Tag Archives: Mental Health

Because I have hit rock bottom I can…


 

Because I have hit rock bottom, I can work with those who have

Because I have been abused, I can work with those who have

Because I have been traumatized, I can work with those who have

Because I have known pain, I can work with those who have

Because I have known loss and grief, I can work with those who have

Because I have loved and hurt and cried, I can work with those who have

Because I have made poor choices in life, I can work with those who have

Because I have tried and tried and keep trying, I can work with those who have

Nothing ain’t easy, but it is so worth it to reach out

To try just one more time, to hope the next call will be it

There is help out there, though mingled in such grime

Marred by stigma, taboo and shame

But we can meet, sometimes by fate and faith

Someone who truly understands, and is willing to help us out

It sure takes patience, empathy and dare I say love

But it is possible, because: I hit rock bottom and bounced back!!!

P.S I chose purple because it signifies hope to me

If you want to get in touch or get more details about my related service, please visit my website to his effect

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Therapy is Tough: There are no Pills to Prescribe nor Pop


Dear World,

I started my official therapy practice on the 2nd of April 2018, and to say it’s been all rosy will be untrue. However, reflecting on the above has helped me to be filled with compassion for all I see and to recognize the reality of the situation in my country as far as mental illness/challenges and alternative treatments especially therapy is concerned.

Many want a quick and permanent fix which they are sadly yet to get with the medications they are taking. They are prepared to give something else a try, but helas not many want to try something as tough as CBT or psychotherapy. CBT involves work and honest vulnerability and collaboration. One honestly told me he couldn’t trust me or himself.

Some reasons I have come to think Therapy is Tough are the following:

  • It takes some time

Depending on the problem formulated (which itself could last an entire session), I could suggest some therapeutic engagement of 2/3 months. This time for me is good enough for a more accurate assessment of both the client and the work accomplished. The clients (many are patients) don’t have that time to spare especially given their current state and search for good health. Then, there is the family whom I love to. I have however only met a handful of the families whose patients am trying to work with. I think they expect me to understand their embarrassment, frustration and lack of motivation to give this ‘therapy thing’ a try. They simply don’t have any more time to go try this alternative treatment. It all boils down to the patient’s engagements which I have hinted can dig up a tsunami for all concerned. A few have carefully pondered this and told me they are not ready, they prefer to keep ‘suffering’ while hoping the right meds for their condition is found one day;

  • The pervasive meds culture is here too

Well, for almost all I have seen out here, it is all about amazement at the many meds they take which can’t do the trick. The shrink told them to just take their meds religiously and since they take and nothing happens, he only adds some and stops some or increases the dose and the circus continues. I have seen like 3 who are at their 4/5 hospitalization in 8/10 years of crisis. Maybe the shrink being overwhelmed (only one available for 30/50 patients some days), and not really having many options to suggest to the patients and their families, hardly recommends seeing a psychologist or therapist (assuming there were a handful in the city lol)

IMG_20180427_102719.jpg

  • The families don’t buy into therapy and many don’t have money

Throughout my stay at the hospital, I have sadly found several families to be discouraged and dispirited more than the patients they bring. I know how difficult it can be, I was once the family of a patient. But mum was instead open to trying anything and I mean anything. I accompanied my brother a therapist and other appointments, and one actually came home for their sessions. But, the reluctant families here, even when as part of my internship I offer talk therapy for free, don’t really think it can be of any good. Imagine how discouraged the already discouraged patient can be to talk to or talk with you. Talking of money for out of hospital sessions especially as I’ll be leaving there in less than 10 days, the big excuse is there is no money – all the many meds have already drained up all resources. Reduce the fee to the barest minimum and it is still no – thanks. A few have come for one session and paid up yes but have thought about it again and just stopped.

The above is some of the reasons I have come up with in my analysis of the challenges of therapy in my setting.

I don’t know about the approach to therapy elsewhere; nor the appreciation mental health consumers have for therapy. I would sincerely appreciate any comments in this respect. Thank you very much.

