Tag Archives: Mental Health Advocacy

All of a sudden I find myself so nervous…


nervous girl

Well, maybe not all of a suden but after say 15 or so minutes. Fortunately, I often work from home.  I wouldn’t say any more here because I am still nervous and angry. Somebody trying to sabotage my work. I think to ere is human but it is mean to wish others that bad.

I however decided to tame my anxiety, nervousness and anger. I thought to start short videos on mental health. I quickly set up my webcam and did one short one. Hope you leave me your thoughts.

Thank you!!!!!!

© Marie Abanga 2014

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My Hero, My Heroine called John


I love this and have always done my best to practice that.
I love this and have always done my best to practice that.

Yes, I may really be going ‘shaggy’ right? Which was one is this now with both a hero and heroine in one person with such a first name? Well, just as it reads. Am fine by that and be it under the influence of mental illness, I don’t care.

I used to write regularly about my heroines before. I also wrote a few post on some of my heroes. So for me to find one person who is both to me, is an achievement.

I grew up hearing tales of John and Mary. I had always wished I would end up with a man called John. Well, that hasn’t happened yet and maybe it simply wouldn’t. I am out of that market.

Anyway, I finally met someone called John, right here on my blog. What a blahpedia my friend is? Check him out. I am so happy to have met someone who can be an unconditional friend and one I can also share with unconditionally.

I do just that and hope it continues to see me through
I do just that and hope it continues to see me through

It’s been a long while since I had such a friend. Friendships just like other serious relationships, grow from nurturing. Especially when they are such honest friendships, no judgments, nor envy, squabbles  – in africa we say no WAHALA.

I hope to finally meet John some day and I hope not to be disappointed. Not bothered by looks, but by ‘mischievous feelings’. I also want to be prepared to kiss a woman or grandma were it be so revealed.

In the meantime, I asked john to be a beta reader for my brother’s book, and he agreed. Men, john surely barely sleeps. He gets all sort of information out there, and I have read and learnt so much since we met.

For all I have learnt and will continually learn from you my friend. For the friendship we share and hopefully will continue to share!
For all I have learnt and will continually learn from you my friend. For the friendship we share and hopefully will continue to share!

I admire my friend for wanting to learn and do so much about his mental health, and for sharing his journey so.  Fortunately, South Africa could as well be on my way to Cameroon right? I mean, we could always find a way to do what we truly want. I just wish none of us leaves this earth without hugging each other tight.

This I wish us all my friend (s)
This I wish us all my friend (s)

I so wish us both well my dear john, and trust me when I say I give a damn about a person’s inclinations – just his sincerity.

Dear gentle readers and followers, wishing you all the best in your relationships too 🙂

Impulsion and Compulsion: A glance via my Adulteries


I start off this week with another of my tough but candid ones. I learnt about impulsion and compulsion when reading the thrilling memoir of Sebastien Aiden Daniels – Please Save Me From Myself. It then hit me, that some of my own thrilling acts ( irrational or unconventional as I came to call them), were done under either an impulsive or a compulsive mind frame. This has sure got a ton to do with our mental challenges.

Let me leave you therefore gentle readers and followers, to listen to this recording, and make of it what you may. I am still in my healing and recovery process, and just happy to be alive.

Have you ever been Drunk?


Dead Drunk or Drunk Dead
Dead Drunk or Drunk Dead

I have been, not once but three time and so I can rightfully answer yes. This is not one of Dem award posts or proud to post articles. But it is one I am doing nonetheless, for some fun, facts, and hopefully lessons.

Yes, it can happen and sure has happened to several folks, most of whom are so embarrassed to even retrospect. Indeed, I was too and I know it takes guts to share such a picture, my room sort of and of course the drunk part of me. Well, it’s a choice I made to inspire and motivate as many including my own self with my personal stories. If this will make me crazy, then that’s no novelty.

