All posts by Marie Abanga

I am a forever young, dynamic and entrepreneurial mum of 3 boys. Determination, Discipline+Dedication= my motto. l am on a journey, one to become a personal and mental well being coach of reference and a dynamic mental health advocate.Coaching, Speaking and Training are my passions and all about books fascinate me - I read and write with love. lt is worth it and life has only been this tough but good. There is strength in what remains, check out my sensational memoir about my unconventional loves and life and also about my finding the strength in what remains despite having been battered and tattered. To sum up, I am every woman, a determined, disciplined and dedicated woman of faith. Trying times are not times to quit trying. I love my family and my cat Ella. I love music, sports, conversations about all or nothing, travelling, cooking and why not dancing! I am spiritual and God fearing to put it plain and simple.

Advocating for my son and students all the way …


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My special friend and deputy CEO of In Our Home Inc

Hello World, that is my first son Alain (for those just hopping on my blog). He turned 14 years last october 8th and we went to a Chinese Buffet for a first time – they  (all 3 boys I have) had a great time.

Now, Alain is in form 3, I guess middle high in the US or so. Recently, when writing about experiences I had in his brother’s school with two teachers, I also mentionned some I had in his own school over some grade scores he had been removed for some reason I couldn’t understand. He is a very hardworking student, has always been on honour’s roll since primary school and takes a lot of pride in his performance – of course I do too although I try to make him not put so much pressure on himself. One of his teachers gave him a 2/8 in a question because he forgot an element, and yet his friend who gave same illustration forgetting same element got a 6/8. When he went up to ask the teacher showing his friend’s paper, his two marks were substracted and added to this friend’s.

Of course I marched to that school the next day and spoke with the proprietor and dean of studies. I was assured the grades will be reviewed. Ha same afternoon, he comes back home with another paper taught by the same teacher where he gets 3 answers marked wrong which I know are correct. I am getting itchy and go back to the school the next day. The teacher whom I don’t see, had told the dean the previous day Alain was rude in his approach to asking about his paper, and he left out some words (critical to a complete answer it sems) and actually …… I left the new paper and requested for a meeting with this teacher and the dean.

The meeting was arranged for last friday at 7.30 am and I was there of course 15 minutes ahead. I explained the situation again, said my concern was in teacher/student relationship which appeared to still be one of ‘teacher knows it all’ (Alain told me he was adviced by the dean to stop ‘challenging’ his teachers). I said at home I didn’t know it all and we ran the home as a team and I told them I was sorry when at fault. The teacher gave his own explanations; and well all is well that ends well.

Some relationship dynamics have changed over the past century and one of these is students/lectuers or teacher etc. Back home, it may still be a big challenge finding a balance and even letting parents in (in his school PTA’s are once a year only – imagine that) and hmm some parents simply don’t even want to know or be involved anyway.

I therefore advocate that students/pupils be let to express themselves and taught from a young age how to do so politely  (I however doubt Alain was rude – teacher may just have been embarassed he even came up to him in class and brought along a friend’s paper and well in our schools you may not see a teacher after class hours because they teach and go unless they have another class after a while and you are also out of class you know). Students also get a bost by their parents’ involvment and their teachers taking them as human beings and not just people to be taught sort of.

Finally, Alain got his marks reinstated and got good grades overall for this first sequence (he feels slighted he was second in class -but that’s ok by me).

Sharing to inspire parents and advocates, it ain’t easy but often it is worth it.

Have a nice week us all

 

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Hopeless…Hopeful


 

She crawled under her bed

It made no more sense

Such sham & shame

The Weight

Mind & Mass

Needless living on

Who cares what goes on

Sensless, pointless, needless

It is truly

HOPELESS

……….

she publishes a 4th memoir

Kinda movie

The 360°

Transformations

Hardwork

Tough Choices & Sacrifices

Faith, Hope, Love

It is truly

HOPEFUL

……….
(C) 2017 Marie Abanga

The end

Hopeful and Hopeless directions.  Opposite traffic sign.

