About this weekend P1


Hello world, so you should all guess by now that this area girl with these different auras knows how to enjoy herself. So far, my weekend has been a mix of rest, fun and work on my company. The P2 will be about the second event we are hosting today. And oh the pictures seem to read from last to first… Eg last one is my arrival at the mountain village, next one is the mountain, then my being invited to the national radio impromptu to talk about the Gbm Foundation (7 am and it was damn cold), fourth one is huge breakfast offered by my Co-Founder (asap after the show) and finally hiking and team building (that afternoon – Saturday). When I got back home by 6 pm, I went straight to bed until 4 am this Sunday morning…

Till then, enjoy… and take care of yourselves; we all got but one way tickets to through this journey of life

This little light of mine…


Hello world, am in a cab on my way home from a stressful but very productive and graceful day. Although currently stuck in traffic, I can appreciate the serenity and inspiration to write the following lines which could sing for the song from which the title of my poem is taken:

This little light of mine, am gonna let it shine…

This little love of mine, am gonna let it flow…

This little life of mine, am gonna live it full …

Let it shine, let it flow, live it full…

This little laugh of mine, am gonna laugh it loud…

This little smile of mine, am gonna smile it broad…

This little frown of mine, am gonna frown it all

Laugh it loud, smile it broad, frown it all…

This little dream of mine, am gonna dream it real…

This little tale of mine, am gonna tell it all…

This little cheer of mime, am gonna share it all…

Dream it real, tell it all, share it all…

And when all is said, am gonna say it still…

And when all is done, am gonna do it still…

And when all is lost. Am gonna find it still…

Say it still, do it still, find it still…

And when my light goes dim, am gonna grateful go…

And when my turn is up, am gonna graceful go…

And when my life is nought, am gonna let it go…

Let it go, let it go, let it go

P.S, still stuck in traffic. Not even midway gone but am fine reading my kindle shortly. Have a nice weekend, am off for one tomorrow too

Co-founding and Launching a mega coaching Platform – A Big & Bright Leap of Faith


Hello World, I took a great leap of Faith, as a partner and I on the 16th of May 2017 sat in my office and decided to found our own company called Inspiring Positive Actions Now Ltd. The first maiden event was last week and we were 30 in number. This week we are hoping to have many more and the key note speaker is none other than my mum. Her profile will follow the pitch and you’ll now know for sure who made and make me thick in many ways lol

Here is a business pitch I am working on you know… my dream and vision is oh so so huge it scares even me – I’ll appreciate your feedback:

Hi everyone, my name is Marie A. Abanga and I am the Co-founder & CEO of Inspiring Positive Actions Now Ltd (IPANow Ltd). IPANow Ltd is a mega platform for coaching and training to inspire positive actions in all areas of our lives. Our Programs started officially on the 28th of May in Buea Cameroon with an ice breaker for ladies. This is a nurtured vision, it carries a lot of my passion, determination and dedication. We draw from a rich experience of coaching and being coached; giving trainings; inspirational & motivational talks; and we want to tap into an in existent market segment in a region in dire need of inspiration and motivation with a bid to through personal experience and sharing, inspire positive, remarkable and sustainable holistic actions and transformations. Our goal is not only to carve a niche in the ever budding African Market, but to in a decade be among the global inspirational academies. There is so much potential for a business of this nature in a country and continent waking up to its own human potentials and resources to self stimulate its GDP leading to less reliance on donors and debts. Any investment in our persons and business, is sure to produce returns and the opportunity for assets revaluing and continuous business expansion.

I hope some of you may in 5 years time when I think we should be ready to go public, buy some shares right? And my mum‘s profile:

Mrs Bibiana MBUH TAKU is the Founder and CEO of Diversity Management & Consulting Limited (DMC Ltd)

She is a Master trainer & Instructional designer/Agribusiness curriculum developer

Professional Associations and Social Groups

  • IFC Business Edge Master Trainers network

  • IFC Africa Business Edge Trainers

  • Certified IFC Business Edge Trainer

  • Groupement des Femmes d’Affaires du Cameroun (GFAC).