In the prelude

Fallacies
Fallacies

The first time I got drunk was several years back in my country Cameroon.  I was a hot spinster, leaving alone in Yaounde the capital city, and decided to treat myself to the ongoing Guinness Michael Power festival. There was some raffle draw in which capsules of a large Guinness were used. Of course you had to bye one to get the capsule. I know I am lucky with raffle draws but a big Guinness? I was sceptical but didn’t want to miss that right? The prices may not have been worth it but the fun sure was.

I got my big gigi as it is fondly called, drank all my money’s worth, played and won. There was a pack of some Guiness regalia and I swayed off to hire a cab and go sleep 12 good hours.

Mid crisis

It was a very warm summer afternoon last year and my Darling Darling and I were out for a stroll. We ordered drinks and I thought hey I could try some cocktail whose name I couldn’t even remember an hour later. I mean, a glass and some more sunshine later, I was smiling my face out and the kind man had to lure me home.

Climax

I vowed not to touch alcohol again since then. But hey, are even the vows of monks easy to keep? I mean, the weather was friendly and we had an august guest. We agreed on a movie night out, starting with dinner. Then those ‘mexican gangsters’, offered a free magarita for one bought. Poor me to be lured the other way once again. The above picture speaks volumes and forget about the movie. I heard the title as it started, something to do with tapes.

Remission or Lesson?

It begins like a joke and we get hooked. My story is sure silly, sad and sorry. But it could have been worse or I could even prefer to take a beer in the morning for what is called ‘clearance’. Addictions start like that and other times out of pain or just measuring up. But what we must remember in my mild opinion, is that behind each drunk, there was and is a wonderful person. I am so grateful to my gentleman for having bailed me out and really hope we could be someone’s angel too in which ever way.

Dear gentle readers and followers, I once read a very moving post about how somebody’s small act of kindness, meant the world to a man and what has become of his family today. And you do you have any such lessons to share?

The Loo our Love


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

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

the-loo-wall-plaque

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Voice of the Voiceless Award


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mental Illness before the fact and other musings of mine


I

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

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

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

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

I am Stubborn and he wasn’t

I can be this stubborn
I can be this stubborn

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

He had a Signature Smile and I don’t

Signature Smile
Signature Smile

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Review: Please Save Me From Myself by S.A.D


Please save me from myself

 

Disclaimer: S.A.D as abbreviated above has nothing to do with the feeling of loss, a loser or unhappy being. If for anything, the author is a Survivor as you will find out if you read his book and blog among others. His names as is, were too long hence the abbreviation 🙂

Foreward:

On that now ‘infamous’ August 2nd 2014, when I was stunk by Death, I had just purchased four different books on the Amazon. My Choice quickly settled on reading this book because I kept feeling it was my brother saying something. Well, by 11 pm that day, I got the news that I had failed to save my brother from himself. I however courageously decided to finish reading this master piece and I am glad I did and now attempt a befitting review.

Synopsis of the book:

I really prefer to post as is, excerpts from the author’s own description of this power work. I reserve my take in the assigned section to follow soon. So here is what our very Seb says about his memoir:

“My upbringing was pretty good. There were a few fucked up moments and I didn’t learn any helpful coping skills that would suit me as an adult, but I wasn’t locked in a cage and fed baby birds to eat. The first part is about those few fucked up moments and my family dynamics taught me some messed up coping mechanisms such as lying about my emotions until they exploded in my face. I also talk briefly about how the genetics of my family attributed to my mental illness because mental illness is a combination of environment and genetics. I do talk briefly in this part about how I cross dressed in my sister’s clothes once in a while when I was a teenager. You should read it just for that tummy tickler.

“In Part 2 I move into my early college years where I struggled with psychotic thoughts, mild bulimia, unstable identity, had a suicide attempt, stayed in a mental hospital, had multiple therapists and more.

“Part 3 focuses on my time in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and trying to understand myself. This part includes the time when a therapist talked me out of suicide.

