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Changing Attitudes

Changing Lives
Charlene Sunkel
Kevin Lancaster
Dick Shingange

Poetry Contest Entries

Medihelp’s “Living With ...” DVD Series
A Story from Kenya
Too “Clean” for a Disability Grant
If Your Heart is Not in It (Poem)
Behaviours that Causes Concern
Employment and Mental Illness
“Two Beds ... Madness Revealed” Short Film
Famous Success Stories
Vincent Van Gogh
Mental Health Policies and Legislation
Mental Health Talent Show
A Review of Techniques in Managing Depression
When Someone you Know Struggles with Fear, Anxiety & Stress
Routed Love (Poem)
Have a Laughing Moment
New Play on Depression

Changing Attitudes
Changing Lives
“Walk My Way” has now reached beyond South
African borders whereby distribution of the
journal is sent to mental health care users and
mental health professionals in countries
including: India, Nepal, Kenya, Zambia, United
Kingdom, Canada, and Australia. We hope that our
international readership will grow. Send your
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The Living With series shares the real-life stories of

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mental health disorders that most of us find difficult
to understand. We get an intimate glimpse of their
lives and profound insight into what they deal with
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Experts provide best practice solutions, clinical
Internet deposit insight into the person's experiences and
behaviours, and the regime of medicine and
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Please send proof of payment and subscription form to: The DVD series was commissioned by Medihelp
Central Gauteng Mental Health Society medical scheme and produced by the well-known
Via FAX: (011) 614 5503 filmmaker Katinka Heyns. All the DVDs in the 13-
Via E-Mail: part series include an information guide containing
Via snail mail: PO Box 10443, Johannesburg 2000, RSA more information on the particular psychiatric

Topics included in the series is Living with

Alcoholism, Bipolar Disorder, Dementia, Drug
Abuse, Major Depression, Panic Disorder, &
Schizophrenia. You can order the Living With
Your age: Your Gender: female male Obsessive-compulsive disorder DVD with the
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information guide at the special price of R130 for
Asian Black Coloured White
Medihelp members and R189 for non-members.

For additional information and to order a copy click

Every Life is a story waiting to be told, a
succession of life events and moments. A journey
in which every man, woman and child find
themselves in; not by chance but by a stream of
human tendencies and sometimes divine
Speaking at the Mental Health Day Concert 23rd
My life in this world began on Thursday 12th October 2010 in Nairobi presided by
March 1981 at 5 a.m. My Mom kept my tag as a Hon. Minister for Medical Services.
baby which was written on it my name and time of
birth (unfortunately I lost the strap). My brothers and sister, who were older than me,
seemed to have found their place and voice in the
I grew up in a modest home with parents who world whilst my mind was feverishly praying for God
loved us as their children but whatever reason to take my life as it felt like a waste to me. I didn't
simply could not get along. There was domestic know much about the world, but it seemed easier to
violence in the family of which my Mom was a be out of it as of age 6.
victim. An event that leads me to abhor all forms
of violence. I am yet to get into a fist fight with My doctor's diagnosis of bipolar was another
anyone, i.e. from nursery, primary, high school journey in itself, I couldn't express myself verbally
college to-date and make a conscious choice to so my body took its toll and reacted accordingly in
solve differences with my mind. medical terms "psycho-somatically" I was treated at
some point for a heart condition precipitated by
My Dad was diagnosed with Schizo- affective extreme anxiety. I had cold clammy hands at the
disorder, even before I was born i.e. 1978. I know hottest temperatures over the year and lived in
what it is like to grow up with someone with perpetual fear of something bad happening to me.
Mental illness. I have seen what it has done to my Once my heart was given a clean bill of health, I
Mom's life and the rest of the family. I know started experiencing severe headaches that even
firsthand about the "suspicious" mind and the most powerful painkillers couldn't address,
watching someone disintegrate from mental almost getting to a neurological problem also ruled
health to mental illness. I visited my Dad a couple out then referred to a psychiatrist. Immediately, I got
of times at the National Mental Hospital in some Prozac and anti-anxiety medicine all the
Nairobi. The hygienic conditions there are symptoms disappeared, and I was good as new. At
appalling, clothes are torn, reek of urine, body lice the time I was diagnosed with Clinical depression,
and run-down facilities. He told me of his i.e. 1997.
experience at some point where they were
sprayed with DDT to kill the lice early 80's. I I was diagnosed with bipolar/mood disorder in 1999
haven't been there since 2006, so I wouldn't know by another doctor when I went for a second opinion,
for sure if some reforms were made. I must state and I have been hospitalized about six times
that Mental Health has been getting 0.01% of the between then and 2006. I have been on some form
national budget so it should suffice to explain the of antidepressant since then in combination with
sad state of affairs. psychotherapy seasonally.

