Being a person with mental health disabilities is hard, especially so in Bulgaria. In Bulgaria people with mental health problems have no other choice but to be treated in miserable clinics.
The hospital in Kourilo takes in 1300 patients per year. Every fifth patient fits the category of the “socially indigent loners”.
Emil Traev is one of them. During the past 17 years, he has been in and out of psychiatric hospitals 60 times. Emil receives a pension of 110 leva (55 Euro). Because of the destitution he has lost all of his friends. He has lost both his parents. He has no one left. Only poetry soothes his “afflicted soul”. The needs of Emil, in his own words, amount to a few cups of coffee, a couple of cigarettes packs, one or two beers. He likes being in the outdoors, among “the normal people”, when his illness is not in an acute phase. However, for Emil life beyond the fence is harder. For him the isolation in the psychiatric clinic has lasted too long. This is why life behind the fence is easier, never mind the feeling of having hit the bottom.
A Bulgarian Helsinki Committee production