Category Archives: Mental Health Advocacy

Book Review: Bipolar Disorder My Biggest Competitor by Amy Gamble


Just like in a boxing ring, Amy took many blows but still won


This memoir is not only captivating to me because it sheds so much light on mental illness especially on bipolar disorder; but it is equally captivating because of the author’s life and journey itself. With this said, I confess that once I started reading this soulful and resourceful memoir,  I didn’t put it down until I finished. It took me 8 hours to read, I was on the go and actually grateful for the traffic.

This is a memoir which shares the author’s resilence as she in her own words ‘refuse to relinquish the title of my life to mental illness’. A game of basketball or team handball or raquetball is easy to play because there are clear rules of the game. No matter how fierce the competition in these games, you know after the game life goes on and you can compete in other encounters and lose with dignity or win why not. No, not with mental illness. First of all it is no game although it plays you around like on a chess board. Secondly, if to be compared to any game, it is in my opinion best like boxing. Amy herself tells how in the ring with bipolar disorder, ‘my face was bloody, my eyes blackened, my nose broken, and my pride destroyed’. The bravado here is that: ‘Each time I got knocked down, I got back up again’.

Amy Gamble is an Olympian and so staying on top of her game, being in good spirits and shape were very important to her. Indeed, when the signs and symptoms started setting in, so too did denial big time. Who Me? No way was her fierce reasoning. Yes mental illness could run in her family even if never talked about you know, yes she could burst with such unquenchable energy to literally move mountains and other times sink into such debilitating depression, but no she couldn’t come to terms with the words bipolar disorder. The erratic life and actions on the spur in several instances, the wanderings and all which caused her two painful run ins with the law and a sting in jail not to talk of the massive financial and emotional devastation still didn’t sink in well with her. She near gave up especially after losing so many close people like her dad and co, her loyal dogs and even some invaluable relationships.

At the 8th or 9th round, the bloodied athlete in her through a series of divine interventions and other circumstances, started to recover. She looked her opponent in the eye, felt the bruises through her body, spirit and soul, grieved for what was and what should have been, and then gave her opponent the final blow. I say final blow because even though bipolar disorder is still out there and can rear up its dragon self anytime, Amy is fully prepared for any further competitions. The light Amy Gamble sheds on mental illness not only lightens our paths but hers above all.

About Amy Gamble

Amy Gamble

Amy Gamble is a small town girl who has always had big time dreams. She followed those dreams all the way to the Olympic Games. Facing competitors on a world stage, she learned how determination could overcome all the odds against her. Amy needed that strength and those lessons when she faced the biggest challenge in her life-bipolar disorder. Amy is now the Executive Director of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) of Greater Wheeling. She is a Certified Mental Health First Aid instructor and a mental health speaker. Amy has over 18 years experience working for Fortune 500 companies in sales, marketing and leadership. Amy has a M.A. in Organizational Management and a B.A. in Communication. Her mission in life is to help those who live with mental illness and their family members find help and hope. She strives to eliminate stigma by sharing openly her struggles and triumphs of living with bipolar disorder and educating audiences of all ages.

postscript

I am very honoured to write this review. When I discovered Amy’s blog and reached out to her to write a forward to my own memoir about my mental challenges, she did so the same day. I didn’t know Amy was past 50 years, she looks like 45 at most. Amy’s story is indeed a captivating one, the closest to any celebrity’s own I have read about their journey and battle with mental illness.

An interesting editorial Review (found on the amazon)

“Amy Gamble is a champion for mental health, advocating for awareness, improved care and the removal of stigma. In her book, she painstakingly describes the details of her own battle with bipolar disorder that led her from the U.S. Olympic team to a prosperous career for a top Fortune 500 company to a small jail cell in Montana and — eventually — to recovery. Amy’s firsthand experiences with the obstacles of our own health care and justice systems are chilling. And just when you think her nightmare has to be over, it starts all over again. You come to understand that mental illness truly levels the field: No amount of money, prestige or physical strength can protect you from it. But her survival instinct, her faith in God, and the work ethic she developed growing up on a West Virginia farm and honed as an Olympic athlete kept her trudging onward through her darkest days. The book is in part a cautionary tale — a “what not to do” — for the health care industry, as well as for families of those who are mentally ill and sick individuals themselves. Above all, it is a story of Amy’s redemption, a reclaiming of the life she thought she lost and the emerging of a true champion who dares to dream again. Mental illness won far too many battles in Amy’s life, but through her own education, proper care and sheer determination, she won the war. By sharing her story, she has ensured that her struggles were not in vain and many people will benefit from her victory.”      –Betsy Bethel, Life Editor, The Intelligencer and WheWheelingNews-Register

 

This thing called Guilt


Guilt when the Gravel is slammed

Guilt when the sentence is read

Guilt when the diagnosis is pronounced

Guilt even by a mere stare

What is this thing called guilt anyway?

