Category Archives: Mental Health Advocacy

Traveling for me takes mental and physical preparation: And you?


Hi all, first solo travel in 2018. I cherish traveling alone because I can read and sleep and do just as I want without feeling obliged to talk with anyone. I know aome good conversation could be struck up with a seat mate and even contact made, but on this particular trip not me oh lol!

Taveling used to be fun when I was a kid. I loved going around with my dad and asking all the questions in the world inspite being told to just shut up like my siblings and leave him to drive in peace. He still remembers to this date lol!

However, when we moved to Yaounde from Douala when I was in Grade 4, everything changed. That was a major traveling for me because it was not a to and fro. I was leaving all my bearings behind, and not happy dad hadn’t even told me of this move when he got the news from his job. I was really something to even think of that right? It is ‘not expected of good African children’ period!

Although my anxiety at traveling has gotten better and I no longer pack months or weeks in advance (up to 2015 that was me), I still love to be ready mentally and physically at least 3 days in advanve. Any on the spur trips even if fun, or not consented to, throw my psychologically off balance a while. I can’t even imagine what I’ll do if I in any last minute packing for example, left behing an item or piece of luggage lol!

Well, for now, am boarded for Yaounde again for an overnight trip. Am hoping for the best of moments and know the boys will try their best. I am reading Peace Pilgrim and well wrapped up for the AC in this dang so called VIP bus lol!

And you gentle readers and followers, what is your preferred traveling mantra? Plan and Prepare; or Up and Go?

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Learning to give David some time to cool down too…


 

That is David doing his things. He loves more of solitary play and drawing, than getting mixed up in brawls due to games with others, or mix ups at home. But precisely, the later can’t be avoided, na not among boys right?

So, yesterday morning there was an issue over chocolate paste and how Gaby took too much. David brought that to my attention while Gaby had stepped out do something. Now, Gaby overheard David tell and quickly told him to mind his own business. His words in french were: ‘Jaloux’ (jealous). Of course David wasn’t pleased and before I realized it they were manning up to each other and flinging more words around.

Gaby knows David’s soft spots and plays with those, going as far as calling him ‘bébé au lait’ (literally meaning milk baby – like weakling or so). I had to step in their middle to avert a fight.

I managed to get David to sit down and take off his school bag, then I rubbed him on his back several times. His heart was beating real fast. After a few minutes, I tried to get him to talk but he wouldn’t. We were all running late and so I desperately asked him if he needed more time to process his emotions. He said yes. He at least identified the emotion of Anger from the chart of emotions we have on the wall, and he told me he felt like punching Gaby even if he loved him very much.

I had to let him be because I realized he wasn’t ready to say any more. He was neither ready to talk with Gaby, not to mention make the customary peace of hugging each other while saying it’s going to be ok, and I still love you. Did I mention the last incident between those two which however gladly ended in a tripartite peace making was on Sunday?

Anyway, I learnt from the incident that, just like I sometimes want time off to process my emotions before moving on, so too do kids. I could in a position of authority threaten him into talking or force the peace making, but was that going to be real? Given that I don’t like fake relationships and actions or reactions, I will not expect that of any other including – even especially my children. I hope by the time he comes back from school he has forgotten about the whole incident. I asked Alain who is in the same secondary school with him, to check on him at break time out of sibling love.

My own sibling story is even tougher mindless the sex and age hahaha

Dear gentle readers, in life in whichever relationship, we have to respect the other and not seek to force them to keep to our pace, relate only in a certain way, or be the one we think is best for them. I share this events in my life, to inspire and motivate with my own reality. It all about seeking a holistic wellbeing and giving your children a balanced and good foundation

p.s: 8 pm 20.02.18 I get back home and the two fight out of the door to be the first to greet me are… yes you guess right: David et Gaby (I actually often confuse their names or pronounce in such a one the one comes when I meant the other). David tells me the anger was gone by short break and he felt fine. He choose peace over conflict and forgave Gaby

Have a great midweek all

Lighting this candle in front of the Madonna for Dyane Harwood


My dearest Dyane Harwood, author of the incredible memoir titled Birth of a New Brain, who recently took a hiatus from blogging over at Proudly Bipopar, is having surgery today following a freightening fall last week.

