpatient psychiatric center in a Stockholm suburb for an evaluation.
When she arrives with a police car and two policemen, she just cries and cries. She is shaking and it is difficult to calm her down. Later she explains that she was thinking in her way to the unit that we will force her to take lots of pills and inject her with lots of heavy drugs and when she refuses to take more we will lie her in belt. She has no previous experience of psychiatric care and all of this is just a horrifying scenario and a trauma for her. A nightmare.
She explains for on duty psychologist about what was happened at the doctor´s office and why she just interrupted the session and did not want to talk to her any more. It was because of doctor, questioning her belief system rudely and without any reservation, a belief system that has saved her for so many years. The psychologist interviews her for an hour and runs some questionnaires. He can not find any serious disorder with Nahid. Later comes a physicion and reviews the psychologist´s report. He goes in to Nahid´s room and talks to her for about half an hours. The final report from the inpatient psychiatric unit in Stockholm Suburb shows no sign of psychiatric dysfunction and no sign of suicidality.
Nahid can finally go home at 9:30 pm that evening. Neither her husband nor her daughter could talk to her for more than four hours since she was taking in by the police and waiting for the final report from the psychiatry. There were some very tough hours for the whole family, nevertheless for Nahid.
Nahid tells that she never told her man and her children about her having sad thoughts and about that noting makes her happy. That she never told her parents and her siblings that she feels down and life is kind of heavy for her. Her explanation for not telling them is that she does not want to burden her family and that she feels ashamed and is worried to be marked as a mental case. However, this is going to be big news at home and it will be difficult for her to explain for the family about why she was picking up by the police and taking into a “madhouse” in Stockholm.
When the taxi is here to take her home I recommend here warmly that she tries to find a good therapist in order to be able to talk about her thoughts and her feelings.
She looks at me with a cutting laughter and says condescending:
– Are you kidding me? I am never going to go a psychologist again (she calls all psychologists, psychiatrists and psychotherapists psychologists). They are all mentally sick.
After having such a experience that Nahid had today I have no chance and no time either to convince her that it is not at all the way she is thinking. And she just had bad luck to talk to a bad or maybe sick doctor.
While she is disappearing at the back seat of a taxi and her silhouette is loosing color into a late and weak lightshades of the August, her sad look stays still before my eyes and her bad experience of psychiatric health personals makes my mind busy.
What is worse than ending up at a sick individual with power on you? If so, much can go wrong, and one´s life course can get a drastic turn. This sick person with power can be your partner, your boss, your parent, sick powerful persons at key positions in a society, and even a sick government.
*Notify that name, age and places are changed in this essay.
Samuel E. Rajeus/Translation from ”I litteraturens Land” page 171,