“Throughout the journey I am labeled with depression or possible borderline personality disorder or bipolar or emotional dysregulation disorder. Pick a therapist/psychiatrist from my past and each one will have a different diagnosis for you. All I know is that I was struggling to survive. It is quite dramatic parts, so maybe I’m histrionic. I once use to believe I was the reincarnation of Ted Bundy and I would kill a bunch of people so therefore I needed to kill myself before that happened. That’s the kind of “weird” things you can expect in this book.”

My Take on this work:

Now, from the above synopsis, many will agree this memoir is not one to be thrust aside until the final sentence is read. Were it not for my grief at that particular moment, I would have finished the book on that same day.  There are some weird things in that memoir and some very daring, brave, shameless and candid revelations too.

I know what I am talking about because my own memoir (My Unconventional Loves…) published in February, was pretty as revealing. I mean, I was scared by it myself until I published it and then knew I was now out of the closet.

You need to read Seb’s thriller of a memoir to learn of his sexual fantasies and idealizations, his brush with homosexuality, or even his coping with the abortion of his child. Indeed, of all the causes of mental illness, there is so much power in and around our minds, to pull or push us around. I know those of us in the psyche world understand what I mean.

There definitely was no way I could give Seb’s work anything short of a five star. He is a survivor because he is still around inspite of all what he’s been through. I really really would not hesitate recommending this memoir to all I know. Either for yourself or for a close one, it is good to read such first hand account from someone who’s hit rock bottom and is fighting each day to ‘stay afloat’.

About the Author 

MeOnce again, here are his own words:

“I use to run a website for personal growth and mental illness called http://www.findingonespath.com. I stopped doing that for various reasons around May 2013.

I decided to start Personal Growth 4 Life after undergoing over a year of intensive therapy. In total, I have spent a lot lot lot of time in therapy. One thing I learned is that personal growth is something that is a lifelong journey and is something you have to work on continously. It is very easy to step back into old habits.”

Where To Find Sebastian and his memoir:

Personal Growth 4 Life website
Amazon
Smashwords
Barnes and Noble Nook
ibooks – type in Sebastian Aiden Daniels on Itunes.
Twitter
Facebook

Everyone, please do yourself a favor and read Sebastian’s letter to Robin Williams at Personal Growth 4 Life.

You can also read what Seb had to share on writing his memoir right here: We met on that blog when I was hosted by the very kind Madeleine (I am yet to do a review of her memoir which is another power house of a mother dealing with her son’s suicide after suffering with Bi-Polar disorder and al).

Thank you dear gentle readers and followers, thank you Seb. I just returned to Brussels from a grueling trip back home and I knew I had such a wonderful e-family to return too.

The Funeral Program of my Love


Dear All,

I leave today for home once more. I do not return in joy to see my boys like I did two months earlier – oh no, I return to lay my love and hero to rest.

What I lost
What I lost

Herewith is the Funeral Mass for Gabriel, (contains his bio, our eulogies and a media gallery of sorts) for any interested in reading some more about him while I prepare to publish his book come November.

THANK YOU ALL!

Just another figure to add or substract


Green light or Red Light?
Green light?

or;

Red Light?
Red Light?

 

My Mental Health Advocacy now takes on another dimension, with the demise of my brother. I will tell his story, because he lives on in me forever. But today, I want to briefly look at what his demise does to Arithmetic. Is he just another figure to add or to subtract? Does it signal a green or a red light?

Research and more research

On the eve of my brother’s demise, I was as ever so often, reading some article or the other on Mental Health. The one I was reading this time around, was on Mark Cogan’s blog where he posted an article titled:

Better health care must include mental health

He shares how being dedicated and determined to do his job as an editor right, got him into serious trouble and ushered him in to the Mental Health World.  These are his own words:

As the editor, my punishment was ten-fold. I received protection from the police, was banned from eating at several restaurants, coffee shops, and petrol stations.  I had to do my shopping at night. I was now a pariah. Months of ridicule and isolation were too much to handle. I became aggressive, hollow and distant.