My childhood was riddled with social isolation My experience in a mental hospital was of a certain
and withdrawal; we had little, if any support routine, standardized time of waking up, breakfast,
structures from relatives (Dad's and Mom's side). group therapy, art therapy, etc. We were all lumped
Socially, my parents had very few friends, so we together i.e. Mental illness, recovering addicts, etc.
were stuck in the environment as it was. I grew up Either way I had retreated so far into the enclaves of
on my own company for a better part of my life the mind and was almost mechanical more than
and the four walls of the house became my world. human – I was numb ...
Until this very day, I still have a natural tendency
to keep to myself at home - a safety zone, leaving I was down. I was out – I had fallen down so far in life
only when there is a specific purpose at work, whom I couldn't get up and no one could get me out
running errands or advocacy activities. of that shell till I was able to come out of it myself.
From personal experience, I have come to
perceive a very thin line existing
subconsciously between mental health and
illness respectively whereby the key
determinant of either case lies squarely on the
ability of the person affected to gradually come
to full terms with the situation or loss without
losing reasonable control of their lives and
responsibilities. Acceptance of the situation or
illness is crucial for quick recovery and progress
in one's life and goals.

Once I assumed total responsibility for my

health and my life in general for everything that
has gone wrong or right (my fault or not) then I
never went back to the hospital after 2006, and
even though I might have occasional bad days I
tend to bounce back faster.

Too often our minds are the greatest assets or

greatest liability. In order to protect ourselves,
we sometimes build fortified walls reinforced
gates and virtually impenetrable armaments
that on one hand protect us from the external
world or detain us internally within the same
paradoxical defense.
by Charlene Sunkel
There is no mental health policy in Kenya and
from a policy perspective mental health is not a People with a diagnosis of mental illness like
priority as a health agenda. The health budget is schizophrenia and bipolar mood disorder are
about 6.7% of the national budget. Much needs considered to have a disability ... an “invisible”
to be done in terms of integrating mental health disability which sometimes creates challenges
care into the primary health care services as in terms of accessing a disability grant.
well as insurance covers that reduce the burden
from the users and their families. Approving disability grants to persons in
wheelchairs or those using a walking stick or
My family has borne the greatest cost the past guide dog have no difficulty in this respect. But
10 years out of their life savings for medical when a person with a psychiatric disability visits
health care. My family has a line of credit with the SASSA offices to apply for a disability grant,
our pharmacist over the years for chronic it is often declined. What makes this situation
medication to a tune of USD 500 worth of stock worse is when the person arrives, appearing
every month for the family which my Mom works clean and neatly dressed, the response is often
very hard to sustain among other expenses. “you look well enough to go and work”.
This is why insurance and government is
hesitant to help in my view. Mental Health Care A symptom of mental illness may include
is expensive and long term. neglecting ones personal hygiene and physical
appearance. Mental health care workers and
The Mental Health Act CAP 248 section 46 of professionals often address this by
the laws of Kenya is very clear that no insurance encouraging the person to be clean and tidy.
company may decline any person of a health What SASSA is doing is encouraging them to
insurance cover with a mental illness and if such remain unkempt.
discrimination occurs the insurance company is
committing an offence. Almost all insurance Clearly SASSA officials and its doctors who are
companies violate this act in Kenya and hide general practitioners, not psychiatrists, are un-
behind the "pre-existing conditions" clause yet educated about mental illness, whilst having
they also cover cancer and HIV-AIDS arguably the authority in making decisions about
also pre-existing if you think about it carefully. people’s lives without having the relevant
knowledge to fairly do so.
Why do mentally ill people become
aggressive? (page 53 of the manual)

