Tag Archives: Empathy

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…

Questions to an author: Molly McHugh P2


bipolar-1-disorder-how-to-survive-and-thrive-by-molly

Hello world, Let’s continue with the second part of our interview right? You can refresh on P1 right here

3) The Writing

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

    No. I wrote it how I wanted it to be, played a bit. And though it does have a nice creative style and feel that many (not all!) have commented they enjoyed, it was a bit crap at the start. I was too full of myself, too thrilled with getting it finally done (much was written in notes 20 or so years earlier and saved in email). It needed a lot of editing (I did all editing myself) and it needed to be filled out with more detail.

    I recently even did a minor update with a few things that needed to be fixed and added in a couple of resources. Just want it to be of value to whoever takes the time to read it. And for it to help someone heal their suffering. Give ideas of things that may help.

  1. Did you have a writing mentor?

    No. A few were very kind to check out the earlier version (and honest enough to tell me it needed a ton of editing!) but that was it.

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

    I had a bunch of notes I had written years before and saved in my email. It just felt right to do it, and I was ok being public as my son was older. First version I put up on Amazon as a kindle book took maybe eight months to complete. Updated that a little and then published as a paperback book via Createspace maybe six months or so later.

4) The Message

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

    I shared as much as I could. My blog is full of more info on a ton of topics that didn’t fit into the book. And my way of learning and connecting with others, helping to affect change. Speaking out abou the overdiagnosing and overdrugging, etc. I learned not too long ago about the death of children who are erroneoulsy being given BP diagnosis. So sad. They have health issues, but no, they should not be on psychotropic medications. The doctors fueling this new targeting of children – some have been sued after the child become completely disabled or worse, dies – should be in jail is my line of thought.

  1. Any other writing projects, blogging, business etc?

My bipolar blog I mentioned above – a much different voice than most of what is out there.

My freelance writing business – info here:  I’d love to help someone write their memoir! Special discount for mental health focus 🙂

  1. Where can your memoir be found?

On Amazon here as a paperback and kindle book.

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

Any questions for Molly or ideas for my questions to an author series please leave them in the comments! Thank you for reading; Mind your Mind and take good care of your mental health.

Questions to an Author: Molly McHugh


bipolar-1-disorder-how-to-survive-and-thrive-by-mollyHello 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 Molly’s memorable memoir on my blog, and it is my honour to interview her too. 

1) The Profile

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

    Sure. Born in U.S., youngest of five kids, mom a nurse, dad (after 4 years in WWII) owned own insurance biz. Very athletic (probably saved me from having worse mental-physical health issues), soccer in college, diagnosed Manic Depression freshman year after a psychotic break and hospitaliztion. Normal middle class kid. Loved animals, loved nature, loved being active. Did well in school. Always in one sport or another. Had close friends, the first boyfriend, first kiss, pajama parties, dance parties, prom night… plus some other things I will refrain from mentioning. Lol.

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

I had a FB group for e-book authors, and I asked for feedback on my book title. One of the earlier ones was “A Brain Gone Awry”… everyone hated it. I of course, thought it was brilliant. Ha! More ideas for a title not that great according to my helpful ‘more experienced writer’ critics either.

Then someone told me I had to be more clear, and that folks want to ‘solve a problem’. So I realized my gift to share was to focus on BP-1 (the classic Manic Depression) and to talk about the alternative care that I did over the years that helped me. And helped me not be on psych meds – which is huge. Most folks want that. Hence the title about BP-1 and how to thrive.

2) The Soul Journey

  1. Going from the assumption therefore that you are surviving and thriving, what is your take about mental health?

I am doing well. I’ve suffered – and still do – like anyone who has to deal with these issues but have had many wonderful things in my life as well, so am thankful.

My main issue is that the ‘Chemical Imbalance’ theory used to put folks on drugs has to end. Sure, these meds can help someone suffering with an epsiode of illness (bipolar is episodic in general – with normal periods of functioning) stabilize, get back in control, but are very harmful with long-term use. And no – there is no such thing as an identifiable imbalance they correct. They affect brain chemicals (like anything you ingest into your body) but are neurotoxins with many distressing side effects and create new ‘illness’ issues i.e. side effects.

