It’s been a good damn month and I just finished his book

What I lost
What I lost

This was the comment I made on Barb Parker‘s page dedicated to her memoir: “My Sister’s Journey” “From Headache to Heartache” by Barb Parker, I never knew less than a year latter, it was going to be my turn to recollect my brother’s: Marie A Abanga
31 December 2013 at 08:01
Barb Parker, thank you for writing this book, it sure is a deserving homage to your sister and an honour to us the readers. Before I continue, I was just a bit disappointed that I don’t see pictures of your sister in her glows before the headaches began. I have an only brother who was a geek, everyone called him a computer he was super intelligent and my Mother’s Boy, I loved him so much and fought real fights for him. One day his life changed and ours as well. He sunk into a depression and is still so unstable well you know much more. The last time I was blessed to speak with him, he sounded so happy and spoke for 30 minutes but the next day he wrote to me saying I should mind my business. When I read your book, and how Deb said things you would never have imagined of her like someone is cruel, I understood more. Yes there is strength in what remains and all things work out for the good of those who fear the Lord. Happy New Year.

And now, it’s been a good damn month, and I just finished his book at 23.15 pm on September 02, 2014. I couldn’t sleep until I had that first draft. It is thus dedicated:

To my dearest, one and only brother Gabriel. You were always a love after my own heart until mental illness stepped in. This is my lasting legacy to you!

To all mental health patients, both diagnosed and undiagnosed, I dedicate this to you too. Mental Illness will one day be rid of stigma and shame and the ‘system’ will be much more holistic. That’s my dream!

To you Sebastien Aiden Daniels, Bold Kevin, the ProzacQueen and you Mr T behind the blog takingthemaskoff, I wish us all the best!

Of interest in the Acknowledgments are these lines:

My brother’s classmates especially those in Seat of Wisdom College where several memories spring up, all his and our friends. Oh no, we were that close, I literally knew more than 50% of his friends. Even while in the USA, when he had some, he will tell me and I will try to befriend them too. And vice versa.

My e-family means so much to me. I think of the Mental Health Writers Guild and all my other gentle readers and followers. You are a constant source of inspiration, motivation and information.

I must sort out Barb Parker, whose memoir of her Sister’s Journey from Headaches to Heartaches, inspired the title and direction of this memoir.

I couldn’t have gathered the courage to write this book now had I not have fallen in love with writing earlier on. Sports and writing are such a big part of my own therapy, I am so grateful for them.

and the concluding lines of the epilogue:

In all due respect, love, affection, solidarity and care for mum, I dare reckon her that her son didn’t live nor die in vain. I also wrote this memoir for her. I know she knows it all and even more than what I wrote, but I equally know she will treasure this other work of mine. I am sure it will be both a legacy for her beloved son, and a tribute of her daughter’s love for them both.

It is sad I am still so blank about dad. I wished I knew how to reach out to him, or maybe the other way round for a change? I will send him a copy of this though, just like he had asked for and received a copy of my own memoir published earlier.

May you my dear readers, find empathy, comfort and love in your faith and respective journeys.

Thank You


The Loo our Love

How Loveable is the Loo or any refuge of ours?
How Loveable is the Loo or any refuge of ours?

I have tormented my mind over this post for a while now. The first intention for posting it was to shame myself to stop loving the loo that much, and oh that was before my brother died.  Then he did and I went home for his burial and the loo’s love was so strong that I had to rush back there again for a whole night. The particular loo I slept in, was one he had often barricaded himself inside until the lock had to be ruined to get him out.


Well, the Loo or rather ‘toilet’ as it is known, was for a very long time our love Our place of refuge, calm and peace. The Us refers to my brother and I. My brother’s journey from a genius to a simpleton I am determined to publish by year’s end, while mine is already introduced in my thriller of a memoir published last February.

keep-calm-and-go-to-the-loo-2The last time I had a ‘loo episode’ (one where I will withdraw there and just stay there for as long as it took me to calm down or even fall asleep), I thought of writing a post about it. The intention then was to humiliate myself by making public one ‘bad’ coping mechanism (bad because staying shut up in there deprives others of the use of the loo, and I think it isn’t the nicest place to be right?). But the intention has changed and this post is both one of sensitization and one of farewell.

I want to in my typical way throw light on some flight technique mentally challenged people lie some of us, may gradually embrace and maybe later find difficult to abandon. In our case, it was our escape to the Loo. What started out of fright, became one out of love. In our minds, shutting ourselves up there was a way of staying away from the ‘noise and worries’ of the outside world. The threats that took us in there, could be both real or fake. I personally also loved going in there to cry (so that no one knew that the ‘tough’ Ayo ever cried).