  • Helen Atabong Asaba’s Foundation for Diabete, Women‘s Emancipation & the Empowerement of the Girl Child

  • Gabriel Bebonbechem Foundation for Epilepsy & Mental wellbeing

My Mother My Model
Mum whom I love so much; mindful of all she’s been through with and for me and more

She is based in Cameroon and has had professional experiences in Benin, Burundi, Rwanda, Cote d’Ivoire, Togo, Nigeria, Mali & Senegal and a few european countries like Holland.

She started out her professional career in 1983 with the then American Life Insurance as an Assistant Underwriter and Claims, navigating her way through Pecten Cameroon, going back to school to attend ENAM and graduate as an Treasury Inspector, occupying different positions of responsibility with the Ministry of Finance, returning to Pecten Cameroon, leaving and going to work with Plan International as the Chief Operations Officer, returning once more to the Treasury in Douala, then Pecten Cameroon again right up to her voluntary retirement to set up her Consulting firm in the year 2009.

On a personal note, Ms Taku Bibiana is a dynamic single mother of 3 women the second of whom is Barrister Multipreneur Marie A. Abanga; her only son was called to Glory in August 2014. The Gbm Foundation for epilepsy & mental wellbeing set up in his memory greatly helped and helps her deal and heal from the pain & tremendous hurt of such a loss. She has written several articles, been featured in magazines and been a guest and VIP panellist on shows for various causes she is passionate about.

It is a great honour for us to have her as keynote speaker on Sunday the 4th of June 2017 as she talks to us on the theme: Turning Your Challenges into Opportunities and Thriving.

This discussion is not to be missed, we will listen and learn with Ms Bibiana Taku and Marie (sure like mother like daughter), will also share us some of the biggest lessons she learnt from her mother which have helped her thrived in her right.

Thank you very much
Thank you very much

 

My Mental Health Awareness Month Wrap up…


IMG-20170518-WA0011

Truth be told, I have been looking forward to this day when I take a break from ‘trying in near vain’ every week day, to raise awareness on Mental Health on my blog. I am sure if someone types Mental Health in Africa on google my name will pop up. Well, to that extent, I will be very happy because that is also the visibility of this ‘shameful thing’ I am talking about. You know, yes we all have minds, yes we will like for them to function at their optimum, but no please don’t tell us that is the same as mental health. Only those who are mentally ill should be concerned by any mental health ‘stuffs’ and could it not be some of their fault that their minds flew away so ‘cuckoo’ ? If I am looking, doing and feeling great why should I be talking about the reverse right ?

The above are equally musings I have had throughout this month. I mean I can be qualified as one who is looking, doing and feeling great. Let’s face it, just look at (some of) my profile pictures, media gallery, write ups (except in the mental health category of course) and em what I sometimes say I feel – what should be my business talking and near nagging about such an ‘ackward subject’ as if the world does not have enough global warming threats and political turmoils to deal with ? Even if some members of the British royalty and American pop star Gaga – through some known celebrities and not so known wanabees are talking about bringing heads together to advocate for more compassion and love, self care and awareness of mental health issues, do you think you could ever join any of those ranks or gain any attention ?

This month, I have indeed made it my business to blog every week day about mental health. It is important for me that I write and keep writing because I love writing, it is like a lifeline (So much theraphy for me). The second thing is, you never know there may be one person you save on any day with your write up. I have ‘nagged’ some friends including my favourite Granny of 78 good years, sending her questions and making her write nearly 2000 words for my blog for free. I did this because I wanted to nag the blogosphere and the entire world my own little way this month of May. I was not the only one doing this, I discovered several others were doing similar projects and I contributed a write up to some of them. I had the honour to be featured in a local magazine published in the big USA, that was huge as far as my efforts to raise mental health awareness was concerned.

Behind the scenes, I kept learning and sharing, teaching my children more and more, being more vulnerable with my friends and families about my own challenges with Anxiety and mood disorders, my minor eating disorder and so on. I shared more and more copies of my brother’s journey with strangers as faraway as Dakar – Senegal where I attended the 3rd African Congress on Epilepsy, one of those neurological conditions which is so easily correlated to mental problems. This relationship was actually studied at the congress and one of the main causes of their ‘unhealthy relationship’ was STIGMA. Ah that big, dreaded and dreary word – you know… ‘No I don’t hate them but No I don’t want nothing to with them’.

