I lost my skipping rope four months ago and with that my skipping groove. Trying to start all over…ain’t ever easy but am not discouraged. I used to skip 500 at a go, today I could only do 200 average at a go. That’s still a big motivation even if I still feel less flexible than before. Yes you can, don’t give up…
Grief strikes: It is hard not to feel
My darling Donna lost her beloved father yesterday and I feel so sad I can’t be with her in this challenging moment of need
Secondly, a few hours ago I saw a young man on the streets whom I recognized as one of the altar boys at my wedding in 2006. He was so friendly and I met him a few times again thereafter in church and about. Today, he had a bag full of junk and was talking to himself – what could I do?
I travel to my village tomorrow – off network for four days
The medical mission our foundation is organizing kicks off on Friday. Our team leaves the city for the village 8 hours away on not so cool roads tomorrow morning. There is no network there and I will be hyper busy and yet super anxious about stuffs etc – I have tried since monday to prepare myself emotionally and mentally and I just keep my fingers crossed.
I will be taking my skipping rope with me and will try find time to go hike in the woods
Thank you for reading ( more of my short sport clips on my modest youtube chanel) e.g: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hEJUclj_ZNM
Dear world, last week while on a brief blogging break, I was excited to receive the ARC (Advanced review copy) of my lady Dyane’s forthcoming memoir. I got it in my email on Wednesday night, and tried to start reading it on Thursday. With the boys ha, I can’t find the time to read at home so I read on the go as in when stuck in traffic. But when the book you browse promises to be one so full and pregnant with ‘stuff’, men you have to go find some cool place to savour that book. I was fortunate to have a trip planned for the next day although I wasn’t so decided yet. Well, that book sealed it for me. Whatever thing I had planned to do during that trip was going to take second stage because I had to savour that book and finish it before or else…
I am going to be very honest with you, not because I know Dyane online, but because I laughed so much while reading that book – I just want to recommend it to you before I even tell you more. I am going to do three posts on that epic memoir just to tell you how much it got into me…
In this first post, I’ll share the pictures of my reading cocoon and the beauty of the day even when I got back to the home I was hosted in with the boys. In my next post on this memoir, I will share the reasons (not related to the main topic of the memoir) which make me advice you to get the memoir. The third post on this memoir will be focused on my review of the main topic of the memoir which is “mental illness” – “Postpartum Bipolar disorder” in Dyane’s case. Thank you already so much Dyane for loving and trusting me enough to send me an ARC of your epic memoir. My hats off to you after all you’ve been through and still go through, to find it in you to finally write this memoir and in that style. Reading truly takes me roaming & roving…
Lunch time in the restaurant
Back home in the afternoon I couldn’t put that kindle down
The was such a nice view & breeze
Soup and bread, quick, quick, quick
So nicely decorated
Even in the loo, ha
Dyane Harwood’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw (co-author of The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatry) will be published by Post Hill Press on October 10th.
It’s available for paperback pre-sales on Amazon at this link – Kindle pre-sales arriving this summer!
And the boys also got a blast at our host, a highschool friend of mum’s whose husband and her are befittingly called Papa and Mami by my siblings and I. The boys call Mami, Icecream Grandma because she has a big icecream venture. They negotiate to visit there at least 3 times a year. Look at the pictures:
Icecream Grandma’s Lab
Each day they had 3 scoops lucky them
Gaby made a friend and they designed that
Ain’t all that wonderful? It was a well deserved break for me afterall, Dyane’s epic memoir topped it all for me… I am so grateful.
Are you a propagator? I mean are you a narcissistic with a boderline personality and co? These are all mental illnesses and some help can be found if only you seek it in all genuiness.
If we don’t stop the cycle at some point be it as victims or propagators, then that is enabling and keeping the generations chained in that trauma. A hurt soul can only hurt another soul – until one finds light, love, peace and happiness through Self-Awareness, Self-Acceptance; Self-Love; Self-Help; Self-Care … the brokeness continues
Some reflections from my searching soul… have a warm weekend
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 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.
Dear World, remember I said I was gonna be away last week right? Yes, I went to a village called Wum in the northwest Region of Cameroon. I mention this village because over 20 years ago it was the scene of one terrible disaster. Will bring that up in another post.
Now, over to my Hero Erico. Some call him a fool. I wonder who is the bigger fool, cause after 8 or so hours with Erico, and all the places we visited and discussions we had and the transformation I saw in his ‘spirit’, I am humbled – simple – Amen!!!
When I got to the compound, I noticed Erico sitting isolated under a tree. Guess he’s used to. I decided to befriend him, and offered that we share a meal. He was so excited.