A common belief is that people with a mental

illness are dangerous because they can
suddenly become aggressive. In reality, they
are no more dangerous than anyone else. It is
true that, in some instances, the symptoms of a
mental illness can lead to aggressive
behaviour, but this is rare. Let us consider some
important examples of how mental illness can
lead to aggression.


Imagine that you were hearing voices that said
nasty things about you and made you feel that
others were plotting to kill you. You would feel
scared and attack those who you believed were
trying to harm you. This is what happens,
sometimes, in people who have a psychotic


you had great plans and dreams to do things
that would change your life. If someone tried to
stop you, or told you that you were ‘sick’, you
would probably be quite angry. This is what
happens, sometimes, in people with a manic


Imagine that you were so dependent on alcohol
(or a drug) that you began to feel physically sick
because of your desire for a drink. You might
become aggressive if someone tried to stop
you from getting a drink.


that you have difficulty remembering things.
You do not know where you are, what time of
day it is, or who is speaking to you. You may
become frightened and feel you need to defend
yourself from these strangers. Such a state of
confusion can be caused by drinking too much
alcohol, low blood sugar, brain infections and
brain damage.

Like anyone else, those who have a mental

illness usually have a reason for becoming
aggressive. If you can find out why a person is
angry, then you are more likely to find ways to
Executive Producer: Charlene Sunkel
All persons with disabilities have the right to Producer: John Malherbe
Co-Producer: Serena Botha
employment, and that includes persons with Director: Jose Domingos
mental illness and those with intellectual Script Writer: Charlene Sunkel
disabilities. Such persons may also not be Technical Script: Charlene Sunkel, John Malherbe & Serena Botha
exploited in any way. Sound & Music: Paul Vermaak
Cameras: Rijk & Lloyed
Actors: Tiffany Barbuzano; Lerato Moloi; Jill Middlekop;
The Employment Equity Act and Nandi Nyembe; Johnny Pienaar; Strini Pillai;
professional guidelines define People with Vusi Msane
Disabilities in the following manner:
"People with Disabilities" means people
who have a long-term or recurring physical Central Gauteng Mental Health Society has engaged in
or mental impairment which substantially and produced yet another performing arts project to raise
limits their prospects of entry into, or public awareness around mental health and mental
advancement in, employment. illness, made possible by funding from the National Lottery
Distribution Trust Fund.
Employers may not unfairly discriminate
against employees or applicants for “Two Beds ...” is based on the theatre plays in the
employment, because the employer “Madness Revealed” theatre production series on
suspects or believes, whether the belief or schizophrenia and bipolar mood disorder. Many may
suspicion is correct or not, that the applicant already be familiar with these plays as over 100
or employee has an impairment that performances have been conducted in Gauteng province,
amounts to a disability, or that they have
and received media attention.
been disabled, or they are, or have been,
associated with other people who are, or
have been, disabled.

The Act defines accommodation as

"modification or adjustment to a job or to the
working environment that will enable a
person from a designated group to have
access to or participate or advance in

Reasonable accommodation applies to

applicants and disabled employees who are
qualified for a job and covers recruitment
and selection processes; the working
environment and the way work is usually
done, evaluated and rewarded; and in the
benefits and privileges of employment.