P.s: Officially and in my inspired way, fully embracing my story and engraving it in my heart and on all walls of my home. I actually did crawl and stay for a while under my hospital bed the morning my daughter died, I prayed the ground open up for me. I spiralled for 6 months and survived another 6. Then although pregnant once again, it felt not worth living. I picked up a knife and then I got a kick from within and I dropped it hot. The transformation started dripping in from that moment… Be inspired…

Please could you just…


Please could you just listen

Listen to my tale

Tale so fade

Could very well be stale

Nothing you can do

But still

Please just listen

……….

Please could you just read

Read what I write

Written with rollers

Rolling every other direction

Some could be rash

Trash or bash

Nothing you may do

But still

Please just read

……….

Please could you just say something

Anything but silence

Silence drives me crazy

Crazier than I might already seem

Never mind the impact now

Just tell me how u feel

How it is, how it was

Nothing it may create

But still

Please just speak

……….

(C) 2017 Marie Abanga

P.s: How many times have we overlooked such basic and life saving ways of helping someone even ourselves?

My personal essay of mental health at the workplace


This year, World Mental Health Day was celebrated on tuesday October 10th under the theme Mental Health at the Workplace.

Over at the Gbm Foundation for Epilepsy and Mental Wellbeing, we raised awareness both online and through traditional media. In my capacity as Country Director, I shared my personal essay of mental health as related to me then while I was working in a multinational telecommunications company. You can read that post right here.

WMHD FOR ME 2017

If I were to answer the above question today, I’ll say for me such a workplace is one where everybody feels safe addressing their mental health challenges. And you gentle readers and followers, what would be a mentally healthy workplace for you?

Questions for an Author P2 – Birth of a new Brain Healing From Postpartum Bipolar Disorder by Dyane Harwood


 

Yesterday, Dyane was telling us about the most difficult chapter she wrote. We continue from here:

  1. How did you deal with that?

I had to take plenty of breaks from writing the “One Pill Can Kill” chapter, which helped a lot.

  1. Did you learn anything from writing your memoir and what was it? I learned that I was stronger and more disciplined than I thought I ever could be, and I found those things out relatively late in life (my mid 40’s) which goes to show that late blooming (in terms of achieving our lifelong dreams) is possible!

  1. How long did it take you to ‘give birth’ to the memoir we would very soon be seeing on the shelves? Ten years! And they seemed like dog years!

4) The Message

  1. Do you have any advice for other memoir writers especially those living with a mental illness? Surround yourself with those who believe in you and your writing. Find a writing mentor if you can! One thing I wish I had done years ago was join the National Association for Memoir Writers (NAMW) because they have a ton of support and advice for memoir writers – really incredible resources! They also have membership sales twice a year and you can email them to find out when they are. You may also be able to work out a payment plan with them I believe – I paid less than $100 to join, which was still a big deal for my budget, but it was completely worth it. In terms of mental health, if you’re going through a rough path, allow yourself to take weeks, months, even years off if you need to. I took lengthy breaks – I had to – and that’s why it took me so long to get the book done. But what comes first is mental stability.

  1. Was it easy to get a book deal and how did you fare in the negotiations if we may pry? I wish I could say I had an agent because many people don’t think you’re a “real” writer unless you have an agent. That is no longer the case. There are many more publishers nowadays that accept manuscripts directly from the authors, which is wonderful. But what I did have was a generous friend who knew one of the publishers at Post Hill Press. She enthusiastically recommended my proposal to him; he reviewed it and ultimately he offered me a contract. Before he worked at Post Hill Press, he worked at “Big Five” publishers for many years in high positions, so I felt pretty great that he believed in my proposal.