Mental health is a huge term. It would take a long time to write my thoughts. But the main issue for me is to identify underlying causes of the symptoms someone is experiencing, if possible. And then search for ways to treat. I still deal with quite a bit of fatigue… but not severe, debilitating depression like I had in my younger years. God that was awful. And the improvement is from learning about and treating some of my unique health issues (thyroid, allergies, detox from toxic exposures, etc). Others can do this too.

  1. Did your diagnosis help or hurt your mental wellbeing in the long term?

What an excellent question. I’m not really sure how to answer this… as I had no ‘choice’ in being diagnosed. I didn’t read a book and think ‘oh, this is me’ or spend a bunch of time in therapy then get told I was bipolar. I had the classic onset with a manic episode in late teens and was hospitalized. And no, I was not doing cocaine or any recreational drug that caused it.

A diagnosis is just a label describing symptoms, is one way to look at it. I kept it pretty under-the-table from my outer life as much as I could when younger. But I had to have treatment – had severe depressive episodes and mania. So in that respect, it was needed I guess. Though I fought for other ways to be well and learned much, and healed much on my own with regular docs – what I share in my book.

I can say if I had bought into the ‘I have a chemical imbalance and have to take psych meds’ for life nonsense I would be dead by now. No question in my mind. And also I would not have had some of the amazing experiences I’ve been fortunte to have: college degree, healthy baby, well paid professional work, rasing my son as a single Mom, travel the world, etc. All of this while not on any psych med(s).

  1. Can you tell if there was a difference in the way you were treated and the way you perceived stigma before and after you got a diagnosis?

    I definitely have experienced stigma (personal relationships, being treated differently, fewer job opportunities) – was forced out of a four-year university program due to knowledge of my medical history. Stigma is real, and I am not sure how it can be changed.

    I had a fair amount of emotional cruelty too – the “tough love” approach is how some describe it. To deny what it really is. When I was severely ill, living on the street, wealthy family with multiple apartments unoccupied didn’t intervene. I spent Christmas in a homeless shelter miles from everyone else secure and safe in their home. Of course it was my fault I had become ill, my fault I was forced out of college then crippled with student loan payments, my fault I’d somehow not fit into the cultural norm everyone felt comfortable with, my fault I was raped, my fault I was mugged, my fault I somehow didn’t miraculously emerge a rock solid twenty-something making tons of cash.

    At it’s essence, stigma is really a form of emotional cruelty. And there’s plenty of cruel people in this world.

  1. If you wouldn’t mind, can you tell us about motherhood with a fragile mental health like yours?

Fragile is a bit offensive of a word… though I know you do not mean it that way. We all have strengths and weaknesses. Surviving what I’ve survived I look at as an inner strength, something in my makeup that no one will ever take away. It is a part of me and will be when I leave this earth. I’m vulnerable in ways some others are not, but not fragile. And never have been.

I loved being a mom and was like many other single moms. I was on no psych meds, never hospitalized, worked for many years, eventually went on disability but still worked to provide a better life and opportunities for my son. We lived and traveled abroad, he is bilingual, has had a ton of amazing experiences.

The only thing that is very different about me – that really would not be noticeable to others – is I have to keep stress down. Limit social time. Had to focus on my son, staying well. Most don’t have as much of those concerns. But most haven’t Manic Depression with a history of psychiatric hospitalization either.

It was always on the back of my mind that I had to stay focused and be careful not to trigger any severe episode. For the most part I was successful. No parent is perfect. My son was raised with more love and caring attention that many children are.

P2  – the conclusion of this lovely interview comes up tomorrow so stay subscribed lol & Thank you

How do you care?


how do you care

How do you care for yourself?

Do you care to spend some time with you?

Do you care to find out what’s up with you?