Guilt which lets such fear grab you

Guilt which makes you hate yourself so much

Doesn’t matter if in the end who said what

Others can make you feel guilt

But guilt can come ushered by you

And the thing with such self served guilt

It grabs and mars and makes you guilty

Such guilt can last indefinite

Any smile may just be a camouflage

The thing with this thing is queer

It cankers the mind and not the body

Hence you could be locked up and feel Nada

And yet be free and feel so guilty

It now seems to me a possibility

That this thing called guilt is in the mind

Who says what, does what, thinks what, feels what…

Shouldn’t be the final thing about this thing called guilt

You should decide what you think and do or feel and say about it

Trusting To Tell


Hello World, let’s see how this post unravels. I trust myself to tell whatever is in me, but cunningly or curriously I don’t know how to tell it this time around. I am therefore trusting the universe to inspire me to tell it as it types out, and that you my readers trust what you read or make of it.

Gladly for starters, I am in the atlantic city of Limbe where even the rain doesn’t steal its magic. I trust those who live or have visited such cities feel what I say or mean…

Now, my intention with this post is three fold:

  1. I want to share some how I got to Trust To Tell;
  2. How you can work at Trusting To Tell;
  3. Why you should work at Trusting to Tell.

The above aligned, let me start by recalling that I know deeply about this issue of Trust because I have had to face it, deal eith, been dealt by it and finally make peace with it…kindof being able to define it in each situation, review my expectations, appreciate or let go, and tell only so much or tell/do it all with no self recriminations or regrets…

To get to the above, I had to figure out how to Trust To Tell not only my story so far, but all my issue with Trust in the first place. I had to learn to Trust my ownself to tell it to myself and my face without literally pulling my hair or self harming in any way; I also had to figure out how to Trust To Tell others without Fear of their actions or reactions… To keep this part brief, I will summarize that I worked on the different issues with various professionals including a life coach and a psychotherapist and of course with myself and my God…some friends and family contributed directly or indirectly.

My journey I share so as to inspire you to work at Trusting To Tell.  We all have something we want to tell, that is human nature. Yet, if we can’t Trust, then telling is near impossible… We must be willing to be vulnerable over and again, to even anticipate hurt, I know I know this ain’t easy but what is? It is so difficult especially if we tried to trust as children and felt shut up, ignored, abused, ridiculed and etc Trust has to be accompanied by forgiveness or should I say ushered? You forgive yourself, you forgive those youvfeel took your trust for granted, and you prepare to forgive those who may do so again… That way you give yourself permission to even consider Trusting all over again…

Thirdly, we all need to Trust To Tell or else we could lose our sanity at some point. Another point I want to make is that who we Trust To Tell may be trusted for one and not for another issue and so on… It ain’t with any given formula. We also have to be prepared to trust the unknown, the in familial, the stranger because we mere mortals can’t tell who is the vessel of our Grace and  redemption. 

I trusted to tell it to the world and I trusted myself to tell it as is… I forgave myself for all, forgave any I thought had taken me and my story and life for granted, and I already forgave the world if I was going to be misunderstood, taken for granted once more etc. In the end, my Peace of Mind was my priority in my journey to Trust To Tell. I wish you same.

Shalom – dare to Trust to Tell however you figure it out and no matter how long it takes

And the last award for this week is a MYSTERY…



Hello World O’, how many Fridays will meet me exclaiming what a week!!! Ah life is a mystery and I am honoured to receive this really descriptive award.

Thank you once more dear Joan for nominating me, I just realized this award was twinned with the Blogger Recognition Award I accepted last day.  I love these appreciations of my ramblings and hope they are much more for my indefatiguable mental health advocacy. So here we go, I just say thank you and return to my mysterious life hahahaha

I don’t need eyes to see…


I don’t need eyes to see;

I don’t need eyes to see the pain in you!

I don’t need hands to touch;

I don’t need hands to touch the scar in you!

I don’t need ears to hear;

I don’t need ears to hear the scream you scream within!

I don’t need a mouth to taste;

I don’t need a mouth to taste all what you’ve been fed by life;

Dear … I just need you to trust;

I just need you to trust…that I feel YOU…

To trust that I don’t really need eyes to see…

(C) Marie Abanga 2017

Dedicated to the memory of Gabriel and to my 4 sons

P.S: The above poem is an apt summary of my week. Was wondering what or how to write all I have had in me/dealt with this week – another thrilling one with lots of love and lows…and the poetic inspiration came in as I walked to and fro the market. I so love it … Actually, it is a soul search and summary from me to ME, me to YOU, me to THEM, said with love, encouragement, some supplication and yes some defiance… I miss you Gaby, I didn’t know as much nor did so much back then, but I promise you I will do so much henceforth till my own time is up…

Blow – Blow – Blow – Brother of Mine


Blow with the winds

Soar with the waves

Flow with the streams

Blow through our thoughts

Blow – Blow – Blow

– – –

Blow as we wish

Blow as it is

Blow as it won’t come to be

Blow – Blow – Blow

 

(c) Marie Abanga 2017

 

On this day when you left us so heavy laden, I will be missing you most. Yet I will seek to feel you blowing throughout my day.

