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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Mental Health, Mood Disorder

GRATITUDE GALORE

Happy New Year everyone! It’s a chilly evening here in my neck of the woods!

My birthday was three weeks ago and I just got discharged from hospital one week ago so I’m a year wiser and stronger.

I’m nestled against the pillows as I type this, mellow and comfortable in the middle of my bipolar spectrum, with a clear state of mind, a calm soul and a revamped spirit. Last night I slept like a log and woke up to find this knackered dog curled up beside me at noon. Life is good, safe to say.

Looking back, I realise I grew up in this type of fishbowl existence where having my kind of chronic illness was the largest elephant in the room of health discussion. I heard people talk, I heard people stigmatise. So I figured that if people were going to say it about me anyway, I would say it first, because if I said it first, I would say it better. That is why I started this blog. Let it be known that exulansis does not live here at all.

Interestingly, when the world closes in with darkness and sin, I’m grateful for the myriads of blessings. Despite the depression, I’m blessed beyond imagination. Despite the soul rot, I’m blessed beyond imagination. Despite the speed bumps along my journey, I’m blessed beyond imagination.

Therefore today, in retrospect, I’m particularly grateful for:

God. The pillar of my astounding support system. For holding me while teetering between stoical and fervid. For carrying me during all reflection, transition and rebirth.

Myself. The self is divine. I feel like I had been a young girl of steel bright intelligence, but zero common sense. In other words. I had downplayed and underestimated my humanity and my femininity and their secret theatres of power and influence. I now look to act as a redeemed, empowered young woman and a daughter of philosophy and ethic. A legible wisdom of a grown woman, fearlessly navigating the turbulent waters of bipolarity. A grown woman of beautiful maps seldom left unread. A woman who is discontent with being the gold fish in a fishbowl when she has the capacity of a shark in the ocean. A woman who does not crinkle. A woman who knows her way around the minefield of self-actualization. A work in progress.

Music. Soulful music. For rap lyrics with wonderful emotional potency that resonate with me on a personal level. For the tasteful and timeless genre that is Ohangla. For its beautiful beats and for my dancing feet.

The sun and the wind. Even if I keep spending an unholy amount of time trying to make my hair tame only to step out and have the wind leaving me looking like a witch that just flew on her broom.

My doctor. For knowing how to help me stay on my cool. How to get me to stand ten toes down. How to whisper me out of fear and self-pity and put my soul back in my body, and ultimately my soul and my body all in that same recliner where sometimes he recounts a medical history that reeks of something like the voodoo incantations of a stark raving mad Haitian witch doctor.

Pens, paper pads and paperbacks. The readership, the blogosphere, the wordsmiths, the writers and the authors. Geniuses whose piercing words penetrate your heart and get plastered all over your soul. Clearly the revolution will not be televised but thank God for Ijeoma Umebinyuo!

My friend M. The queen of hugs and holding hands. An actual prodigy, a great listener, a top example and a quality friend.

My friend N. For answering every frantic call and text. For not having a single selfish bone in her body. For her superpower of keeping up with my monotonous rants.

My friend C. A real bond in a flawed world!

My friend H. The sunshine in my last memories of O’ Level.

My cousin BT. For his top tier personality.

My nephew Y. His smile also doubles as my medicine box.

My siblings B,B,B,B and B. Annoying, agitating, aggravating, nosey, caring, funny, determinated, intelligent and sweet. Whole bunch of goodness with a twist of wow and plenty of fun.

With gratitude I bow.

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Mental Health

DESTIGMATISE THE CONVERSATION

I have not been able to blog for several weeks because my depression has been a witches’ brew of guilt, anger and bad religion. Lethargy had drained and numbed me to life itself. Things have successively been going wrong leaving me feeling like the butt of life’s joke.

Today I’m going to respond to something that cut me to the quick. I’m going to do it with dignity and not resort to name calling or shade throwing, because then I will have kept the same (bad) energy that one of my folks had when they tried to shame me for my mental illness.

Okay. Can I be honest? Lay my cards on the table? I am aware that stigma and discrimination whether stemming from ignorance or not, are a direct depiction of one’s own insecurities, if you can’t accept someone for things they can’t control or didn’t choose, then you are the problem. If you can’t stomach the thought of their well-being, you could just love them from a distance.

I have to write this so everyone here can get a good look at ignorance and audacity in an overtly heightened state. Nothing is ever worth demeaning a person’s existence. Society NEEDS to destigmatize the conversation around mental health. We cannot do this by talking? Straight forward isn’t it? No.

Most people start the transition from childhood to adulthood looking to the future at a world of possibility. I on the other hand transitioned by a diagnosis of Bipolar II Disorder. But I cannot be shamed because I wear it like a crown. A crown of grace and grit.

“End mental illness stigma” is a phrase we hear often. The word “stigma” technically means “a mark of shame” and in the context of mental illness advocacy, we mean the unfair mark of shame others assign to us when it is revealed we live with different mental health conditions. It can also be shame we assign ourselves when we feel like there is something wrong with how our brains work, and decide to keep our thoughts hidden from others. However this idea of “ending the stigma” only scratches the surface of the real shame, micro aggressions and acts of discrimination people who live with mental illness sometimes face.

I’m blessed that I got a proper diagnosis. My psychotropics seem to be working like a shaft of light into my weary, befuddled brain.

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Therefore society should stop making mentally ill people feel bad for their symptoms. We are flaky. We are sleepy. We are grumpy, aggressive and forgetful. We lash out. We cry. We over think and over compensate. We are sorry. We are trying. We know we are in limbo between too sick to be healthy and “not sick enough to be healthy. ”

S/o to everybody battling an invisible illness!

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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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