Life, Mental Health, Mental Illness

Dear Survivor

You’re strength and sweetness, your spirit is magical.

You’re majesty, your soul is royalty.

You’re a demigod, your presence is astounding.

You’re a warrior, your bones are resilient.

You’re a wonder, you have me by the heart.

You’re worthy.

Your sharp edges, your missing parts.

Everything.

I see you, I AM YOU.

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Mental Health

Differences

December babies, the stage is finally ours.

Season’s greetings everyone!

It’s been one rollercoaster of a year. These are some absolute historical times, the planet took a bender. The weather is foul, the economy is off-kilter, being frivolous in public can cost you or your loved one’s life in this pandemic, death is always looming. I turn a year older in some 9 days. I took my last Prozac and Olanzapine on 3rd August 2019. What a time to be alive.

There’s some doom and gloom in my head and heart lately, sometimes. This life is tinged with an inert kind of sadness. My friend died 2 weeks ago. It is terrible to love something that death can touch. We put him to rest, the heavens opened up and it poured massively. I gained a powerful guardian angel.

This year mistakes have been made, karmic dues have been paid and dreams have equally been realised. I have been outdreaming myself in ways I never imagined. Reading is still my most fulfilling activity. Authors are such national treasures. Real mercurial creatures with their own unique quirks. The reason I started this blog was to try to speak my mind and write my heart, just like them. To wring words out of my hurting heart. And to escape residual pain.

I sit in awe of the magic that is art. Artistes, writers who suffer monumental losses, go through turmoil but still manage to create beauty. Their unerring ability to touch us, to leave us speechless. To leave us frozen in our tracks, to bring us to our knees. To numb us, to soothe us. To hypnotise us, to awaken us. I sit in awe of words that go past your heart and get plastered on your soul. Words that slap and hug your whole being at the same damn time. I sit in awe of people who bleed words. I sit in awe of precision. Of boldness, of candidness. And the notion that the hurt might just be good for the art after all.

Sometimes I’m convinced that I have steel bright intelligence but zero common sense. I falter. Yesterday I thought my brain broke at the examinations hall but then I realised I just couldn’t process that my hands could actually write again. I lost 20 minutes of the allocated time. I’m thankful to be able to have a strong grip of my pen again.

Flip side, I miss the therapy sessions. I miss the whole effect of benzos and psychotropics. Just occasionally. That feeling remains unmatched. It’s a spiritual experience. It felt like the liminal space right before you’re born and right after you’ve left heaven. But I do not miss the psych nurses, maybe just the doctors because they tend to have the experience to treat each patient as a unique case and not as a book example. I will never forget this one time one of those Nazis decided to subtly advice me that I need Jesus rather than meds, all while directly administering the meds to my veins!

When your heart breaks but your spirit is solid, that’s when you know there’s so much kingdom left to come.

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Mental Health

RAINBOW AURA

Last evening I got home, jumped into the shower and washed the day off. As I sat combing through my journal, it struck me how much random people tell me how intelligent I am, and it wrung tears out of my hard heart.

I’m humbled and touched that I apparently come off as a mind blowing smallness of an existence; a blend of daintiness and intelligence. Especially in these absolute historical times that we’re living in, where if I open my mouth, just like you, it’s most likely to decry the pandemic, the foul weather, the off-kilter economy or the state of the nation. Basically this maze we’re lost in.

Last week two strangers coincidentally told me I look seventeen. But I’m a couple of years older than that and feeling blessed that I don’t look a day like my scars.

I still remember how the unjustness of life was sitting heavy on my chest. How good days were just thinly veiled bad days. How I sat with emptiness and it knew me by all my names. How I got tired of praying for happiness so I prayed for a little less pain. How debilitating depression is. How dreaming of better days vexed my spirit, troubled my mind and weighed on my soul.

Sometimes, a lot of times, there’s so much madness underneath the grace. In feigning strength until it’s inked in your bones, in outlasting your demons. But I have mastered the art of survival and now I must learn to live. Because I deserve to live.

Today, in retrospect, I have no solid desire to be called strong. It will be a cold day in hell before I allow myself to be called strong. I don’t want to be called strong in a culture where strength is defined by your ability to hide your feelings in the face of adversity in front of others. In fact, I’m not strong, I’m human. I’ve been here long enough to understand that once the spiritual cuts across the mundane you cannot be modest about how authentic you are.

Once the spiritual cuts across the mundane, you cannot be content with being the gold fish in a fish bowl when you’re a shark in the ocean.

You have no business shrinking just to fit in.

Cheating myself out of happiness by consciously immersing myself in things that force ugliness into my soul is too expensive for me. Way too far-fetched a narrative.

To my younger self, the girl who didn’t know better, I forgive you.

I’ll strive to meditate on my blessings, protect my energy and fill my aura with positivity. I’ll mould this rainbow aura.

The rainbow is a perfect arc of an array of brilliant colours. A symbol of a gleaning hope and promise of brighter days. A blessing in your ventures. An indication that the rains have passed and no fate is insurmountable.

