Tag Archives: Advocacy

Enjoying Me My Mental Health Advocacy


 

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My contributions on pages 20-21

Hello world, it’s 18 days already into this month which is Mental Health Advocacy Month, and am enjoying my efforts at raising awareness.

I mean, in addition to writing and networking for such a ‘complex’ subject which I am passionately passionate about (oh yes I am), I have had the honour of guest blogging and now am even published in a magazine oh wow.

Two full pages to write all I wanted on the topic

 

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And it could not have landes on a better date. Today I am not only working from home because am tired of commuting into town with all that ‘crazy traffic’, but I also had to deal with 2 ‘mini’ stressors this morning.

Let me sit back and leisurely read this magazine. LEGIDEON is published by some dynamic sons and daughters of my native land in the diaspora;  and it is Succulently labelled “A Washington DC Based News Magazine” – you can log in and read online.

Keep doing what you do and enjoy yourself in the process… All the best to us all – take care of your mental health

Book Review: Birth of a New Brain by Dyane Leshin-Harwood


Birth of a new brain cover

 

Mental illness is more often than not associated with incompetence, fragility, frugality, vulnerability, undesirability: I don’t make that association however, and memoirs like Dyane’s make a pale of those who think a mentally ill is a ‘no good’! 

May is mental health awareness month and I have the honour of furthering my mental health awareness month with a book review. Dyane’s epic memoir of one of the ‘not so known’ mental illnesses is worth its weight in gold especially at this time when even Royalty is stepping up advocacy on mental health awareness.

Some stuffs I get from Dyane’s epic memoir:

We don’t care about those ‘lunatics’ because we are not them and no we can’t become them. Sometimes, and as in Dyane’s case, we so wish our sick ones well, but we don’t try to learn and understand what is going on. We don’t even know what or how to ask them any questions. It gets to a point where we look forward to either having them removed from our ‘normal’ existence, or forward to leaving them and going far away – be it for studies, work or just a fresh start. One thing I learnt from this memoir is that close or far, we can be so impacted by mental illness of a close one. Paradoxically, Dyane starts having troubling ‘mental issues’ after she’s left home and is on her own, although she had felt for so long before then that something ‘weird’ was going on.

And yet:

A lot of good things in my opinion happen to Dyane in between the time she leaves college and when her second child is born – the birth which sparks her postpartum bipolar disorder. She takes on different challenging jobs and meets a vast array of people most especially her ever supporting husband.

I am so interested to know what keeps her husband staying with her mindful of her seemingly ‘unappeasable’ mental illness and mental health altogether. Maybe she’ll write a second memoir about this. He from much indication in her memoir, is a care giver par excellence both to her and to the kids, juggling these all with his ever demanding job. People like her husband are to be celebrated because many with a mental illness are sooner or later abandoned even by their families and left at their own guise.

It is once more interesting to read in this memoir about the treatment mentally ill patients seem to attract. There are basically two types of treatment. You are either treated as a human being with an illness like every other (very rare), or most often, you treated with such stigma and near shunning altogether. Dyane even while very sick, can tell and appreciate when she is treated with empathy, and even sympathy. She also narrates the few times she’s treated like ‘one of them lunatics’. When you sometimes leave the hospital worse off than you get there; when you develop post hospitalizations trauma disorders which is another mental illness on its own.

All is not lost, after trying several different medications, nearly becoming a guinea pig of sorts; after trying to go off cold turkey not once but twice; after silently challenging one of her doctor’s sarcasm about alternative treatments; Dyane has come to find a balance between all of them. Even ECT wasn’t left out, she desperately needed a new brain – she’s courageously brought forth one and trying her best to nurture same.

My Appreciation:

Her narration is not only so funny at some points you wonder where she found some words and different styles she uses (oh yes she has a B.A. in English and American
Literature); her memoir also has helpful links and annexes. Her extensive biography below beats the ‘stigmatized notion of mentally ill as incompetent and losers’! I mean what dedication starting all over and over again, entering a contest hundreds of times, taking on difficult exams and the list goes on.

As some other advanced reviewers have already said, her memoir is a big bonus to the mental health community, – a community I dare advocate should concern all of ‘us’ because all the ‘thems’ we see today were once ‘us’ before. There is really no point for stigma which to me shows insecurity and fear of the unknown.

I without any reservation, recommend this memoir to all and sundry. I give it a 5/5 and can’t wait to receive my autographed copy come October. I need to have that physical copy on my shelf period!!!

