The Church and Mental health challenges…could we be more…

Voice of the Voiceless
How can I be silent?

I leave dots after more because I leave it to each one to fill in what they want. I was shaken and yet poked up when I read of the pastor’s suicide. I was also in serious reflections about mental wellness whether you were a christian or not – coincidence or not? World suicide day had just come and gone, and I remember holding a knife to my heart 10 years ago while 5 months pregnant. I wrote several related posts on Facebook about this yesterday and I just saw another article which took me back to thinking about doing this post.

Here is the link to the article I read:

Now, I don’t know about out there, but in my country mental health challenges are ‘not welcome in church’ period. Better call them demon possessed attacks or wicked people thrown sorts on you – bottom line is you have to be delivered in church, you have lots of penance to do and …

With me being so vocal about my mental health challenges and my PTSD diagnosis from 2014, I quickly learned when I joined church that it’s not so welcome to be vocal – about that and about pretty much – like Rape. I am contemplating if I can swim in such a sea or if I have to leave for real.

So, will this suicide by a pastor cause the ‘church’ to become more…open, real, compassionate, and you can go on; or will they quickly dissociate from the victim pastor, finding reasons to show he was perhaps a ‘fake’ pastor after all?

We’ll see how it goes…in the meantime let’s remember #mentalhealthmatters

Posted in Book Reviews, Poetry

My Son’s book review of A Searching Soul by Marie Abanga (Me)

Alain's review SS

Kindle Cover

This is the first review of my poetry book which is on the amazon at the very afordable price of 0.89$ for kindle and 5 $ for paperback.

Thank you so much my e family and big shout out to all the authors in the house especially Pamela Spiro Wagner whose poetry reading I just so love, and  Dyane Leshin-Harwood whose epic memoir will be released very soon.

Posted in Coaching and Training, Marie's Garden

See who’s back: What a blogging break…

blogging break you said
That was what I thought I needed

What a blogging break I brokered: Am glad to be back!!!

If I have learnt one thing during this blogging break, it is that I really love blogging and the break was not effective.

Primo, I wrote three updates when I had bragged of a month free of blogging. Ha, who was I deceiving? ME it turns out;

Secondly, I didn’t even open the book I was hoping to finish writing during this break. Ha again, who was I deceiving? ME once more;

Thirdly, did I read as much as planned? I bow my head to look at my feet and whisper loudly NO – blogs I follow and 3 or so books and social media fake news etc don’t fill my reading reservoir sorry Marie try harder;

So dear world, I admit I may have brokered a bad blogging break. Indeed, I had hoped to take away to ‘blogging birb’ of thrice weekly and turn that period to reading and writing ‘beck’. I didn’t get any close to achieving that and I realize that although the break from regular blogging did usher in some small mental release, I didn’t really need it. To be honest, I kept counting the days the ‘officially announced’ blogging break will be over and I kept writing down stuffs I would have been excited to blog about.

My evaluating this blogging break is the same way I have for some years now been able to candidly evaluate myself and stuffs in my life. It is the same way I encourage my clients and those I mentor and coach to evaluate their too.

Not wanting to write a long post today on my ‘official first day of new blogging term’, I will conclude with a few updates:

Event flyer

  1. I did continue building my business (s) and am gradually seeing a big picture. I am taking a diploma on CBT to focus on being a personal and mental wellbeing coach of substance ( hardly any in my whole country);

  2. I am working on officially setting up my law firm; another big leap of faith, sometimes collaboration is not for you;

    recently on vaccation in the village
  3. Today my last son Gaby turns 8 and yes he will forever remind me of miracles. His conception was one and he kicked me from the womb when my desperation was its peak and I was holding a knife to my heart. I can never forget that. Coincidentally, I am coaching today on Developing a positive attitude and I am full of positivity and gratitude for life especially on this day. Eight bonus years of living with so much gratitude and I am authentically ME inside out… To God be the Glory Great Things He has Done…

  4. It was therefore a bitter sweet break overall, and there were some moments of ocean breeze and village life – but also some stress inducing and charged moments… life happens

  5. My one resolution with regards to blogging is that no more pressure on myself to maintain any blogging routine, my mental wellbeing is primordial and this is also living my mental health advocacy

Happy Sunday to us all and thank you my e-family

thank you
am so full of Gratitude

And so was Gaby a few minutes ago

Posted in Epilepsy Advocacy, Epilepsy Solidarity Walk in Cameroon, Mental Health Advocacy

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

Posted in My Heroines

Cheering My dear Dyane all the way with love

Dear Dyane Leshin-Harwood, sadly I don’t know how to properly link from a phone, but I tried my best…