Ps: I am not contemplating stopping practice, just sharing a side to the coin of my reality since starting practice as a CBT Therapist and clinical psychotherapist

Have a great week everyone

My once in a life time opportunity at the lone Psychiatric Ward as a clinical psychotherapist


 

 

Hi World, when you dare to follow your passion, with persistence and perseverance, it is a deep sense of fulfillment all the way – all the time. I bash you not but I am learning, loving and sharing so much in this once in a life time opportunity at the lone psychiatric ward in our city of Douala, Cameroon.

Needless to scare you with grueling details on say the numbers we receive each day, the number of shrinks available leaving out anything psychologist or therapist… nor the condition and resources of the ward… I got two months running from April 2nd – June 2nd 2018 and for that I simply put honoured, humble and happy. One of the first patients I saw wrote me a love letter on the eve of his departure and just yesterday another told me he was sad I was too beautiful for him. I mean isn’t this worth it?

You know, it wasn’t easy picking up psychology studies after I completed my CBT Training obtaining the first ever DISTINCTIONS note in my entire academic pursuit. But, and indeed, I was so motivated by this score and took an online diploma in psychology, dedicating close to 13 tough hours spread over two weeks, to have a merits score of 88%. Well there was lots of reading background too right? Anyway, below is what my records show:

Learner-Verification-Diploma in Psychology
Sharing just to inspire and motivate

I was now ready to for the once in a life time opportunity at the lone public psychiatric ward in my city, and considering the journey to get that opportunity, not even a nagging swollen eye nor any discouragement from ‘friends and foes’ could blur my vision.

I will just share a small portion of an email I sent to my soul family after two weeks at the ward:

April 20th: I call them my friends, I meet them before reading their records, most if not all have pure hearts marred by etc

Simply put, I am the first therapist seen there and I am fortunate to do it my own way. I am personal – calling names and not bed/room numbers; and I greeted and hugged a 19 year old girl and it meant the world to her. (She’s moved on to be my first ever private client, she is doing so well already and gladly her meds were revised … to read she’d been diagnosed with Schizrophrenia almost broke my heart)
Sadly, the meds culture is invading here and I have seen some zombies. But, many families don’t keep their patients here for more than a week because they don’t have money.
There is also quiet a high amount of addiction cases and I have already met and still work with 3 of them. Sad too many of their families have abandoned their patients and either care very less about them.
I generally see patients first and connect before reading their records, most records are filled with so much negativity and bias and bring out all things violent or pointing to need for incarceration and fierce treatment with ‘no mercy’ anti psychotic shots like haldol and valium oh my…
I take it in strides and many love me, indeed the lone bouncer there has started calling me to help him calm difficult patients ha. Some patients outright ask for me and some nurses too are not so pleased. But I go there only 3/week and the Major and Psychiatrist love me so and are so grateful I am there.
I mean, why would I pass on such a once in a life time opportunity to make a huge difference in my life and those of all these people hurting and suffering from all these debilitation, marginalization and stigmatization like my brother had, just because I am initially a lawyer and from a ‘noble profession and background?’

 

I have never doubted the intelligence my Almighty Father gave me. It is simply awesome all I sponge in, do, learn, love, share and embrace. No turning back for me, I embracing it all – all the way. His Amazing Grace is sufficient for me.

Gaby draws for a client

The boys are so proud of me and ask about my day. I tell them about my friends and sometimes they draw for them like Gaby did above for anty Love – she treasures that drawing and shows it off to everyone lol

Now, have you ever heard of an intern having an intern? Nadege above is a psychology major student who was sent to me on May 15th to train for two weeks before I leave. Here is a flash from our first day together. We took some pictures as she requested, and when she sent same to me, we had the following exchange (shared of course with her permission):

[14:08, 5/15/2018] Marie Abanga: Thanks for the pictures darling. Ravie de travailler avec toi (saying am happy to work with her)
[14:29, 5/15/2018] Nadege Psy: Don’t mention. Me too fière de bosser avec toi. Cette journée à été formidable (saying she is so happy too to work with me, and the day was a blast)

Our office is a hospital room, and we sometimes make a weary client to lie down for 15 minutes to the sound of some meditation music etc… we are out to help our friends as best as we can and am so happy to say I can give myself a 65% reach out. I go for walks with any I think need a walk or have that hot energy to burn out, I sit wherever with whoever, pray with them or sing or even just stare, hold hands, it’s all my spirit leading me. And it has indeed so done, I mean look at what one could manage to write on a worksheet I gave him

