How it all started
I recall my post on who is a simpleton? I detailed my friendship with with massa Gaby, and although I don’t know what or if he was ever diagnosed with any mental illness (hardly the case back home you know – you go lun and you are abandoned by your family and all to roam the streets as you please), I see a lot of schizophrenia symptons there now.
When I became more active in the mental illness world, one of my first friends (now a precious member of my dear e family), was none other than Pammy as she is fondly called. Please, do yourself literary justice and read her about me page to understand once and for the umpteenth time that psychiatry destroys more than it helps and heals so far. Why let people with so much talent deteriorate so far all because you think they belong to some category and gotta get that label which means take those particular meds and sleep off or be locked off?
Pamela Spiro Wagner: Artist (in her potrait above, she sits close to one of her gorgeous works of art) , poet, co-author of Divided Minds: Twin Sisters and their Journey through Schizophrenia (St Martins Press, 2005) and author of We Mad Climb Shaky Ladders (CavanKerry Press, 2009). Her third book, poems, Learning to See in Three Dimensions is now also available for publication.
But today, what I want to tell you about Pammy is that we got to bond further by a series of emails when we were both going through tough times. I can’t compare mine to Pammy’s numerous, I mean she’s braved it so much from childhood to her now +6decades. Pammy was on her way out to Vermont, leaving CT after her ‘conviction’ that only death stared at her there. I was in a depression about my status quo and needed to make a decision or snap outrightly. And so from Oct 31 – Nov 28, we totaled a good 18 lengthy emails of mutual support. And to think I haven’t ever met Pammy?
Her comment on my recent post on Monica my spanish graciella, just confirmed Pammy’s generous heart (come back friday to read my review of the book she co-authored with her twin Lynnie). Pammy wrote: ” You know, my own response to such a request from you would be the same: “Why of course, Marie, come here, stay with me, whatever you need, anything at all that I can do…” and she signed off: Your friend and a small but loving member of your large “web family,” “Pammy”!
I mean, reading all this, isn’t it a shame that we sometimes are quick to shun anyone off once we hear the label they have or the ‘diagnosis’ they’ve got? If I wanted one myself, I’ll press my shrink and am sure to get one! And what will or should that change? Yeah I have those shaggy moments and do lun sometimes and so what?
Some about schizophrenia
I don’t know which type my Pammy has, not that it changes my esteem and big love for her. There are five different types of schizophrenia, including paranoid, disorganized, catatonic, undifferentiated, and residual. While nobody with schizophrenia behaves normally, the exact symptoms depend on the exact type of schizophrenia. The cause of schizophrenia is not known, but it may be a combination of stress, environment, and hereditary factors. I recently came across a blog post on beyond meds where the above report was promoted. I hope it gets the attention and effect intended.
Dear gentle readers and followers, it’s high time we start taking bigger stock of our own attitudes even towards our own selves. I have come across people who have lost precious ones to this schizo… and in most cases, they tell of the devastating impact of shame and stigma on themselves and the patient.
and to you Dear Pammy, thank you for being my friend, for letting me get to know about this illness more, for getting me worried about you, and for trying to stay in touch when you can. I do love your works and I wish I could visit with you someday.
He/She is : “a foolish person with lack of intelligence, common sense, and street smart” ( urban dictionary)
I am strongly of the opinion that simpletons or fools or even madmen, are only that much according to society’s conventions.
I personally had a friend by our law firm, he was a madman and paradoxically, he was called Gabriel. I called him Massa Gaby. He will sit by my car the whole day and watch over it. I remember having a problem with the automatic locks and that car having to stay for a whole month unblocked. I knew none will risk Massa Gaby’s wrath by venturing too near.
He was always reading, mainly religious leaflets and sometimes old magazines. He told me lots of things, both sense and non sense.
I brought Gaby food, goodies and yes even a change of clothes when he agreed he was going to change whatever rags he had on. He indeed put on the suit and other clothes I gave him and even changed his tattered shoes for those I brought.
We are by nature scared of what we don’t know or can’t understand. We are more comfortable going by conventional beliefs, norms and practices. Anyway, aren’t we organized communities, societies and systems of sorts? Hey, I think anyone meeting my brother at either of his ‘shaggy’ (a term I coined for mentally challenged persons like myself) stages of an existence, would have been quick to qualify him a simpleton. I am no exempt – hence the title of this work in his honour.
P.S I deliberately chose this whatever font today to see what comes of it (am I descending that bad into simpleton world? 🙂 )
© Marie Abanga 2014
As Iyanla Vanzaart wondered in her memoir titled:
‘Yesterday I cried‘, ‘Why do we subject ourselves to the hysteria of expecting the worst?’