She calls me her fairy GodMother, and we are soul sisters.

No surgery to me is small surgery ( I stayed asleep one hour more after due time post a ‘small surgery’in 2008), hence I lit a candle and will leave it on until it burns out.

Please, find it in you to say a prayer, make a get well wish or drop her a line via any channel you chose – she loves twitter most lol.

Tribe, arise and let’s show one of us some love through this ordeal and post recovery…Amen

 

What do you as a Parent or guardian do in the following circumstances? My real life and tough choices…


Gaby will finish me

  1. You ask them kids to do their laundry on the veranda while you are in the kitchen. You get a call and when you turn round you see one of them like that. Your first impulse is to take a picture to immortalize the moment, then I flash-backed to my own youth and saw myself not even at home but in front of the school taps while everyone studied. I at least kept my panties on and I stopped doing that at age 7. He is 8 years. Some say I should skin him alive, others say to pray hard, others say to talk to or with him, and one laughs loud saying therapist heal your own son, there is likely some ADHD there. What you advice my gentle readers and followers?
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  3. You come back home and find some neighbourhood kids invited by your son to play baby football in your living room. You see proof of what he does with his exercise book sheets and how he treats his school bag all the time. Well, I let them play because at least I get to see him, he gets to forget about TV (not that I have any), and he develops camaderie and learns to lose without fighting. On the down side, they finish and leave all that paper and chalk drown on the floor for you and you get to shout out your lungs before order returns. What will you do gentle reader and follower?Gaby peeling peanuts for soup
  4. You grill groundnuts for soup and you give him to go out and peel them so you can make the paste. He does just that but he eats up near half of that. Times are hard and you were hoping the 2 cups you had could make a pot of soup to last 2 days fora family of four for lunch and supper. I have explained to him previously why he shouldn’t eat dem groundnuts. Well, I shrugged, and decided I was better off doing that myself next time unless I could give that to a bigger child. I explain to him again why he shouldn’t eat them up especially in tough times like these. Can’t recall if I was any better or worse at his age, or if anyone even gave me such a chore in the first place. And you?
  5. You are once again convoked to David’s doctrine school (just friday I was in his school) where he has accumulated three absences although he leaves home each Sunday morning for doctrine he himself chose to attend. He knew it was a three years program although he is by this second year already failing with his grades and attendance.What do you do? Beat him up, withdraw him or let him continue to do whatever he wants? I give him 200frs each Sunday and tbt am getting tired with the whole thing too. Yet, I don’t want to stop him from having or making that experience. Gaby didn’t opt for that, while Alain is already done with his from a school where he had only a year of doctrine. I give him some work as punishment when he returns, and ask him to write a 700 word essay about the whole saga not leaving out the resolutions. I can’t go and sit there with him and still get to do all I have to do with and for them…my me moments are near getting threatened completely lol;
  6. You have sworn not to buy flip flops again nor a pair of shoe before school breaks out. Yet you feel so sorry for Gaby who has no flops again Lord knows where each goes to, and his lone pair of Shoes already looks so haggard. I confess I recognize that child and the genes he inherited And so, .I decided today after laughing at myself, not to bother swearing any never again around. I consoled myself by getting a dark chocolate bar from the market. Chocolate indeed is an anti-depressant unless any proof to the contrary…

Dear Readers and Followers, some of my quirps and muse as a parent and single one for that matter… ever grateful for my support team and journey to holistic wellbeing via different mental wellbeing plans…Yes We Can…we always try to find the Fun in the dysFUNction… (thanks Linda for the inspiration)

Have a great week

One of those frustrating days as a single parent striving with PTSD and RA


 

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Taken on my birthday last January, I was really sick and made some soulful wishes

Hi world,when I publish two posts on the same day that’s a sign. Am definitely not doing too good today, indeed I have been struggling this week. One of the signs is isolating myself and not wanting to go out if I can help it – working from home and just struggling to be the best I can for the boys. Today was just so tough and it’s just 9.30 am here.