Do you care to try to care more for you?

And you, how do you care for me?

Do you care to listen to me?

Do you care to talk with me?

Do you care to show some empathy?

Do you care even for a little sympathy?

And you, yes you, how do you care?

About that child so sick in his mind

Their actions all flag read

They try to reach out to cry out

Even adults are not spared

Cause we all aren’t the same, some minds are healthier than other

So how would you care?

When a patient walks into your door?

When an e-mail comes into your inbox?

When you phone rings at odd hours?

When maybe the brave track you down the street?

Would you call the cops?

Or maybe the ambulance?

Prescribe more pills and send them off?

It’s good to know how you’d care

It makes all the difference how you care

The care you show the care you get elsewhere

I have tried and it works

And let’s be real: it could be anyone

Feeling the knack anyday

And so please all: think about how you care

How you care about you and others

Interview with Pamela Spiro-Wagner Author and Mental Health Advocate P2


Hello World, without much ado we continue with P2 of our interview started yesterday. It is Mental Health Awareness and my goal is to advocate with fresh content every day of the week my own mental health permitting 🙂

2017 MHM Horizontal Banner Image

  1. If you wouldn’t mind, can you tell us about your relationship with your twin sister today a few years after the book has been published?

Twelve years after DIVDED MINDS first came out, I have no relationship with my sister except in memory. I love her as my sister but I do not like her.

  1. How have you been coping with your mental illness and yet still been able to function at times enough to write and publish?

I do not believe in the concept of “mental illness” any longer, only in mental suffering. And I do not believe it is anything but calling people names when you label them bipolar or schizophrenic or anything else. I cope when I do, well, and when I dont cope I dont. But like anyone else I have my up times and I do what I do as well as I can. The medications are the real problem, disabling me and most people far more than we can possibly know. All the supposed symptoms of schizophrenia I believe can also be induced and are mostly induced by the antipsychotic medications. So how do you even begin to separate out which is which???

3) The Writing

  1. Did any books/memoirs influence your writing (style, presentation, content)? Not that I recall… No one particular book influences me but I must have read thousands of books. I tell anyone who wants to write to read, read, read, everything you can get your hands on, that way you will not be overly influenced or copy someone else when it comes time to write your own book.

  2. Did you have a writing mentor? No I never did.

  1. Which was the most difficult chapter to write in your memoir and why? The last one was difficult to write because I did not know where I would end it and how…and how to assess the present with an eye for the future is hard. Also to wind up a book I had spend almost a decade writing felt devastating. How to sum up all that in one half a chapter was not easy.

  1. How did you deal with that?

  2. Which was your favourite poem and why? I still like the first one and the last one in the book WE MAD CLIMB SHAKY LADDERS… But I have no real favorites, My latest poem is usually my current favourite.

  3. Did you learn anything from writing your memoir and what was it?

    My notes please: Pammy didn’t have an answer for this question

  1. How long did it take you to write and get the memoir published? I wrote a memoir by myself that took ten years, then when my twin and I rewrote it to make DIVDED MINDS it took 3 years. Publication from start to finish took 2 years.

4) The Message

  1. Do you have any advice for other memoir writers?

Read memoir, first of all. if you do not like to read memoirs, it may be that you wont want to write memoir. But you probably can not write a decent memoir if you do not read it either.

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

I really mean it when I say I no longer believe in diagnoses for mental illnesses, whether it is schizophrenia or bipolar illness or any personality disorder etc. I do not even care if someday they manage to find an anatomic or genetic “cause” or abnormality that “proves” that there is such a thing. You know, there are all sorts of genetic variants that happen in people but we choose we how we see it; nothing makes normal or abnormal until we define it that way. We have made up a category of behaviors and description of an experience called schizophrenia and defined it as a bad thing for so long we have forgotten that it was and is not always thought of as bad everywhere, nor must it end badly, except when we treat it badly and with medications! If we treat schizophrenia with medications we know almost for certain it will become chronic by definition. Look at the research. No one knows what schizophrenia is nor who really needs or would even slightly benefit from medication. Most antipsychotic medication does nothing good in the end but make people sicker…I mean this. All for very dubious benefit and no chance of cure. Medications harm people directly and deeply even with just the side effects, which are legion, ranging from terrible disfiguring movement disorders to loss of sexual function and desire, loss of all pleasure in life, to loss of teeth due to dry mouth and so. Would you want to take a chance on any of these because doctors have nothing better to offer you? Or would you too want to eschew medical care and try something that at least truly does no harm?

