If I can credit my 3 years’ experience of working in, and falling in love in the prison, the most vip will be that I learnt how far I could strive and I got on the lane of “Lord grant me the serenity to accept the things I can’t change; courage to change the things I can; wisdom to know the difference” (in other personal words, to find the balance between wanting to heal the world and staying detached enough to do just the job).
And so today when I find myself at the psychiatric ward of the main public hospital in my city, and I see the needs of the people and the distress, I don’t go get burnt out trying to heal the world nor take on the system – my own mental health could take a big hit. I can’t even get personal enough to be burnt again because men that really hurt back in 2016.
I am however not shying away and not even trying you know. I can’t heal the world, but I sure can help some who lives in the world to heal. Imagine the ripple effect. I can’t take on any system starting from the family, but I could inspire by trying my best and reaching out and gently coaching through whichever system I come across, even if therapy is visibly tough with no pills to prescribe.
Knowing the above and radically accepting such, has enabled me to enjoy the bliss in all my days at the psychiatric ward. I am known there in french as: “Doc tojour souriante” (always smiling doc lol). I start off in the am with my cheer, and leave in the late pm with same cheer. I know how to get close but not so close, I know how to inspire, coach and motivate with expectations – as in my life or world depended on the outcome. And because I know all this, I equally know how to tune off and enjoy my me moments like I recently did while spending half a day at the magical “chutes de Mami Wata” in the city of Dschang, western region of my country Cameroon.
The chocolate bar is offered me by one of my friends
I started my official therapy practice on the 2nd of April 2018, and to say it’s been all rosy will be untrue. However, reflecting on the above has helped me to be filled with compassion for all I see and to recognize the reality of the situation in my country as far as mental illness/challenges and alternative treatments especially therapy is concerned.
Many want a quick and permanent fix which they are sadly yet to get with the medications they are taking. They are prepared to give something else a try, but helas not many want to try something as tough as CBT or psychotherapy. CBT involves work and honest vulnerability and collaboration. One honestly told me he couldn’t trust me or himself.
Some reasons I have come to think Therapy is Tough are the following:
It takes some time
Depending on the problem formulated (which itself could last an entire session), I could suggest some therapeutic engagement of 2/3 months. This time for me is good enough for a more accurate assessment of both the client and the work accomplished. The clients (many are patients) don’t have that time to spare especially given their current state and search for good health. Then, there is the family whom I love to. I have however only met a handful of the families whose patients am trying to work with. I think they expect me to understand their embarrassment, frustration and lack of motivation to give this ‘therapy thing’ a try. They simply don’t have any more time to go try this alternative treatment. It all boils down to the patient’s engagements which I have hinted can dig up a tsunami for all concerned. A few have carefully pondered this and told me they are not ready, they prefer to keep ‘suffering’ while hoping the right meds for their condition is found one day;
The pervasive meds culture is here too
Well, for almost all I have seen out here, it is all about amazement at the many meds they take which can’t do the trick. The shrink told them to just take their meds religiously and since they take and nothing happens, he only adds some and stops some or increases the dose and the circus continues. I have seen like 3 who are at their 4/5 hospitalization in 8/10 years of crisis. Maybe the shrink being overwhelmed (only one available for 30/50 patients some days), and not really having many options to suggest to the patients and their families, hardly recommends seeing a psychologist or therapist (assuming there were a handful in the city lol)
The families don’t buy into therapy and many don’t have money
Throughout my stay at the hospital, I have sadly found several families to be discouraged and dispirited more than the patients they bring. I know how difficult it can be, I was once the family of a patient. But mum was instead open to trying anything and I mean anything. I accompanied my brother a therapist and other appointments, and one actually came home for their sessions. But, the reluctant families here, even when as part of my internship I offer talk therapy for free, don’t really think it can be of any good. Imagine how discouraged the already discouraged patient can be to talk to or talk with you. Talking of money for out of hospital sessions especially as I’ll be leaving there in less than 10 days, the big excuse is there is no money – all the many meds have already drained up all resources. Reduce the fee to the barest minimum and it is still no – thanks. A few have come for one session and paid up yes but have thought about it again and just stopped.
The above is some of the reasons I have come up with in my analysis of the challenges of therapy in my setting.