Another one who initially told me they don’t speak English, now greets me each morning as follows: “Hello lovely…” He gave me the large chocolate bar in the picture… many have given me little stuffs too, and it’s all so warm…

Be inspired and motivated with that passion and vision of yours regardless of your current circumstances or who says what around you. There is no doubt my just ended spiritual journey has fortified me bigtime for this once in a life time opportunity…

Happy midweek to all

Pray: How did you kick off this year?


I remember a similar post I wrote last year on the 1st of January. I was bent on that day to kick off the year with sports, especially given all the lousy reasons I came up with in the wee hours of the day not to do same. For me, it boils down to a good start because even if (and yes even when) I lose some momentum during the journey, I can always motivate myself with the memories of a good start – and obviously very good goals lol.

This year is a very special one for me because I was inspired to declare it My Year of Grace. I mean given the success of last year which I had declared My Year of Gratitude and got so much to be grateful for including a Guardian Angel when I had thought I was too old for one, I decided to believe in the power of my own inspirations. No need to go see any tarot readers, soothsayers, Men/Women of God … You name them. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for January 01, 2019 right?

Next special event this year, I formally began meditation and I mean serious ones with knees folded inside. So far I have been able to keep still and fold the knees in place for 10 minutes – don’t laugh give it a try and maybe clap for me lol. But hold up that’s not the goal of meditation oh, the sitting position and brain bushing around; it is the meditation proper, the passage you read and what you retain out of that and how that helps you through out the day.

Now, I needed to be alone in my home on January 1st this year because I needed no distraction whatsoever. I literally locked Ella out of the Gate and locked myself in my room. I had not one but three books I was starting with:

  1. A book of Meditations by the one and only James Allen

  2. Attitudes of Gratitude …by MJ. Ryan

  3. A Mini Course for Life by Jerry Jampolsky and wife Diane, of Attitudinal Healing International

Those three books and the whole meditation concept were offered me so generously by my Guardian Angel. Am I spoiled lucky or what?

After an hour or so meditating and listening to flute music, I went for a long walk and then visited different neighbours on my return. One of them even offered me a chicken drumstick to appease my saliva glands (some spicy odour in the different homes visited were already leaving my glands in a rage).

And so dear gentle readers and followers, I couldn’t think of a more serene way to kick off this 2018 with Grace. Gratitude goes on of course, it brings me so much joy I can’t leave that alone (I love saying all the thank you I can, sending the notes and sms and calls to near irritating hahaha). I hope the steam mustered on Monday 01.01.18 sees me through out the year. I merely turning 39 in 2 weeks time so I should still be good to go right?

Well, enough of me: please Pray gentle reader and follower, how did you kick off this year?

p.s: Will be away for a week or more as we lay my grandma to rest this weekend and retreat as a family for a few days. My two siblings are coming in and am excited to have the bonding time even if under such morose circumstances.

Please let me be (Ushering in the New Year with a call for inclusion and empathy )


Please let me be

for the world

Please let me be queer

let me be queer it’s my life

be all the regular I don’t care

Please let me be a misfit

I am done trying to fit

You can do all the fit in I don’t care

I come from a broken home

I now lead a broken home

keep your fixed home

He cries mama

she teased my papa is gay

And so what I ask?

gay means happy

why be any judge?

and then go to church?

sing unconditional love

and love so conditionally?

They call me a rascal because I love pascal

he is such a friend

we trust each other so

sinners you say?

who did HE come for?

Winners they who followed HIM

Shabby may be the dress code

merry the constant mode

you can care for your body

I’ll care for my mind

I envy you not

spare your nod

Please let me be

(c) 2017 Marie Abanga

America’s Angels and other musings related to mental health…


Hi World,

I don’t know how to qualify my moods today. All is not so good and am near pissed. Why should what happens in America or wherever shake me so? I mean I had a nightmare last night (hardly recall any precedence zut). The KKK were torching 3 homes to be precise – I woke up ant it was 1.28 am I have a clock that reflects on my ceiling. I just have to type all this out and hopefully calm down enough to continue my day which is equally so taxing already with a phone crash last night.