My research and curiosity with mental health/illness has led me to read many books, developed friendships with those ‘society’ has shunned/stigmatized and considered either posessed or obsessed, and watch documentaries and movies like the incredible ‘Out of the Darkness’ staring the phenomenal actress/singer Diana Ross. I had to watch other movies by Diana Ross to see if she put in her all like that in other movies. I learnt so much from this movie, how a sister could turn her back on you when you got that ‘schizophrenia label’, how the man who was courting you would drop you like a rotten banana once you told him of your ‘label’, how even your own child would sleep barricaded from the inside because she’s been told you could strangle her before regretting it. Good for her her mum stood by her to the end, that’s what mums are for – at least the majority who themselves are not having mental health issues are living up to their God given vocation.

Therefore, while I formally take a break from writing daily about mental health, well am just spreading awareness platforms. I have recently taken a big leap of faith and co-founded a company called Inspiring Positive Actions Now Limited whose maiden event was last Sunday, and one of the main poles of this platform is Mental Health Advocacy.

Thank you all who read/liked/commented or even sighed at any of my posts this month, I am grateful for the opportunity to live and do my own mite to impact the society I live in. Take care of your mental health, the gateway to your holistic wellbeing trust this much…

If you are moved and generous with a like, please like our facebook page right @inspiringpositveactionsnow Thank you very much

Questions to an Author: Jill Sadowsky


ask-the-author-answers-edition

 

Hello world, with barely a day to go before the Month of May is over, let’s wrap up with my Granny Jill’s interview shall we? So yes here we go after P1 of yesterday:

  1. Can you tell if there was a difference in the way your son was treated before and after he got that diagnosis?

No, because we realized much later that the doctors suspected paranoid schizophrenia very early on, but they are not keen to diagnose such a serious illness in someone aged 20. Doron entered the military in Israel with a medical profile of 96 and when he was released, he was like someone missing in action. For 18 years, people thought of our Doron as ‘normal.’ For the next 16 years, they called him mentally ill. But, we always called him Doron. Our once gregarious son was ill, vulnerable and scared. He’d lost his sanity and grieved for that loss. He’d lost confidence, suffered harassment and discrimination. IF someone did agree to hire him, they offered such a low salary that it was insulting.

  1. If you wouldn’t mind, can you tell us any short or long term effect to your own mental health as a result of your son’s mental illness?

It affected the whole family. My husband, who devoted a tremendous amount of time to Doron, became  stressed as he was running an accountancy business. Our daughters did without sufficient time and energy from us, without vacations, without extras as every available cent was poured into another prescription drug, another treatment, a new psychiatrist. We did without too – we minded less. Our daughters no longer brought friends home. They returned from school, ate then fled. I learned about stigma: “She’s the one with the crazy son! Of course it affected me, no matter how much I tried to ignore it all. But, having a son in a psychiatric hospital is different. People with physical illnesses get many visitors in the hospital, are showered with flowers, chocolates and other gifts, while very few people even visited Doron. His good friends came at first until they had to get on with their own lives. We understood. Doron’s aunt and uncle were very supportive to him, something I will never forget. I learned at the support group to look for something I liked doing every day, and I did. I liked tutoring English, loved being with my children and grandchild, but, when I was very upset and down, I dug furiously in our garden. I disliked attending weddings or parties as everyone looked so happy and I was so so miserable, trying to keep a smile on my face. Later I learned from a smart psychologist, that I’d assumed that the other guests were happy but how could I know? Maybe they were also plastering ‘fake smiles’ on their faces? My friends told me afterwards that during Doron’s illness, I was extremely angry with the world. True!!!

