Life, Mental Health

Introspection: Day 151.

June will be here in a few hours. 2021 is fading, fast. No more foul weather. The sun is out and its rays shine forth magic. Mother Earth is breathing. The universe is wondrous and we must so blessed to still be here experiencing its richness.

But there is a crippling sadness that has settled in my bones. How do we forgive ourselves for all the things we did not become?

How do we teach our hearts to feign hope? How do we cloth our sadness in grace? When does ‘you’ll get over it’ begin? What do we do when the tears and the words are woefully inadequate?

Something about this pandemic is hitting hard. I feel like the lack of common sense and absence of empathy can be found in the vast population nowadays. Moral bankruptcy is now competing with economic bankruptcy. The news are mostly depressing. Statistics confirm that 1 in every 4 Kenyans has some kind of a mental illness. On Saturday on one of the segments on a local news channel, a woman politician, revered and reviled in equal measure, came up. She was opening up about her struggle with Bipolar Disorder. Her candid confession, her remarkable resolve and incredible courage ripped my heart apart but also handed it back to me carefully, repairing me stitch by stitch, as if to say,” It’s okay. You can be just as great.”

If you have kept up with my blog posts from the time I started publishing, you must already know that I’m a Bipolar Type 2 Disorder Survivor. I was on prescription psychotropics for years, got sorely addicted to them, up until I decided to have myself weaned off them in the August of 2019. Upon which I struggled with withdrawal syndrome for several weeks. But it is speculative to say that I recovered. For I did not recover; recovery is not entirely possible with mental illness. Even remotely in some cases. I would describe my journey as a new lease on life. It is one that is characterised by hope, mindfulness, pain, and radical change. All bundled up with a ribbon of love and resilience. It involves a lot of learning, unlearning and relearning. A lot of patience and being kind to myself. A lot of recognising that I’m special, that I’m not your common human, therefore my path will be unique. Yet just as worthy of every damned chance.

I have continuously learnt that when you’re a soulful person, you’ll always feel more: you’ll feel colours, see love, hear a smile, and smell achievements. You’ll grieve longer, rejoice louder, sulk miserably, laugh harder.. Every emotion will be immense, more. But just how much is more? Could it be really true that life has always been tinged with an inert kind of sadness? Or am I just more pensive in these historical times?

I have been doing a lot of recreational reading. One thing about me, I will always love words, those things saved my life. Words are eternal. The tomb of a writer is great but his grave is never in soil. It is evergreen in his work. In his book. In his legacy. Art is more powerful than destiny. More powerful than death itself. It penetrates time.

I have also developed a lot of what feel like migraines, again. My specs are no longer servicing me purposefully. The hospital visits are slowly reclaiming their spot in my roller coaster of a life.

Being Bipolar is a job in itself, except you never retire or go on leave. And I have mastered it. Last week I got the golden chance with this therapist. Not owing to illness but just as a recommended routine. Some of my favourite people in this world are therapists. The kind who breathe life to weary bones. At some point during our session, her face lit up, she adjusted her seat and suddenly decided to thank me for “bravely transforming my unspeakable personal pain to power.” I thanked her instead, “for acknowledging that I have long gone past throwing little pity parties.” That was one of the most wholesome, powerful sessions I have ever been to. The other was when this kind lady just collected her cheque for watching me go to pieces, tearfully, painstakingly handing me serviettes and rubbing my back sensationally. Till the sadness in my soul had been validated.

As I walked out the gate, an African monarch butterfly lit on the ground in front of me, flexing its wings as I approached. When I slowly bypassed it, it stayed put. As I got on the bus to town, it remained in inertia. Like a soldier, saluting greatness. I felt the universe rallying behind me. S/O!!!

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Depression, Life, Mental Health, Mental Illness

Journals & Bottled Emotions

The demons of Mental Health hate having their stories told.

Last week while decluttering our library I magically found my long lost journal for the year 2015!

Eureka!

I cried, mostly happy tears. It seemed like I had woken up from the most spiritual nap of my entire existence! It felt like the liminal space right before you are born and right after you have left heaven. Yet I still needed equal parts of strength and intense courage to re-read it.

That journal holds profound stories of my naked emotions. Ones of love, loss, pain, hope, and radical change. Very candid ruminations on life from the bipolar spectrum. The silent musings of a perpetually sad girl. 2015 was the year I began taking psychotropic medication. It was a rollercoaster of an experience.

I detailed it here:

That same year, I lost both of my grandmothers, just months apart. With the last one dying one rainy September evening as I looked on. Then another of my best friends suddenly died, his father outlived him by just six weeks. I had also been seeing this otherwise nice Mnyarwanda guy who confused me thoroughly.