Now, while am sitting there with Erico, a lady comes up to us and ask me if I know Erico before. I say well I know him now and ask why, she says because he’s a fool and may embarass me. Ha!!! I let her go. Then a second man comes up, and asks me if I don’t want to go eat indoors; I ask why (like I don’t know he’s jealous of Erico), he says well it’s more comfortable indoors. I say no thanks.
You see people, their envy fuels me up with motivation to make Erico my Hero and star of my short stay. And Erico knows that village inside out. He was abandoned with his paternal grandma by his mum when he was 5 years old because she couldn’t cope with such a foolish child. I taught Erico how to take a picture and see his shot below. He was so excited:
He ignored the kids laughing at him when he initially fumbled with the camera, and am so impressed with his improvement. He took me to the market, and the infamous lake and talked about so much. I will be sharing more of those in p2. I end this with another more glowing picture of Erico taken a few hours later. I got him that jersey from the market as a souvenir.
This is the first part of my short series of a personal experience with one of the marginalized in our society – the ones we stigmatize because of their physical appearance or mental disposition which apparently is not ‘normal’ and so they should be shunned. One ‘Christian’ lady (she wore their uniform) actually made a gesture like they ( yes Erico’s 2 other friends Ndolo and Tangatapan also became my friends) were smelling and should leave the place.
So my e-world, what do you think of such experiences and different perspectives?
A mental illness definitely strips a person of so much; yet there is hope!!!
I wish to begin my candid review of this epic memoir by expressing my gratitude to Molly for having stuck through with writing this memoir. She kept this dream alive for 20 years and I find this generous. Generous also because of all she shares in there – from a very personal and equally professional perspective. Here is someone who fell sick; lost her mind on some occasions; got diagnosed with one of those dreaded labels; witnessed the system’s ‘stagnancy approach to mental health’ from both sides (as a care worker and as a mental health consumer’, and was ‘kindly’ harassed into withdrawing from medical studies with no one held accountable. But, the deal for me is reading on to find out how she survived and is now thriving as best as she can. I have learnt so much not only from reading Molly’s memoir, but also from interacting with her online.
The personal narration
Brought up a catholic, Molly probably knows the dogma of retribution being a direct consequence of our sins or ‘short comings’. It is easier to blame a mental illness on the person suffering same, or their family and upbringing. In this respect, a lot of prayers are said by the family of such a person in total faith and hoping for a miracle. This is some of Molly’s journey although this approach doesn’t work out well and Molly goes from one misadventure to the next. Her personal narration equally covers her ‘merry go round’ with the search for ‘balancing the chemistry’ in her brain through some psychotropic drugs with each having its of pros and huge cons. Physical ailments join in the mix or maybe were even there all along and just can’t take the toxic chemical assail any more without crying foul. Molly is lucky to find a doctor or two who is patient and thoughtful enough to go to the bottom of her physical predicaments to prescribe some alternative treatments. These alternative treatments, including those Molly researched by herself and even natural ones like the sun and thyroid supplement, are all part of the big wrap which enable Molly to survive her Bipolar 1 diagnosis and eventually thrive.
The Scientific narration
Molly’s memoir is not only about her personal journey, it is also about a lot of scientific information and material the average mental health patient and yes even some doctor may be unaware of. Molly shares insights into her research both off and online in her quest to better understand what the ‘heck’ is going on in her brain and life. She also makes a strong and corroborated case for the need for both the scientific and mental health community to be and stay informed of the evolution of psychology, psychiatry and pharmacology mindful of the giant pharmaceutical industry. Molly seems to point out something I had baffled at when I visited the US – Mental illness seems to be all about pills regardless of how bleak statistics are turning in. Fortunately, there are voices of hope out there, although they may be threatened a drown – they are there.
The debilitating narration
I refrained from including this under Molly’s personal narration because it seems to be the trend for many suffering from a mental illness. That mental before the big word illness does so much disservice to the person, their family and even community as a whole – perplexedly unlike with physical illness. Once you get a mental illness diagnosis be it of bipolar 1; 2; Schizophrenia; borderline… you name them, a lot is stripped off you. If you are lucky to be treated as a human being any more, you still come to realize you belong to the category next to guinea pigs or pets for whom either despise or exaggerated pity is the new kindness. There is so much stigma and the community is hyped with fear of this mental ‘nuts’ roaming the streets instead of being locked up for good. You learn very quickly to not mention the word mental again if not relationships will keep being jeopardized.