About Dyane Leshin-Harwood

Dyane Harwood

Dyane Harwood is the author of the memoir “Birth of a New Brain – Healing
from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder” (Post Hill Press, October 10, 2017) with
a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw. She holds a B.A. in English and American
Literature from the University of California at Santa Cruz. A freelance
writer for over two decades, she has interviewed bestselling authors
including Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison, Anthony Bourdain, and SARK.


Dyane had the once-in-a-lifetime experience of attending a writing weekend
conference taught by her favorite author, the late Madeleine L’Engle,
author of “A Wrinkle in Time.”  Dyane has written for The Huffington Post,
The Mighty, Postpartum Support International, Postpartum Progress, Anchor
Magazine, Fit Magazine, The International Society for Bipolar Disorders,
The International Bipolar Foundation, and The Stigma Fighters Anthology.
After founding a chapter of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
(DBSA), she facilitated free support groups for mothers with mood
disorders for nine years.


Dyane lives in Ben Lomond, California with her husband Craig, their
daughters Avonlea and Marilla and their collie Lucy who serves as a
writing muse and sits on Dyane foot when she writes.

Dyane’s website: www.dyaneharwood.com
She blogs every Friday at Birth of a New Brain: 
www.proudlybipolarwordpress.
Birth of a New Brain Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Birth-of-a-New-Brain

You can find Dyane tweeting away on Twitter: @DyaneHarwood

Are you defined or refined by your past???


Do we see or feel the rays no matter how blurred; or we only see the narrow and dark path? How much is this a cause and effect of our past?

Hello world,

We are approaching the weekend and my ever contemplative and searching soul just thought about what my past has or is still doing to me. I then thought to share it with us all here and maybe inspire others to do their own introspection.

Ok let’s go.

1) Did my past cause me so much pain to make me despise lots of it? YES. I have admitted my role in all the mess of my past and tried to deal with them in different ways all with a bid to heal. Now, we all know the wise saying about not focussing so much on your past to let it influence your present right? Well I dare argue that wisdom so so easier said than done… There are many including myself who have numerous times over been both physical and mental victims – hostage of their pasts. Some pasts have been know to impact so badly our present circumstances so much that the future is completely blurred and unfathomable…  but then next;

2) Am I so ashamed of my past to talk about it or share it? Me, NO. When I realized how much shame of my past was killing me slowly and almost got me to drive a knife in, I decided, (even if implementing that took a few years) to deal with that shame and talk about that past through any medium available. For me, it was also a way to fight stigma. The stigma associated with being a ‘loser, a pimp, an addict, a mentally challenged or ill, etc etc’ and who knows whom will be helped by my story right? ok, and so what now;

3) What has facing my past and pain and sharing done? Oh my, the big big positives negate the tiny setbacks or few hate trolls. I even got a national award for my very first memoir. I have become much more self-empowered and aware, so full of gratitude, so conscious of Amazing Grace, so full of faith, oh so determined as a women’s rights and mental health advocate.I hardly turn down any invitation to talk about my past, share my lessons and journey and yes on my own platforms there is no hiding where I come from… I have become one of those brands you don’t mess around with and I am at peace with this ME… Who knows what or where I would have been had I not made that conscious, painful and challenging decision  to deal with and heal from my past;  and so in conclusion;

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Today, I confidently answer that my past has not defined me but it has refined me – it has helped me to embrace self-improvement, self-love, self-appreciation, self-worth and oh my self-esteem is better than ever. This has been a long journey and actually an ongoing one… But, am better equipped and am using that past and pain as solid foundations from which to springboard to greater heights in all faith, hope and charity.

And you…??? Please share cause you really never know who can be helped by your comment

Have a nice weekend everyone!!!

Simply Weird


Simply weird

They say they know

They don’t act like it

They say they understand

They don’t sound like it

They say they sympathize

Please gimie a break

……………….

Truly weird

They think it’s you

You are nuts anyway

Label and diagnosis to prove

You can’t be of value no more

You are incoherent and oft despicable

……………

And how weird

Your past means nothing

The pills mean everything

They know it all it seems

They paid all their dues for that

What’s to your name anyway

………………..

Ain’t it simply weird

What can you have to say

We all seen you go 

Bungee bungee here I fly

And now what you mean

The Looney no more?

…………………..

How weird

Dermatologist better than Psychiatrist

Body better than mind

Psychology is pharmacology?