I don’t know about the approach to therapy elsewhere; nor the appreciation mental health consumers have for therapy. I would sincerely appreciate any comments in this respect. Thank you very much.
Ps: I am not contemplating stopping practice, just sharing a side to the coin of my reality since starting practice as a CBT Therapist and clinical psychotherapist
It was precisely on the 4th of April that I hosted an incredible young lady called Yensi Helen, the founder of the Hope Centre. I will write a post about her and the amazing work she is doing subsequently. That day was also the appex of my healing eye near going shut.
I had a few days earlier seen a vision of 5 white rays coming to that eye as I slept, and when I got alert and waited for the 6th ray, ha nada. But I had gotten the message. It could be worse, but it will get better. Indeed, a few days later, it got worse as you can see.
The eye swelling started out as a joke sometime around February 26th. I mean it could be hardly noticed in the pictures below taken around then right?
28.02.18 eve of spiritual journey takeoff, last outing sort honouring an invitation. Eye has started nagging lol
03.03.18 Day 3 into spiritual journey, eye on its own path too
I took it mildly in the beginning, trying out home remedies before starting what I now call a medical tour of duty. I mean I saw 4 different opthamologist, a neurologist and a cardiologist lol.
12.05.18 Back from same farmer’s market 70 days later 12.05.18
With my buddy Gaby, it’s Celebration day – 6 hurr
Ella my missus always around to support lol
But, through it all, I kept my cheer.
My initial predicament was how to start my internship at the psychiatric ward as a clinical psychotherapist with that eye. Hurray, nobody cared about my sun shades which ended up becoming my trade mark.
Day 1 internship psychiatric unit, helping to clean out the flood
Eye 90% healed by now but googles have become trademark lol
Fast forward to 3 months later, it is getting better and better and am so happy of course.
10.05.18 – eye doing so much better
And so dear all, in life, as it happens, convince yourself it could get worse and it’ll sure get better. Move on trying your best not to throw or be invited to any pity party, revel even in being called a one eye wonder woman (the most befitting nickname I have ever received by the way lol), and why not even think about the worst case scenario? ( I had already looked at some real sexy eye patches just in case you know).
I can’t tell you how much my spiritual journey has purified me and fortified me and made just love life 120% over. I share to inspire and motivate, be well everyone
Hmm world, I have got lots and lots of experiences in life, I don’t know when I’ll be done sharing them lol. I learn too from all of them and find it fulfilling to share these lessons with you all dear gentle readers and followers.
So, I wanted to do an internship as a clinical psychotherapist at our lone public psychiatric ward in our city which happens to be the economic capital of the country, and boy was it tough to get that. I had to go through two interviews. First with the Director of the Hospital, and when he was ok with my head lol, he sent my file to the head of the psychiatric ward who also had to be ok with my head.
Well, I don’t think this happens only in my country, but if you want to get to see any of such caliber of persons, you need two main things in my opinion: A good reference, and a very meek smile which could take you past their secretaries. Of course, the secretary should even be disposed to look at your file/reference and at your face. This is another feat because you are to drop the file off at the ‘mailing service/service courier in french’ and then follow up whichever way you can.
I did you know, because I love following procedure. But I knew waiting for normal procedure to take its course will get me no where. I kept a copy and went out looking for a reference. The first I got didn’t serve the purpose although ironically had once occupied a high postion at the same hospital (talk of life’s shenanigans lol), so I sought for a second which thank God did the magic. In each case, I was received twice by each secretary and given an appointment twice to meet their bosses. You could say I prayed and fasted, and practiced different smiles.
First meeting with Director, barely looked at and told to go wait, but second meeting, different smile, different day, different temperament, Director was very impressed with my credentials and head, and the fact I was coming to start here and not run off to set up private practice or only work with international organizations and think only money money money (his words lol).
Over to psychiatrist, secretary not so receptive first time, but my persistence and perseverance paid off. I even wore my pinky plush superstitious jacket given me by dearest Rachi, and didn’t fear my swollen eyes would sell me out behind the sunshades lol.
Fast forward to today, I am a favourite of both secretaries who call me affectionately ‘ma fille’ (my daughter), and the Director’s secretary recently helped me do up to 100 copies of different worksheets I use. What will you call this now? Wasn’t this worth all that smiling and patience? This is good for our mental wellbeing if you ask me, I am so happy for all these lessons.
