Luh Ketut Suryani, 60, is a retired lecturer in Psychiatry at Udayana University’s medical school who helps those mentally imbalanced people who are chained around Bali. Although married to Tjokorda Alita Adjana, from Klungkung palace, she uses her own name because she doesn’t want the community to know her because of the palace, but because of who she is. She has six children and 14 grand-children. She shared her day with Ashtra Effendy.
I wake up at seven and do a little relaxation right away. I enjoy being alive right after I wake up so I do some meditation for 15 minutes. I then read the newspaper and drink my coffee. I have any type of fresh juice for breakfast and then I take a shower at 8:30.
It takes me 30 minutes to get ready to go to the office. I work very close to my house, in the same road, Jl Gandapura. My patients are waiting for me. My patients come from all around Bali mostly. But I often get patients from other parts of Indonesia or even from outside the country, like from Singapore, East Timor, Italy or Germany. They know my practice from the internet or by word of mouth. What I always tell my patients is that their recovery does not depend on me or on medicines but on themselves.
I have lunch at 12pm. I often have it at a restaurant. I love cooking, but if I cook it takes time. My children say to me: “mom, instead of you being tired after cooking, lets buy our food out.” I often have vegetables with meat. I like vegetables these days. From 12 to 3pm is my time to meet people who want to discuss issues like meditation, culture, my work at the Suryani Institute for mental health as well as other things.
On Fridays I visit my mental imbalance patients in their villages. My patients are often in Buleleng and Karangasem. Some of them are chained by their family because they think the mental sickness is from evil. But I always tell them if they continue chaining them I will call the police, because they are abusing human rights.
After my work was filmed in Germany and France with the title Bali Miracle Worker, more people want to help my work with the mental instable people who I help for free. People know the government’s funding has stopped. I receive letters from people from outside the country. But we don’t accept volunteers because it will seem like Indonesians don’t care about their own people.
Also, we have a different cultural background and I want my patients to have Indonesian hospitality. We accept help for discussions, medicines, new ideas for the system… but not volunteers to work directly with patients.
At 3pm I continue with my work. I have patients with a variety of problems: from relationship problems like marriage to parent-children problems and more. My work finishes at 6pm, or sometimes, if I have more patients, at 9pm.
On Saturdays at 5pm I lead a meditation group at Renon. Anyone can join for free. We never start late and have been on time for 13 years. I always tell my group that in spiritual matters they always have to be on time if they want positive things.
I have dinner with my children, their wives and my grandchildren. We like having traditional Balinese food in Renon. I like having a big family. When my son’s wives wanted to marry them I asked them to make a promise, to give me six grandchildren. I have 14 grandchildren already.
I get home around 10pm and I check my email right way. This is my writing time. I’m writing a book. From 10pm to 2am Monday to Thursday I work with call consultations. My patients can call me if they can’t meet me because I’m busy during the day.
After 2am it’s my thinking time. There is no one bothering me so I can be with myself. My mind thinks about the mentally imbalanced people in the village, about their lives after they get well. When they’re healthy and unchained they will say “I’m healthy but I’m hungry and there is no food.”
The family asks me to tell the social services department to give them rice, not meat, only rice. The problem in the community is very complex, but no one thinks about it. People always say Bali is a rich island, but the gap between big hotels and poor rural areas is huge.
Later, my body gets tired thinking and I fall asleep.