My father gave me the journal on New Year’s. As was custom. He was the first person to open my eyes to the knowledge that time is also a resource. And I could use it for the highest good of all.

I had dreams. I journalled about them. In high school, I had concentrated on English Literature, I wanted to create stories like Chinua – the mercurial creature with his own unique quirk. I also wanted to end up like my countryman Ngugi; go to Makerere and leave a mark. My father liked to say that there, was a hall named Northcote, and there, great men rubbed shoulders. My mother immensely liked Mariama Bâ. She said women too—like those great men—can be great. I loved words with all their nuances, connotations and layers of meaning.

But life was always tinged with an inert kind of sadness. My depression was becoming a witches’ brew of anger, guilt and bad religion.

Sitting with my depression and getting to know it was the most genius decision I ever made, looking back. I’m pleased that I did not allow it morph into any other emotion. Finding my journal again has inspired me. I cannot believe that all I did was just sit by my pen and bleed all-over its pages. Writing, thinking, hoping, praying, wishing away.

I still live on the brink of my sadness everyday. Just like all survivors. For recovery is a process. And healing comes in waves sometimes. You’ll be drowning today and swimming against the tides tomorrow. I am alive to that fact. The only difference is I that found my saving grace in blogging.

I’ll keep my 2015 journal by my bedside like I do my Bible. That book saved my life, too!

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Life, Mental Health

Changes.

Grace, I know you’ll carry us.

Today marks exactly one year since I took my last antidepressant medication.

Yesterday I got a big fat rejection and it still stings a bit.

But I’ve just woken up from the most spiritual nap of my entire existence and it feels like a new lease on life. I love happy tears!

The grim reaper must really work hard in August, but God works harder.

I’m thriving, nonetheless. I still have my bad days, just like everyone else. Some days I wake up and feel like doing drugs, putting myself on a euphoric trance and gawking at everyone in this hard life with a big bunny smile on my face. Other days, a lot of days, life is good. I wake up and get this desperate desire to swing dance with my favourite person in the living room, spontaneously.

That only means I’m painstakingly transitioning. Feeling quite adventurous, active and brave. Steady overcoming the old patterns that weighed me down. I’m learning to repeat affirmations of forgiveness and grit to myself. I feel overtly blessed that reality is no longer obsolete for me and I’m no longer walking in the shadows where life feels so bleak, where self-actualization and lethargy are daily struggles. I’m no longer sitting on a time bomb.

Making my mental health a priority has returned and restored so much to me, in me. Self-love. Valour. Empathy. Grace. Refulgence.

The road to redemption is never linear. In fact, it’s marked by twists and turns and unexpected surprises and stops. It’s not always rainbows and sunshine but representative of the essence of the balance. So I’m letting go, but also taking the helm. The unseen and the unknown shall cheer me on, I trust.

In between, I’ve been reading some very powerful page-turners. Hooray! I love words with all their nuances, connotations and layers of meaning. And I’ve been coming across just that. True wordsmiths and their words that make every pore of your body stand up in agreement. Words that slap and hug your whole being at the same damn time. Words that open up the pit from where emotions emerge. Words that resurrect your life. Unnerving and comforting.

The goal is to vibrate so high that negative energy will no longer know me by name.

My favourite quote from one of those riveting reads was, “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide.”

My other favourite was a tough tie between, “Get in the habit of celebrating yourself from skin to marrow, you’re magic.” & “Fall for yourself, shamelessly.”

Another one said, “Fighting sadness is necessary war.”

“There is no solid fate that cannot be surmounted by scorn.” also deserves a notable mention.

Writers are such Messianic beings. They deserve immortality. How I love to breathe in a new page and be taught daily!

Well I’ve taken their words letter by letter and planted them carefully in my soul. Now, excuse me while I burn some bridges.

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Life, Mental Health

REFULGENCE

The sun was very out today. It didn’t rain. Mother Earth is breathing. Father Time is watching. The bougainvillea hedges bloomed and turned all crimson red.

It’s been almost a year since I stopped using psychotropic medications. My hands can write again with good grip, my feet don’t teeter anymore; I can now take the stairs high up as I please. (Joy’s finally flowing from my toes to my fingertips!) I also sleep through the night unaided and I take my meals religiously. The weird memory lapses are just memories now.

My nephew, our rainbow baby, is almost teething.