Any other writing projects, blogging, support groups, etc? For now I’m promoting the book and giving talks to perinatal mental health and bipolar groups in the Bay Area. I’m also getting into the world of podcasting, as you know! I really enjoy it! To hear my first podcast please go to Dr. Katayune Kaeni’s “Mom and Mind” website – and find that right here:

My second podcast is on Podcast One’s “Mind Full” program with mental health advocates Alisha Perkins and Colleen Lindstrom. I let myself loose on that episode, so kindly check it out here:

3. Where will your memoir be found, and any book tours already scheduled? You can buy my memoir on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, R Kobo and iBooks. Thank you so much, Marie, for giving me this opportunity to share my experience with your followers, I will definitely update you with any book tours I have.

Thank you very much Lady Dyane my heroine for answering our questions. We hope to stay informed of different updates with your projects.

Please visit Dyane’s blog and her website for more on her writings and mental health advocacy.

If you dear gentle readers and followers have any questions for Dyane, you could leave them in the comments too.

 

World Mental Health Day: Questions to Dyane Harwood Author, Birth of a New Brain (Healing From Postpartum Bipolar Disorder)


Birth of a new brain cover

Dyane Harwood’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw (co-author of The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatry) is published by Post Hill Press this very October 10th 2017.

It’s available on Kindle and paperback

Hello World, today on this very special day, I mean very, very special day: Today is World Mental Health Day and the Birth of Dyane Harwood’s long awaited literary baby; I have the singular honour, pleasure and modesty to interview my dear friend, one I fondly call Lady D and The Captain – the author, dynamic wife and mother par excellence. I connected with Dyane early into my blogging adventures, and we have stayed friends since then. I still look forward to visiting Dyane in her corner of the Western Coast in the US, and take a “redwood bath” with her and her famous Scottish collie Lucy.

I salute Dyane’s courage to go through with it and not give up. Dyane is equally a seasoned author and has written for the Huffington Post, SELF Magazine, BP (Bipolar) Magazine, and more. With this said, I’ll interview her for your reading pleasure and let her tell us more about herself and her life journey, mindful of her postpartum bipolar disorder diagnosis.

1) The Profile

1. Let’s Start with a brief introduction of yourself – your background – and a tiny bit about your Childhood:
Hello, my dear friend Lady Marie! I grew up in Los Angeles, California with my brother Martin and of course a dog – an Irish Setter named Amber! We had two very loving parents and many blessings; however, it was a difficult childhood as my father had bipolar one disorder and his mental illness took its toll on our family.

2. About your Memoir, how did you come up with the title – you must admit it is one of its kind?
I love my title! Originally I titled the book Quest for Rest because when I began writing it in 2007, I was manic and hypergraphic (which is excessive compulsive, writing associated with bipolar mania and epilepsy, of all things, Marie!) — later on, I switched titles because I no longer felt attached to Quest for Rest. Birth of a New Brain simply popped into my mind and felt right.

2) The Soul Journey

1. I lost my only brother to bipolar disorder and its complications – hence I dread the word and diagnosis; what’s your take on that word?
I cannot STAND the word “bipolar”! I agree with Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison, the author of the classic memoir An Unquiet Mind, who prefers “manic depression.” I think that term describes the mood disorder so much better than “bipolar”ever could. It’s just a really dumb word and to be honest, I have problems saying it out loud.

2. How did you get your diagnosis and how have you fared since that diagnosis?
In 2007, approximately six weeks postpartum, I voluntarily admitted myself into the local psychiatric unit as I was manic. I was diagnosed at that unit and it took me seven years to find the right medications to help me. During that time I went through two phases in which I tried to live without medications; one of those phases involved a very slow, systematic tapering schedule that I had researched before undertaking it. I do not want to sound like a drama queen, but I almost died after each attempt to live meds-free. However, some people can live with bipolar and stay stable without taking medications.

3. How have you been coping with your mental illness and yet still been able to function at times enough to write and publish?
The book has been the most challenging project of my life. When I finally secured a publisher, I found the entire process was far more difficult than I had imagined. I coped fairly well although I ate a ton of sweets and gained 15 pounds despite using Lose It! And exercising! My medications and having a stable, loving family complete with Lucy the Scottish Collie/Writing Muse enabled me to get through it all.