Please take your looney off

It may cause you some shocks

………………

Thus it gets weird

And weird it stays

A merry go round

Hide it from them

Stash it in your trolley

Wrap it up in your joint

Or is the bottle?

Get over it  you can

Off goes the siren

……………….

Simply weird

Tralalalalala

Bungee bungee I go

In my mind sometimes weird

But I can’t stop cause

Life itself is

Sometimes Simply weird

STIGMA: The Script’s Synopsis P2


Hello world, pursuant to P1, here is P2:

…This is actually the setting into which Precious, Victor and Mercy are born to papa Thomas and mami Maria. Papa Thomas is a doubting Christian who has fallen out with the church because he insists on wanting to take a second wife since mami Maria has so far giving him only one child (He refuses to count the first two sick children as his). He has surnamed this third child Mercy and although she is only a girl meaning of not so much value to him, he desperately needs the ancestors or God to have mercy on her and spare her from the ‘badluck’ of her siblings.

The movie takes us through the traumatic ordeal of Precious and Victor, an ordeal which begins at home and ends up in school. They are at first taken by their parents to the traditional healer where they undergo near fatal and highly superstitious practices in a bid to rid them of the ‘curse’ source of the badluck, and when the procedure fails, they are dragged to the church with the hope that the reverend father will exorcise the demons in them.

The movie also brings out the guilt, burden and pain mothers feel and bear throughout such ordeals. In our case, mami Maria the mother of the sick children, bears it all bravely, leaving no stone unturned to get her husband to change his staunch traditional mentality and try out the ‘whiteman’s medication’ for once. It is she who when at her stall sees the NGO’s sensitization posters, pleads desperately with her husband that they go to the mission hospital and attend their presentation to learn some more. She equally plead with the catechist to come talk to her husband mindful of his disapproval of papa Thomas’s penchant for polygamy. The catechist’s visit leads to their being received by the reverend Priest. Reverend Fada as he is calls, seizes the opportunity to dismiss all what has been said at the village square and the traditional healer as false beliefs/practices; nothing more.

The lives of Precious and Victor henceforth take a dramatic turn for the better once reverend Fada refers them to the mission hospital. He knows that help can be found at a hospital because his cook’s child who suffers from what he refers to as epilepsy, gets a lot of help from the hospital in the nearby village.

Precious is almost denied a chance at the ‘whiteman medication’ when her father papa Thomas grumbles that he doesn’t have money to take two children there. He will rather take the boy and leave the girl to end up which ever way. Her dear mother steps in again by bringing out her savings. There is no way mami Maria can let her husband blatantly and viciously discriminate against her two sick children because one is a girl and to him of little value, while the boy a younger sibling deserves all the chances at getting better.

At the hospital, the children are registered for consultation by the neurologist who comes during the medical missions organized by the NGO. This NGO which has been working on the field for barely two years now, has indeed been able to secure the personal support of one of the few neurologists in the region. The Neurologist they are told brings a special machine to test the brains of the selected patients so as to know the exact type of the brain disorder they suffer from, and to be able to prescribe medication which can prevent the fainting or seizures as the attacks are called in the hospital. The God sent NGO has also brought some subsidized medication which thanks to mami Maria’s savings, the family can afford.

All is well that ends well, at last the children can now go to school. Another exciting news is that they don’t have to fear the reaction of their teachers and fellow students if they have a seizure in school because the NGO has also brought handbooks about epilepsy for the teachers. The teachers will be trained and they will in turn teach the students on what to do if a friend is having a seizure. The NGO is even sponsoring the Fon’s Football Cup tournament (among other projects), so that through the sponsorship they can sensitize the entire community on the brain disorder and advocate for a change in mentality towards persons living with epilepsy – thus fighting against stigma. Epilepsy they emphasize is not contagious and so people will stop running away and shaming them when they are having a seizure. Epilepsy they even add can be cured and prevented. All this is so new, it makes the news in the whole village.

In the end, Precious and Victor become heros in their village. Their story is reported in the local newspaper and the NGO tells them they will be taken to the city to share their story. Soon, many other parents stop hiding their sick children at home, they take them to the hospital and write down their names so that they will be selected and called back when the NGO organizes another medical mission….