Before we are even reprimanded, we are quick to self-punish. We are anxious, nervous, and end up so frightened. If we already have some mental illness, we break down further and all because we were anticipating the worst.
Let me elucidate with a personal experience. Yes it comes again from that ‘once in a life time vacation‘. I mean, who would let anything temper with such a moment unless you are ‘shaggy’ like myself. I started involuntarily clinging on to the least hurt, and now I was punishing myself in anticipation of ‘rejection’, ‘punishment’ and what else?
I had had the good intention of descaling the toilet bowl. There were some bags with powder with the instruction of pouring same somewhere. Yes, I still am a “Mary Just Come” (just landed from the moon sort of) in some respects. I didn’t understand the instructions and instead tore-open the bag and threw both it and its contents in the flush. Bam! there was a blockage and a plumber had to be called.
Result to my already frail mind: Panic. Guilt was written all over me, I started sweating. Over breakfast, that was the main topic of discussion although none knew what had happened. I was suspiciously calm once more. I was thinking at what jerk I had become. I have seen a plumber’s invoice out here for a mere 30 minutes job. I was so sorry, I sure had to teach myself a lesson.
I started off by reporting myself to my darling, and when he tried to soothe me, I took offense. I went to another loo, yes an unpopular refuge of mine up till recently? There I thought I would ground myself at home. No more going out with the others smiling after messing up so – you ‘villager’ I ridiculed myself. I was so scared. I stayed pretty much in the room all day, reading my kindle.
My Take or Make
That is just a mild incident, but I do realize that sometimes the urge to self-punish is so great we just have to feel blood gush from our veins. We resort to cutting, piercing, flagellation and what have you? It may soothe but it’s sad. As my good friend MK asked me, is being angry and fighting with yourself healthy? My answer then and now is no – but, there is a but!
When you don’t understand what is wrong with you, you don’t feel or think any one does, you can only take it out on your own self. At least, ‘you are in control’ there right?
And yet, this is where we must seek for help or receive the ‘genuine ones’ which sometimes come from our secret angels.
It ain’t easy and sometimes even calming down our raging brains, is like trying to stop the rain in an already flooded area. We have the rain to worry about, and the flood to think about latter. This flood surely has already caused some damage we may really not want to face. I took a huge step recently to rethink this notion and brain train myself (or maybe the other way round?) to stop thinking of punishment as a deserved lesson, but as another big problem altogether.
Dear gentle followers and readers, may we all who identify ourselves with this issue, someday come to find that peace which wouldn’t just crumble to pieces with yet another trigger.
© Marie Abanga 2014
What do we know about pain?
That it hits so hard like that wild rain?
And yet interludes with some sane?
After leaving us in all this drain?
Oh what the hell is this pain?
Does it have to cause so much strain?
When we already are so restrained?
Why can’t we just retain our cool?
Some profane often wonder?
We may not wish them that terrain
Even if the rides were free on the train
Pain chains the brain
Its pang maim over again
Can no amount of sugar cane
Ease that pain?
I think something can
It may be an idea so plain
But it is worth the pain
to reach out, to lash out
day after day
Our pain may afterall become vain
© Marie Abanga 2014
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
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.
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.
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?
I wore a mask for a pretty large chunk of my life and then one day I couldn’t keep it on. I just had to take it off, peel it or drag it out along with some of my skin, whatever it took I did, and still do. I was suffocating beneath that mask. Dear gentle readers and followers, this post was inspired by a great blog I came across recently and now follow with my entire 3 D’s (Determination, Discipline, Dedication)!
Defined and Classified
I think I had been defined and classified from childhood. I was defined as an outgoing person, an extrovert and a brave cum courageous and all girl. I was proud to be all that and happier to belong to the Class of those ‘marked out to make it in society’. ‘My world’ knew I had all I needed to make it in life and I mean, external life surely right? My dad had a ‘good job’, and we went to ‘good schools’. I was ‘smart’, ‘beautiful’ (this guarantees a good marriage for most I suppose), generous and even pious when need be. Hmm, how much I fitted into Conventional Society?
I grew up really feeling I belonged and dared not disappoint any one but myself. You know, you live with yourself all your life and you have to face yourself some day some how. But In the Meantime, I soared. I was bound to. What was the alternative? I had to fight for my brother, first physically and now emotionally. There were yet, some instances where I ‘derailed’ (my mask loosened its grip sort of), but em that was ok by ‘society’ – it can happen.
