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Orhan Uskuner, 61, Painter, Second Hand Bookseller, Retired Worker

Deliler ve Veliler Derneği > Success Stories > Orhan Uskuner, 61, Painter, Second Hand Bookseller, Retired Worker

Orhan brother’s story begins with his happy childhood in the village and his desire not to come to Istanbul at the age of ten.  “I said, Let me be a shepherd here mom, but it didn’t happen. When he came to Istanbul from the village, he worked as a tailor apprentice in Eminönü, then in the industry of ready-made clothing and leatherwork for about five years. After serving in the military he worked in bookselling and insurance marketing. He stops and apologizes by saying “I may seem to talk in a rambling way but it is in the nature of my condition” and adds that he can not stay in indoor areas.  It bores him in indoor areas; bores his soul. “But,” he says, “I’m good for myself, my family, the community. Those who suffer my condition generally suffer not only from their families but even their to society. No such thing has ever happened to me. My appearance may be a bit harsh but I have a soft heart. My loneliness does not leave me alone. I always loved sitting alone when I was a kid. Even when I was in the village, I was alone while my friends and peers were playing together. I would make my own toy, but I was happy and I was very happy. I was happy in the village; “I didn’t want to come here, but my mom brought me.” We listen to Orhan without touching the free flow of his thoughts.

Orhan, who has been treated for thirty years and suffered from schizophrenia -known as ‘madness’ among the public- for forty-five years; accepts April 4, 1988, the date he started to use pills as his birthday. Then he again had transitioned to the unreal world, but he also realized the situation and braked it. He found himself some techniques to deal with this situation. He also learned some of them in therapies. His condition was manifested by not being able to sleep or sleeping enough, distress and seizures. “So if we consider that I have had at least ten seizures in a year, it makes four hundred and fifty seizures in 45 years. How long does one seizure last? An hour or a second, I don’t know, my doctor doesn’t know either, ”says Orhan. Orhan, who lives with his ninety-one-year-old mother and meets all their needs, is able to live his normal life and says the sentence he repeats once again: “I am useful to myself, my family, the society. I know that too ”

Every time he goes to the doctor, he is asked if he feels like a Saint. He replied, “I know I’m overwhelmed, but not that much yet.” Whatever insane asylum you go to, he says, you will come across a -so-called- prophet in every corner. We both laugh and think. We wonder and ask him what is going on in his mind, what exactly differentiates him from other people. The answer comes from where we expected. He states that he can imagine and realize infinity, and when he realizes it, he realizes that life is virtual in the world. He comes to himself by thinking and reads a text from his mind and memorizes: “At the end of each day and in the middle of the night, the soul would leave the body. On the one hand, it scared you, on the one hand, it gave inner peace. The realms that your soul travelled were completely different. They never looked like this realm. At the beginning of the day at the end of the night, your soul would return to the body. In these turns, your only guide was your belief in your God ” When he started to go to the doctor, Orhan realized that what he was saying was astral travel. When he fell asleep, the live broadcast never ended until the morning. It wasn’t something he could do if he wanted to.

He comes to the coffee shop almost every day. Sometimes, he comes three or four times a day. When he arrives he drinks a few teas. It is one of the preferred places because it is close to home and quiet. He comes here and acquires the environment. “You should not always make money. Getting new people is like making money. “We all need each other, this is a fact.” He has been living in the same neighbourhood for fifty-one years and in the same apartment for forty-two years. He has been coming to the Deliler Coffeehouse in Küçükmustafapaşa for three years. He meets with the first coffeehouse in Balat (formerly known as Derviş Baba) when he goes to see Ali Denizci with the president of the schizophrenia association. He mentions about Ali, whom he has known for six or seven years, says that his heart is very big, he has done the job of gathering people very well and he has done a very difficult job.

Orhan, who has not spoken for a long time and could not go out in the dark after 20:00 pm until five years ago, but now hangs out until 00:00 at night although the neighbourhood is not secure, continues to explain his feelings about the coffee shop: “My life was more limited before I met this place. I lived in a narrow habitat. I couldn’t get out of the house for two years. I used to take my cigarette from the supermarket and shut myself in because there were voices in my ear. These voices were not conversations or whispers. I would be disturbed by the engine noise of cars. Or I would hear a thunder sound although the sun is perfectly shining. I could not get out of the Fatih district for ten years. “I couldn’t get out of Istanbul for fifteen years,” he says.

When we ask Orhan, whose medicines are paid by the state, living with a pension, who can live on his own without any problems such as sheltering, dressing, feeding himself; how Deliler Coffeehouse helped him,  he tells us about the best aid model that we all feed ourselves every day. “This place helped me a lot. I sit and chat with friends. Sitting and talking to you replaces therapy for me. Even this interview is a therapy for me now. My doctor also says and I’ve read elsewhere: “The best therapist is a friend.” We are faced with the purest dimension of helping, touching a person in our conversation with him/her. Every day, people who came to the boutique in the coffee shop, the coffeehouse kitchen, the soup kitchen, and the distribution of food supplies are helping themselves more than the ones in need.

If the person who has this condition has a history of the disease, it is called remission. When his condition goes better, it does not matter whether the drug is used or not. Orhan brother is now in that situation. He’s not sick. He survived many things. He walked a path of fire for thirty years. It’s not continuous, but it hurt at times. He suffered a lot but generally tried not to show it. He never lost faith in society.

We continue our conversation with Orhan, who lives and controls schizophrenia, which the society does not have very accurate information about. “The condition I have experienced is thought-provoking, laughing, sad. The doctor thinks the society laughs, my family is upset. ” “They give us drugs by trial and error method. The drugs I take seriously change the chemistry of the brain. If I do not use my medicine, my world will begin to reverse between one week and six months, and my illness will be worse than before, and I will not be able to achieve the current quality of my life ever again. Fifteen years ago, I was taking twenty psychiatric drugs a day – divided into 5 slots, 4 pills at once. I only have two drugs now. I achieved this quality; I don’t want to lose. “I don’t want to relive the life that is both hell and paradise.”

Orhan, who sells French-based foreign books that he collected from various addresses in Nişantaşı between 1980 and 2000, describes himself as a little bit bibliopole and a little bit painter. He does what he does well, but also mentions that his work is incomplete due to his condition. Easier said than done, he has changed up to two hundred jobs. “When I was doing a job because of my condition, I would have thought of another job and change the current one,” Orhan says and adds, “if I feel good, I reach to a target in one month that I decided to reach in one week. A healthy person can work twelve hours a day, but I can work three hours a day. Those who have my condition can also work. We are actually a consumer. But because we don’t have anything to consume, we consume ourselves, it’s a fact. After a little pause, he adds the following: “Since you cannot ask what it is like to see to a visually impaired person, a person with a mental illness cannot know how to live a healthy life. I do not know this, but I wonder.”

“Sometimes I disconnect. What we were saying, ”he says, and we continue our conversation where we left off. You can find yourself in a world of colourful ideas that fly either the Divan literature, pr the Argentine geography, sometimes from ancient Greek works, and sometimes from the belief systems of people by having a cup of tea with Orhan. Do not be afraid, you won’t fall. Orhan will hold your hand.