Eventually, we each started loving the Loo. We retreated there each in his own time and place, we sometimes read in there, while our Father or whoever threatened, ranted outside. My brother told me how the Loo was his best corner while in a repatriation camp in Germany, or even in the group homes or institutions he was living or interned in out in the US.

My loos could even have candy bars
My loos could even have candy bars

On my part, I have always endeavoured since a teen and discovering this weird love of mine, to decorate my Loos, make them sweet smelling (mindful of the actual busines of the Loo). I have floor carpets just in case lying down on the floor will make it much better.

That is how, when went home to bury my brother and the panic, anxiety and irritations were threatening to overtake me, I lost sleep so much that I had to retreat to the Loo. Behold, my Love embraced me and made me lie my head down on one of the carpets l brought. I finally got to sleep for three sweet hours.

However, with my brother gone, and myself looking forward to heal completely and move on in a better spirit to better embrace my being and psyche, I have decided to say fare yee well to the Loo our Love.

So dear Loo or whatever ‘bad’ or difficult to abandon habit we may have, I know the tug of war to put an end to our love affair is just starting, but I really need to move on. Thank you for being such an unconditional love but now we have to draw a line.

Dear gentle readers and followers, do you have any similar strange habits too? How do you feel about them and have you tried getting rid of them and have anything to share?

How to be a good friend to someone with bipolar disorder

I am glad to be am member of this queen’s court. Today is a month since my brother’s demise and I still worry if I was a good friend to him especially during his most mentally challenged episodes as a Bipolar, Schizoaffective D, and etc patient. Whatever be the case, I think I did my best and am gradually coming to terms with his passing on. I hope others benefit from posts like this, and I sure know much more now for my own self and for my pals with mental illness. Thank you Prozac Queen for sharing.

The Prozac Queen's Court

(I’m publishing this again because I found a new resource that I think will be *immensely* helpful, both to you and your friend. Thanks to for bringing this to my attention!-PQ)

Hi, I’m [river in Ireland] (*cue twelve-step group greeting here*), and I have bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression. To people who have known me for a long time, this isn’t usually much of a shock. Actually, I take that back. People who have known me and been close enough to have seen some rough times aren’t usually that surprised.  As for everyone else, my friendly and talkative exterior can hide pretty much anything I want it to.  I’ve had to use this skill a lot in the past because I have had some people find out that I have bipolar and not be very nice about it. I think my favorite comment was that I was…

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30 Day Mental Illness Awareness Challenge – Day Twenty-Three

If I had a better choice, I would reblog several of Kevin’s posts. Indeed, they are so insightful and bold. Thank you Kevin for having taken this challenge and I cheer you all the way to the end.

Voices of Glass

30-day-challenge23Day 23: What is your opinion on therapy? (It can be any type, some examples are: group therapy, talk therapy, social skills training, exposure therapy, ERP, DBT, CBT, ACT,  marital counseling, and many more)

It’s an extremely interesting question, isn’t it?

And one which I think is very much worth asking.  Especially after yesterday’s question which looked at treatment via medication.

So I think I will start this post – and thus my answer to today’s challenge question – with a quote…

The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.

It’s a quote by the author Ralph G Nichols and I think that, for me personally, this quote focuses on essential aspects within therapy – listening and understanding.

Now I qualify that remark by admitting that, when it…

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Voice of the Voiceless Award

I mean, why should I ever relent my advocacy except for serious ill health?
I mean, why should I ever relent my advocacy except for serious ill health?

That award was given out on the 16th of August 2014, a day before my brother’s corpse arrived from the USA. I wasn’t obviously at the reception, but I got to meet Amy Banda, the show initiator and host, a few days later.

Amy and I, Trying to smile in the midst of my grief
Amy and I, Trying to smile in the midst of my grief

It was so so touching, that I received an award of this magnitude and for such a cause! It reads:

‘For her courage to inspire generations with her true story…’

Henceforth, I have not one, but two stories to use in my continuous and courageous journey to inspire. I am frantically writing my brother’s story as I lived it, and I just hope I live to see it published.

I am not doing this only for me
I am not doing this only for me

To this effect, I was equally very humbled and delighted to be invited to the radio show frank talk, to talk about mental health. In my country and in Africa to a large extent, such subjects are still ‘simply put taboo’. They belong to ‘Soothsayers and Exorcists’ and Shaggy ones like us, are ‘demon possesed’.