It all started 9 years ago with your courageous decision to not bottle it up and pretend it never happened, your painful and challenging crawls and strides to get a book deal and submit a draft…

Today, as you finally get to submit that draft, which is a big big step to the fulfilment of your dream and desire to see your exceptional story and advocacy message out there in the literary and psycho-scientic world, know that am rooting for you. I am so proud of you because as an author I know some of the frustrating and yet rewarding pumps of it all…

I am sure dearest, that several members of our e-family as well as your actual family, are equally so supportive and super proud of you…

As I board my plane later today, I want you to know that am so happy to have met you on the blogosphere, and to have spoken with you for real when I visited the US…

I wish I could light a real candle for you today…but I managed to find something close online…

Whoop whoop whoop my heroine: whoop whoop whoop all the way: 

with love always, your dear Marie

This is the doormat to the elevator at the hotel which I seriously noted only yesterday… Wow right?

Posted in Journey to Coaching, Marie's Garden

Relax Girl: Dedicated to all who struggle especially single mother

H.E Portia Simpson Miller PM of Jamaica and I
H.E Portia Simpson Miller PM of Jamaica and I: She told me that when I was so nervous and fidgity around her – mind not that smile

In November 2013, I was working for an organization for Women In Parliament and had a great boss – but the rest of team made it clear I was Despicable… I worked my whole self out there in my tasks as the ‘Regional Manager for Africa’, and got this autograph and more from my boss to boost me some… One of the most awesome things which happened to me there was the opportunity to meet some of my heroines in person and get to chat for even 5 minutes with them. On one single day, I met these 3 power women and that day was oh my…

Dlamini Zuma of the AU, Portia S. Miller of Jamaica, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia
Dlamini Zuma of the AU, Portia S. Miller of Jamaica, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia

This morning, I am feeling both low and overwhelmed. It’s kind of weird I don’t feel like replying to calls or text messages, but I am happy to blog. I acknowledge the therapeutic effects of blogging to my mind and it is indeed a corner stone of my Me Moments

I dedicate this short poem to all of us struggling from whatever that maybe, but especially to the single parents with fragile mental healths

Relax Girl

When it all seems like it’s crushing anytime soon

When you can’t put your hands on what’s going on

When you seem not to be cleaning hard enough

When the meals will apparently not be ready on time

When the kids are so uncorperative or so it seems

When you just want to smack and send them off

When you are freaked out you might miss the trip

When you just keep buying and buying while no earnings come in

When you seemingly don’t know or trust someone to talk to

When you think at your age you are sure a failure

When you really think you might be better off dead

When the negative thoughts and actions seem to outweigh the positives

Please remember to first of all:

Relax Girl

P.S: I feel much better now, I am going to fix myself breakfast and come start with my day’s task – hopefully before the boys are back a meal will be ready or there probably is some leftover in the fridge. Thanks to my readers and followers and I sincerely wish us all well

Posted in Marie's Garden, My Memoirs

Aw: My Fourth and second toughest to write, now available on Kindle…

Walking the Talk, unravelling the me within in the process
Walking the Talk, unravelling the me within in the process

Boom Boom Boom, my team and I did it again. Published kindle a week to set date … Paper back will be right on time. Big big hurray to us… How grateful am I to all and sundry who contributed in whatever way. I mean I acknowledge you all in there, but I must mention Amy Gamble who so selflessly and speedily wrote the memoir, and my fair Lady Dyane for her soulful blurb.

Talking about my lady Dy, her recent post on Wrting Heals Her Brain, frankly  joins a few other reasons  to  illustrate the euphoria with write I type away. Imagine’ chemotheraphy’ for Trauma, Pain, Shame, Guilt, Fear, you name them. Now I got the talent, I got the courage, I got the zeal, I got the boost, and I even got a small  but precious audience… hmm I can’t describe it all can I?

This is the fourth memoir in two years. The second toughest to write after the first one:

My Mea Culpa
My Mea Culpa

I am not spilling more out of the bag; don’t worry if you can’t afford it at it’s listed price of 3.99 this week. I have enlisted all my four memoirs for a free book promotion to run from the 18th (my b-day) to the 21st of January.

I am honoured and humbled to have come this far. I mean I feel victorious, like Greg wrote in his recent post on Victory in Vulnerability. Oh my, this lady who once felt life had no meaning anymore, it’s all there in this one:

I am a tough woman by my own standards, and I'll keep affirming that until I become tougher!
I am a tough woman by my own standards, and I’ll keep affirming that until I become tougher!