3) The Writing

  1. Did any books/memoirs influence your writing (style, presentation, content)?

Many years ago, after Doron became ill, I read Anne Deveson’s Book entitled ‘Tell Me I’m Here.’ At that stage, I had no idea that she was a famous person. I simply felt; if she can do it, why oh why can’t I? Well, I started off by keeping a sort of diary but I jotted things that occurred in our once peaceful home onto scraps of paper which I popped into my bedside drawer. When I was asked to join a creative writing group, I typed out all the notes that I’d written and the teacher said; ‘You have a book there.” And that’s how all my more serious writing began. At first I wrote more short stories, then started slowly and painstakingly to write about what was happening in our house. Then, I didn’t even know that  1% of the world’s population suffered from schizophrenia – which is without taking into account all the other psychiatric illnesses that abound.

  1. Which was the most difficult chapter to write in your memoir and why?

Chapter 37, The Last Call was one of the  most difficult to write because of two pages. Page 224 where I wrote:-

Before schizophrenia, our three children had spent years of closeness, laughter and sibling secrets. During the years we lived with Doron’s illness, his sisters had shared their fears and tears, wishing they could escape the shadow but always drawn back to watch over, listen to and protect their older brother, who, in his healthy years, had done the same for them. It was then that my late husband had gathered us around him not long after we’d heard that our beloved son had taken his life. I want you to remember that Doron did not take his life. He took what schizophrenia had made of it. He ended his agony and I thank my son for putting an end to his suffering. I hope that he has found the peace of  mind he so desperately sought, the peace of mind that eluded him during the last 16 years of his life. Now we all have to face the tragedy of our loss.”

And a part of page 225.

On January 19th, 1996, we buried Doron. It was three months before his 34th birthday. On that dull winter’s day at my son’s funeral, the earth that had been dug out, stood in a mound ready to be thrown back. For the last time before he was buried, I talked to Doron, while in the cold, still air, I heard a thousand birds sing their songs of life.

All the people who loved Doron could finally say farewell. I saw people there who had not coped with his schizophrenia, but knew how to handle death. So many friends, neighbors and acquaintances stood, shoulders touching, their breath mingling in the icy air into one great sigh for our loss. The rabbi intoned the familiar words. His voice echoed in and out of me like surf slapping against the shore. His words didn’t comfort me. I registered simple animal sensations. My mother’s frail hand clutched mine. My daughters were trembling. My husband was crying. I was the only one unable to shed a tear. I whispered goodbye. So much left unsaid. I ached to see him on his surfboard. The thud of earth,  marker. He was gone. He didn’t say goodbye. In a tumble of memories, I saw Doron’s smile superimposed on the painful image of his anguished, tortured expression.

I love you, Doron.

REST.

1962-1996

  1. Which if any was your favourite chapter to write and why?

Chapter 27 because it showed that one can be happy in the midst of schizophrenia. Our daughters were aware of the terrible stress we were under and presented us with two flight tickets to Crete, including accommodation for four days. With misgivings, we took leave of Doron who was in a hospital at the time, hugged the girls after thanking them profusely. The flight was forty-five minutes in duration and we flew to our Greek hideout with  our son’s blessings. “I am happy for you both,” he said. Both my husband and I loved spending time together, even more so on vacation and we reveled in the fact that we had nobody to take into consideration. We relished the unexpected gift of time together, this reassurance that love and  pleasure were sometimes hidden in the crevices of pain. It reminded me that despite our woes, the world went on turning and sometimes presented extraordinary surprises. Our break on the idyllic island of Crete seemed longer than four days, and we felt whole again when we flew home. Every moment had been precious and I’d banished thoughts of mental illness, grateful that our girls had banded together to allow us this escape.  We didn’t know when or if another opportunity would present itself but we were ready to face the next round with schizophrenia.

4) So overall how did you cope?

I learned to take one day at a time. I tried to remember Doron when he was healthy and how much pleasure he had always given me. I cradled the gentle way he used to speak as if they are butterflies alighting on my hand, an event so startling, that I didn’t want it to end. Coping with the stigma was difficult for my daughters. It took me about a year to learn to live with it, yet my husband didn’t give it a thought and told his clients that he had to end their meeting early as he had to visit his son in the psychiatric hospital. Not a single client left him for that reason.