This is one more of those books I wish I had read a few years ago because it would have helped me and a sibling. The book is very easy to read because of the simple English used and even the anecdotes to fruits in the scientific narratives. Molly’s sense of humour probably helps her survive and thrive, but it will sure keep the reader interested in reading till the end. Although a mental illness strips a patient of so much, it is possible to face the ‘mental beast’ head on as Molly has done. Indeed, she has not only brought into the world a healthy and full of energy young man now in his young adulthood, but she has been able to go back to finish college and start a freelance career in communication. She is over ten years from her last hospitalization and is ageing gracefully. Who says there is no hope once you get a mental illness diagnosis? Read on, I whole heartedly recommend this memoir and give it a 5/5.
Molly is much more about bipolar than I could do her justice. Here is a glimpse in her own words; check out her website for your freelance writer jobs:
I’m Molly, your go-to gal to get your online writing project done with content that informs, is well-researched, SEO optimized and engages your audience. I will manage your writing projects while you focus on more important things such as running your business. Let me know what type of content you need for what format (blog, website, newsletter) and I will get it done.
This was the question I was ‘foolishly’ or maybe ‘highly unrealistically’ expecting to be answered in this all too human and yet piercing memoir.
I began reading this memoir by carefully studying the cover picture. I concluded the two chubby innocent girls on the front cover were Martha Graham-Waldon (MGW) to the left and her dearest sister Kathy Graham (KG) to the right. While MGW looked at the camera, KG looked more closely into the gaze of the pet birds they carried. I noticed her shirt lifted up a little and showed her tummy and yet that wasn’t a problem for the photographer. Yet, some of you may agree with me that in some cultures, keeping birds for pets, or not being properly tucked up be you kids, is simply not NORMAL.
This memoir did more to me than just help me see how another family just like mine had, faced and dealt with their member’s mental illness. MGW may not know to what extent her memoir will impact some, but it has definitely completely shattered this paradigm of ‘NORMAL’ to me.
Was NORMAL to be the absence of a diagnosis mindful of some signs that something was seemingly going on with KG? Was it now their new NORMAL that something was indeed going on with KG but then they had to ’embrace’ that as is, or ‘pretend’ to still fit in with ‘conventional community’? What about it being NORMAL to sympathize with their mum who suffered a stroke, and yet shy away and stigmatize the Grahams for having a ‘mad member’ in their family?
I am not going on any further, I read this memoir with so much attention to everything because I couldn’t really believe another family, far away in the USA, could go through such shattering trauma and deal with stigma too! I really thought such things happened only in Africa, to families like mine, well in a setting where people died more from ignorance than from Negligence. I don’t know what to make of the ‘medication tradition or pattern out there’. What is NORMAL now? Go after the symptoms? Go after the illness as diagnosed? Go after the person and beat the Shit out of them?
And in the process of it, how do you a close sibling deal and heal with it all? I applaud MGW’s vivid narration of their various exotic and adventurous family vacations and existence before ‘Life happened’. This in my firm opinion as an aggrieved sibling like herself, states the strong case that the ‘lunatic’ the world now sees, had a ‘NORMAL’ life before their mental illness. I am glad and actually obliged to MGW for writing this memoir mindful of her pain. I rate the book a 5/5 because of the ‘intensity of the different subjects covered’. If I could recommend only 3 books for your year end, this will definitely be one of them. If you read carefully and in between, you’ll definitely re-evaluate that word NORMAL.
About the Author
Martha Graham-Waldon is a writer, spiritual entrepreneur and armchair activist who resides in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California with her family and a menagerie of pets. Her articles have been published locally, internationally and online. She is a winner of the 2015 Women’s Memoirs contest for a vignette based on her memoir Nothing Like Normal: Surviving a Sibling’s Schizophrenia published by Black Opal Books. A member of the National Association of Memoir Writers, Martha also loves travel, the outdoors, Jazzercise and music.
Hello world, before I ever saw this image on google, I knew about that fact!!! I have therefore been conscious of the above and try to be honest with my boys. I show and tell them about the good, the bad and the ugly of me and especially tell them I am a work in progress – hoping they model above all my coping skills – my resilence – my faith!!!
An incident this afternoon right infront of our gate, made me seize the opportunity to teach them closer up about Mental Illness. They know I am a passionate mental health advocate, they have copies of all my books waiting for them when they can read and understand, they have heard from others and myself and even seen my media campaigns, and above all they know about my brother Gaby and his difficult journey with epilepsy and bipolar disorder. I equally told them and showed they images of my 5 days visit with Pammy in Vermont. Indeed, my precious portrait from Pammy hangs high above my office and anyone who admires same, is sure to hear about mental illness.