Crowning my ‘success’
Yes, to crown my success as was expected of a ‘normal and lucky girl like me’, I went through different schools and universities. I got some job or the other, and then got called to the prestigious Cameroon Bar Association. Before that, I got married to a ‘good man’. I even had kids, 3 boys for that much – any African knows the importance of having at least one son right? What a success? I ‘loved’ that mask. Indeed, it hadn’t failed me so far, I couldn’t afford to let it down. I could deal with any ‘hurts I had wearing it on each day’, I could deal with the ‘voices in my head’, simply put, I knew how to live parallel lives.
Did I really get it?
This is a good question I suppose. I think I did for a while and I had plans on sorting myself out in hiding you know! In one of our Advocates In Training workshops, I chose to present on ‘The Private Life of a Lawyer’. Premonition or what? Who was I making fun of? I knew all what I was doing in ‘private’ then but that was covered behind my mask right? And so, I think I got it then when I lectured to some applause how a ‘good lawyer’ had to carry on privately making sure his deeds never tainted his ‘public life’. The profession is a noble one and I even hear they bury their departed member face down (em, whatever that means – I may even opt to be cremated for all I care).
I couldn’t keep that mask on anymore
I just had to take it off. It was getting so unreal for me, I was hurting, aching, burning, hoping and wishing each day was going to be my last. One day, I picked up a knife, this was the ultimate. I am sure I scared even my unborn son. My Mask was so white and yet I was so black. I decided to sort it out my way because by then, I was already so depressed and mentally challenged enough to trust ‘those who had helped me put on that mask in the first place’. I thus relied on my own troubled guts and my ‘non-classified friends’ (actually classified as dangerous). The street kids, the rascals, the adulterers, the prostitutes.
I am happy I did, it has since then been all about honesty. I braved it, I dared it, I tamed it, and I stood up to it. I still do face several challenges both within and otherwise. I am just happy I no longer have a mask on. I decided not to blog with an acronym or other name than mine. It is no more about ‘crowning success’ and ‘living up to expectations’. It is no more about ‘making my parents family and society proud’. It is now about doing myself right, feeling right and advocating for right my way.
Dear gentle readers and followers, I have lost all what ‘crowned my success’ back then and even one of my dearest love. I may be disbarred from that noble and legal profession for this this much with my hitherto ‘private life’. I am now fully divorced, I left those same kids behind and get to visit them maybe once a year, I am starting all over so to say. At least, I don’t have a mask on, and wouldn’t dare help consciously put another one on someone’s face. And you?
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:
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
It may be just 5 days since the demise of my brother, oh whose brother? l knew my brother had several challenges because I was there when it all started several years back. I just didn’t know what exactly all those were called or how to properly help him out until … too late now right?
Thus, my descent into Limbo and my attempt at keeping grip on to the vessel of sanity has been simply put ‘oscillating’. I even foolishly though this evening that I was ‘in control of this mourning period’.
Now I know, that I am not yet fully in control but that I am getting there. Keeping mt brother’s memory and legacy on in me and via all works I plan to undertake, is hence another of my passion’s. But, In the Meantime, I grieve his sudden departure – ha, the tsunami!
At least, I am grieving out and not in, and it seems to help. You may wonder what experience I have to make such assertion. Of course, only deaths give you those and I have had a pretty small ugly share. I know what it is to bury a child (no matter the age) and I know that, that ‘vacuum Cleaner’ will forever roam in the neighbourhood of your heart.
What I now think is right about grieving out, is that it helps and heals. When I lost my daughters (via a miscarriage and the other at just a day old), I never grieved out. Common, in my society, you are expected to ‘hush’ such episodes because they might as well have been ‘evil spirits’ passing your way. Grieving them may bar you from having others. You have to get back to your ‘gestation’ very fast.
But now, I am grieving out and wow. I rant, I cry, I threaten to die too, and I calm down. I talk to people, especially those who have ‘Walked this unceremonious path’. I do a lot of meditation and I take it easy on myself as much as possible. Hey, I even renewed my gym vows
(suspended two years ago on my return from Arusha), and even the sweat seems to blend with the grief, facilitating its exist.
However, as I slept this night, I suddenly felt like I couldn’t breathe well. I got up and sat of course infront of the PC. Checking my emails and ever watchful of phone calls and notifications is now permanently on my ‘to do list’. And I know it is ok not to be able to continue sleeping but to do what I am currently doing. I am writing this post and then I will make some more calls. Maybe I will also get to write another chapter of my brother’s book.
I talk to him about my grieving, I even ask for his advice. I try to imagine how he in his usual way, will always want to help out in spite of his own ‘bleedings’. Trust me, I know, I have been there and I still do that. It is well, it is right, to grieve out and in so doing, I have gotten so much support than I would have ever gotten otherwise. Thank you all.