4) The Message

  1. Do you have any advice for other memoir writers especially on challenging subjects like mental health?

Today, there is a tremendous amount of material on mental health out there, both on-line and in books, so check out the market and make sure that y our book is different. There is always another angle.

  1. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

a) I would like people to know that my late husband’s favorite quote was one of the things that kept me on an even keel while Doron was fighting his demons. Schizophrenia had to take second place whenever I read the following prayer even though I am not a religious person.

The Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity To accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.”

b) We knew nothing about mental illness till we were thrown into its midst.  From the start, we got the message that we were to blame. Fortunately, my late husband refused to accept the blame. He didn’t allow me to either. Smart move. There are no miracle cures and not too many answers. We needed to know that parents cannot cause schizophrenia. We needed to know about the mental health society, ENOSH, the Israeli Mental Health Association to enable us to join a support group as eventually, it was a support group of 22 parents who shared my grief, fears and confusion without pointing an accusing finger at me. We learned there to take each day as it came, to change our expectations and hopes and to use humor wherever possible, something my husband did naturally. We needed to know what to say when our son told us that we ‘didn’t really want him to get better.” What to say when he threw out the food I’d just cooked, convinced that I was trying to poison him. How to behave when he trashed his sister’s bedroom or covered his window with aluminum foil to keep ‘them’ out, or slashed picture frames in his search for microphones that e had hidden there in order to help ‘the establishment.’ I needed to know how to act when he became aggressive, depressed or suicidal. What we did not need was to hear a psychologist or psychiatrist ask us; ‘well what did you do?

It was at the support group that we learned how to set limits as we still had to find time for our healthy children and for each other. We had trouble with the way the staff decided at the last minute when they were releasing a patient from the psychiatric hospital. I had to organize extra food, change my teaching schedule and my husband had to reschedule his client’s appointments. We felt the need to know what side effects each medication could cause, as well as what the illness was causing him to do.

The power of stigma is devastating and if mental health professionals and caregivers could help explain to the public that it is an disease like any other, that it is not contagious, that most sufferers are not aggressive, despite the media headlines – that they commit no more brutal crimes than so-called ‘normal people.’ Could you help floundering parents  put a sop to the stereotypes of mental illness and also tell the world that people who suffer from mental illness do not come from crazy families.

Last but not least, PLEASE give our sick children some hope. Nobody can live without hope.

If I have managed to change the attitude of just one person who reads this, my emotional upset at rehashing Doron’s story will have been worthwhile.

  1. Any other writing projects, blogging etc?

‘My son, my son,’ was published in Hebrew in the anthology UPWARDS, Chapters in Community Mental Health edited by Yechezkel Taler as well as The Last Call in the anthology Hidden Lives edited by Lenore Rowntree and Andrew Bowden and A short love story “Love on the Kinneret’ in Ang-Lit Press’ LOVE IN ISRAEL, 65 short stories in honor of Israel’s 65th anniversary.

Having reached the age of 78 but still behaving like a teenager, according to  my grandchildren, I am writing less, but still writing.

  1. Where can your memoir be found?

David’s story is available on Amazon as a kindle book.

Marie,

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to write all this.

Thank you very much my favorite Granny Jill for answering our questions. We hope to stay informed of any updates with your projects.

About Jill

my fav granny
Also called the messiah in her circles for breaking the taboo and speaking about Mental illnesses this actively

Jill Sadowsky was born in South Africa and has been living in israel since 1963. She has been writing since her son contracted paranoid schizophrenia. Granny, is a multiple award winner and her works have been featured in distinguished journals. She is a sought after speaker on brain health/illneses especially given her experience as a care giver of two loved ones lost to Schrizophrenia and Alzehmier.

And so world, with this wrap up interview, I must say I am so grateful to the Universe for giving me the Grace to blog each day for this month of May which is mental health Awareness month. Tommorrow I do a recap of the internviews and some of things relating to my mental health advocacy. Granny Jill is one of my best inspiration – my at 78 years? What do you all think?