I wish us all a happy Sunday and toff my hat to all the writers in the house 🙂 Next week I share two  chapters hopefully on some of my worst fears marred by my mental challenges 🙂

Thank you very much
Thank you very much
Posted in Marie's Garden, My Memoirs

The TOC and Preface of yet another deeply honest memoir of mine

Walking the Talk, unravelling the me within in the process


Hello World, as promised in my last post, here is the TOC and more of my forthcoming memoir:

  1. Dedication

  2. Acknowledgements

  3. Previous works by the same author

  4. Foreword

  5. Preface

  6. The Fear of Staying

  7. The Fear of Leaving

  8. The Fear of Losing

  9. The Fear of Failing

  10. The Fear of being Loved

  11. The Fear of Loving

  12. The Fear of stigma

  13. The Fear of Advocating

  14. The Fear of Dying

  15. Epilogue

As usual, I write in all candour and I think I have a better explanation for my style. Let me save that for another post, (electricity supply is out here and my battery is running real low)

The Preface:

What indeed is the worst case scenario when you take that dreadful decision to come out and tell the world that you too have mental challenges? I think some may wonder who or what gives me the authority to qualify my issues as mental challenges. After all, even Jesus was asked by what authority he was casting out demons. I may not have received any ‘official diagnosis’ to say I have a mental illness, but I will not shy away from saying I have my own set of mental challenges which have led me to near catastrophe more than once.

What is the worst case scenario let me seriously ponder! Well, I FEAR what people will say, think or do!!! And now what is this FEAR??? This is what I found: Fold Everything And Run; Face Everything and Rise; False Emotions Appearing Real. Which one is it??? How do I face it? How do I fight it? What do I do with it?

What about the things or issues which are either a result of those mental challenges, or which trigger the mental challenges? Do I fear them in anticipation? Do I fear them in retrospection? Is it worth dealing with them this publicly? Wouldn’t this be another trigger?

You all know how much stigma is attached to that word ‘MENTAL’. To be candid, when I first hear mental health, I immediately sway the ‘crazy’ direction. After all, if nothing is wrong, why the fuss or even mention?. I mean nobody goes whining about their ‘good mental health’ and produce reports and other materials on them. All materials produced for sensitization and all, is geared to helping people stay in good health or get better if they are already sick.

The deal I have come to observe is that, there is not so much written about mental health as much as there is about physical health. More to that, it isn’t so ‘en vogue’ to write about personal experiences with mental challenges and or illness. The stigma and shame is such that people suffering from all this including the conditions themselves, may get desperate enough and consider suicide an option. I admit I once did back in 2009 and even attempted same with a knife.

My message with this other ‘unconventional’ memoir of mine dear reader is straightforward. By sharing my ‘Journey’ with mental challenges, I want all those like myself and in ‘higher spectrum of any mental illness’, to know that they are not alone. I want to cheer us up in my own modest and humble way. I want to keep it real by sharing instances where I have acted out in whatever seemed fit to me in those circumstances – circumstances which in retrospection or even introspection, were mired by mental challenges.

Some say if it runs in the family ( genetics), you stand a risk of having a ‘frail mind or brain’ to put it this simply. And of course there are several other reasons and causes too, including childhood trauma.

Come to think of it, what does the WHO and the good old science pedias tell us about mental health? It is important because it’s deterioration for whatever reason, is what manifests itself through challenges of the mind which occasion the action causing concern. When these mental challenges are not addressed for whatever reason, or worst still wrongly or poorly addressed, full blown mental illness may be the result and the consequences may just be fatal.

Dear reader, I have come to learn to think of the worst case scenario when something starts to ‘bug my brain’. I mean as much as possible. The Fear comes around, and I try my best to face, fight or simply flee away. Gladly, I read so much and interact with all walks of people without fear or favour. That is how I have come to learn of the different stages of mental illness, and really try to stay at level one. We will be looking at them in detail as we move on. The Fears don’t go away just like that, I have no magic wand. Yet as my dear friend Dyane’s forthcoming memoir will illustrate, a new brain can be born from the ashes of the old one.

It is therefore possible to live with a troubled mind especially when one can face these mind troubles. They are not visible like the cancer on your leg which can be tampered with some chemo or other therapy. And that’s one big challenge. How do you face challenges from a mind you can’t even see, not to talk of understand these challenges or even consider them as such.? When Fear is defined somewhere as False Emotions Appearing Real, this is for real. The dread of thoughts which have taken the mind hostage, gradually become real to that same mind which now sends wrong signals everywhere – troubled actions.