The dream I had last night was a sure indication. I can’t recall dreaming such a dream to an end like this before. My brother Gabriel had just died and was in the mortuary.  I was inconsolable and insisted on sleeping in the room where he was laid out. A few days later or so, people came for his removal and he instead got up. The face was Alain’s and I heard my brother tell me it was ok. I wrote it down in my gratitude journal this morning and moved on to get the boys ready and out.

It is always a feat with Gaby (named Gabriel after my brother), and today I noticed that his school bag was very light. When I asked to see all his books, another story babbled again. I decided to do a morning power walk to his school dragging him along with a belt for some lashing if need be. I was getting frustrated already, I bought new exercise books in January. When we got there in 15 and not 45 minutes because it was no nonsense today. I was told the obvious, he tears them all to make airplanes and kites and shares the pages with some like himself whose parents have already been there too (poor us). He got seven lashes because he agreed to those, and the teacher says to send 5 new books on Monday and he’ll monitor more closely. If he had to do that for 40 pupils where will he have time to give lessons and copy out notes on the blackboard?

Next stop, David and Alain’s school. They had both asked for 3000 frs each for a school event whereas the note on the billboard said the pass was 1000 frs. Now, am told each class could have agreed on a fixed contribution for food, assume another 1000 frs, where did the other 1000 frs go to and why couldn’t they be honest? Gaby had asked for 2000 frs claiming 1000 frs for a pass and 1000frs for food, although I was there with him and at no time were they given any food.

The pancakes David made was with stuffs from home, and my poor bowl in which the pancakes were taken to school didn’t even make it back. Secondly, he David has brought back only one test paper home claiming his other teachers haven’t given theirs yet. I had to check that out which happened to be a big and flat lie. I had a tough time getting him to give me his sequence report card because he claimed to have misplaced it. I know he has some difficulties with his school lessons, but I just expect honesty.

My day is ruffled to say the least, glad the trip to another city I had to make today was cancelled. When ever frustrated or low like this, I feel my articulations begin to hurt and my knees gt heavy and walking shaky…I am yet to have breakfast, I think I should start from there…

Thanks whoever for reading, writing is a coping strategy for me. Parenting ain’t easy, single parenting ain’t easy for that much, parenting with any mental health challenges or illness or other condition like RA, ain’t easy one bit. Those of us doing this deserve medals period…

Let’s talk about cooking and eating: My story


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In any type of Kitchen I am ok to go; that’s the joy of being an area girl

I love that picture very much because it represents so much to me. I am cooking no doubt, but I am cooking in a some what difficult condition. Yet, am doing it with love. That is the whole line of my story at least with cooking.

From my earliest recollection of cooking for my dolly, (mud puddings and iced tea with mint leaves plugged straight from the trees lol) I loved the whole process. I got lost in the art of it all and I had fun taking myself so seriously and vital – dolly was going to stay hungry unless I cooked for her. The mockery and shun offs I got from home at the time when I offered to cook for all, only motivated me to want to cook better lol.

I also knew cooking food was more nutritional than buying food because both parents told us so. Above all, my late mami mami loved cooking, and cooking so deli, I just fell in love with cooking.

I cooked for us siblings when mum left, and for near two years when living in a single bedroom with my late brother in our father’s villa, I smuggled a kerosene cooking stove, and some food every now and then, to cook for us in that room turned home for us. You can all imagine this was traumatic but I was grateful to be able to cook for my brother who was ere so fragile and could not stand not eating like I could, much to the annoyance of step mother.

When I got married, I will cook and make little salads and deserts as often as I could. I did it with love, but oh how it started piercing my soul when hubby stopped eating what I cooked for all sorts of reasons.