Questions to an Author: Jill Sadowsky


David's Story
The cover says so much; the contents would move even the toughest of hearts

Hello World, very honoured to be wrapping up my interviews with authors who have written on mental health, with one I fondly call Granny. I was so delighted to talk with her on phone when I visited the US in 2015, and I was so happy when she liked the memoir I mailed her.

I have done a modest review of Jill’s heart breaking memoir on my blog, and it is my honour to interview her too. I don’t know how a mother handles her only son’s mental illness and survive his loss, I see my mum dwindling between striving and surviving but I am not in her mind. I hope Jill tells us a little how because she is one of those brave mothers!

1) The Profile

  1. Let’s Start with a brief introduction of yourself – your background – and a tiny bit from your life before mental illness struck:

I was born in Bloemfontein, South Africa in 1939 and had an enchanted childhood. I studied teaching in Cape Town where I met and fell madly in love with Alec. We married, and immediately, our relationship was a loving and caring one consisting of give and take. After our baby, Doron was born, we left family and friends to fly off to Israel, the country of our dreams.

(Doron means ‘a gift’ in Hebrew.) The real name of her Son refered to in the memoir as David

  1. About your Memoir, why did you write it all those years later and with many names changed as you say?

Because I had never written before. But, I wrote notes every night on what had occurred each day from the time that Doron became ill which was during his arbitrary military service although in retrospect, there had been some signs previously. It took time but the book called ‘Weep for Them’ was born and published – the hardcover edition in 1998 and the paperback in the same year under my pen-name Sarah Ben-Dor. Neither were translated into English as I simply could not face rehashing that excruciating experience all over again.

Years later, after we’d lost our son, I had so much more to add, that I consulted with my husband and two daughters and asked for their permission to write an updated book in English, using my real name this time. They agreed. But I had to change the children’s names as well as my husband’s while writing because that made the whole process a little less painful for me as I was reliving the 16 years of Doron’s illness all over again.

2) The Soul Journey

  1. What is your take about mental health?

When our Doron was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, I had heard little about the subject and had never met a mentally ill person. Today, I am older, wiser, read whatever I can on new developments but, to date, am not convinced that there is something that could have helped our son who proved to be medication-resistant for so many years. I pray that somewhere, someone will be able to help all those who might be suffering the way Doron did. I never felt guilty about causing his illness as I had read that parents cannot cause schizophrenia.

  1. Did your feel guilty for your son’s deteriorating mental health? If yes what did you think or do, if no please explain some to us.

A few older psychiatrists pointed the finger of blame at me, but fortunately, I had read enough to know that I was innocent of that, at least. I had to do something so, I approached the Israel Mental Health Association ENOSH, and asked for permission to start a support group for parents of mentally ill children in our neighborhood, in English, as Hebrew is not our mother-tongue. They let us use their facilities and offered assistance but frankly, most of us, 22 in all, did not want to hear another professional at that stage. We met regularly twice a month and became like one large family. We could speak openly about anything to do with our ill child, confident that we could trust one another to be honest and not to speak to anyone else about what was said. I felt safe with them, so much so that they became like an extended family.

Parents cannot cause schizophrenia.

Mothers cannot cause schizophrenia. I want every single parent to know this:-

I bet you all part 2 tomorrow is equally soul searching, captivating and near gut wrenching – stay tuned

Saturday Morning Fun time from my musketeers


Hello World,

Ouf the week is over but my weekend is still full. Therefore, getting to enjoy some shows like thse from my own musketeers obviously makes my day. Hope any of you who watches has a good chuckle.

You remember these guys? So click and watch this 2 minutes youtube  link  to see them act this morning, even Ella wasn’t spared… and in this other 1.53 minute video, my commander Gaby starts off dancing and ends off in a friendly kick boxer with David who he thinks distracted and stole his show

Have a great weekend and watch your mental health, now and at all times

My Gift to all: My Poetry Collection


Kindle Cover

Hello World, today is friday and I wish I were going away from the weekend. But hmm, saturday I accompany my dearest Donna at her Dad’s Memorial Service, and Sunday is my first mega event launching my company. As much as I had had three years and more to prepare this journey, write up a business plan and draw it all up in my head, stepping on that bridge now is sort of daunting though appealing at the same time; I am actually partnering to do this and well the organization and capital raising part of it and all … wow even the lawyer in me is …