So, yesterday I wrote of America’s ghostsAmerica’s ghosts – I had been planning before the terrible incident of yesterday to blog about America’s Ghosts and America’s Angels after reading the wonderful book by Steve Fugate titled Love Life Walk.

The ghosts of Jim Crow, of the Civil War or the Appropriation, Misapporiations and reservations, the treatment of natives and immigrants (who aren’t fortunate to belong to certain families descendants of immigrants themselves) oh my gosh gosh gosh – I really need to stop reading so vast and caring so much. I now can understand why events likle the collapse of the Berlin Wall or the murder of JFK and etc could drive some off the edge to maniaville completely.

But no I wouldn’t go off any cliff because I am tougher. I will brave this but I now know I should mind more of my business than what the media trusts my way. I will chose what I click period. Las Vegas shooting touched me  and I reached out to mine – but maybe this time because it was in a church and the victim toll – oh my …

And yet America has so many angels. I visited 5 different states in 2015 and took all means of transportation I could just to be in the move – name it I took it maybe except private jet (which I wasn’t even hoping to). I walked of course, took the bus (both in the city and cross city – two different companies even), train, cesna, plane, even hitched a ride in Vermont after visiting my Precious Pammy at the hospital and it was getting dark etc and I have no recollection of being treated shabily. I mean I remember Richie who played some instrument (ah yes the Clarinet) and bout me a soda and told stories all the way, I remember oh this lady who bought me food in the train from VT to DC, I remember Sherry who invited me to spend the night over at Virginia, I mean Pammy whom I had never met who invited me to the US in the first place and contributed towards my air ticket, made up such a nice room for me even though hers was in such a mess, so so many good memories I can’t even remember again. I thought it was because I was a foreigner (don’t ask me if I carried a sign), but when I read Steve Fugate’s book I knew there were Angels indeed in America.

Sadly now, When such a terrible thing occurs, a culprit is to be found asap. Mental health is a suspect par excellence and it’s even cool if records can prove that asap so the case can be closed. But I have known quiet a two hands full in America who live with various mental health challenges, illnesses and etc and they are oh so nice or simply keep to themselves.

Seriously, I am shaken and taking some big measures. No twitter for a while and hardly any facebook. Even if the fire is burning on Mount Cameroon heading towards Douala IDC!!! I am reviewing my interet list on G+ and of course I wouldn’t click any sensational headline again – serves me right.

I know a lot of killings and crap and hatred and hurt out there, but for a human being to calmly take a gun in a church or wherever and gun down others – then something is really wrong somewhere.

I pray for myself and the angels in America to not let the ghosts and nightmare of that country close in on us and mess up further our fragile mental healths.

God Bless America indeed: I feel better having ranted this out here

P.S: AM LEAVING ALL TYPOS TO REMIND ME OF HOW SHAKEN I WAS WHEN I WROTE THIS POST

A very comprehensive review of my book for a weekend read


WCS by Genero

BOOK REVIEW: ‘WHAT IS THE WORST CASE SCENARIO? BY MARIE A. ABANGA

The memoir ‘What is the worst case scenario’ is a refined reality of life which I believe is a must read for every aspirant person seeking relief from the strong fears of life.

I am heavily inspired by the wordings of Winston Churchill in the foreword of this book found in page 18 wherein he says ‘Never give up, never give in. Never. Never. Never’.

The Preface introduces the memoir proper and brings out the worst case scenario to be the aspect of FEAR of what people will say, or do; defining fear meaning we should fold everything and run; face everything and rise; or false emotions appearing real.

The first chapter dubbed ‘The fear of staying’ opens up with the author describing how she had a mental hostage as she was growing up and the fear of staying was eminent and so the mind probably makes a mental note ‘you don’t want to stay, well you just try your best to cope hoping for the opportunity to escape’. The author describes various levels of her escape mechanisms which kick starts with her being enrolled in a boarding school, followed by the breakdown of her parents’ marriage, she further envisions marriage to be the best escape-she describes it as a wonderful refuge. She manifests her fear of staying broader when even before the Mayor, they argue on the matrimonial regime to opt for. Her fears to stay could solely be consoled in the arms of other men. She concludes by saying her problem was overcoming the fear of leaving, and not getting defeated by that fear which was threatening to make me hostage for the rest of her life.