Stay nearby for P 3 next week and thanks for all the support

Happy International Women’s Day: Doing me some advocacy


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Charming host Amy Banda and I

Dear 🌍 , today is the International Women’s day. In my country Cameroon, the traditional thing has been for a special fabric to be designed, bought and stitched. Thereafter, the women go for a match past and then round up the day with merry making.

I don’t do that, and actually planned to stay at home today, you know work and rest free of the brouhaha of the day’s folies.

Yet, when my dearest Amy Banda invited me to both her TV 📺 and Radio 📻 shows, I said see you there. Never tired of advocating for any cause dear to me.

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Amy lent me one of her spare fabrics to throw up my shoulder and not appear to be anti-women’s day fabric.

Amy loves her shows, here she regals the four women on the set today.

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All four dynamic ladies on the show today

Thereafter, we met again at the radio station for Amy’s program on this year’s theme in details.

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From TV, over to the Radio, in company of an upcoming Cameroon musician

All is well that ends well. I had a difficult day yesterday and barely slept 4 hours. Will go home and sleep some more and yes , read all I can.

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image one of those parties in preparation 🙂

Happy times to us all

On your marks, ready, Walk… to bring epilepsy out of the Shadows


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Wow, wow, wow – barely 3 days and my brother’s name is high over there on the banner for all to see. No he didn’t die in vain. No my pain was not in vain. And oh yes the gain is worth the lane no matter how winding.

Those banners worth thousands of messages

Sortons L'Epilepsie de L'ombre
Sortons L’Epilepsie de L’ombre

We at the Gbm-em Foundation have done all in our might and conscious of our plight, to get ready. We are going to walk with our sympathizers purple high.

On Friday already, there will be a one hour program over the CRTV radio, about this maiden and first of its kind solidarity walk for an illness still ‘near taboo’. A pity the world statistics didn’t spare out our ignorance, in fishing out our infamous record. No 1 in prevalence of epilepsy worldwide… Oh cry my beloved country Cameroon!

A big Thank You for your generous donations in cash, kind and goodwill

Isn’t that awesome? Yes we can, Yes we are doing it, Yes will keep walking and marching on in the fight to bring epilepsy out of the shadows.

Meeting the awesome Reuben, Julie and the Inclusion Centre…


Ruben and I
Ruben and I

Meeting awesome Reuben and Mum

It was with so much pleasure that I accepted Julie’s invitation to go for a long walk with her son Reuben. Julie was introduced to me by Pam, who talked (well, she writes and I read cause no voice back yet) so nicely about the Inclusion Centre she ran. I called Julie as a result, on Thursday night, and boom the invitation for Friday 9 am. I was picked up at Pam’s and we went to an amazing area of VT. I mean, the nostalgia was wild – just like in my own village of origin. Here is my selfie with Julie:

Julie and I
Julie and I

The lovely Twosome

One thing that struck me about this duosome is the ‘buddy’ pair they were. And yet, this didn’t stop Reuben from having fun at our worry. He took off like on a F1, and almost got us almost using a loudspeaker. Of course he arrived way before us and looked really happy:

The one and only Ruben
The one and only Reuben

Reuben is simply put fun to be with. He knows a lot of information and his mum Julie often asks him the direction to someplace, or some help with IT stuffs. Reuben has done this wonderful youtube clip you will all be touched watching:

Meeting the others at the Inclusion Centre

After this beautiful walk for well over 2 hours, we went to the Inclusion centre run by Julie and all the guests. It was so beautiful. I left initially to go visit Pam at 1 pm following my twice a day special visitor pass, and I came back pleased to talk to the audience following Julie’s invitation. Oh my they were so thrilled to learn about Cameroon in Africa, my story in brief and the work I have started with the Gbm Foundation for Epilepsy and Mental Welbeing. The discussions were so interactive, followed by a bubble trouble party. Ruben and co also played ball and I was simply put so touched. There are some you tube clips of the Inclusion centre and you can have an idea of the atmosphere from their website.

Dear Gentle readers and followers, I am so grateful to my sweet Pammy for inviting me to the US, and for introducing me to Julie, Reuben and the other wonderful members of the Time Trade Community who stopped over at her place to visit me in the evening. It’s been a soulful trip to Brattleboro, and yet I feel like it’s been the best leg of my US Adventures. I leave back for DC and MD tomorrow, for a more quiet visit with other family before flying back to Belgium. Thank you all so very much.

Find more about the wonderful Inclusion Centre:

inclusioncenter.webs.com

facebook page: inclusion center, Brattleboro, Vt

Thank you very much
Thank you very much

What do you know about wooden shoes and etc?