3) The Writing

1. Did any books/memoirs influence your writing (style, presentation, content)?
Oh yes! Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison’s memoir and books by Madeleine L’Engle (A Wrinkle in Time) and L.M. Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables) have influenced my writing, but there are many other books that affected me too! I have a list of some of them in the book’s appendix section.

2. Did you have a writing mentor?
Wendy K. Williamson (author of the bestseller I’m Not Crazy Just Bipolar and the co-author of 2 Bipolar Chicks Guide to Survival) believed in my writing, and she inspired me to “go for it” in terms of sending my proposal to publishers.

3. Which was the most difficult chapter to write in your memoir and why?
That’s a great question. I’d definitely say the “One Pill Can Kill” chapter about how taking one Elavil (amitriptyline) pill made me acutely suicidal and when I realized what was happening to me, I asked to be taken to the emergency room at the hospital. I won’t go into other details (and I don’t go much into them in the book because I felt there were plenty of books about that topic already – it didn’t seem necessary) but I also want to say that this specific medication works well for other people! We all know medications affect every person differently…thus the need for caution when trying a new medication and have someone on hand to observe your reaction to it if it all possible!!!

To be cont’d tomorrow, kindly visit again…

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Sometimes in the mist of it…


Sometimes in the mist of it

A soul may be searching

But not know how to seek

Sometimes in the mist of it

A heart may be hurting

But not know how to heal

Sometimes in the mist of it

A hug may be needed

But none knows how to ask/give

Sometimes in the mist of it

Empathy may be needed

Even if not fully appreciated

Sometimes in the mist of it

We want out of that mist

We need help

We want to scream

But the voice is stuck

The stare and tears

The silence and ramblings

The actions and reactions

Oh sometimes in the mist of it

Lots of patience, love and empathy

Can actually clear the mist

(c) Marie Abanga

WMHD_bannerP.S: Ahead of World Mental Health Day Tomorrow under the theme: Mental Health at the workplace.

Near 9 years later, I finally get the honour and grand style opportunity to show my supervisor at that time how much I appreciate her empathy when I lost my daughter the day after she was born. She was the only person I can remember from my office who called, visited and followed up how best she could in the aftermath. (2 others came along with her on that visit but that was that – I don’t hold it against anybody anyway) She understood when I’ll call the office so in tears not able to come to work. She once chastised me when I visited her and looked like whatever, to go upstairs and sleep (I must have slept 5 hours that day at her home). I can never forget. So if you ever read this, know that the whole world now knows how much I appreciate.

Alain turns a whooping 14…Hurray


22.10.2016 Alain himself
He did that himself last November and he calls himself…

It’s been much more joy than anything else for real

Alain has always done so so well in school regardless of the school he went to; or the circumstances WE were going through like when I upped and disappeared in May 2011.

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A one month ‘visit’ (not planned as such) in July /August 2011 a few months after I left them behind

I am so grateful for him. He loves sciences that I see, but he writes poetry, draws some and enjoys football. I could never thank my God our God enough for Alain. He is for all time the epitome of my sorrow and joy and has a very special place in my life and heart of course…He is my Hero…Thank you so much Alain from my every pore, you know how much I love YOU!!!
.

Sharing some ice cream love over at one they call Ice cream Grandma’s in the cool city of Buea, Cameroon
Sometimes in July on our way for a diiner date just us, brothers were at their dad’s

 

That was on friday on our way to a dinner invitation

 

We are out today having a blast at a Chinese all you, can and then some ice cream hurray.

When I reread this post and what I wrote last year for his birthday, I’ll say although I stumbled into motherhood, am so proud and grateful for the journey.

Dear all, kindly join me in wishing Alain a belated birthday, he’ll sure see all your likes and read/reply to your comments.

Free Fall…Free Rise


Freely Freely you receive Life

Live same freely; be yoked to none

Dare to Feel how Free it can Flow

If you could just aim for

Free Fall … Free Rise

    …

Why restrain my fall?