You should know some stuffs about life and its people – how some of those who were so glad and full of praise when you helped them with their own business, don’t even as much as bother cheering you emotionally and actually want nothing to do with your own business … how some can actually sabotage with some sarcasm and …

Let me leave it at this, the poetry book is free for 5 days and thereafter the kindle is at 0.99 c

You know, I am not bothered by naysayers, I am grateful for life and all the opportunities to learn, grow and love…

I leave you this weekend with a few pictures which have made me chuckle, nostalgic and grateful for life … all my pictures right?

Happy weekend and take care of your mental health dear gentle readers and followers, Thank you

Questions to an Author: Martha Graham-Waldon P2


ask-the-author-answers-edition

Hello world, let’s continue from where we stopped yesterday, click here if you didn’t read that – Martha’s been a very deep soul journey

5. So overall, how have you been coping this far?

Writing my memoir helped me reconcile myself to my past and it has helped me to live more fully in the present. I have connected with so many people who have had similar experiences and now I am a speaker for NAMI giving presentations in high school on mental health and suicide prevention. All of that has been tremendously rewarding.

3) The Writing

  1. Did any books/memoirs influence your writing (style, presentation, content)?

The Memory Palace by Mira Bartok offered encouragement to me to tell my story. It is about her experiences living with a mother with mental illness. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls is another exemplary memoir that will soon be made into a movie.

  1. Did you have a writing mentor?

I utilized methods taught by Brooke Warner and Linda Joy Meyers of the National Association of Memoir Writers http://namw.org/ to sort through my writing and create a scaffolding and timeline of important turning points in my life. Studying the memoir writing genre connected me with a vibrant writing community online and in real life.

  1. Which was the most difficult chapter to write in your memoir and why?

I called one of the last chapters in my book “The Hardest Chapter”. I suppose you will need to read the book in order to find out why that is.

  1. Which was your favourite chapter to write and why?

My favourite parts of the book are the chapters in Part One called “The Magic” because as I wrote these chapters I was able to escape back into the memories of a mostly happy childhood.

  1. Did you learn anything from writing your memoir and if yes, what was it?

I learned that I am not alone in my experience. Writing my memoir was a very healing and cathartic experience and it has been gratifying to be able to help others through their healing process as well.

How long did it take you to write and get the memoir published?

It took me about seven years to write the book and find a publisher. Once I signed the contract, it took another 13 months for it to actually appear in print.

4) The Message

  1. Do you have any advice for other memoir writers especially on challenging subjects like mental health?

Study the memoir writing genre and connect with the memoir writing community. I took memoir writing courses offered through the public library and online. Read as many memoirs as you can. All these things will help you find your own voice. Don’t get discouraged and try to write a little each day, even if it’s only for 15 minutes.

  1. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Early treatment and diagnosis are important so you should seek professional help if you suspect you or a family member is experiencing a mental health crisis.

  1. Any other writing projects, blogging etc?

I am currently writing a novella, my first attempt at fiction. I don’t blog regularly but I admire those that do!

  1. Where can your memoir be found?

On Amazon, through Barnes & Noble, Kobo; my publisher Black Opal Books, and Scribd. Here are the links:

Amazonbarnes & Noble: Kobo: Black Opal Books: scribd:

Thank you very much Martha for answering our questions. We hope to stay informed of any updates with your projects.

About Martha

Martha Graham-Waldon is a writer, mental health advocate and armchair activist who resides in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California with her family and a menagerie of pets. Her articles have been published locally, internationally and online. She is a winner of the 2015 Women’s Memoirs contest for a vignette based on her memoir in the anthology Tales of our Lives. Her memoir Nothing Like Normal—Surviving a Sibling’s Schizophrenia was published by Black Opal Books and is available on Amazon. In addition to writing, Martha loves travel, the outdoors, Jazzercise and music.