The incident of this afternoon as I was saying, was one very sad one – I was almost moved to tears. According to our nanny who identified this old granny, the latter had just moved in a few days ago with her kid brother who was their neighbour. She maybe came hoping he’ll offer some care or maybe take her to the hospital, or was she just wandering like my Gaby once did? So this morning, she probably fell out with her brother and left his house in real anger. She settled on the lawn infront of our gate, and babbled ceaselessly about her woes and worries. As the day progressed and it got warmer, she felt the need to take off her clothes. God forbid I take a picture of her right? I was so full of empathy and wondered what I could do. To begin with, I drove the kids away who had gathered to giggle.
When I saw was a neighbour stop by to give her oranges which she took with both hands, I got the sign. I took some food I had just bought to her, and yes she was full of gratitude and said I’ll be blessed hundrefold. My boys watched me doing that and were full of questions which I patiently answered. I told them it could befall any of us and am sure someone somewhere had helped their uncle too like that. My daring Gaby stayed around and soon came in to tell me the granny was asking for water. I gave him a bottle to take to her. He was scared of course, and I offered to accompany him. He threaded so carefully, and almost ran back when he saw the kids who had gathered once more gigling. I urged gently, and oh you needed to see how he almost threw the bottle of water at her feet instead of putting it in her open hands. He almost fainted because there was a slight touch of fingers or so. Yes granny was scary, probably hadn’t slept for at least 48 hours seeing her eyes and demeanour. She was so restless, anxious, near paranoid in her assertions.
I am happy for this real life scenario to teach my boys about mental illness, and the dignity with which mental health sufferers should be treated. I told them she was just sick in her mind, and her illness could be put on the same scale with someone suffering from a cancer. If they could show sympathy and emapthy towards such a sufferer, why not to such a granny or any other mentally ill. This incident truly made remember Princess Diana taking her boys to those hospices and teaching them all she did.
Helas that is probably the onset of terrible days to come for that granny. Before she got the food, I had watched her mold and eat mud from the lawn, and cover her near naked body with some. By the time I left with the boys, she was lying down on the lawn, seemingly calmer, but only with her pants (underwears as called out in the west).
Dear all, in my country, stigma is still so prevalent for mental illness. Indeed, it is alluded to witchcraft, greed, or maybe a crazy lineage. What will become of that granny I don’t know. I am currently travelling and will be away for a week. I just hope her family takes her in and keep trying to help the most they can. As for me, writing about this is another way of advocacy right? I guess just as daring like my most recently finished memoir.
And you peeps, what, if at all, do you teach your children about mental illness? Is it worth it or maybe it’s too early up to a certain age?
Hello world, I leave this morning for Vermont via New Hampshire Lebanon, yes to finally visit my friend Pammy. Pammy and I have in the past year and half, become much more than blogging friends. There are at least three posts in this blog about Pammy. You can read either this, that or that.
On the Faith of Pammy’s invitation
I am a very honest person. It was on the faith of a very simple invitation letter from none other than Pammy, that I finally got this eldorado of a US Visa. Indeed, after my brother died, I loathed coming here nor even ever trying to get a visa. When Pammy asked if I could visit her someday, I said “sweet, if on the faith of your invitation I get that magic visa at last, for you I’ll step foot there”. So, I couldn’t fathom coming to this country and leaving without visiting Pammy…
And yet it almost happened that way…
Some more truths be told:
We had a little issue, more provoked by third parties than by ourselves. Pammy panicked and lashed out at me. I stayed calm, did as she said, all the while reassuring her of my genuiness and unconditional love. I am concerned to this date that this episode was among the triggers which landed Pammy back in some institution;
Pammy being institutionalised, caused some panick now from my end. Is it still worth it to go visit her? How do I even get in touch given that she was now cut off internet and mobile phone, and I had no other number by which to get her?
By Faith once more
I contacted a mutual friend Alaina, this wonderful friend who called 911 to rescue Pammy when the voices in her head urged her to hurt herself further. Pammy had reached out to Alaina in distress. Anyway, Alaina didn’t have any further information.
Somehow, Pammy finally got wifi and sent me an email and contact info. Before a week had run out, she had to be moved because there was another lapse. Loss of contact again and I was already in the US with a ticket to see Pammy. My friend Richie whom I met on the bus to NC, advised me to go the Red Cross once I got there. I talked with whoever I thought could help. I called the last address and fortunately she had signed a release form for me. I got infor for the new place, but when I called there and didn’t know her unit – they said they were sorry. And yet, Pammy later told me she had signed a release form for me in this new place too. The receptionist or whoever answered the call, just didn’t have the time to check in her file.