When I might miss

The treasure at the bottom?

Why contain my rise?

When I might miss

The shooting star at the top?

Nay: Am going all the way for

Free Fall…Free Rise

   …

Ignorance can lead to arrogance

You think below is all but dirt

And so you hold yourself aloof

And pretend no issues u ever get

But I don’t care: no need for flash

I’ll go all 360 for

Free Fall…Free Rise

   …

The best lesson is often

in the depth and height

Feel it all the way

whichever it may

Free Fall…Free Rise

Experiences with two different teachers at my son’s school & related musings


Hello world, I want to share these experiences I had with two different teachers at my son’s school just this week. I share them to express myself, but also because who knows who has had any similar experiences or could be inspired and motivated etc?

My son took a story book to school and some drawings and none came back. I needed some answers more than he was giving so I went to his school last week. He was in a class which had recently been divided into two and he moved again, this means he had started making friends who stayed in let’s say the A and now he was starting all over in the B. Now, this makes two teachers involved and kids in the two classes too. Indeed the story book happened to be with a pupil in the A class who had left it back home, and the drawings were with different pupils in the B class. I was told by both teachers the stuffs will be collected the following day and returned to my son and he’ll bring them home before the weekend.

This week came and nothing was returned home, so I went to the school today because well I don’t know and need to know what’s the real situation. This is where the experiences come up:

  1. Teacher A gets frustrated I come often (this is the 3rd time am going there and well it seems too much), he tells me am overeacting over nothing and he doesn’t know what my son tells me back home and he thinks my son is a ‘brat’ and he’s glad my son is no longer in his class;
  2. Teacher B is empathetic and even glad I come to follow up such issues even if they may seem trivial. Few parents he says care to stop by at all even when PTA meetings are called up (this I know – they are called once a school and last time only 3 parents showed up in one’s class meeting for the one hour I was there). He actually tells me he thinks my son who transitioned sections (bilingual to pure anglo saxon), is coping just fine and he thinks it is also because I help him at home both formally and informally (very correct). Teacher B concludes that when a parent comes to school it boosts both the pupil and teacher’s morale for obvious reasons.

Huh, I was a bit perplexed and you know A class is one row of stairs above B class. So I had gotten the showdown in A up and was brooding as I went down the stairs to meet teacher B who turned out cool.

Well I was back there again the following day because my boy had come back home the previous day without 6 good exercise books. I needed to know if he actually forgot them in his desk or etc. Luckily by the time I got there he had already found them and I didn’t need to see any of the teachers.

What you make of these experiences people?

More Musings

Talking about experiences in their school, one came home in near tears because he had worked so hard but got a very discouraging note. I saw the script, looked at his school lessons and the text book and nothing made sense. Now he showed me a classmate’s script and same answer but 4 notes more. When he had even dared complain to the teacher, he had been removed the mere 2 he had and the other student got added 2. What? How could I let this go? I went there and saw the proprietor himself and explained the situation, he called the head teacher and they said to not worry all was going to be sorted out. They better do because am not one to give in or up any easy.

I mean that same teacher marked two answers wrong again in another subject and I know the answers myself – what the boy wrote. Eg HIV: Boy writes Human Immune Virus and teacher marks wrong saying it means Human Immuno Deficiency Virus (wtf). I don’t even know if to take this other paper back to the school…

Parenting ain’t easy, not to mention single motherhood. But I try my best each day and don’t want my boys traumatised or stiffled because some teacher thinks they are too upfront. I also go these schools so the teachers can tell me directly if there is any concern like I equally learnt about one of them playing wild and taking stuffs not his.

To all parents, single mothers and even teachers in the house, more grease to our elbows.

Happy weekend all

P.s: you remember a poem I once wrote about: “when no one wanted her”. Yes one who had literary dropped out of school is graduating today with a diploma in transport and logistics. How proud should I be of my contributions to the amazing young woman and wife she is now?