Be inspired and motivated everyone especially during this weekend as you muse about life
Day 1 internship psychiatric unit, helping to clean out the flood
10.05.18 – eye doing so much better
Eye 90% healed by now but googles have become trademark lol
Hi World, when you dare to follow your passion, with persistence and perseverance, it is a deep sense of fulfillment all the way – all the time. I bash you not but I am learning, loving and sharing so much in this once in a life time opportunity at the lone psychiatric ward in our city of Douala, Cameroon.
Needless to scare you with grueling details on say the numbers we receive each day, the number of shrinks available leaving out anything psychologist or therapist… nor the condition and resources of the ward… I got two months running from April 2nd – June 2nd 2018 and for that I simply put honoured, humble and happy. One of the first patients I saw wrote me a love letter on the eve of his departure and just yesterday another told me he was sad I was too beautiful for him. I mean isn’t this worth it?
You know, it wasn’t easy picking up psychology studies after I completed my CBT Training obtaining the first ever DISTINCTIONS note in my entire academic pursuit. But, and indeed, I was so motivated by this score and took an online diploma in psychology, dedicating close to 13 tough hours spread over two weeks, to have a merits score of 88%. Well there was lots of reading background too right? Anyway, below is what my records show:
I was now ready to for the once in a life time opportunity at the lone public psychiatric ward in my city, and considering the journey to get that opportunity, not even a nagging swollen eye nor any discouragement from ‘friends and foes’ could blur my vision.
I will just share a small portion of an email I sent to my soul family after two weeks at the ward:
April 20th: I call them my friends, I meet them before reading their records, most if not all have pure hearts marred by etc
Simply put, I am the first therapist seen there and I am fortunate to do it my own way. I am personal – calling names and not bed/room numbers; and I greeted and hugged a 19 year old girl and it meant the world to her. (She’s moved on to be my first ever private client, she is doing so well already and gladly her meds were revised … to read she’d been diagnosed with Schizrophrenia almost broke my heart)
Sadly, the meds culture is invading here and I have seen some zombies. But, many families don’t keep their patients here for more than a week because they don’t have money.
There is also quiet a high amount of addiction cases and I have already met and still work with 3 of them. Sad too many of their families have abandoned their patients and either care very less about them.
I generally see patients first and connect before reading their records, most records are filled with so much negativity and bias and bring out all things violent or pointing to need for incarceration and fierce treatment with ‘no mercy’ anti psychotic shots like haldol and valium oh my…
I take it in strides and many love me, indeed the lone bouncer there has started calling me to help him calm difficult patients ha. Some patients outright ask for me and some nurses too are not so pleased. But I go there only 3/week and the Major and Psychiatrist love me so and are so grateful I am there.
I mean, why would I pass on such a once in a life time opportunity to make a huge difference in my life and those of all these people hurting and suffering from all these debilitation, marginalization and stigmatization like my brother had, just because I am initially a lawyer and from a ‘noble profession and background?’
Studying for a Masters in Psychology at home, may not have time for a formal Bsc in Psy will see how it goes
It’s all about my path to fulfilment
I have never doubted the intelligence my Almighty Father gave me. It is simply awesome all I sponge in, do, learn, love, share and embrace. No turning back for me, I embracing it all – all the way. His Amazing Grace is sufficient for me.