Lifetime praises to my father, the man made of textures deeper than what they’ve been apprenticed to. The man more polished by greater forces than flashy malls. The yin to my yang. My kindred spirit. The best, most doting father and I can only hope to hold even a fraction of his greatness.

Ancestor praises to my father’s mother. The woman who had the most beautiful wrinkles when she smiled, as if her face was the map of her life. The woman whose unflappable philosophy of overcoming everything that came her way still guides me even in her death. The woman who affectionately called me “Wuon par wa” (our father / head of the homestead), one of the most (if not the most) powerful terms of endearment in my culture.

Great indebtedness to my mother and my siblings. Especially to my biggest sister, mother of my favourite nephew. When I grow up I’d like to be a flaming charisma like you. And to my little brother, thank you for the random endless warm gestures of love!

And to this cat that is hell on wheels – she plays too much when my alarm goes off so I never oversleep and get late for work. Daily gratitude.

Profound recognition to my friends. Especially the one who gave me a book to read on our most recent date. May your brain never bicker with mortals. And to the other one, the queen of hugs and holding hands, for answering every frantic call and text with reaffirmations of grace, I see you! And to all the others who are not afraid to be vulnerable with me; the ones who bare their souls to me, the ones who don’t have a single selfish bone on their bodies, I celebrate your strength and sweetness.

Unbounded gratitude to my readership and the general blogosphere, especially the very inspirational Mental Health warriors. Your beautiful comments in solidarity truly hone my brave spirit. Thank you for your courage and raw honesty. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for the candid ruminations on mental illness.

Thank you. Words fail me.

I sincerely hope all of you hang in there. Pitch your tents in the land of faith. Hope. No matter how cliché it sounds. We are the riddle the world is still solving, and we’ll be the reason humanity will take a stance against stigma.

Zealous fervent prayers for each one of you. And me.

May grace continue to carry us.

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Mental Health

HEARTSTRINGS

Do we have to put on the whole armour of God to exercise patience this year?

One thing I’ve realised about 2020 is that my eyeballs don’t go far back enough for me to roll them as hard as I need to. From the pandemic, to the state of the nation, to the foul weather, to the fact that I haven’t really cracked open a book this semester.

Sometimes my heart is tinged with sadness, the inert kind. The kind that leaves me looking for the next doorway back into the blogosphere. What a strange rising!

These are seemingly some unforgiving times. The falsity of the fabric of society we live in is even more vivid now. A cesspit of iniquity. September is Suicide Awareness & Prevention month. We cannot have health without Mental Health and I find it mind boggling that many people still go without healthcare and medications for manageable diseases, issues and conditions just because they can’t afford health insurance. I’m aware of the business aspect, but, be that as it may, I just don’t find it reasonable.

This month also marks five years since my father’s mother died and she’s still sorely missed from our lives. A magic maker, a birth giver to stars. A beautiful woman, from the tips of her toes to the depths of her soul. On the evening we buried her, the heavens opened up and the rains poured down. I gained a powerful ancestor. Today I sit in awe of the wonderful people God placed in my life to nurture me. Love is warm, I learn. It cradles our lonely souls and thaws the ice in our hearts. It’s the metaphor for salvation. And might.

Last weekend I was at the hospital for my routine check up. I still don’t weigh past 51kgs. But my beaming face tells its story. I can’t believe that a little over a year ago, my brain was so lethal that for me to tame it I had to lose my ability to write with my own hands! Now my mental health is nothing like it used to be. Thank goodness. It’s been thirteen months of unbridled peace and sanity, in the grand scheme of things.

To celebrate this milestone, I’m considering getting myself another dog for my birthday later this year. Dogs are such a hurricane of life and energy, and signing up for a lifetime of love and wiggles is the ultimate heartwarming gesture for me. Sometimes the best therapist has fur and four legs. I’ve also had my hair loc’d since April and I feel like I own some shares in Afrika. My level of spirituality is so grand no mortal can harm even a single strand of my hair.

I look at myself in the mirror and see the reflection of a God. I become sensationally inspired by the beautiful mental and spiritual space I’m in. It took me many years to realise that I’m a whole lot of lovely and I deserve every damned chance at happiness. I refuse to cheat myself out of happiness.

Well the demons of Mental Health hate having their stories told but here I am, levelling up my hero, on my internet black box. Unbowed, unmatched and undefeated. Unparalleled.

October will be magical–I can feel it in my bones!

Serious love and solidarity to everyone struggling with depression and self actualization.

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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

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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Mental Health

SWEET SORROW

Her eyes are like embers of coal,
They bear no reflection of a soul,
She carries the scars of a thousand wars,
Yet they say the course was never worthy.

As she listens to the voices in her head,
The things she dreads most seem to haunt her the most,
The daily verses she rehearses are often quite morose.

She wonders,
Why do they snub,
This disease of the mind?
When did our default,
Become the “I’m fine?”
When will they all open their eyes,
To the life behind the mask,
And the hurt behind the laugh?

She is quite twenty,
But she is not hearty,
Not anymore,
Her mind’s gone awry,
Dare not pry,
But in her eyes are stories left untold.

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