Hello World, as promised in my last post, here is the TOC and more of my forthcoming memoir:
Previous works by the same author
The Fear of Staying
The Fear of Leaving
The Fear of Losing
The Fear of Failing
The Fear of being Loved
The Fear of Loving
The Fear of stigma
The Fear of Advocating
The Fear of Dying
As usual, I write in all candour and I think I have a better explanation for my style. Let me save that for another post, (electricity supply is out here and my battery is running real low)
What indeed is the worst case scenario when you take that dreadful decision to come out and tell the world that you too have mental challenges? I think some may wonder who or what gives me the authority to qualify my issues as mental challenges. After all, even Jesus was asked by what authority he was casting out demons. I may not have received any ‘official diagnosis’ to say I have a mental illness, but I will not shy away from saying I have my own set of mental challenges which have led me to near catastrophe more than once.
What is the worst case scenario let me seriously ponder! Well, I FEAR what people will say, think or do!!! And now what is this FEAR??? This is what I found: Fold Everything And Run; Face Everything and Rise; False Emotions Appearing Real. Which one is it??? How do I face it? How do I fight it? What do I do with it?
What about the things or issues which are either a result of those mental challenges, or which trigger the mental challenges? Do I fear them in anticipation? Do I fear them in retrospection? Is it worth dealing with them this publicly? Wouldn’t this be another trigger?
You all know how much stigma is attached to that word ‘MENTAL’. To be candid, when I first hear mental health, I immediately sway the ‘crazy’ direction. After all, if nothing is wrong, why the fuss or even mention?. I mean nobody goes whining about their ‘good mental health’ and produce reports and other materials on them. All materials produced for sensitization and all, is geared to helping people stay in good health or get better if they are already sick.
The deal I have come to observe is that, there is not so much written about mental health as much as there is about physical health. More to that, it isn’t so ‘en vogue’ to write about personal experiences with mental challenges and or illness. The stigma and shame is such that people suffering from all this including the conditions themselves, may get desperate enough and consider suicide an option. I admit I once did back in 2009 and even attempted same with a knife.
My message with this other ‘unconventional’ memoir of mine dear reader is straightforward. By sharing my ‘Journey’ with mental challenges, I want all those like myself and in ‘higher spectrum of any mental illness’, to know that they are not alone. I want to cheer us up in my own modest and humble way. I want to keep it real by sharing instances where I have acted out in whatever seemed fit to me in those circumstances – circumstances which in retrospection or even introspection, were mired by mental challenges.
Some say if it runs in the family ( genetics), you stand a risk of having a ‘frail mind or brain’ to put it this simply. And of course there are several other reasons and causes too, including childhood trauma.
Come to think of it, what does the WHO and the good old science pedias tell us about mental health? It is important because it’s deterioration for whatever reason, is what manifests itself through challenges of the mind which occasion the action causing concern. When these mental challenges are not addressed for whatever reason, or worst still wrongly or poorly addressed, full blown mental illness may be the result and the consequences may just be fatal.
Dear reader, I have come to learn to think of the worst case scenario when something starts to ‘bug my brain’. I mean as much as possible. The Fear comes around, and I try my best to face, fight or simply flee away. Gladly, I read so much and interact with all walks of people without fear or favour. That is how I have come to learn of the different stages of mental illness, and really try to stay at level one. We will be looking at them in detail as we move on. The Fears don’t go away just like that, I have no magic wand. Yet as my dear friend Dyane’s forthcoming memoir will illustrate, a new brain can be born from the ashes of the old one.
It is therefore possible to live with a troubled mind especially when one can face these mind troubles. They are not visible like the cancer on your leg which can be tampered with some chemo or other therapy. And that’s one big challenge. How do you face challenges from a mind you can’t even see, not to talk of understand these challenges or even consider them as such.? When Fear is defined somewhere as False Emotions Appearing Real, this is for real. The dread of thoughts which have taken the mind hostage, gradually become real to that same mind which now sends wrong signals everywhere – troubled actions.
I have my journey to share, and I have met and journeyed with others who have shared theirs with the world and myself in all openness. The likes of Pam, Dyane, Linda and Amy Gamble, share their painful journeys and yet these are equally journeys filled with hope. I am however yet to come across any person from my country Cameroon who wants to share, only met some from South Africa online. The stigma here in Cameroon I dare say, is still so strong that even sales of My Brother’s Journey from Genius to Simpleton (about his mental illness and our struggle as a family), are yet to pick up.
The theme for the 2015 World Mental Health Day is Dignity in Mental Health and the Gbm Foundation and Center for Epilepsy and Mental Wellbeing of which I am the Country Director, is organizing a round table discussion hosted by the national radio broadcasting house. Dignity in Mental Health to me starts with the courage to talk about your mental health just like you’ll talk about your physical health. It equally means the braveness to seek for help with any issues threatening your mental wellbeing, just like you’ll visit the dentist with an aching tooth. Above all, this to me means empathy and respect of and for those with a troubling mental health.
The above are the basic interpretation of this 2015 theme for that important day. Stigma and shame have been known to cause havoc in patients and their families. Friends may even just vanish once you are diagnosed or identified to have any mental challenges or illness. Think even of how years back, cancer, aids and other terminally ill patients were ‘feared, shunned and even judged’! This pattern has to be broken, and someone has to take up that challenge.
Dear all therefore, maybe I am one of the brave few in my country who dares to dare to share such aspects of their life’s journey. Yes I am aware of possible impacts on my career and life, but I know someone somewhere will be inspired and motivated out of their ‘darkness’. This is therefore my journey to a new me, a me who wants to keep facing and fighting fear, and also a me who wants to share with the world in all candidness.
I once more sincerely hope this other memoir of mine makes a very good read.