The particular accommodation will depend “Two Beds ...” hope to reach a wide audience nationally as
on the individual, the impairment and its well as internationally and contribute towards
effect on the person, as well as on the job
destigmatisation of mental illness and to give hope to
and the working environment. Reasonable
persons with a diagnosis as well as to their families,
accommodation may be temporary or
permanent, depending on the nature and through engaging with the powerful content of this short-
extent of the disability. For persons with film.
mental illness it may include: time off to
follow up for treatment or to collect We had the privilege to work with great South African
medication and for appointments with the actors, and innovative director, producers and crew.
psychiatrist or psychologist; and, if
medication has a sedative effect, a person Central Gauteng Mental Health Society will be selling
should then not work with heavy machinery the DVDs at R200 each. For more information or to
or work at nights. order your copy, e-mail: or
contact Charlene Sunkel on +27 11 614 9890
Ludwig van Beethoven, composer, had
bipolar disorder which some have said gave
him such creative power that his compositions
broke the mold for classical music forever. He
was a child prodigy which his father tried to
exploit. His “manic” episodes seemed to fuel
his creativity. He wrote his most famous works
during times of torment, loneliness, and
suffering psychotic delusions. It took him 12
years to finish his last and 8th Symphony in
total deafness. He then medicated himself with
the only drugs available in that day to bring
some relief – opium and alcohol, and died
several years later of liver disease.

Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of U.S.

suffered from severe and debilitating and on
occasion suicidal depressions, as recorded by
Carl Sandburg in his comprehensive six-
volume biographical analysis of his life. “A
tendency to melancholy” Lincoln once wrote in
a letter to a friend, “...let it be observed, is a
misfortune, not a fault.” The most amazing part
of his story was the sheer determination with
which he willed himself to overcome his serious
affliction and still achieve all he was able to
achieve for our young and troubled nation at
war with itself.

William Styron, author, writes about his own

depression in his book, "Darkness Visible: A
Memoir of Madness, " (1990) and his decision
to seek help. His earlier works which he wrote
prior to his diagnosis and admission of his
illness described with uncanny accuracy, the
symptoms and the problems he would
experience later in his life. He was one of the
first to write about other famous persons who
struggled with mental illness and for explaining
the almost unexplainable experience of a brain
disorder to those who had never experienced it
in a way which gained their sympathy and

Lionel Aldridge, a football player for the

Green Bay Packers during the 1960's,
developed paranoid schizophrenia and was
homeless for 2 1/2 years. “Once I accepted and
cooperated with the treatment, I started to beat
the illness” he said. He now speaks to groups to
help them better understand mental illness. He
states that he is completely symptom free and
that helping others understand mental illness is
“therapy” for him.

Between November of 1881 and July of 1890,
Vincent van Gogh painted almost 900
paintings. Since his death (committed suicide at
age 37), he has become one of the most famous
painters in the world.

Van Gogh worked at a feverish pace costing

him money, causing him mental and physical
stress and leaving him no time for any other
source of income. But he was persistent. In a
letter from March of 1882, Van Gogh wrote
again to his brother Theo:

“Although I find myself in financial difficulties, I

nevertheless have the feeling that there is
nothing more solid than a `handicraft' in the
literal sense of working with one's hands. If you
became a painter, one of the things that would
surprise you is that painting and everything
connected with it is quite hard work in physical
terms. Leaving aside the mental exertion, the
hard thought, it demands considerable physical
effort, and that day after day.”

Van Gogh firmly believed that to be a great

painter you had to first master drawing before
adding color. Over the years Van Gogh clearly
mastered drawing and began to use more color.
In time, one of the most recognizable aspects of
Van Gogh's paintings became his bold use of

During his lifetime Van Gogh was never famous

as a painter and struggled to make a living as an
artist. Van Gogh only sold one painting during
his lifetime “The Red Vineyard”. This painting
sold in Brussels for 400 Francs only a few
months before his death.

