Facing The Shame, Sharing The Blame
Our Neapolitan psychiatrist is faced with the inadequacy of the Italian health system, and a mother’s helplessness.
I’ve been seeing Maria about her depression for a year now. Although she’s a skilled and sought-after embroiderer, she no longer works. I have often pressed her on this topic, but she's always been very reticent. Today, she reacted:
“Dottoré, what do you want me to tell you — that my daughter shits on herself?”
“But Maria, isn't your daughter 15?”
“Yes, but she is ritardata. She can’t walk well, she doesn't talk, and she has to wear a diaper.”
“And why have you never told me this?”
“Because last year, the social services wanted to take her away from me because I didn’t send her to school anymore, it was her first year of high school. They said school is still compulsory at that age, and if I should keep sending her there. As long as she was in middle school, there was a bus that would take her — and if she soiled herself, a worker would clean her up.
In high school, no. I have to take her and pick her up, and if she gets dirty, I have to go and clean her up. They said that for kids her age, the municipality only offers a support teacher, and otherwise we family members have to deal with it.
That's why I’ve stopped working. I receive the “citizens’ income” for now. I don’t know how we will get by if they get rid of it. I never told you that because I am ashamed.”
“I’m ashamed too, Maria.”
“And what do you have to do with it?”
“I have something to do with it. We all have something to do with it.”
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