So I passed by church today. This time, I fell down onto the cool dust, below, on my knees, giddy with excitement, overwhelmed by humility, as I sent up kisses of gratitude to a gracious God. They say when God shows you mercy your story sounds fictitious.

Hope was a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have – but I still had it. I went from holding on to dear life to demolishing everything on my path. From feeling like if I made it to the end of the year (for like the past 10 years), I deserved an Oscar for best acting of the year, to feeling VERY BLESSED despite some speed bumps along my journey. On every single one of those days, I was a warrior. A trooper. One that triumphantly transitioned from being part of elite brainiacs called Bipolar to another esteemed group of spiritual gangstas called patron saints of soulfulness. 🤣

Here I am. Sinking deep into this bath of unapologetic self love. Lit like a fire, tall enough to lick the gates of heaven! A true reflection of a God. The ultimate God soaked metaphor!

Please give ALL the flowers to God!

I’ve always believed that what Mental Health needs is more awareness, more advocacy, more unashamed conversation, destigmatization. Imagine if all of us had a teaspoon of compassion!

Here’s to more sunlight, more candour, more empathy, more words untrammelled.

“S/o to everyone transcending a mindset, mentality, belief, desire, emotion, behaviour or vibration that no longer serves them.”

Peace & love!

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Bipolar Disorder, Creative Writing, Depression, Life, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Mood Disorder, Poetry

STRENGTH AND SWEETNESS

She’s strength and sweetness.

She’s a warrior,
Her bones are inked in resilience.

She’s a demigod,
Her small existence is astounding.

She’s a paradox,
Her weakness is her strength.

She’s majesty,
Her soul is royalty.

She doesn’t soar the skies,
Yet her wings are by no means,
Less than the eagle’s…

She plods, she ponders,
Some days,
She simply persists.

In silence she battles,
And in despair she remembers, love.

She gathers all that is left of yesterday,
Her glitchy mind, her patchwork heart,
Her sharp edges, her missing parts,
Everything.

She soothes her frayed heart,
Hoodwinks her demons,
Clothes her agony in grace,
Hones her brave spirit,
Feigns fresh hope,
And walks quietly into a new day.

Her emptiness still lingers,
Her pains still ache,
Her veins are weary,
Her smile is riddled with scars,
Yet she’s lit like a fire tall enough to lick the gates of heaven!

What a strong woman!
A woman made of staggering rebound!
A true reflection of a God!
The ultimate God soaked metaphor!

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Life, Mental Health, Mood Disorder

JOURNAL 20/2

Because paper is more patient than people.

Lately I’m humbled. Humbled by the many windows of grace; by my God who not only shows up but shows off too. By the emotional explosions that thrust me into the arms of that loving God.

I’m thankful for the tasteful and timeless music and my dancing feet.

I’m impressed by that empty bottle of antidepressants on the bedside that hasn’t left me feening for one more pill for the life of me. Six whole months later. And my stout-heartedness and criminal level of resilience through it all.

I’m stunned that I’m slowly becoming a vibrational match to my dreams. And that the unknown and the unseen seem to be cheering on.

I’m intrigued by this life that’s peopled with inspiration. By this one ardently sweet, indomitably good-natured person who thinks the same about me.

I’m awed by my sister who looks spookily like me but isn’t my twin. And especially by her stellar personality.

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Life, Mental Health

SAVING GRACE

Dear Depression,

My old friend, the black dog, the slayer of beautiful souls, the barbed arrow right through my heart, the chaotic evil.

The demon singing horrifying lullabies to my weary veins, the insecurity killing my glorious dreams, fraying a piece of my heart and numbing a fragment of my soul… it’s been a long time coming.

I would like you to know that you have been crossing my mind a little more than usual these past days and I won’t sweep it under the rug. I made it clear on my last post that exulansis does not live here – my pen will keep bearing me witness.

You’re a quintessential part of me; I have religiously ridden with you even in the face of death without flinching but you still haven’t done me right. When we met at age 14, I was quite innocent then, but not anymore. Thank God.

Many people do not understand when I say that pain is beautiful, because they believe I’m romanticizing pain. That I’m glorifying the process of surviving pain when in reality it’s the lesson in the survival that I glorify. Pain is beautiful, it gives me insight and empathy and compassion and soulfulness. And those are not your everyday qualities. Thank you for teaching me that my life is not sunshine and rainbows everyday and that’s okay.