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Happy weekend people, although I use the illustration of wooden shoes as personally experienced by myself, this is no fun post…

So what did I really know about wooden shoes?

Before I tried them on, I can’t say I knew much about them. Indeed I knew they were also called clogs, and that you could find them typically in the Netherlands. I also saw several pictures of them on google images, and they were in different shapes, sizes and decorations.wooden-shoes-red-windmill

I had thus always looked forward to finding out more about them. Great was my pleasure when I met and became friends with a dear Dutch man, and aha right there in his yard were a pair of wooden shoes. I didn’t start off our friendship by asking to try out the wooden shoes, no I wanted to first understand the history behind wooden shoes. It took a while, and then yesterday I blurted out the question.

Brief History and Feel of wooden shoes

Proud to have tried on wooden shoes at last
Proud to have tried on wooden shoes at last

I got to learn that historically, wooden shoes were made by the Dutch Farmers during the winter months. They had more time away from their farms, they loved the warmth of those shoes, they were economical to make, and even if a cow stepped on your feet, only the shoes risked being ruined and not your feet. I needed to feel them. And so I was welcomed to do so. That was when I discovered for myself that they weren’t so comfortable as I thought. My friend admitted that indeed they weren’t. My demeanor changed for the next pose:

And I concluded they weren't cool at all
And I concluded they weren’t cool at all

The Real lesson for me

We are sometimes quick to think we know a lot or something about somebody’s situation, condition, illness, you name it. Taking my reasoning to mental health, I have come to realize how much the stigma is fueled by those who have never even “‘ worn the wooden shoes of mental challenges” for once. I also didn’t know anything although I joked at the ‘shaggys’ as a kid. It was when my brother whom I knew very well, suddenly got mentally ill, and I also gradually started going through my own series of mental challenges, that I realized there was no fun in laughing at a mentally ill.

And yet…  

Some people in the Netherlands still love their wooden shoes. They don’t just own them out of nostalgia like my friend, but they believe it is even therapeutic to the feet and fuss. You can’t force these people to stop wearing their wooden shoes, you can only enlighten them about the other numerous disadvantages and discomfort of those shoes. In a similar vein, and to a very large extent, you can’t force someone going through ‘mental challenges’ to get help. They have to seek for it before it becomes meaningful and sustainable.

Once we realize that it is better to first know what we are talking about, then we can speak with much more conviction. Please, keep learning about different subjects before you think you know it all. Also keep trying out different options to find out what works best for you. I have tried the wooden shoes at last, but I wouldn’t try them again unless at gun point…

Shaggy or what? The Wanderer in Me…


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I am just coming in from an errand and it dawned on me to write a post about my propensity to sometime wander around. To refresh on my choice word shaggy, you could read this post.  I recall the chapter in my brother’s memoir which I titled: My Brother the Wanderer!

Today however, I explore those same genes in myself. There is even a chapter in my next memoir titled: Finding the Strength in my Flights into the ‘Wilderness’. The wilderness here referring to both virtual and physical places.

I love bus rides and can sit for hours especially in cozy buses. I also like to discover and rediscover places and don’t mind walking for hours. Saving time is sometimes the least of my concerns when travelling. Indeed I could prefer the bus to the metro, plane or otherwise, if only I could take in the landscape more.  A few friends have outrightly found that ‘curious’. Really, I could be a ‘professional tourist’ if that were some kind of job, or yes why not some ‘guide’?

The issue here I think is that, when someone from indication, appears to be mentally challenged, such a passion may appear or even become grossly exagerated. This is especially true in the mind of the ‘normie’ whose understanding of the other is outrightly ‘limited and biased’.

What therefore is the difference may I wonder here? Is it in the clothes I wear? In the money I can pay for the fare? In the language/conversation I try to, or make during such wanderings?

I proclaim myself a “citizen of both worlds”. I don’t claim to understand either of them to the fullest, but I have first hand experience of trying to navigate and wander in both of them. Even some blogging pals have already qualified me an adventurer and a gammer and I bet you this has just been my entire life. I regret it not, and yet keep wondering enough to want to wander some more.

Dear gentle readers and followers, here is one more mental advocacy post using personal experience. I will keep doing this until I leave this earth. There is still so much stigma and abuse of the ‘mentally challenged’, that I just refuse to keep quiet.

Have a pleasant week you all…