The second chapter dubbed ‘The fear of leaving’ opens up with the author describing fear as such a terrible thing which can make you a prisoner right in your own bed. Hence, she had to leave her father’s house with her brother because her dad and his new wife were becoming unbearable. After an eight years hiatus, the author regained a prodigal daughter status and she and her dad were ‘seemingly happy’ in her own words though she now had two additional siblings and a third one on course. After the third step-sibling was born, lack of ‘personal resources ‘other than a ‘disturbed mind’, got her to ‘hang’ around some more years at her mum’s. The author got two sons after losing her first pregnancy and loosing another child at birth, then since her marriage was more of lip service, she asks herself if she could leave? This got to a stage where she took a knife and wanted to commit suicide and leave this world with its headaches. She closes up her fear of leaving by a choice to fold everything and run as she often did and then to eventually face everything and rise.

The third chapter dubbed ‘the fear of losing’ describes the greatest fear of losing to be that of losing your mind. She still figured out what to do to be suicidal as a fake wife, a loser, a miserable woman and a sham of a mother. The search for solace found her in marriage seeking refuge. Her fears to lose her esteem, marriage and reputation became primordial in her mind. Her years spent in Belgium were actually necessary for her personal journey towards emotional and mental wellbeing.

The fourth chapter –‘The fear of failing’ Opens up with her expressing her inability to see, face or talk to her lecturer and also her inability to study and work hard with severe skepticisms of her course outline. This made her to earn poor grades in school and had to resit her exams. she narrates her freshman experience as she goes in for her LL.M programme in Belgium to study International Law with International Relations. She encountered hearing problems in following up classes and had to get a Sesame Hearing Aid. She sees failure inevitable but decides to face her fears of failing when it comes knocking as a learning curve onwards. She describes all failures be it emotional, mental, professional, spiritual and otherwise as learning curves if we all exhale and inhale in all humility and modesty before resitting the lessons. The author further shares some 30 quotes which she googled about failure which in summery tries to tell us that no great success was ever achieved without failure as failure is seen as a stepping stone to achieve our dreams. Hence, like the great Barrack Obama says ‘You can’t let failure define you – you have to let your failure teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently the next time’. A quote which the author got from chapter five of Abraham Mutwol’s book titled ‘The 26 Inspiring Life Lessons from Barrack Obama….’This chapter in brief aims at saying you may encounter many defeats but you must not be defeated…as nothing will work unless you do. The author concludes this chapter with a teaser question of us finding out what is the worst case scenario if we fail? There is a choice, either we fold everything and run away forever or we learn from the events, face everything and rise. The author chooses the second option conclusively.

The fifth chapter – ‘The fear of being loved’ opens up with a pondering question of whom in his ‘right’ senses and emotions fears being loved? She writes about her desire to be able to face everything and rise when any love like gentleman comes along. She commits herself to trust her instincts and reasons and not her emotions on their spur of a moment. She exposes the zeal to rise and thrive amidst difficulties. She exposes her unconventional loves wherein she felt loved in the most unconventional of those relationships. She expresses her earnest desire to be loved and narrates her story of love and later expresses her fears of rejection and abandonments. This chapter that talks more on her love life tales ends with her fears of one thing or the other always looming her mind.

The sixth chapter labeled ‘The fear of loving’ expresses her dilemma in her fear of loving, whether receiving or giving, what she calls philophobia which ranks high amongst unusual phobias. She defines philophobia as an unwarranted and an irrational fear of falling in love though often times the sufferer does fall in love but it causes an intense emotional turmoil in his or her mind. The nature and causes of philophobia all vary from case to case and sometimes, it is a real mystery as to why it might have occurred in the first place. She narrates the story of the queen of England who was philophobic and furthermore says the symptoms vary from individual to individual. Most revering is the fact that she concludes this most delicate and VIP chapters by resolving to face this fear of loving after researching much about it and desires her three musketeers read this and are not philophobic.