Depression is the cubicle I’ve sat at, the fishbowl existence I’ve lived in, the cold table I’ve dined at. But they say you must learn to get up from the table when love is no longer being served. So today and all subsequent days, I choose to get up from the table. I choose love. All forms of love including self love. I mean didn’t they promise that if I love myself authentically, my energy and aura will reject anyone that doesn’t know my worth? Well you, my friend, do not know my worth. I can say that with a straight face and without an ounce of doubt in my soul. There’s no ghost of a chance here.

I choose love. There’s not a hope in hell that I will go wrong with love. Because love is a metaphor for forgiveness, a metaphor for strength and sweetness, a metaphor for redemption, for salvation, for healing, for wisdom, for might, for beauty, for royalty, for triumph, for goodness, for authenticity, for illumination, for jubilance.

Love is the voice of an angel from the shores of agony, from the tunnels of darkness, the sound of an angel serenading me to life, the heaves coming from my body.

Love is my father speaking words of affirmation, calling me graceful, professional, titular names everyday to my sometimes jaded soul from the other side of the phone. Love is my mother passionately calling me “the star” when she has five other wonderful children that she bore.

Love is that doctor whispering me out of fear and putting my soul back in my body and ultimately both back in that recliner where he sometimes reads that medical history that reeks of something like the voodoo incantations of a stark raving mad Haitian witch doctor.

Love is my friends answering every frantic call and text, keeping up with my monotonous rants and not having a single selfish bone in their bodies.

Love is that little girl at service last Sunday that clutched my hand a little tighter when my teardrop landed on her shoe during that spiritual sermon.

Love is also that very very little boy from the opposite gate that by waves and smiles back each time we lock eyes. My goodness, whose beautiful son could this be!

Love is the deep and seamless conversations from our childhood.

Love is a real bond in a flawed world.

Love is me learning a bit more about love and a little less about myself. Love is my favourite colour…love is your favourite colour too.

Love is my nurturing mother, love is my protective father, love is my charismatic sister, love is my unborn child lingering in my lover’s eyes.

Love is the whispering wind, love is the sun kissing the earth, love is the leaves breathing, love is the sea washing out, love is the raindrops pelting the roof as I sleep sound.

Love is the tasteful and timeless music and my dancing feet.

Love is my patchwork heart and my glitchy mind adorned, love is my sharp edges and missing parts validated. Love an ocean of confidence.

Love is Wabi-Sabi. The understanding that a box full of darkness is still a gift, and I can use that well for the highest good.

Love is the emotional explosions that thrust me into the arms of a loving God.

Love is sharpening the blades of my pen to destigmatize the conversation around this sinister thing that is you, depression.

Love is catching a dream filled with affection and awe inspiring things and holding it in my heart until I get to see my loved ones in heaven.

Love is becoming a vibrational match to each and every one of my dreams.

Love is butterflies, the whimsical beauties darting and swooping as they frolic between the greenery while I look on dreamily, touching me with their pale gossamer wings and leaving their magic on my skin as they restore my faith.

Love is the smell of fresh roses.

Love is the bountiful sky soaking my soul in the joy of illumination.

Love is the prickly bougainvillea not requiring a nod to harbour the blooming sight that wishes to protect its flower pod.

Love is the yellow brick road to happiness.

Love is the future.

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Life, Mental Health, Poetry

OENOMEL

She’s oenomel,
She’s strength and sweetness,
She’s wine and honey,
She’s blizzard and furnace,
She’s fire and water.

She exemplifies the sound of space,
The hope of time,
The power of pain,
The greatness of nothingness,
The change of the unstoppable,
The uncertainty of impossibility,
The essence of the downtrodden,
The beauty of the strange,
The beginning of the end.

She’s oenomel.

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Life, Mental Health

THE WISH LIST

I wish I did not act often like God were a figurine on the mantle or like He fits in my back pocket but rather like He is creator of the universe, and He loves me…

I wish I could shield myself from my own agonies and insecurities. From phones that do not ring, from snubbed emails, from the 6am alarm clock, from saying no but still feeling the responsibility to explain myself, from the malaise of bad company, from fair weather friends; the kinds that fly the coop as quickly as they can, at the first hint of trouble, from the frayed ends of the welcome mat…

I wish I could shield myself from depression, from Bipolar II Disorder, from mood disorders, from relapses…

I wish I could shield myself from false hope, from wet blankets, from naysayers, from rabble-rousers, from toxic people, from unnecessary tirades, from the losing team, from people with an agenda to harm, and those wild flowers meant solely to disarm…

I wish I could shield myself from romantic relationships that lead everywhere but the altar. I wish I could shield myself from relationships marred by arguments that feel like the brink of a break up. I wish I could shield myself from relationships characterised by constant gaslighting and guilt tripping. I wish I could shield myself from relationships that make me second-guess my decisions. I wish I could shield myself from relationships that seem like love is a misnomer or a fictional concept. I wish everyone could mow the lands where people have lost their vows…