The boys are so proud of me and ask about my day. I tell them about my friends and sometimes they draw for them like Gaby did above for anty Love – she treasures that drawing and shows it off to everyone lol
Initially Shy, I get Nadege to relax lol
It’s plain me and my cheer
Now, have you ever heard of an intern having an intern? Nadege above is a psychology major student who was sent to me on May 15th to train for two weeks before I leave. Here is a flash from our first day together. We took some pictures as she requested, and when she sent same to me, we had the following exchange (shared of course with her permission):
[14:08, 5/15/2018] Marie Abanga: Thanks for the pictures darling. Ravie de travailler avec toi (saying am happy to work with her) [14:29, 5/15/2018] Nadege Psy: Don’t mention. Me too fière de bosser avec toi. Cette journée à été formidable (saying she is so happy too to work with me, and the day was a blast)
Our office is a hospital room, and we sometimes make a weary client to lie down for 15 minutes to the sound of some meditation music etc… we are out to help our friends as best as we can and am so happy to say I can give myself a 65% reach out. I go for walks with any I think need a walk or have that hot energy to burn out, I sit wherever with whoever, pray with them or sing or even just stare, hold hands, it’s all my spirit leading me. And it has indeed so done, I mean look at what one could manage to write on a worksheet I gave him
He filled that on the eve of his departure from the hospital, he was a patient of very little words
The chocolate bar is offered me by one of my friends
Another one who initially told me they don’t speak English, now greets me each morning as follows: “Hello lovely…” He gave me the large chocolate bar in the picture… many have given me little stuffs too, and it’s all so warm…
Be inspired and motivated with that passion and vision of yours regardless of your current circumstances or who says what around you. There is no doubt my just ended spiritual journey has fortified me bigtime for this once in a life time opportunity…
Hmm, that picture was taken on the day my ego and body conceded defeat at exactly 3am. I looked at the time when the thought crossed my mind that ‘this is it for your ego and body’.
I was recently on a spiritual journey of some length, and indeed pressure was not only coming from the outside to give up you know. My ego and body were spearheading the naysayers. Let’s start with fella ego shall we?
Are you sure you can do this?
Nobody asked me the above question out rightly except fella ego. I quickly ignored him and set about with my preparations, mainly emotional and spiritual, then telling my entourage (especially the boys you know). But you know fella e, he lies in wait and pops again even in your sleep. Anyway, it’s all come to pass and I did it…big time and all the way…
What will people say?
Both fella e and the fella Es of a few ‘concerned’, asked me the above a few times. What if they say you are sick, be it physical or mental you know. What if they shun your services and you can’t survive like that anyway, what if, what if!!! I decided to write an official I need no one to believe in me post here on my blog to take care of that once and for all…
You are losing far too much weight and your health too you know
I should be weighing 70/71kgs which is 4kgs below my ideal although my ideal for BMI is 73kg. So what is the alarm? Yes I had some mild health challenges with an inflamed eye which all but shut down and some equally mild RA flares lasting 3 days each, but I mean spiritual journey or not, that could happen. So no all fella Es, the spiritual journey wasn’t going to be stopped. I took several different meds and products for the eye thanks to misdiagnosis, but thank God none was to be taken during the day nor mandatory with food – sorry this approach too didn’t work. I even told my GA when that eye started that it was but a distraction
Give them a piece of your mind like the real you would back in the days
At the start of stage 4, I faced what I will call the most emotional challenge I had ever faced since starting the journey. Fella E nagged at me to give it a piece of my mind and abandon the spiritual journey if it’ll cool tempers and let ‘peace reign’. Well, prima, I listened to my spirit and waited 7 days before giving a piece of my serene mind, and then when the challenge continued I shut down emotionally and said I felt that was the best option for this stage (turned out to be one of Grace – and that was the best decision I made from every indication). You see fella E, you don’t know any real me and you can’t lure me with any of your trapings. I wouldn’t even bother to give you any piece of my mind – let me address your sister body now
A nagging swollen eye
It started like a joke on the 26th of February. I quickly felt in my spirit that was going to accompany me through out the spiritual journey and although it will be a distraction so no ‘unwanted’ questions are asked about the spiritual journey itself, it turned out to attract a lot of attention. I decided from the very beginning to deflate my ego by baptizing the eye “our healing eye”. I told God it was “our eye” and He knew how much we needed that eye. I however told Him what my spirit told me which I know He was aware of, the swelling or inflammation was a distraction and I treated it as such, stopping barely to sleep at night.
nursing healing eye with soothing aloe vera steeped cotton pads, then cucumbers etc (30.03.18)
In court with another dynamic colleague and her son
I went about my activities and took up riding the bicycle the more inflamed it got. I read An American Marriage the weekend the eye got to its worst (48hrs to finish that epic novel because I got it from a sister who brought same from the US and was yet to even read the cover)… the eye got its final dose of healing on the 13th of May 2018 and that was another exciting chapter closed in that thrilling journey.
