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!

Standard
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!

Standard
Life, Mental Health

DARLING

Listen baby girl, you are beyond stunning. Do you hear me?

You have always been the girl that lets life happen to her. The girl that rides the rollercoaster of Bipolar Disorder without a seatbelt on. The girl that fights back the sting in her eyes when least expected to pull herself together. The girl that is almost painstakingly adept at keeping her cool in the wake of the turbulence that is circular insanity.

Today, in retrospect, looking back on some of your blog posts and I am absolutely gobsmacked at some of your posts. Equally inspired and revamped because you found people on the same wavelength as you. One thing is still vivid though: the skeleton that spooks you every time you open the closet. The black dog. The brain fog. The pain in the brain. OG depression. The slayer of beautiful souls. The throttling monster. The barbed arrow right through the heart.

You have hugged your knees, cried for hours until the tears dried and the throat hurt. Until you got a stuffy nose. You have sat on the floor of your room, sulking, yet in daze at the stormy situation that compounded you.

It’s a pity that even as you write this, you keep glancing over your shoulder because you know the black dog might be back sooner than later, but you tread on because you feel compelled to get this out.

But I’m glad that you are learning to dance in the torrential downpour. Like a phoenix, you are starting to learn how to emerge from the ashes to start a new life. I have seen you plummet to the state of despair and depress. I’m happy that you still have the key even when the black dog steals your self esteem, debilitates you (often to the point that you have no oomph and no motivation) and wraps it in chains.

You still believe in grit, resilience, tenacity and strength and resolve of character. You are fully aware of the inherent beauty in the promise of the life ahead of you. You choose to be a prisoner of hope. You understand that depression did not break you, it broke you open. You know that you are not here inspite of the challenges, you are here because of the challenges. You know that “we must all meet our moment of truth in this thing called life. Nobody is invincible; no plan is foolproof.” You are unstoppable, not because you have failures or insecurities or doubts but because you soldier on despite them. You still know, in the grand scheme of things, you are blessed despite the speed bumps along your journey. A journey that sometimes seems to be guided by a broken compass. A road to redemption that sometimes seems to have no GPS.

You understand that depression teaches you empathy and suicidal ideations teach you to appreciate each moment you almost didn’t have. You are slaying a demon that can’t be seen —feels like you have been through a fight but you have no punches, kicks or head butts to show for it yet you feel painful aches.

You have felt the paroxysm of pain. You have learnt that it doesn’t get better; you only get stronger. You know that you are in it for the long haul; maybe until you find your yellow brick road to healing. You must keep feigning strength until it’s inked in your bones.

You would rather be a burning passion than a perfectly put together coward.

Your glitchy mind and patchwork heart are worthy. And so are your sharp edges and missing parts.

Chase your calling, sis.

Standard
Mental Health

DEPRESSION, AMBIVALENCE, A YEAR STRONGER

I know many people perceive depression as an intolerable, persistent sadness and deep gloom. My most recent experience has vividly shown me that depression can be subtle, sneaky and disguised in symptoms that can be hard to identify. If you are having unexplained pains or aches, often feeling irritable, irked or angry for no discernible reason, crying at the drop of a hat – you could be depressed. This is me lately.

Depression is poking me in the most unexpected way, both physically and behaviourally. I’m obviously very lethargic but what hits hard is the frequent crying spells, the short bursts of spontaneous, out-of-nowhere (sometimes anxiety provoked) teariness. My little brother could be trying to show me a meme on his phone but I’d be very irritated and balancing tears and on the brink of slamming the door on his face just because he called my name “a little louder than usual.” On Monday I cried on the bus to town because I simply felt “unloved.” These feelings honestly make my stomach churn. I want out.

I have also have a significant lack of appetite. One meal per day suffices pretty much. I don’t even feel hungry in between. I’m also experiencing what feels like pathological guilt. I know guilt is a natural sensation at times but I have branded mine as pathological because it painstakingly scans the past and sees only a series of failures. I feel overtly guilty for having been born, guilty for having depression, guilty for having mental illness, right now I can’t think of any major life role (daughter, auntie, friend, girlfriend etc) without being consumed by feelings of guilt.

While these symptoms are specific “clusters” of depression symptoms manifesting to create different experiences of mental illness, it’s not too bad in the grand scheme of things. I mean I experienced another milestone… I turned a year older! Against all odds. Sailed through the shark infested bipolar depression waters of suicidal ideations, guilt tripping and everything in between. Forgive me but I’m happily unhappy, actually very ambivalent about this. Ambivalent for the prime reason that it was only yesterday that I walked into my 20s and let the tinges of adulthood kiss me fresh vibes of a world, tainted, yet beautiful. Ambivalent because now I’m inching closer to the quarter life crisis. Or so I feel.

However I must say turning a year older has triggered my love for reading and writing more. Readership is powerful. The pen is mightier than the sword. Underestimate it at your own peril. I’m falling out of love with my jeans and welcoming comfort to my skimpy dresses. I’m gladly binging on something called love. Something I had previously believed was a misnomer and a fictional concept. Love. Love that is a messed up world. Love that is going to fix us, no matter what.

So… Dear New Age,

You may look like a big number, but to me you are just as old as I am. You are the youngest I’ve ever been yet also the oldest I am. I’m just as paradoxical as you; tainted yet so pure. I would like you to know that I’m in search of something, something still unknown to me. We can discuss this over a year’s time as we turn over a new chapter on 10th December 2019, while we’re stumbling half drunk on our own musings and words. Until then, let’s learn a bit about love and a little more about ourselves. Let’s keep feigning strength until it’s inked in our bones. May we find our yellow brick road to recovery. May it strike us, one day, in retrospect, that these years of struggle for sanity were worthwhile. Peace and love, kid.

Standard
Mental Health

CIRCULAR INSANITY

After my second (and presumably correct) diagnosis, I now began to process everything sorrounding Bipolar Disorder. For the first time I felt that I could dig below the surface of my unhappiness without being ashamed of what I might find. This diagnosis was timely because it grappled so starkly with the reality of mental illness.

When I was misdiagnosed with unipolar depression, I used to wish I were bipolar, on the theory that I could at least accomplish something. (Boy, was I wrong about that.) Plans made during hypomania never come to fruition. They are started, rethought, abandoned, exchanged for something grander and ultimately fizzle out when the hypomania wears off.

I have Bipolar type 2 so I don’t experience the manic highs, only depressive lows and hypomania. This is the reason why I was misdiagnosed with unipolar depression.

Depression leaves me feeling physically and emotionally exhausted. I start to fixate and obsess on all the outlandish things I did when I was hypomanic and hate myself for it. I begin to lose my cool. And it’s sometimes so severe I could hold suicidal tendencies.

No doubt, depression is the devil. Depression is to sadness as a broken leg is to a splinter. Depressions sucks the life out of a person and mutes all emotions save for misery and lethargy. Depression throttles. Depression denies all possibility of complacency or elation or even happiness. Depression is hell. Real hell on wheels.

Standard