There are some cultural realities for us as Māori. One of them is held within this whakatauki/saying:
Essentially I never stand alone. The person you see, or support, or uplift, or judge, or diminish is never just me. Never just one. What you do to me, you do to my entire ancestry. For I am just one of the most recent physical embodiments of them. A singular link in a timeless chain. The countless warriors, chiefs, healers and helpers, cooks and cleaners, everyone.
To cast judgement upon me is to cast judgement upon every single one of them from our understandings.
So too, my/our healing pathway forward needs to be considered from that understanding. It needs to be considered from a perspective of ‘who are all these people standing before me?’. Forming any therapeutic relationship with me is forming a therapeutic relationship with all of them—for all of them influence and impact upon who I am right here, right now.
It sounds like an almost impossible task! Yet it isn’t. It’s actually pretty simple.
Talk less, listen more. Don’t listen to answer—listen to understand.
You have two ears and one mouth—even your own physical body since birth has afforded you a clue that shutting up rather than talking might just be more beneficial.
If I had been listened to, then the hospital staff would have realised that what they were viewing as extreme decompensation was actually me fighting for my sanity. That those ‘wild gesticulations and violent screaming’ was me performing haka/traditional Māori dance to centre myself through condensing, consolidating and then calming the waves of wairua/spiritual energy flowing over and through me. That those ‘repetitive mutterings’ were me reciting karakia/prayer to keep myself safe within those experiences. That wasn’t ‘word salad’ as my nursing notes put it—that was te reo (Māori language) I was speaking!!! It didn’t require a 5-man-/staff-takedown and immediate forced sedation and a five-day seclusion—it probably required someone with some knowledge of our native language (you know, te reo, one of the official languages of our country) to recognise that.
My ‘conducting satanic rituals’ was actually me performing a whakawetewete (cleansing/settling) in the room of a previous patient who’d suicided rather than face another day in that hell-hole. It was my attempt to bless and settle the pained energies circling around in their room after the staff laughed and refused my request that a Kaumatua/elder come in and bless/cleanse the room. My ‘incomprehensible anal fascination’ was me refusing to use a couch cushion as a pillow as it had been used to sit upon, with people’s bums, and was being given to me to use as a pillow for my head—the most tapu/scared part of my entire body. My ‘disorganised shuffling in his chair’ was me adjusting my position so that my back wasn’t turned to anyone who entered the room and joined in on that assessment (deliberately displaying one’s back to someone is seen as a sign of disrespect). The ‘momentary catatonic presentation’ during meal times was me respectfully remaining standing and not moving until those patients older than me had found the place they wished to sit down, and waiting until they were seated.
If I had been listened to. If I had been understood. If my whakapapa/direct ancestry had been taken into account. If I had been supported by a fellow Māori they would have realised that I am not simply that Westernised clinical term ‘Schizophrenic’. Rather I was born a slightly different breed, another term, another ‘title’ or ‘tag’ if you will. Matakite.
Mata = face/eyes
Kite = to see, all-seeing
Matakite = the all-seeing eyes/face.
Someone who experiences the wairua/spiritual realms. Someone who bears witness and on various levels engages and interacts with spirit. A person whose primary existence is within the spiritual world/s and this physical world is simply secondary.
They would have realised that the presenting disharmony within me was merely the accelerated emergence and growth of my spiritual self. They would have realised that I didn’t need medication but mentoring. I didn’t need seclusion or sedation but spiritual safety. I didn’t need committal under the Mental Health Act but a commitment to support me along the path towards who and what I was always born to be. But hey—when you see and talk with things that others can’t see or hear. When you look at someone and listen to someone and know already what the truth is despite what they’re telling you. When others begin to slightly understand and suspect that their dirty little hidden secrets aren’t so hidden to you, then you become a risk. A threat. An outsider. A freak.
Ngati Ranginui, Ngai Te Rangi, Te Arawa