  1. Any other writing projects, blogging etc?

My first poetry book WE MAD CLIMB SHAKY LADDERS, can still be bought from Cavankerrypress.org and my newest poetry book which includes my art LEARNING TO SEE IN THREE DIMENSIONS will be published in late May 2017. I try to keep my blog going at http://pamelaspirowagner.com

  1. Where can your memoir be found? DIVIDED MINDS can still be bought from Amazon.com but also used copies can be found and you can order it from any bookstore.

Thank you very much Pammy for answering our questions. We hope to stay informed of any updates with your projects. Kindly drop any questions you have for Pammy in the comments section and please do not hesitate to respectfully share any opinions on this interview too…

 And before I go to her bio, please do not hesitate to visit Pammy’s Blog for more on her writings and mental health advocacy

Pam’s Awesome Profile

An artist, writer and poet who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia for decades, Pamela Spiro Wagner attended Brown University from 1970-1975. She later went to medical school for one and a half years, before being hospitalized for the third time for psychiatric care. In 2010, she was also diagnosed with PTSD due to trauma resulting from deeply inappropriate and punitive use of seclusion and restraints in psychiatric hospitals.

  Wagner won First Place in the 2001/2 international BBC World Service Radio Poetry Competition, judged by Nobelist Wole Soyinke. In 2005, she co-authored, with her twin sister, a psychiatrist, DIVIDED MINDS: Twin Sisters and their Journey through Schizophrenia, which won the national NAMI Outstanding Literature Award and was a finalist for the Connecticut Book Award. Four years later,  Ms Wagner’s book of poems, WE MAD CLIMB SHAKY LADDERS was published. Several poems won  honorable mentions at New Millennium Writings and two were short-listed for the Bridport Prize in the UK. Her writing has appeared in the The New York TimesSunday Magazine, the Hartford Courant, and Tikkunamong other places.

 Doing art under the name, Pamwagg, Ms Wagner was part of a group show in Hartford, Connecticut in 2011, and had two solo shows, one at the Otis Library in Norwich, Connecticut in 2012 and then at the Wethersfield Library in Connecticut. Two paintings and two poems appeared in the Collective DreamArtsMagazine in 2014. In June 2017, her art will be on display at the Hooker-Dunham Gallery in  Brattleboro, Vermont.

Despite experiencing much adversity in her 64 years, including the decades-long diagnosis of schizophrenia, Wagner has also been lucky enough to have had four life-changing miracles along the way. The passion to write poetry, starting in 1984, and then, quite suddenly, to take up art in 2008 at the age of 55, were just two of those miracles.  She currently resides along with her cat, Beanie Baby, in Brattleboro, Vermont, in northern New England, where she disavows all labels, including those of any mental illness.

 Wagner’s books include: DIVIDED MINDS: Twin Sisters and their Journey through Schizophrenia (St Martin’s Press, 2005)

WE MAD CLIMB SHAKY LADDERS, poems (Cavankerry Press, 2009)

LEARNING TO SEE IN THREE DIMENSIONS, poems and art (Green Writers Press/SunDog Poetry 2017)

At the end of this month, I will round up with a summary post of advocacy and my take on the different interviews and opinions and all – please do not hesitate to contact me if you want to be featured on my blog during this month (Mental health related only)

This interview is the longest post I am doing on this blog I promise… don’t unsubscribe please

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Emotional and Mental Preparation goes a long way I advocate


I am just back from a trip and I did share some update on Friday and Saturday.