I was recently asked by an e-friend of mine, to be a guest on her blog and share ‘some’ from my memoir writing journey. I copy paste the post in its entirety because there ain’t a re-blog option on her blog.
Drum rolls for my guest Marie Abanga
I’m so pleased to introduce my guest Marie Abanga, author of My Unconventional Loves: My Hurts, My Adulteries, My Redemption, a book written in a voice so raw and open it almost takes my breath away. Here she tells how she created her book almost in complete secrecy because of what she calls her “embarrassing and shameful revelations.” Please welcome Marie. I am so glad she persevered and successfully completed her memoir project.
My Memoir Writing Journey
by Marie Abanga
Hi there, my name is Marie Abanga, author of the memoir My Unconventional Loves: My Hurts, My Adulteries, My Redemption. I was so happy when one of my favorite authors, Madeline Sharples, offered to host me on her blog. She asked me to do a post on my memoir writing journey for other beginners like myself.
I sort of knew what memoirs were and had read several. But I had not come across one with such embarrassing and shameful revelations like I included in mine. There may be worse ones out there, but the authors are more prone to bring out their ‘victim hood’ than otherwise. Sure, I did that too but to a very limited extent – I focused on my story, my mess. This is what I think appealed to me most, that I write my story and just that. I decided to write it as honestly as possible.
To use or not to use characters
To begin with, please understand something about my context. In the part of the world I come from, precisely Cameroon, you DON’T write such ‘crap,’ and if you have to, don’t use your name. It is one of those ‘taboos.’ It was therefore no wonder that when my sister got wind of my project, she quickly advised I use characters. Of course, I had already decided to use ‘nick names’ for all but myself because I wanted to be known as that ‘shameless’ woman who ‘successfully’ lived ‘parallel lives.’ Using ‘characters or nick-names,’ saved or spared me some embarrassment, but revealing myself, got me some embarrassment too.
Coming out of the closet
I don’t think coming out of the closet should be reserved only to LGBT. I mean, writing a memoir of any kind is a revelation by itself. You reveal yourself to yourself and to the world. You reveal your family sort off and you reveal other ‘stuff,’ which may directly or indirectly concern or probe others. Actually for me, writing and publishing my memoir was a big therapy for my near ‘nervous breakdown.’ I needed to see myself on paper, in no-nonsense words and in all the different feelings I experienced as I wrote what I had so far lived.
Writing in hiding
To be candid, what I wrote was even very powerful and embarrassing to myself. I dreaded what would have happened had my mother or someone else stumbled upon it. I dared not write on paper, and this had disadvantages. I then also didn’t know as much about the writing and social networks and resource websites for writers of my genre. I was scared and yet determined. I wrote my chapters at midnight when all were asleep or at 3 am before starting my 4 am workouts. I tried to password the file and give it a weird name. Publishing while still in Cameroon was out of the question. I actually hid that file away for almost two years until I found myself in Belgium and discovered CreateSpace.
What I have learnt
There is no point ‘writing your memoir in hiding.’ There are lots of websites, workshops, and nice people out there prepared to help and guide or even reassure you as you embark on that ‘tedious journey.’ After ‘opening up’ and reading several other more poignant memoirs (though none from a Cameroonian or even an African author so far), I have come to realize and accept the fact that my story is not the worst ever. I have also come to benefit fully from the ‘largess’ of that ‘courageous endeavor.’ Indeed, as I keep telling people, my writing is my therapy and message and so is my memoir.
Thank you Madeline Sharples for writing your soulful memoir. Special gratitude also to some authors like Linda Joy Myers, Sherrey Meyer, Joyce Meyer, Iyanla Vanzaart, Ellen Johnson and of course Maya Angelou for sharing your stories and much more. I am forever inspired and motivated by strong women like you.
Marie Abanga describes herself as: “A dynamic and passionate woman, mother of three boys, lawyer, activist, mental health advocate and feminist.” She is a native of Cameroon in Africa and currently lives in Brussels, Belgium. She is enrolled at the Brussels School of International Studies as an LL.M candidate for international law with international relations. She also works as the Regional Manager Africa for the Women In Parliament Global Forum. Marie was a pioneer community champion for the UN Women Knowledge Gateway for Women’s Economic Empowerment and has been spotlighted by various feminine magazines, including Women’s Lead and the Girls Globe. Fluent in English and French her native languages, she speaks pidgin English and tries to understand Italian and Swahili. In addition to her memoir, Marie keeps two blogs: her award-winning http://marieabanga.com andhttp://myeverydaypersonal.blogspot.be/. She is making strides into the social network world, keeps numerous journals including one for her first son, and has a second memoir in the ‘conception’ stage.