Frank talk on mental health in Africa, using my story and sure that of my late brother.
Frank talk on mental health in Africa, using my story and sure that of my late brother.

It is for this reason, that I recently posted on my being mentally ill before the fact (the fact being an official diagnosis). There are various degrees and types of mental illness and I am bent on stigmatizing stigma in being so open and dare say proud of my mental challenges and my efforts to thrive nonetheless.

Dear gentle readers and followers, we don’t make of life what it thrusts us, but we make of it how we deal with what it thrusts us. I have come so far, and my journey ahead seems so stretched out. I have lots of aspirations, but equally several challenges. I am a woman of faith, I careless about who thinks the contrary. I simply wish us all the best.

The greatest of these is love…

Sometimes; you read a post and are in such awe that you either dont know what to comment or if whatever you write will do the post justice. All I can indeed manage to say is thank you.


“Aren’t you afraid he will get your disease?”

The question uttered by a colleague at a department picnic this past summer when I was still working as a college instructor. This colleague had known me for a few years. She had known me when I was still adamantly not going to have children. She knew of my diagnoses. And this was the first time she had seen me since giving birth. This was the first time she met my son who had just turned one year old.

And this was the question; a question about my fear of passing on my psychiatric illnesses. Not a question concerning the million other things that happens with new motherhood- a question of genetic loading.

I wanted to respond with my sarcastic self and give a blank stare and state, “why no, I never thought about that.”

Seriously, I waited until thirty-six to entertain…

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Book Review: This Child Will be Great by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Picture below is on one of her release from prison in her struggle era
Picture below is on one of her release from prison in her struggle era

My second book review on this blog, is as powerful as it captivating. When I wrote a post about Mama Ellen (as she is fondly called), that she was my heroine and idol, I had not even read this book. That title is a ‘prophecy’ made by an old man who visited the baby Ellen at birth. Great indeed she today is right? She will forever be remembered not only for her record breaking and holding especially in Africa, but also for her famous statement. She said:

“All girls know that they can be anything now. That transformation is to me one of the most satisfying things.” Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

I had the privilege to meet, talk to briefly and take a snap shot of Mama Ellen in November 2013 when I was sent on a near ‘mission impossible’ to get Mama to come and deliver the keynote address

Delivering her Keynote address at the WIP inaugural summit in 2013
Delivering her Keynote address at the WIP inaugural summit in 2013

at our inaugural summit. I succeeded, she came, delivered the keynote and told me she encouraged young dynamic women like me.

I took this shot because none of her guards would take a photo of us
I took this shot because none of her guards would take a photo of us

Synopsis of the Book

When I started reading that book, the very first page made me conclude, and rightly so as I eventually read, that most of it was written by Mama Ellen herself. I also noticed that it was published in 2009, that is three years into her first term as president and it meant that she was putting herself out there knowing fully well the ‘damage’ the book could cost her plans for a second term.

I say she took chances because she is as personal in several instances as she is candid. Who talks about her marriage to an abusive man when she was only 17 years old? Mama does. Who talks about her having four boys by 23 years old? Mama again. Who talks about knowing the pain of leaving your children behind at such tender ages (the last barely 1 year old) to go further your life? Of course only mama can do that. And of being unfaithful in marriage? Read that book for yourselves!

Yes, even on the political narration of her struggle, she is as candid. She tells how referring to the Doe regime in a speech as a bunch of ‘idiots’, landed her into serious trouble, earned her some jail time in one of those nocturnal confines (She actually says it did her some good, she rested and got to live first hand the life of an inmate), and above all, almost led to her being raped or killed. In each of those several narratives, she was saved she believes, by her mother’s fervent prayers and some ‘angel’ in the body of one of the guards.

Mama Ellen also tells of her campaigns to the Executive Mansion. The first time in 1997 was against the then all powerful Charles Taylor, and she says barely anybody supported her ‘folly’. Of course, she lost ‘woefully’ as she puts it, but she knows Taylor won by all ‘scrupulous’ means possible.  Her inauguration day on that famous January 2006 is the best day of her life and the speech she made on that day, is fortunately annexed to that book.

My Rating

I normally as in a previous book review, write about the author. But what can I write about Mama Ellen? Who doesn’t know her? I mean, for fear of not missing one of her stars, I will urge you to Google her and her book. Frankly, anything less than a five star will be lying to my own self.