For the main part of the trip and a personal mission, I had prepared myself emotionally and mentally intensely for a week. I knew organizing a medical mission targeting 500 – 1000 beneficiaries was no joke. Yet, all and I mean much did not depend on me. So I was ready to sleep late and deal – heal from overwhelming scenarios as much as I could. Glad to say I lost my cool only once on the DDay.

Today Sunday, was another day however and I had not prepared emotionally and mentally for the day’s events. I wasn’t even aware of  the program up to the last hours. You can imagine how that shook my mind already so frail. I couldn’t make it and yet I was stuck there and had to wait. I was so tired and slept a little but my thoughts of getting back home and my disrupted routine kept bugging me.

I finally got home 5 mins ago and it is 10.30 pm here. My normal sleep time is 9 pm. Yesterday I missed that but I was prepared, today I am not. I have to deal with it. I hope writing my worries down like this with help me. Maybe I will also go drink some hot chocolate, I believe it helps soothe me. 

I know some will say in life you have to be flexible and adapt and face stuffs like a ‘normal’ person. I am not a ‘normal’ person; diagnosis is not what will make me believe I am/or confirm that I am not … Whatever normal person is. I feel more and more mentally taxed by what will otherwise be ‘normal’ to others. Not being able to be ahead of my program or to even know what is planned and well ahead of time, drives me to an edge. Not sleeping on time, not eating what am used to, too much noise and different reactions from people are taxing now more than ever. Sometimes, even an hour’s preparation can do, but I need to be ready in my mind.

I wasn’t like this before. Maybe youthfulness and the ‘people pleaser’ in me made me  very flexible and outgoing etc. I have been through stuffs since then which have plainly caused such trauma; going on nowadays,  my mind gets scared of future foreseeable ‘trauma’ which may be caused by I don’t what… Sometimes I am scared I am becoming emotionally and mentally frail to a not so good edge. Maybe that’s why I try so much self care you know… I don’t want to rely on meds. Hence I need to prepare myself emotionally and mentally well in advance for any program which will change my routine. For example I attend the African Epilepsy Congress in Dakar in 2 weeks and I have been preparing emotionally, mentally and of course logistically since January.

Empathy not suspicion and disgust of people going through such challenging times is needed. Sometimes, it seems the ‘normal’ people don’t understand or are quick to say they do while advising you to just pray, get over it etc. Maybe that’s why people going through such challenges like these isolate themselves and will rather smile and say all is fine, rather than begin to explain what may only be rediculed? Others try to cope doing whatever numbs their feelings of makes then ‘feel happy’ and ‘on top of it all’/

I am what may be considered highly functional, but I love being prepared and also following my routine. Now Sleep evades me and yet my internal alarm clock will do it’s 4 am jingle and I wish to do sports and help the guys off to school. I know it may not work out that way because of the disruption so far. I hate to struggle and have to try calming down by writing all this. But I also share so someone be inspired and motivated. We are in this together.

Here is to my trying to sleep and to good logic of taking people as they come… That is equally fighting mental health stigma when we share our struggles and seek for ways to take care of our mental health

A Tale of Doctors and wellbeing


Team doctors

I have heard and read it several times, people saying well my doctor never told me this or that, or he said this or that, and em that was or wasn’t covered by insurance. They were mean, no sympathy or empahty, oh so kind and compassionate…

I recall when my late and only brother (he died in 2014 at age 33 after 18 years with epilepsy and bipolar disorder) used to go the doctors all the time. We were close, and I took him to his appointments back home and sat in those consultation rooms, as well in the labs and all. Back home in Cameroon, all seemed to be going well and although he was on a few meds I think 2, he was also on a lot of food supplements, natural remedies, and mum made sure he ate vegetables and fruits like it or not. I discovered carrot juice via him and I still love it to this day, A lot changed when he won the diversity lottery and relocated to the US. Before we get there, let me tell you what I witnessed with most of the doctors we went to back home. They treated him with empathy, they took time to explain updates to us, the prescriptions and side effects, and even recommended alternatives to counter the side effects of those meds. He so loved some of those doctors and could sing their praises un end.