About a week after his death, Van Gogh's

brother Theo wrote to his sister Elizabeth about
Van Gogh's legacy as a great artist:

“In the last letter which he wrote me and which

dates from some four days before his death, it
says, “I try to do as well as certain painters
whom I have greatly loved and admired.”
People should realize that he was a great artist,
something which often coincides with being a
great human being. In the course of time this will
surely be acknowledged, and many will regret
his early death.”

Vincent van Gogh has become the household
name for expensive art collections and pieces that a
lot of murals, books, movie adaptations, museums
and even songs are dedicated to this post-
Impressionist painter.

He has become a very famous artist and one of the

pioneers of the artistic movement called the
Expressionism, and the continuance of his works can
be partly attributed to his brother Theo, who has
supported him financially as well. Among his famous
works include the “The Starry Night,” “Sunflowers,”
View of The Hague with the New Church and “The Potato Eater.”

His great works came to a halt when he committed

suicide due to a mental illness but his worldwide
recognition does not end in his death.


One of the most important tasks of mental health

advocacy groups is to provide input into, and
influence, policies and legislation that affects them/
Still Life with Coffee Mill, Pipe Case and Jug persons with (mental) disabilities.

There are several policies and legislation that's

been drafted with the input from mental health care
users, and which are in place to protect and respect
the rights of persons with (mental) disabilities, and
to name a few:
? Mental Health Care Act 17 of 2002
? United Nations Convention on the Rights of
Persons with Disabilities
? Disability Rights Charter of South Africa

The rights of persons with mental disability is also

protected in other policies and legislation such as
the Employment Equity Act. The Mental Health and
Outskirts of Paris near Montmartre Poverty Project suggested that an inter-sectoral
collaboration is required to address mental health
issues and looks at various sectors, including, e.g.:
South African Police Service; Correctional Service;
Labour; Social Development; Housing; Transport;
Sport and Recreation; and Education. Meaning that
persons with mental disability should be
accommodated within the services provided by the
various sectors, where applicable.


It is vital for mental health care users to voice their

concerns regarding accessibility of services and for
Girl in the Street, Two Coaches in the Back services that are being provided to be of adequate
Photos of the Mental Health
Talent Show held in March 2011

The Gauteng Consumer Advocacy (GCAM) hosted

its 2nd Mental Health Talent Show in March 2011.
Thirty two entries, varying from singing, dancing,
poetry reading and a short theatre play, made up the
day’s entertainment.

Since March was also Human Rights Awareness

Month, we held a human rights quizz between men
and women volunteer groups, and off course, the
women walked away with the winning prizes, which
were donated by Medihelp Medical Aid Scheme.
The overall winners, no doubt deserved their spot in
the limelight. The 1st prize winners was the Talisman
Foundation’s short play titled “Sterkmontein”, the 2nd
prize went to Selo with his rap dancing item, and 3rd
prize went to the Gordonia Services choir. The prizes
were also donated by Medihelp.

Our judges, Zelda Schoeman, Sina Hlako and

Themba Mongwe had a diffcult time deciding who
should win, as there was great talent amongst

Due to demand, (GCAM) will now annually host its

mental health talent show. THE 1ST PRIZE WINNERS



Prizes were donated by Medihelp

Medical Aid Scheme
Another technique that is very helpful is to have
a small notebook of positive statements that
makes you feel good. Whenever you come
across an affirmation that makes you feel good,
write it down in a small notebook that you can
carry around with you in your pocket. Whenever
you feel depressed, open up your small
notebook and read those statements.