I salute her, she is my icon, idol, heroine and you name it. I mean I was once asked who is the one person I will give my all to have dinner with, of course Mama I said.  She even works in her cabinet with some former warlords and fighting factions and guess, Mr Taylor’s ex wife is a Senator in their Parliament. I have also met her and heard her talk well of Mama.

Dear gentle readers and followers, this is my modest tribute to this great woman and writer and I look forward to others too. And you, what’s your take on this? As for me, I’ve got to ask my mama if some one said anything when I was born 🙂

Mental Illness before the fact and other musings of mine


I am not doing this only for me
I am not doing this only for me

am so in awe at how much I personally stood to loose if I didn’t face myself in the mirror at one point. Frankly speaking, one of the reasons I miss my brother most is because I was hoping to walk the path of mental illness awareness and possible recovery with him, and that is – for both of us.

I know several people who know me (including my family) are and will continually be in denial of my having mental challenges. Actually, if my brother’s journey hadn’t leaped from epilepsy to what I know was Bi Polar and SAD and some others I still don’t know, there would still have been no ‘evidence beyond doubt’ that he was mentally ill.

Before I left to go bury my brother, my psychiatrist asked me a startling question. I still have to write a whole essay on that and revisit it with her. She asked me if I saw myself in my brother? Oh , I took it lightly then but with each passing day and having read his journal, I realize just how much similar we were. There sure are differences too.

I am Stubborn and he wasn’t

I can be this stubborn
I can be this stubborn

It is I who started combing the internet to research on various mental illnesses, people living with different conditions, medications and their side effects and much more. I mean, even starting a blog was a stubborn initiative in itself giving that I had to seek some ‘sort of approval’ (say inform her maybe?) from my mum knowing much of what I will blog about will be considered ‘dirty or private laundry’. My brother simply never did that and wouldn’t have. When during some of his manic episodes he thought it was his duty to save America or inform even the White House of one thing or the other via email, that was ‘prayed over’ until it passed. Eventually, he withdrew from social networks and even isolated from us all for a good while.

He had a Signature Smile and I don’t

Signature Smile
Signature Smile

My brother had what I now consider a signature smile. Indeed, even during his manic episodes like when he held my 10 month old son upside down and threatened to drop him down, he had that smile on. That is why in a post I wrote on his (or even our) being just another figure to add or to subtract, I said I am not sure he ever consciously harmed a fly.

I don’t have such a smile, hell no, no more. I smile now when it’s ok by me, and piss people off when I think the situation so deserves. Men, I took off my mask and I am so glad, free and proud. If doing so will reduce the rate at which I was called a nice girl, so be it.

I will rather be mentally ill and prepared to thrive than otherwise

I admit it over and over, there is no need to pretend to be normal anymore. It’s my life and I have just one shot at it. I am not looking forward to meds and all, but I will rather stay with my Shaggy bunch than with the ‘normal ones’. I mean, for me it is similar to my having sinusis right now or any of the other ailments which come and go.  I didn’t create my genes, or my environment or my psyche or whatever is the cause. But I know I can seek help and I can go for therapy and I be better alert and even read all those dreaded side effects of meds if need be.

I know we all (My family), deal with my brother’s passing and face the future differently. I am working on his book and I am telling it as I rightly or wrongly lived it. No editing of content will be allowed without my approval, they could simply write theirs if they wish.

Dear gentle readers and followers, I urge us all to take good care of our hollistic well being and be full of empathy and understanding towards those suffering from both diagnosed and undiagnosed mental illness like myself. We are just humans, (intelligent ones for that much) who are trying to understand their own selves too.

30 Day Mental Illness Awareness Challenge – Day Eighteen

Dear Kevin, sad to say this, but from my experience, there are still several families who don’t face it or try to deal with it the way you put it in your write up. Maybe it is shame, stigma, lack of resources, tradition, religion, and what else? Gosh, it is all so difficult on both the individual and the family/loved ones. Thanks for sharing as usual.

Voices of Glass

30-day-challenge18Day 18 – What do you wish people would understand in regards to mental illness and/or mental health?

There are so many different things that I wish people would understand with regards to mental illness and/or mental health.

But then aren’t there just so many thing which some people just don’t seem to understand about mental illness and/or mental health?

And as with a lot of things concerning human behavior – where there are misunderstandings don’t injustices so often usually follow?

But if I had to highlight just one  – or even two – things they would be things.

We didn’t choose this…

Consider, if you will, the following scenario…

A group of people – of which you are one – are sat talking and one of them is sharing a recent experience they had had…

drugIt was awful.  It was like someone or something had taken over.  What…

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