Tiredness and Sour Mouth
The last ditch from my body to get me to stop this just ended awesome spiritual journey was to threaten to breakdown. The last week in particular was spectacular. My sleep was literally messed up. Sleep 8.30 pm – 2.27 am and then toss around with some REM sleep for maybe 30-45mins and then give up – and then embarrassingly nod off occasionally during the day on the spur. Three days after it started, while meditating, I got the aha, that is the last attempt. Even the sour mouth which I thought was due to meds was rather intensifying although no longer on meds. Well, I slept much better today and the sour mouth is getting better.
And so dear all, that in a nutshell is how my Ego and Body disturbed and and got a big bashful beating. The spirit was so willing to the point that no weak flesh could deter it.
Be inspired and motivated someone, hope you are enjoying the weekend like I am doing lol
It has been with tremendous honour and humility that I cycled on, braving it uphill amidst sometimes intense emotional, mental and physical challenges, some from quarters hard to imagine; while also at other times, sometimes steadying my balance as I sloped downhill especially towards the end of each stage of the journey started last March 01 2018.
Can we say this was a spiritual journey or what? It can’t be explained to anyone’s satisfaction – I just came to conclude; I can only share some to hopefully inspire and motivate so that anyone set out on any dear project of theirs, especially one of a ‘spiritual cum purification’ nature, will brave on and hang on … yes it was worth it. Let me try to sum it more…
So, this was a four stage spiritual journey dictated to me by my inner voice (call this crazy am ok with that – I do work in a psy ward anyway); and you could refresh on my preparedness for each stage by clicking 1, 2, 3, or 4.
I got to find out the names of the stages and the reason for their breakdown into 7, 14, 21 and 28 days on the first day of the 4th stage last April 23rd (this happened to be the anniversary of my beloved Grandma’s passing and I was real emotional). So, the stages were dictated to me to be:
Stage 1: Stage of New Beginnings (7 days were sufficient for me to see how new it would be if I persisted)
Stage 2: Stage of Determination (14 days was ample time to get real and hang on)
Stage 3: Stage of Discipline and Dedication (This was the make or mare stage and only perseverance for 21 days could take me on)
Stage 4: Stage of Grace (28 days to feel the Grace to my core amidst all what can go wrong and right full cycle)
Come on someone say wow, this happened and happens to me… am so in tune with my spirit and my world inside out, my prayers have been answered, I guess this is the price I was thinking I am very well prepared to pay, to benefit from and deserve to keep benefiting from all these gifts and responsibility and the accompanying Graces…I am so proud of me, I am my own heroine…dare to be yours for you sure can…
I will be writing more in the days ahead, today I am simply in awe of my tenacity and resilience; including the 3 days break in between stages; I fasted and watched myself like a hawk for 79 days…
I’ve got to learn to eat and do other stuffs again lol, but I don’t miss not shouting, getting angry and having attack thoughts…serenity and discernment are really my daily portions now… Aw I love this new me and am so proud of her…she is indeed a brave lady and will live her purpose in all faith…she self-evaluates herself at 85% and this is an A PERIOD!!!
DDay I was all bliss lol
For tonight, let me go and celebrate with my muskeets at this new Ice cream house (opened in January but we had to have a big reason to go check it out lol – with us it’s always about making memories out of moments) in our neighbourhood. We had decided in our last family meeting to draw a budget and save to go check it out when I crossed the finish line of my official spiritual cum purification journey.
I know it is a life time journey, and am ok with this… I am well passed lesson 100 of the student manual in A Course in Miracles, and taking it in strides with the other sections of the book. One day I may write about my journey studying and practicing all am learning in there…
Don’t worry about the price tags, am ok negotiating the amounts lol
David has started real business with his drawings too
Gaby is definitely coming up bigtime lol
A very soulful expression of deepest gratitude to all those who encouraged and motivated me with encouragements or otherwise. You may have been very few, but quality has always mattered to me over quantity.
Some reached out to me, seemingly concerned about the length of the fast and the physical effect especially with an inflamed eye quickly confirmed by them to be a result of the food deprivation – come on, food was the least I was working on or fasting from. Others were scared I had joined a sect or was visibly mentally ill/challenged and should seek professional help – I think my Age and tenacity saved me. I was left in awe and near mute where all this fear came from, why some could be seeming led by fear to the edge of outright panic attacks? So what is this deep fear?
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
Be inspired and motivated everyone, have a great weekend
mum, author, mental health advocate, therapist, inspires & motivates with personal experiences