Come in Doctor N° 1 in my tale

doctor1
The serene and reassuring doctor

My brother got worse somehow, we were helpless from this far and we prayed he atleast got some nice doctors. So, when he told us of his primary physician called Dr Daniel Gross, we were so happy. 

My brother looked forward to their appointments. My mother talked with that doctor. Dr DG encouraged him on, he went to therapy both group and solo. He still did some ‘shaggy’ stuffs, but those were better than the total isolation in which he lived his last couple of months. I later found out well he was taken off Dr DG ‘s roster or maybe Dr DG moved on…, and therapy was stopped (probably not covered by insurance…), and so he got assigned another doctor. By then he had started putting on so much weight and was on 6 or so meds.

Here comes almighty Doctor 2

obese1
No Comment

And so it came to pass, that after my family had voiced their concern about the drastic side effects of my brother’s cocktail in May 2014, that mum had complained through his nurses and his case manager in June (while on a two week visit with him), my brother went for another ‘doctor’s appointment in July.

Here is a recap of what Dr whoever said:

He told Gabriel (my brother) that he was aware of his mother’s concern about his weight and that he weighed more than Gabriel;

This doctor put and kept him him on the following meds + more ; and knew what was going on – in his own words to mum :

  • That he was aware of the side effect of Risperdal, which he prescribed, those included drowsiness, dizziness, drooling, nausea, increased appetite and weight gain;

  • That he also prescribed Zyprexa and was aware that the side effects include: Constipation, dry mouth, increase appetite, weight gain and stomach upset;

  • That he was aware that Zyprexa is taken in use with Benadryl it could lead to a stroke or heart failure;

I leave it at that for your interpretation, and I make a case for this other doctor I just found

Doctor N° 3

In my constant searching for information, not wanting to just let myself go and rely so blindly on what the doctor will tell me or prescribe, I discovered an ideal doctor online. This doctor is sharing information on how to make healthy choices for a healthier and happier life, and he seems like one of those not quick to prescribe medication. I recall a recent episode where I developed the dreaded mumps, and Doctor J advised me on natural remedies and yes sleep. Wow, he tries to sound wake up calls, demystifying disease and passionately interacting with all on his platform. I don’t know about his offline practice, but where I in the position to chose my doctor, I’ll chose Doctor J any time.

Afterword

We all have a choice – at least the majority of us do. We could lose that choice for a reason or the other, that I dispute not. Yet my case is that it is awesome to realise sooner than later that we not only have a choice but we owe it to ourselves and our community to make healthy choices. We may not be able to avoid going to a doctor altogether, but we can change doctors or try to stay healthy and manage our ill health in alternative positive ways whether recommended by a doctor or not. I have read quiet some books (memoirs especially) by people with a mental illness or other illnesses like dreaded cancer and co. None relied solely on medications – a couple even got well without medications or worked to get their dosages reduced to a barest minimum while improving on the food they eat and their overall lifestyle. When it used to be said your doctor is  or should be your friend… I don’t know if that’s still true…

 

Why???


Marie Abanga
Needs perpectives and retrospectives

Why do you do the things you do?

Hello e-world and hope we all start off another week with gusto.

Today, I want to use 3 instances to reflect on why I do somethings I do. I am writing this post because some incidents in life have left me so full of contemplation or reflections on the why I do them in the first place. I am chosing 3 of them I think and hope we can relate with or just get us to think about our own instance.