I had post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

The article moves on with some global statistics probably ‘well researched’, and wraps up with some fickle of hope as he unearths that Mental Health and Well Being, is for once mentioned as a conclusion of the third suggested goal for post 2015 MDGs. Here are his words again:

It’s a tribute to the work of the OWG and the outcome of the High-Level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases, that mental health has at least a brief mention in the outcome document. The third proposed goal, “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages” for the very first time includes everything from ending HIV/AIDS, reducing global maternal mortality, as well as water-borne diseases like malaria. It also includes “premature” mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment.  The last few words under 3.4 grabbed my attention: “…and promote mental health and wellbeing.”

Ok, What has that got to do with Arithmetic?

The point I am trying to introduce is that, until the powers that be finish doing their own Arithmetic and decide whether they would rather get those huge taxes from the almighty Pharmaceutical Brotherhood (who use people like my brother and YOU – who ever is in the situation my brother was, as guinea pigs for the drugs mindful of the devastating side effects), any deaths from Mental Health, will just be another ‘shitty case’ to add or subtract depending on the angle you approach it from.

As for me, of course my brother’s is another case to add to the desperation and frustration against the SYSTEM. I care less of which ever system I refer to, giving that neither the African nor the Western Systems are any better with regards to stigmatizing and misunderstanding or ignoring Mental Health.

Well, looking at it from the last system he was in (US of A), his case is just one more ‘shit head’ to subtract from the welfare and disability or whatever list. After all, whose fault is it if your ‘Family’ can’t afford a private insurance so you see the best psychiatrist or go for the real therapy (not the sometimes damn group therapy or public therapists and professionals more interested in keeping their licenses and punching their sheets than in the ‘nut head’ sitting before them)? Is it their fault that your family can’t support you financially and otherwise? Common, give them a break they seem to beg, ‘They are doing their best right’?

What could be a plausible Scenario?

Maybe, if the SYSTEM, really thought of the real statistics, what it actually costs them to have all those ‘shit heads’ in the Community, they would think twice about forcefully revising their approach to Mental Health (MH).  Let me use a personal and painful narrative to make my point clearer.

My Brother probably never harmed a fly intentionally, but I saw him come close to killing my son in a very manic episode he once had. He had picked up my son who was just 10 months old at the time, and I didn’t know then that he was ‘brewing’. All of a second, he got up and started pacing with those red eyes only those of us in the ‘Shaggy family’, know of. He scared the hell out of everyone in the house because he became furious and used one hand to push or break things while still holding my baby. Everybody ran out of the gate but I stayed with him. I never knew about therapy then, but I knew I loved both my brother and my son to see them in that situation. I calmly talked to my brother and told him I was scared of him and knew he wouldn’t drop my baby as he threatened. I told him he was so loved by us all and that I knew it wasn’t him being that furious. I appealed to his spirit in my own way and urged him to breathe. He ended up calming down and with his usual smile, gave me my baby who had been turned head down and was dangling from his hands as he held him just by one foot (imagine a chicken so held).

Imagine therefore what goes on in the minds of the psychopaths, those who go shoot in communities, schools and you name them. Imagine all the homes, families and communities affected. Imagine the suicide alarming statistics and the welfare roll.

I think it is high time there is a change of approach.  Which light is currently on? I am losing my sight too it seems!

When I write such posts, I weep for my brother. I started learning lots on MH and trying to reach out the likes of us out here, somehow too late. I had my own issues too and I didn’t even know how bad I was close to total screw up.

For this reason also, I am making and have already made a conscious decision to take great care of my emotional and mental well being. I will be seeing a psychiatrist and eventually a therapist, and I also have a Life Coach. I don’t look forward to being put on any Medications, but I look forward to guidance on how to identify my triggers and symptons and how to ‘Breathe In and Out. Common pals, we can’t only blame the SYSTEM right? If you feel something is shifting up there, give stigma and shame a slap and reach out for help.

Yours respectfully, Marie Abanga