Some people have a difficult time in managing Take advantage of the help that is available
their depression. Sometimes, their depression around you. If possible, talk to a professional
and fears can get the best of them. As a result, who can help you manage your fears and
here is a short list of techniques that a person can anxieties. They will be able to provide you with
use to help manage their depression. additional advice and insights on how to deal
with your current problem. By talking to a
One of the ways to manage your depression is to professional, a person will be helping
challenge your negative thinking with positive themselves in the long run because they will
statements and realistic thinking. When become better able to deal with their problems in
encountering thoughts that make you fearful or the future. Managing your fears and anxieties
depressed, challenge those thoughts by asking takes practice. The more you practice, the better
yourself questions that will maintain objectivity you will become.
and common sense. For example, your afraid
that if you do not get that job promotion then you The techniques that I have just covered are
will be stuck at your job forever. This depresses some basic ways to manage your depression,
you, however your thinking in this situation is however your best bet is to get some help from a
unrealistic. professional.

The fact of the matter is that there all are kinds of BIOGRAPHY:
jobs available and just because you don’t get this Stan Popovich is the author of "A Layman's
job promotion doesn’t mean that you will never Guide to Managing Fear Using Psychology,
get one. In addition, people change jobs all the Christianity and Non Resistant Methods" - an
time, and you always have that option of going easy to read book that presents a general
elsewhere if you are unhappy at your present overview of techniques that are effective in
location. managing persistent fears and anxieties.

Some people get depressed and have a difficult For additional information go to:
time getting out of bed in the mornings. When this
happens, a person should take a deep breath and
try to find something to do to get their mind off of
the problem. A person could take a walk, listen to
some music, read the newspaper or do an activity
that will give them a fresh perspective on things.
Doing something will get your mind off of the
problem and give you confidence to do other

Sometimes, we can get depressed over a task

that we will have to perform in the near future.
When this happens, visualize yourself doing the
task in your mind. For instance, you and your
team have to play in the championship volleyball
game in front of a large group of people in the next
few days. Before the big day comes, imagine
yourself playing the game in your mind. Imagine
that your playing in front of a large audience. By
playing the game in your mind, you will be better
prepared to perform for real when the time
comes. Self-Visualization is a great way to
reduce the fear and stress of a coming situation.
In addition, people change jobs all the time,
and you always have that option of going
elsewhere if you are unhappy at your present
location. Changing your thinking can help you
manage your fears.

Another thing to remember is that things

change and events do not stay the same. For
instance, you may feel overwhelmed today with
your anxiety and feel that this is how you will
feel the rest of the week or month. This isn’t
What do you do when someone you know has to correct. No one can predict the future with one
deal with persistent fears, anxieties, or even hundred percent accuracy. Even if the thing that
depression? you feared does happen there are
circumstances and factors that you can’t
Well the first thing you need to do is to get the predict which can be used to your advantage.
person to seek the services of a professional who You never know when the help and answers
can lead them in the right direction and give them you are looking for will come to you.
the help they need. In addition, here are some
other techniques you can use to help the person When your fears and anxieties have the best of
cope. you, seek help from a professional. The key is
to be patient, take it slow, and not to give up. In
Learn as much as you can in managing anxiety time, you will be able to find those resources
and depression. There are many books and that will help you with your problems.
information that will educate you on how to deal
with fear and anxiety. Share this information with BIOGRAPHY:
the person who is struggling. Education is the key Stan Popovich is the author of "A Layman's
in finding the answers your looking for in Guide to Managing Fear Using Psychology,
managing your fears. Christianity and Non Resistant Methods" - an
easy to read book that presents a general
Be understanding and patient with the person overview of techniques that are effective in
struggling with their fears. Dealing with managing persistent fears and anxieties. For
depression and anxiety can be difficult for the additional information go to:
person so do not add more problems than what is
already there.

In every anxiety-related situation you experience,

begin to learn what works, what doesn’t work,
and what you need to improve on in managing
your fears and anxieties. For instance, you have
a lot of anxiety and you decide to take a walk to
help you feel better. The next time you feel
anxious you can remind yourself that you got
through it the last time by taking a walk. This will
give you the confidence to manage your anxiety
the next time around.