  1. Cleaning up especially at others homes

I love cleaning up. You can read this post I wrote about that. When I visit someone, if I feel comfortable being there, I’ll very often end up in the kitchen offering to help. My task of choice is doing the dishes. And no not staking in a dishwasher which I near got so offended having to use in Belgium, I mean using my hands and dipping stuffs in water and greasing them clean. My next offer, is cleaning bathrooms. One weekend, I was at a friend’s and I felt the urge to clean the bathroom. That’s not my first time doing so, and well maybe sadly, each time I do it not even a thank you is said. That day a ‘selfish’ thought crossed my mind: ‘Why do it when no one cares anyway?’ … But then I calmed myself down, do it for the love of you and for the fact that you’ll be using the bathroom or clean dishes yourself anyway… In my home, there’s an artwork on which it is written: IN OUR HOME CLEANLINESS IS NEXT TO GODLINESS . I am happy living that mantra wherever I feel comfortable, appreciation or not!

        2.  Writing

I love reading and writing, have loved these from childhood. When 4 years ago I realized I could be an Indie Author, I skipped for it. For me, it was all about carrying a passion to another bigger platform. That has brought me so much joy, I keep writing both for publishing, on my blog and in my journals at home. Income for my writings is sincerely not measured by royalties but by the therapeutic wind blowing through my brain as I type. Secondly, when I get any feedback from someone who has been touched in anyway by what I write or have written, I am so fulfilled. I still don’t know how to read or understand wordpress statistics neither am I interested. I don’t compare my blog progress by likes, comments and views or clicks etc – really I’ll be deceiving myself if I wanted to take on monitoring those.  My love of writting even extends to doing book reviews regardless of if I get any on my own books. I mean I wish I could afford to be a professional book reviewer. Of the 25 reviews I have left on the amazon, 17 have been found to be useful. What Grace oh my! The same with reading, I read for the love of me, it’s a mental stimulation technique and ain’t that the best way of knowledge acquisition? That is why I follow so many blogs and read many of them, leaving comments on posts I am moved by. It musn’t and is the least reciprocal but I am ok with that. I don’t think I follow all who follow me anyway !

        3. Being & Stayinh positive

I recall insisting to my mum that all what I’ve been through in life I see as experiences and not hurts, mistakes and … I had quickly come to realize that to keep striving in life, I was better off being positive than not. Gladly, one way I discovered to be and stay positive is to deal with my emotions and process whatever I have been through sooner than later. I do those by writing and reading most especially. There are sure some situations which will take much longer to deal with and process, but the secret I have discovered is staying positive that that too shall come to pass. Being positive for me also means reaching out as soon as I can. I follow my instinct and reach out – more times than not, the support has been trememendous. A few weeks ago, I reached out by email to 5 or so blogging friends and they were each in their own capacity so supportive. Being positive for me is abovr all a guarantee of mental and emotional wellbeing. Even my physical wellbeing is assured if I know I am trying my best and some days workout and watching what I eat,  may be not as good as others. I have never measured the raison d’etre of my optimism by ‘material achievements’ or whatever is considered as ‘success’. I decided in January to keep a Gratitude Journal and each evening I write down at least 5 things am grateful for. That way, I lay me down to sleep with positive thoughts and actually keep track during the day only of such incidents. This morning for example, not panicking when I thought I was late fills me with gratitude and am positive I can thrive in that domain too.

And these dear e-world are some special instance which help me to realize the big WHY I do the things I do. I think getting to that point is a good thing and so maybe my post will help some of you start your own reflections too; or well just know you ain’t alone in your struggles to understanding why???

Five Life Lessons from my Hero Erico: “The So called Fool” in Wum


All the above pictures were taken on the same day, in the space of 6/8 hours. Is anyone else excited at the transformation like myself? I forgot something insignificant in wum, but I am threatening to do 20 hours on the road to go get it… wish I could afford that now, just so I see my hero again and give him the pictures he asked me to develop, and thank him from the bottom of my heart from making my short stay so fulfilling. Also would have loved to get him a pair of snickers or take him one of mine.