In the meantime, Pammy remembered her neighbour’s number and called him. She asked him to go on my blog and reach out to me through my contact form. Now I got this wonderful email just as I was leaving for Boston on Sunday. It made my trip which was already ushering in very emotional times:
“I’m not sure if I’m contacting the right person. If you’re the friend of Pam Wagner and are planing on a visit to Brattleboro this month, please contact me. I have info for you”.
I didn’t doubt this guy when I read the above from him, and I know by faith it shall be well. I’ll get to Pammy everything being equal…
Dear gentle readers and followers, allow me to share with you a few lines of the last email I got from my sweet Pammy last night:
” Just to let you know that as far as I know ————, will be picking you up iin New Hampshireon Wednesday, tomorrow. I will be online for hte next half hour or so, and can be online tomorrowif I am able in the morning. I will try. SOrry to inform you that I cannot speak again which is why I refused the calls., NO one would tell you that for me… Love, Pam” Nothing added or substracted from her mail.
One of my mantra in life is that I try to walk by Faith as much as possible. Some say Love is blind? For me, my Trust is. Maybe my intuition leads me too, right? Hardly have I been mistaken. I have known sometimes when it’s not going to turn out right. I’ll visit Pammy where she currently is, voice or no voice. I’ll stay alone in her apartment and care for it the best I can, I’ll also consider my intended 4 days there as a retreat. Visiting Pammy is not only visiting a friend, but it makes me feel like I were visiting my own brother. Thank you Pammy for inviting me to the US…
I recall receiving this book by mail on the 19th of May 2014, and knew then that it was going to ‘shake me up’. I was still trying to understand what the hell was going on with my brother, and didn’t even know that I was going to understand so much more about my own self too. I had received an amazon coupon from school for a survey I took, and I used it for this and nothing ‘trendy’.
Louise’s story resumed in her words
I was diagnosed with schizophrenia when I was just nineteen. I am forty-three now, and I have recovered – and I use the term ‘recovery’ in its fullest sense. I have been free of medication and free of symptoms for twelve years. I have a husband, a home, and four young children – all things that I never thought would be possible at the age of twenty-five when I was informed of the diagnosis. At that time I accepted what I was told by the medical professionals; that the outlook was bleak in the extreme, that I would get worse as I became older and that I would have to be on medication for the rest of my life.
The Approach of the Medical Community as narrated
I was told that schizophrenia had first been diagnosed when I was nineteen, at the time of the first breakdown, but that it had not been thought appropriate to tell me then. Apparently the condition was confirmed by my second breakdown. Although I was confused at the lack of proof of the illness – there was (and remains) no physical test – I was told that there was no chance of recovery unless I accepted the diagnosis. Then, in a room filled with psychiatrists, psychologists, and mental health nurses, I was told that my life was effectively over. That there was no chance of recovery anyway. They spelled out that I would have to take medication for the rest of my life, and that I would get worse as I got older. The treatment I received in hospital was brutal. Forced medication should in my opinion be outlawed, or saved for the most extreme cases— those who have been violent or suicidal. I was neither. The emphasis in hospital was on containment, not understanding, and this amounted to an inhumane system, notwithstanding the good intentions of some members of staff.
For more on this recap by Louise, read her blog entry shared on Mad In America!!!
What I make of her story
Mental Illness is for real and is sure due to more than one cause. Anyone can be affected and pretending we are fine or stronger than the ‘normal’ person, doesn’t mean we are immune to a meltdown. What begs for reflection is her assertion: “The emphasis in hospital was on containment, not understanding” – aha, is this why stats keep staying so bleak, dark and even dreary? That more and more people get mentally ill and just get worse? And what is the emphasis in society? Who is to blame? Obviously you the sufferer right? You sure brough this embarassment on yourself: Simply put, the Stigma is can definitely keep you really mentally ill. Louise herself admits to smoking cannabis and that is the big cause according to a nurse. Forget about “I was an extremely shy and nervous child. I had a chaotic upbringing – my mother was an alcoholic and my father a gambler. My father was also a very volatile character, and extremely verbally abusive. I found school very difficult – academically I excelled, but socially I was completely at sea…”
Conclusion of this review and introducing it’s sequel
Most of the books I review, are memoirs and I can’t help giving each of them a 5. Five stars to both the Author and the content. The courage, the traumatic experience revisiting all of that, the patience, resilence and all. I just wish such a survival could happen to my dear friend Pammy too. Anyway, stories like these help me just so tremendously in my own healing journey and murdy waters with a sometime frail mental health. I know I am alone in my head and to many, I just not ‘one of them’. Louise Gillett did not just stop at sharing her story, she wrote a sequel to that called Surfacing. She took her daughters to the Mental Hospital and decided to tell them her story herself. I just got a copy of this other memoir of hers, and I’ll be doing another review here in due time.