Challenge your negative thinking with positive

statements and realistic thinking. When
encountering thoughts that make you fearful or
anxious, challenge those thoughts by asking
yourself questions that will maintain objectivity
and common sense. For example, you are afraid
that if you do not get that job promotion then you
will be stuck at your job forever. This depresses
you, however your thinking in this situation is
unrealistic. The fact of the matter is that there all
are kinds of jobs available and just because you
don’t get this job promotion doesn’t mean that
you will never get one.
(This is supposedly a true account recorded in
the Police Log of Sarasota, Florida)

An elderly Florida lady did her shopping and,

upon returning to her car, found four males in the
act of leaving with her vehicle. She dropped her
shopping bags and drew her handgun,
proceeding to scream at the top of her lungs, “I
have a gun, and I know how to use it! Get out of
the car!”

The four men didn’t wait for a second threat. They

got out and ran like mad.

The lady, somewhat shaken, then proceeded to

load her shopping bags into the back of the car
and got into the driver’s seat. She was so shaken
that she could not get her key into the ignition.
She tried and tried, and then she realised why. It
was for the same reason she had wondered why
there was a football, a Frisbee and two 12-packs
of beer in the front seat. A few minutes later, she
An older gentleman had an appointment to see the found her own car parked four or five spaces
urologist who shared offices with several other farther down.
doctors. The waiting room was filled with patients. As
he approached the receptionist's desk, he noticed
that the receptionist was a large unfriendly woman
who looked like a Sumo wrestler. He gave her his

In a very loud voice, the receptionist said, "YES, I


All the patients in the waiting room snapped their

heads around to look at the very embarrassed man.
He recovered quickly, and in an equally loud voice

She loaded her bags into the car and drove to the
police station to report her mistake. the sergeant
to whom she told the story couldn’t stop laughing.
He pointed to the other end of the counter, where
four pale men were reporting a car jacking by a
mad, elderly woman described as white, less
than five feet tall, glasses, curly white hair, and
carrying a large handgun.

No charges were filed. Moral of the

story? If you’re going to have a senior
moment ... make it memorable.
Madness Revealed - Michael’s Story
Launch Photos at Kayalami Theatre

Central Gauteng Mental Health Society has added

another theatre play to its “Madness Revealed” theatre
production series on mental illness, this time focussing
on depression.

Also written and produced by Charlene Sunkel,

“Michael’s Story” depicts the real life experiences of
Michael Chatwind who was diagnosed with Major
Depressive Disorder. The “real” Michael was brave
enough to share his life with us in order to help raise
public awareness and destigmatise mental illness.

“Michael’s Story” is written in interactive theatre format

and facilitated by the NGO, Psychiatry M Powered’s

Themba Mongwe; Busi Radebe; Alphues Majopelo;

Lisa Loots; Michael Chatwind and Stephan Fanoy

“Michael” experienced a traumatic event which lead to his
diagnosis and the challenges that followed. “Michael's” world
of depression was so dark that he failed to see that there's a life
outside of his front door that should be lived and in his
desperation to find a way out of the darkness, he turned to
attempting suicide. “Michael” was fortunate to find a treatment
plan that worked for him – aside from being on medication he
also received Electro-Convulsive Therapy (ECT) that resulted
in a breakthrough in his road to recovery. “Michael” often
questioned as to why he got depression, and being a man,
made it more difficult as “men do not cry”. His inner conflict was
challenging. Today, “Michael” accepted his diagnosis, deal
with it, and live a functional and productive life in society.

AUTHOR'S NOTE ~ Charlene Sunkel

The reason for writing a play on depression is
because it is so prevalent among many South
Africans, and it is estimated that in 2020 depression
will be the leading cause of ill health world wide.
The production and launch was
Writing the play, specifically on a male who lives with funded by Dr Reddy’s
depression is to prove that depression can happen to Pharmaceutical Company in
anyone, irrelevant of gender, age, race or financial collaboration with Psychiatry M
status, and is not only a female phenomena. Powered