The seventh chapter – ‘The fear of stigma ‘ opens with the author expressing her dislike for friends who run after mentally deranged people and sing songs and sometimes throw stones when she was a kid. She exposes her beloved brother’s outpour of foamy saliva today known as epilepsy as a stigma. She exposes the society for stigmatizing people’s bad mental states which can lead to seeking suicide as an option; but advocates that we should not give in to the fear of stigma maybe because we may be branded or marginalized. With a refusal to give in to fear, the author consciously decided to stigmatize stigma. She hails efforts done in this regard like that of Greg Mercer in his story titled A Nurse with a mental Illness; My story.

She further tells us how stigma kills people daily and if we help keep stigma alive, we cause more pain and death. She shares the tale of her fair lady and heroine friend Dyane Leshin-Harwood who suffers from postpartum bipolar disorder in one of her posts with the caption ‘A Stigma of one’s Own’ and secondly ‘ Stigma from the source’. She ridicules self stigma which is accepting prejudiced perceptions held by others which can lead too the reluctance to seek treatment, excessive reliance on relatives, social withdrawal, poor self- worth and may lead to abuse of alcohol and drugs. She ends this chapter by resolutely deciding to advocate much for the marginalized in our societies and says what matters to her most is her legacy and what she leaves behind for her sons and the world at large.

Chapter eight dubbed ‘The fear of advocating’ talks of the author’s dreams of becoming a doctor or a lawyer and she has indeed ended up as a lawyer and a fierce mental health advocate too. She exposes how her beloved brother’s crisis is admittedly the catalyst for her daring advocacy to the point of accepting the huge task of being the country director for the Gbm foundation for epilepsy and mental wellbeing. The mental malady has four distinct stages namely 1-Mild symptoms and warning signs; 2-Symptoms increase in Frequency and severity and interfere with life activities and roles; 3-Symptoms worsen with relapsing and recurring episodes accompanied by serious disruption in life activities and roles and lastly number 4- symptoms are persistent and severe and have jeopardized one’s life. She concludes by resolutely adhering to advocate against all odds while alive.

Chapter nine which is the shortest and last chapter is dubbed ‘The fear of Dying’. It is all about nothing can delay or deny death when its time comes. She exposes her case of losing three siblings but conclusively resolves that the worst case scenario is that if you live, you will one day die. By Banda Banda, Douala, Cameroon

Just say it as it is


Just say it as it is

Just say it as you see

Just say it as you think

Just say it as you feel

——-

What is it you want

What is it you need

What is it you can

What is it you can’t

——-

There is so much shallow

When you don’t say it

When you fake it

Because you want to make it

It may work for a while

But can last only a while

And the price you’ll pay

May lead you a painful way

——-

It is worth every dime

To say it as it is

I ain’t saying no more

Yes yes to please

When my soul will miss

The serenity it so seeks

Sometimes silence says it too

——-

If they don’t like it

If they don’t want it

If they don’t respect it

Not my worry

I will just say it as it is

——-
P.s: Inspired by an event this morning; I said as it is and am ok with me. I hope this poem inspires so many, to start or keep living true to themselves. Above all, minding my mental health is supreme for me. In return with saying it as is, I pray for the Grace to be more emphatetic and patient with myself and others…

Must You Talk About IT?


Hey, must you talk about it

She asked staring appalled

What’s wrong with talking

I answered innocently

I mean about It she lashed

About what ain’t got a name

Well you know what you so talk about

I so talk about pretty much I counter

Well, you focus it seems

On the weary and scary 

The shaggae and reggae

And if I don’t I query

Would that make it any better

We all have our own moments

I talk so people know

There ain’t any shame in talking

And so am sorry

If you feel embarrassed at my talking

And now to give a definite answer

Yes, I must talk about It

They too deserve a to be heard

Am of both worlds…

——-
P.s: These poems will be part of my “Serene Soul” collection, inspired by the healing, closure and acceptance am finding while studying the book High Tide Low Tide… By  an awesome twosome Martin Baker and Fran Houston… Can’t thank them enough