Questions to an Author: Martha Graham-Waldon


nothing-like-normal

Hello World, during this month of May which is Mental Health Awareness month, I am as you must have noticed, doing interviews with authors who have written on mental health, especially about their personal experiences.

I have done a modest review of Martha’s memorable memoir on my blog, and it is my honour to interview her too. Having had a sibling with a mental illness (bipolar disorder), I can relate with much of what Martha writes.

1) The Profile

  1. Let’s Start with a brief introduction of yourself – your background – and a tiny bit about your Childhood:

Thank you, Marie. I was born and raised in Southern California in a family with four kids, I was the youngest. I have to say that my childhood was pretty idyllic. We were raised with an appreciation for nature and a social consciousness as well. When my sister entered adolescence, problems surfaced that affected our entire family and particularly me since I looked up to her so much.

  1. About your Memoir, how did you come up with this poignant title?

When I first starting writing, my working title was A Normal Life. This was based on a feeling I had during those challenging years that I just wanted “a normal life” although I finally realized that there really is no such thing. However, a fellow author pointed out to me that this title could be construed as sounding boring. I posed the question to the other authors in my publisher’s author group and someone came up with Nothing Like Normal which can be interpreted as either a good thing or a bad thing or both! I thought this was perfect so I went with it after adding the subtitle Surviving a Sibling’s Schizophrenia.

2) The Soul Journey

  1. What is your take about mental health?

I think it is important for anyone dealing with a mental health challenge or that of a family member to realize they are not alone in what they are experiencing. Mental Illness is very widespread. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one in five youth experience a mental disorder at some time and the figure is one in four for adults. Therefore it’s important to not be fearful of accepting a diagnosis of mental illness. It needs to be treated like any other medical illness and families and individuals should take advantage of the many resources that are available to help them cope with these conditions.

  1. Did your feel guilty for your sibling’s deteriorating mental health? If yes what did you think or do, if no please explain some to us.

In my memoir, there is a chapter that talks about siblings experiencing a “survivor syndrome” in which they wonder why their sibling was afflicted with a mental illness when they were not. Often times a sibling or parent may feel helpless when they are unable to “fix” the problem that their loved one is experiencing. My advice is that you must focus first on being healthy in your own life. Achieving your own happiness and stability is the best way to help your family member because you will be coming from a place of love as well as empathy.

  1. Can you tell if there was a difference in the way your sibling was treated before and after she got that diagnosis?

There is a definite stigma surrounding mental illness and this was even worse in the 1970s when my sister was first diagnosed. Stigma is a negative label that was placed on her and caused people to treat her differently. Stigma is hurtful and makes people feel ashamed of themselves or their family member. Feeling stigmatized and criticized can lead to individuals not seeking help for their mental health issues. To combat stigma, it’s important to realize and explain to others that mental illness is actually a medical illness like any other physical illness. Just like diabetes is a disease of the pancreas for example, mental illness affects the brain.

  1. If you wouldn’t mind, can you tell us any short or long term effect to your own mental health as a result of your sibling’s mental illness?

I became very depressed as an adolescent because that is a difficult time for most people when hormones and societal expectations create pressure on one’s sense of well-being. I did develop coping mechanisms like meditating, playing the piano and writing that helped me feel more whole and I continue to use these healthy outlets to this day.

Please stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow, thank you

A site about my thrilling life, inspiration, motivation, writings & mental health

togo and a little inspiration in between :)

A topnotch WordPress.com site

Paige Way

Defying The Odds

Free to express

thoughts, experiences, travel, feelings, stories, diaries and many more...

Girl from Ghana

Nana Adoma Asare Adei

The Crack Indian

Inspire the World

The Diary Of A Muslim Girl

Dare ◦ To ◦ Live ◦ Your ◦ Legacy

TheFeatheredSleep

Tigers not daughters

Playing by My Own Rules

Cancer Messed with the Wrong Hellion

How I Lost My Chains

It's not easy to weed out the roots he planted in me. But that was then. And this... This Is Now

How to blue

Un blog acerca mi vida personal sientete libre de juzgar.

Squeeze the Space Man's Taco

A journey into Cade's world

TheCagedBirdSings

The song of a heart can never be caged...