 

In fond memory of Gabriel Bebonbechem RIP: August 2nd 2014

 

Amen

When a smile was so hard to come by…


Marie June 1991

I have looked at several of her childhood and teenage photos and not been able to find even half a dozen where she smiles…

Was it some unwritten photography rules of the era or just her life as it was then? Nothing worth smiling into the camera for? …

Ah indeed a picture they say conveys a thousand words… I stumbled on this one today and it dates 8 June 1990… O had just turned 11 years that January… That picture was my school portrait…  It is when I wrote the common entrance examination into secondary school…no comment about what was happening at home back then – inside me …

I marvel at the laxitude with which I smile today. Could smiles really have been so hard to come by then?

To all those therefore not able to smile today, know it will and can come to pass…

I am very grateful I can smile now so much and feel it and love it and love me so…

The above was taken yesterday on my way out to the Startup Grind Douala launch… I had fun, networked and all… Smiling when coming from within is the best thing can happen I hold…

Happy Sunday to all

Sometimes you’ve got to treat yourself to something


It may be ice cream like I had last friday sharing the moment with my son and budy Alain, or it may be something else…

Life is fleeting there is no doubt about that. One moment you are here and the next moment you are nought but memory.  You can’t afford to not enjoy yourself in the meantime. I know some of us are workaholics, and making time for a treat or indulging say in ice cream when ever mindful of our health and weight, may be a tough one to go for…

I am so grateful through my twists and turns I have come to a point of balance. Work and Play (reading and writing, dancing and singing can be play no problem), serious and joker, calorie counter and not so mindful etc…

It is important for our holistic wellbeing that we treat ourselves to something sometimes… Seriously if we don’t, life will still treat us to dust someday…

For the sake of treating myself this something also, I decided since last Tuesday to spend the rest of the week in Buea, working and playing from there ( I have to sadly return to Douala this afternoon, I have missed Ella and my home). I came with Alain and the other two musketeers are on vacation at their Dad’s… 

I attended a networking event sane tuesday evening and expanded my networks, I spent a whole day with my dearest Donna in the seaside resort of Limbe, on Friday,  I also attended two beautiful events yesterday Saturday and even got a beautiful attestation of participation…

Alain on his part accompanied me sometimes, but other times he had his own stuffs to do. He lived with a mentor and I elsewhere. That arrangement was also treating myself to some space away from him and letting him have his own experiences away from me…

It is VIP for our mental health and I am ever grateful for all these opportunities. Talking about being grateful these couple of days, I got that awesome piece of art from Donna I shared yesterday, I got featured among the 11 most sought after young speakers (http://www.celbmdafrica.org/2017/07/23/11-highly-sought-after-young-trainers-speakers-in-cameroon/) and trainers in Cameroon, and  I got the following from Alain –  I know he means that:

I actually loved washing their feet until even last year lol

Happy Sunday therefore to us and remember to sometimes treat yourself to something…

Another of Donna’s wonders

P.S: I developed Stye but the swollen eye ain’t going to spoil my mood no matter the iritarion lol (no picture for now who knows if that’s virtually contagious right?)

Personifying my Anxiety: I call her Loha


Anxiety Loha
Loha, (Love Hate): My worst friend my best enemy

I have know Loha pretty all my life. She has kept my mind alert more than I could ever wish for. Whether I ask her to come along or not she does. Always offering suggestions, making me doubt my own self, getting me double check on stuffs I have done, and beating myself more than I should for any omission or slight delay. She sometimes makes me wish a day had 48 hours even when I’ll still feel like a failure at the end of each day.

Oh Loha you are the worst of my friends – you nag! Yes, although I like that you help me plan well in advance and think of all possible scenarios of what, who, why, when something could go wrong; the fact that you more often than not come up with those your fall short blabla when any merry comes or is sighted, qualifies you my best enemy.

I think we should revisit our relationship, I wish I could just cut you out, sometimes I feel I have done just that. Is it a must that once you know someone it should be for life? Can you answer me that? Or do you only want me to take a pill which could give me that courage to kick you the hell out of life?

I am gradually however discovering how to get back at you, for all the years when you sucked me down, with all your nagging. I can now tell you to your face, call you out to the world, embarrass you too some. If you don’t like my approach, get lost because more is coming. I have new friends teaching me more tricks. I know much more than I used to, Loha you better step up or be doomed forever you shapeless chameleon creature – no doubt your best colour you say is black!!!

P.S: That was a guest post I submitted last month following a call to submit. I followed up and got my submission acknowledged, but it never got ‘selected for publishing’ and no courtesy did I get in the form of a ‘rejection/notification’. So, considering it their loss and Loha being mine anyway, I share it with us all.

I am officially taking a 1 month summer break from writing on my blog, but I’ll be reading, commenting and why not reblog any I find cool.

Love loads and all the best from Loha and I 🙂