Today, I am in a very good place mentally and all, and I still cook with all that love. Indeed in Belgium, my little private restaurant was baptized merry tables. Ah I wish I could a restaurant out here for real as a retirement venture maybe? Hmm, I got them talents and ideas in abundance no joke..

belgium-2014
Not so skinny here though

But now, what about eating? Hmm, I was a skinny child growing up, play in lieu of food was an ideal bargain I tried all the time. But then, I used to be forced to finish my plate so I managed to share it with the table, ground my hair, dress you name it lol

When living with my brother in that our room/cell if you may, eating was not my priority. Not knowing when next provisions would come or the chance to sneak out, jump over the fence with broken bottles and go smuggle them in, meant that I had to hoard or eat carefully. You can imagine eating lost all significance to me. Maybe only later resurfaced as a coping mechanism?

Exactly, that’s what eating became to me for half of my marital life. I started eating in abundance, topping all the yummy I cooked with ice creams and other delis from the bakery etc

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Not so genuine smile and weight not appreciated one bit, but helas what can I tell you? on my way to 115

When I hit 115kgs, I knew enough was enough. Breathing indeed became a problem and I had to do something.

I got so angry with myself and the world, I stopped eating period. I hid behing dry fasting from 6-6, to reduce my eating to an apple and a gladd of hot cocoa at night. Needless to say anorexia surfaced and near thrived for 18months until mum threatened then pleaded…

Today, at 77kgs, and with the real and free and lovely me now present, I eat for nourishment and out of love too. Love for me, my body, my children, my family, my guardian angel. I also keep cooking for all with love, conscious too of the effects on my physical wellbeing especially with my RA diagnosis and sometimes very painful reality…when I can’t even lift my hand.

In conclusion, I am especially grateful for all those STILL who eat what I cook with love like my boys, and to all those who understand my pull to their kitchens or loo when I visit them hahaha. Maybe I’ll also take up professional cooking on retirement?

Dear all, while wishing you a happy weekend, may I encourage you to think about why you cook or eat…and to be grateful to be able to do either or both…

How early is it to start talking to your kids about girl/boy friends?


 

All about love
Source

I had a family meeting with the boys last Sunday and top in matters arising was Valentine’s day. For starters, we are a very open foursome, and I mean we tell each other pretty much everything (I surely spare them some sizzly details of my romantic getaways lol).

So, I have known their crushes since pre-nursery even, and visited some of those tiny misses with them back then. I recall even inviting one darling called Ange and her mother to a party back home like a decade ago.

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When they also start being so mindful of their swags like this, what can you expect when it comes to Valentine’s day?

So, here is how our conversation about the day went on;

Boys: Mama what are you giving your Valentine whom we all know of?

Mama: I don’t know, just telling him am happy to have him in my life…

Gaby: Mama that wouldn’t work for me

Me: Why?

Gaby: Last year I told my Valentine that only and she left me for another boy

Fella 2: Well, I already got something for her and I showed you remember?

Me: Yes I do, it’s even under my bed as we speak

Fella 3: Am not going to school on that day

Me: Why?

Fella 3: I want her to be worried and come to visit me and not be concerned about what I got for her. I don’t yet have anything and can’t get something she may like from the look of things…

And hohoho I went. The guys are definitely aware of much more than we think, they do learn about sex and all in school. So why not spare myself headache and even heartache by squaring out those discussions with them from a young age? Just how young some may wonder? I started from infancy like when they started going to pre-nursery and I noticed any interest in a chap. Some in my circle thought that was ridiculous, but I did how I felt and took it in strides according to the boys disposition to understand and share their feelings. I never had such an opportunity in my childhood and looking back it still hurts sometimes…

And so all you gentle readers and followers,  How early is it to start talking to your kids about girl/boy friends?

Happy Valentine’s day and hope we all have a blast in whichever way we plan… I hope to watch some movies and go for ice cream later in the evening lol…

Tough times never last but tough people do: Which do you focus on???


Hi world, another week is here and let’s hope to be tougher than whatever tough comes our way this week.