Dear world, to wrap up this week, I share 5 lessons I learnt from my interraction with Erico:

  1. There is so much to people than meet the eye… how many times do we need to read or hear this I wonder. Anyway, people are different and some take prejudice seriously and go with the general consensus that ‘a fool will always be a fool’. I am so happy I courted Erico and that he warmed up to me so much and agreed to go bathe and come back so we could go around. He talked about so many things and such wisdom from his mouth oh my God;
  2. Erico for example told me that now when people laugh at him he says to himself ‘they are laughing at their own stupidity’. Those were his words, I didn’t want to ask him if he goes or went to school. I don’t think he does but the bottom  line also is you don’t need to go to school to acquire wisdom. Erico told me when he just got to the village he was always angry and fighting especially when he felt or saw children and adults alike mocking him. The fights landed him into so much trouble because he was often beaten by the numbers or stones thrown at him and he had to run and hide home and not want to go out again. Gradually, his mentality changed and he keeps to himself but doesn’t fight back if laughed at;
  3. The ‘fool’ may know something or somewhere you don’t and that could be your saving grace. I could have asked around for the direction to say the lake or the shoe mender, and I could have been ‘scamed’ or taken to a bush and assaulted… these are extreme examples but am sure you can imagine. Now it costs me next to nothing to court Erico and there I was with a warm friend, a guardian and so much information;
  4. Accept your limitations in life and spare yourself head and heartaches. Erico told me that he knew what was expected of him by his grandmum everyday, and he knew that those were his responsibilities because he could not do much more. He couldn’t go to ‘big school’ (I marvelled at his expression), nor work any money. So grandma expected him to wash the dishes, clean the house and compound and go fetch water. He loved doing those and in return he was very grateful for the food he ate everyday;
  5. Don’t take things for granted, it could have been worse. I mean when you see the man who doesn’t have his four limbs, or you see some picture like that of the famine ravished child who was been ‘eyed for a meal’ by a nearby vulture, how can you take anything for granted? Now, some will laugh at Erico and call him a ‘fool’ (probably thinking to themselves they are lucky neither them nor theirs are ‘fools’). Erico told me he was happy to be living with his grandma and able to eat everyday – even he didn’t take things for granted. He was maybe luckier than Tangatapan who lived in the market or motor park or wherever night met him, and carried his luggage on him. And then we want to whine at the weather?

Dear all, I learnt so much and was so touched by my friend and Hero Erico. Such incidents keep me grounded, more humble, modest and simply so grateful for life.

Please, you wanna share any insight?

Wishing us all a splendid weekend and lots of such in life.

Erico the ‘So called Fool’ My Hero P2


With my star at the lake.JPG
Erico and I by the infamous Lake Nyos – Wum

Hello world, I met Erico during my last trip to Wum in the North West Region of Cameroon, and made him my Hero for my short stay there. That sub division made international headlines in August 1986 when the lake Nyos erupted killing over 1700 people and so much livestock… I wanted to go see that lake and gladly Erico knew just how we could get there. He negotiated for motor bikes to take us there and back. So this is the ‘so called Fool’ right?

Erico showed me round the market and took me to his grandmum’s stall. He had already been there when he showered and wore his Jersey, and had told all who cared to ask that he had a new friend called Marie from Douala – who had bought his nice jersey earlier on. His grandmum gave me some groundnuts in appreciation, and I was so touched. All the neighbours smiled at us that day and Erico was visibly proud of himself. I wish he keeps his glow mindful of the challenges he has to overcome daily.

erico-my-star
Erico visibly so happy during the wake keeping ceremony

Erico did keep his glow for all my stay there. During the wake keeping ceremony, he actually danced when I asked me to show me his styles. You see the guy behind Erico, that is Tangatapan another mentally challenged. He had been dancing to any music played since I got there but he preferred to keep to himself and barely answered my greetings. Erico had earlier made fun of his dancing and so had to show me how much better he could dance. Another thing is that Tangatapan refused to share a meal with Erico and Ndolo, insisting on wanting his own pan. Maybe that’s why there’s a pan to his name? Anyway, Erico did eat with Ndolo just like he had eaten with me that afternoon, and as I said he sounded so wiser than his age nor circumstances.