I wish I could feel more at home especially in the love of the most precarious sight…

I wish perserverence were solely meant to mould life into love of fine, gold or cold firing…

I wish I could make society destigmatise the conversation around mental health within the snap of my finger…

I wish I could make us all root for people affected by the scourge of mental illness…

I wish I could wipe mental illness off the face of the earth…

I wish I could rap like the enigmatic 2Pac. Or sing pitch perfect like the regal Whitney Houston. Just so I could give a concert for free and heal a soul or two…

I wish I could master Messianic oration like Obama just so I could bless the human race with gracefulness and mind blowing speeches that move you to tears and orchestrate you to leave your comfort zone or be your brother’s keeper…

I wish I could write like Chinua Achebe, the mercurial creature with his own unique quirk, aspiration and preference that still drives me to aspire to create my own stories. I wish I could shield myself from bland and boring reads. I wish I could only encounter riveting reads. And wordsmiths. The more arcane, the better…

I wish I could be half as compassionate as Mother Teresa…

I wish I could be a flaming charisma like my big sister…

I wish I could effortlessly be the prime purveyor of grit and the patron saint of resilience…

I wish I could be the kind of African who does not see politicians without the hedonistic desire to bury them in stones, the kind of African who watches the local news bulletin without being sick to their stomach, the kind who takes pride in their passport because of the country in it…

I wish I could fly an airplane just so I would satisfy my wanderlust by visiting spots around the world on a whim, validating my travel dreams, one bucket list city after the other…

I wish I could read minds just so I would get into private investigations and solve the myriads of crimes that wreck(ed) the world…

I wish I could experience osmosis just so I would go to libraries and transform my brain into the richest data bank…

I wish I could buy a bottle of confidence, just so I would take a case and put it in the pantry! I wish confidence were wine, because wine comes in bottles…

I wish I could erase all of my struggles with sadness, lethargy and the minefield of self-actualization. I wish I could remedy every regret and every bad decision. I wish I could take more chances, different chances, try harder. I wish I could sift through my life, alter details and discard parts of my history on to the cutting room floor until ultimately editing all of the pieces together to create my own picture-perfect story. I wish I could act it out all again before the curtains fall…

I wish I could revive seamless conversations from my childhood…

I wish the bountiful sky could let me bring some of its stars down and let me soak my soul in the joy of their illumination…

I wish I could be as prickly as the bougainvillea so I would not require a nod to harbour the blooming sight that wishes to protect the flower pod…

I wish I could catch a dream filled with love and awe-inspiring things and hold it locked in my heart until I get to see my loved ones in heaven…

I wish I could become a vibrational match to each and every one of my dreams and aspirations…

I wish the whimsical beauties that are the butterflies darting and swooping as they frolic between the greenery while I look on dreamily, touch me by their pale gossamer wings and leave their magic on my skin as they restore my faith…

I wish we could acknowledge that we struggle with our faith because we see so many bring shame to it…

I wish Father Time could slow down so I can make many more monumental memories with my brilliant nephew Y, and keep reminding him someday when I am gone, that I love him mightily.

I wish we could all agree unanimously, that after Hip-Hop & Rap, Ohangla is the second most timeless and tasteful music genre…

I wish we could all understand that a patriarchal society cannot become egalitarian without feminism…

I wish Capital Steez did not take his own life on the cusp of stardom…

I wish, consequently, that everyone would understand that people who commit suicide do not want to end their lives but the pain…

I wish, like Kid Cudi, more rappers were never afraid to bare their soul on wax, and give their lyrics a greater emotional potency that touches so many of us living with depression and battling suicidal ideations, in the most unheard of ways…

I wish I could understand why most of my heroes are either dysfunctional or dead…

I wish my loved ones never forget how grateful I am for them being patient with me while I’m teetering between stoical and fervid…

I wish the brain fog understood that I am a wounded healer and I have the power to turn wounds into weapons and trauma into triumph…

I wish everyone knew they are imbued with heavenly powers and they can use them well for the highest good…

I wish these words could fly off this blog and into print and someone somewhere picks my soul up off of those pages…

But most importantly, I wish I could be me. Just me; my best me. Regardless of whether I am slouched in front of my computer or hanging out with my best friend. Because if everyone were extraordinary, who would be extraordinary?

But I am but human. A human with a bleeding pen in my hands. A leakage of me lost in a brown study.

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