Category Archives: Mental Health Advocacy

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…

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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.

Ella our missus turns one … hurray


 

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So many interviews on her birthday organized by her agent David lol

I recall my trepidation at going to get Ella, I mean we were all so excited and decided on her name even before I met her. I had recently lost a dear friend Ulla to Suicide and to say I didn’t feel horrible will be a big lie.

I am honest in saying we all compete for Ella’s attention in our Home. Well, Gaby doesn’t really mind although he is happy to feed her every now and then. David loves Ella so so much, I think Ella gives him the most pet therapy. Sure she coils by his feet at night. I suspect she even gets overwhelmed a few times.

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David and buddy Ella notwithstanding her pose lol

We will do it all over again!!! Ella has brough us so so much joy, she is like the daughter I burried, their sibling whom we recently discussed about as a family healing from a shared grief.

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I have never doubted pet love, I just didn’t know you could feel it so intensely. Now oh my, Alain is negotiating for two puppies – ha what did I get myself into?

October is a special month for me, in 7 days I give birth to my first son all over again hahaha

My Mental Health Advocacy guest blog featured on Gumonmyshoe…


Hello World, I was honoured when my guest post was accepted on the fabulous site Gumonmyshoe. Gum On My Shoe is a creative partnership between best friends Martin Baker & Fran Houston. Their book High Tide, Low Tide: The Caring Friend’s Guide to Bipolar Disorder inspires and informs others who support a friend living with mental illness. I have read that book inside out and done a comprehensive review here…It is simply so soulful what that book has done to me.here…It is simply so soulful what that book has done to me.

Read my story on their site therefore and why not submit your guest post who knows! Am all the more excited about that site because Julie Fast and some other celebs have guest blogged there to lol. I am definitely very grateful to Martin Baker and Fran Houston for hosting me on their site and sharing their incredible friendship with the world through their book

Denial


Can’t be for Me

Shouldn’t be for Me

Couldn’t be for Me

Wasn’t I said for Me

   …..

Hush I deny

Hush I reject

Hush they lie

Hush it’s hushed

   …..

Such a name?

No can’t be mine

How do I face that?

What do I do now?

Who do I do look to?

   …..

Like it helps

And all the hurt?

And all the pills?

And all the shame?

And all the stigma?

   …..

No am sorry

I can’t face that

I can’t take that

I can’t do that

I wouldn’t do that

   …..

P.s: Bear with me tribe, am going through a mild emotional/mental challenge. I was hoping to post something else I was proud of sharing, but I first have to get these ’emotions’ off my chest: glad they come off in through this poem.

I do feel ok now and will be sharing that link tomorrow as is…

To all who can relate, we are together

Book Review: High Tide Low Tide The Caring Friend’s Guide to Bipolar Disorder


High Tide Low Tide

Unconditional Friendship tested in dire times of need and deed

This memoir is like none I have ever read before in the sense that it literally took me through high tides and low tides before I found a balance again. I am not the first reviewer of this book to say it is not a read for the faint of heart. The authors when I interviewed them told me it was merely their intention to share their complex friendship between one ‘well’ person and one ‘unwell’ person, made all the more intriguing by the over 3000 miles seperating them. Indeed, they have physically met only once and yet, Martin Baker (the well friend), is from every indication Fran Houston’s (the unwell friend) main carer. How wouldn’t he be when we know (and I know from personal experience) how easy it is to lose relationships with both friends and family when you live with a mental illness.

This memoir will challenge you and your beliefs especially about mental illness, inform you, soothe you and yes challenge you again to be and do better, be you well or unwell. One thing I find interesting is how the friendship is not only so open, but how both friends are candidly so honest with each other. They have some mantras I am already copying and loving such as Care but not Control;  Give me what I need and not what you think I need; and many more al so soul searching. It is simply awesome to read all this. The way they virtually go on trips, navigate their days and engagements and plan joint projects like writing this book together you know.

Talking about style; the way this book is written makes it a very comfy read once you make peace with the soul search, because hardly any technical jargons are used. The book shows some indepth research, one which Martin also admits to carry out to learn how to better take care of his best friend. Indeed, Martin admits to have read far and wide, joined some associations and talked with lots of people both on and offline. Their book may be a guide no doubt but a very soulful and invaluable one. Fran Houston could have a Bipolar Disorder Diagnosis but she is every other friend too. Unconditional Friendship tested both in times of need and deed could not have been better demonstrated. I can’t but give this book a raving 5 star while recommending same without the least reservation to others be you well or unwell.

P.S:  Kindly Check out some previous posts about this memoir and its impact on me below

  1. Stabbed Soul…
  2. Five Reasons why I’ll finish reading…
  3. From Apprehension 2 Anticipation & Appreciation…
  4. Martin Baker My Model & Hero
  5. Interview of Co-Authors of HTLT P1 & P2