I have my journey to share, and I have met and journeyed with others who have shared theirs with the world and myself in all openness. The likes of Pam, Dyane, Linda and Amy Gamble, share their painful journeys and yet these are equally journeys filled with hope. I am however yet to come across any person from my country Cameroon who wants to share, only met some from South Africa online. The stigma here in Cameroon I dare say, is still so strong that even sales of My Brother’s Journey from Genius to Simpleton (about his mental illness and our struggle as a family), are yet to pick up.

The theme for the 2015 World Mental Health Day is Dignity in Mental Health and the Gbm Foundation and Center for Epilepsy and Mental Wellbeing of which I am the Country Director, is organizing a round table discussion hosted by the national radio broadcasting house. Dignity in Mental Health to me starts with the courage to talk about your mental health just like you’ll talk about your physical health. It equally means the braveness to seek for help with any issues threatening your mental wellbeing, just like you’ll visit the dentist with an aching tooth. Above all, this to me means empathy and respect of and for those with a troubling mental health.

The above are the basic interpretation of this 2015 theme for that important day. Stigma and shame have been known to cause havoc in patients and their families. Friends may even just vanish once you are diagnosed or identified to have any mental challenges or illness. Think even of how years back, cancer, aids and other terminally ill patients were ‘feared, shunned and even judged’! This pattern has to be broken, and someone has to take up that challenge.

Dear all therefore, maybe I am one of the brave few in my country who dares to dare to share such aspects of their life’s journey. Yes I am aware of possible impacts on my career and life, but I know someone somewhere will be inspired and motivated out of their ‘darkness’. This is therefore my journey to a new me, a me who wants to keep facing and fighting fear, and also a me who wants to share with the world in all candidness.

I once more sincerely hope this other memoir of mine makes a very good read.

Thank you very much
Thank you very much
Posted in Media Gallery, My Memoirs

Personal Breaking News: Book Cover reveal- Thank you Dyane

Walking the Talk, unravelling the me within in the process
Walking the Talk, unravelling the me within in the process

Oh my dear world, at exactly 6 pm my time today, I finished the draft of this fourth memoir of mine. My goal had been to get it ready for kindly release in November, there are still some days left and I’ll see how soon my editor will/can get back to me on this. You see, I needed that getaway to this Limbe by the sea and for me it’s been more than successful.

I must however thank very earnestly my Darling Dyane for her genuine encouragement and motivation. The power of people genuinely believing in you, cannot be over emphasized. Thanks to Dyane, I dropped going to the beach from my program for today (em not that I know how to swim anyway). There will be several other ocassions probanly with friends, the boys or even some new romanarum prospect (uh huh you guess right, I just learnnt a new word in latin).

Now, Dyane has not only encouraged and motivated me, but she agreed to write a blurb for this memoir which I share here below.:

As I read Marie A. Abanga’s fourth memoir “What Is The Worst Case Scenario” it reminded me of sitting down with a trusted friend, one with whom I could be my authentic self, to discuss the most important issues our lives. Marie deftly weaves her innermost thoughts, life lessons taught by family members, and her philosophy in a lively, inspiring manner. She doesn’t forget to include a key ingredient: humor, which makes reading her book entertaining as well as heartrending.

Brooke Warner, publisher of She Writes Press, wrote a Huffington Post article about the bestselling memoirist Mary Karr, noting,  “I’d guess that Mary has spent a lot of years feeling compelled to defend her own “truth.” She’s examined truth in ways that few other writers have. After all, she’s subjected herself to three memoirs — more than the average writer of memoir to be sure.”

When I read that article I immediately thought of Marie for the same comment could be stated about her. Like Mary Karr, whose groundbreaking book “The Liars’ Club” brought attention to the memoir genre, Marie is an extraordinarily prolific writer of four memoirs. Marie isn’t afraid to examine and share her truth, even when it won’t win her any favors. She has a greater vision: to help other people feel less alone with their fears. This gifted writer and humanitarian has much to teach us, and she does it without coming across as pedantic or boring. Through “What Is The Worst Case Scenario” Marie gives readers a solid sense of hope in facing a variety of frightening and isolating states of mind.

Dyane Leshin-Harwood, B.A. 

Author, Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder Founder, Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, Santa Cruz County, California

I wanted to walk this mental health advocacy talk to the end of the rope, by going deep down withing myself and facing my own demons one after the other – at least calling them by name.

Dear gentle readers and followers, it’s been yet another trilling, painful and revealing journey but above all one which leaves me with so much hope for a better, brighter and bigger future spiced with this awesome amazing grace I receiving from my Almighty Father.

Kindly look by here next week for more about the contents and eminent kindle release, I wish us all the best and I hope this other memoir of mine will make a goodread 🙂

Love is in the air huh...
Love is in the air huh…

Now to you Dyane, write on I urge, you know you can and that Lucy and I will bark you on to the finish line 🙂