When I got back home from work last Saturday evening, not only was there no electricity, but I was told cooking gas was finished. Here, we use refill cylinders and you buy them every other month or whenever, not pay monthly bills like I noticed out there.

Grateful to neighbour for lending me her sawdust pan

And to Gaby my able assistant for a while lol

I was able to make breakfast of Dodo, eggs and pap for us all, and then moved on to cook some deli yams pepper soup with pork chops so yummy…who cares about the tough time getting to this?

And so dear all, be inspired and motivated when those tough times come in whatever shape, colour, name, face etc

We all have it in us; even if some of us need more empowering help to unearth that toughness,  maybe buried deep within by various situations, relationships …

It ain’t every other day you are interviewed by the VOA & some musings…


Marie
Just reviving an old picture where I look like am to be interviewed by the VOA hahaha

A full plate for me alone today

Hello world, it’s Friday yuppie. I have a full day today. Sports, work until noon and the school with Gaby for their Youth Week Karoake. Last year he went with David who was still in primary, but they won some stuffs and were distracted and most were stolen. Gaby was near inconsolable and blamed me. “Mama if only you had made time to come like other parents did…”. This year, David is already in Secondary school and will be going to theirs with Alain; ha he even said he’ll bring pancakes for his class (he does great ones here and has most of his stuffs ready – his aunt gave him lots of flour, he saved for milk and sugar, I offer eggs and oil lol). I am going to work now but will be back by 1 pm because I just have to go with Gaby to his school oh…

VOA means business with Marie Abanga lol

That golly news aside, here is the big big one I have. I was interviewed by the VOA as in Voice of America yesterday Thursday February 8th at 4.30 pm. Is this news or what? I was found via online research (bravo girl keep doing all you do, you never know who is reading). They were so nice and grateful I made the time to be interviewed (ha indeed right?), and they say I’ll be contacted soon for the TV filming – hahaha oh somebody see my how far. in a special slang I shared with my brother Gabriel, we would have said I am riding high…

BBC is sorry after all dear Marie Abanga

The goofy news (as in mildly ludicrous) is that, I got courteously ‘rejected’ by BBC Africa for a filming. They had been referred to me by some person out there while they sought persons with ‘hidden illnesses/mental health stories etc’ for a documentary. The got in touch with me via facebook, email and whatsapp ha, put me on line with their director even, got the better of my story, even asking questions and taking notes, ha again, then silence for some days then baam ‘rejection’. That happened yesterday on my way back home. Had I not just finished the VOA interview, I would have honestly cried. Fortunately I hadn’t told anyone about it other than mum who was excited of course. I felt a pinch of low, rejection no matter how parceled always hurts some ego. I was like, how dare they who approached me in the first place and not the other way round? Then I started laughing…what would you advice a client you CBT Therapist? and I laughed some more

OK lovely e-family,  have a laugh-ful weekend hohoho

When you say…I will say…


When you say I don’t know me anymore, I will say I can imagine how you feel…

When you say my mind is murky, I will say I can imagine how you feel…

When you say you can’t take it no more, I will say I can imagine how you feel…

When you say you had a miscarriage, I will say I can imagine how you feel…

When you say you just buried a child, I will say I can imagine how you feel…

When you say those kids drive me nuts, I will say I can imagine how you feel…

When you say I am having a divorce, I will say I can imagine how you feel…

When you say I left and lost everything, I will say I can imagine how you feel…

When you say I was abused and raped, I will say I can imagine how you feel…

When you say I want my life back, I will say I can imagine how you feel…

When you say I really need help, I will say I can imagine how you feel…

When you say am making progress, I will say I can imagine how you feel…

When you say thank you we did it, I will say thank you too we really did…

P.s: Excitedly looking forward to starting a new chapter of my life as a professional life coach and CBT therapist. One of coaches told me I had an impressive toolbox of personal experiences. I sure do and am grateful for those… I say the serenity prayer now more than ever…I see where all this is heading to…My long term goal with all this is to open ‘Marie’s Healing Home for inner peace’