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

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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Death, Mental Health

GOD BLESS THE DEAD

Today.

In memory of our angel baby, my nephew, born sleeping. He was the most ethereal of them all; perfect even in death. It just dawned on me how I hoped and prayed he would not just be our rainbow baby but my birthday twin or at least my zodiac twin. I’m eternally grateful he actually turned out to be my zodiac twin. My little sag baby.

Also in memory of our other angel baby, my beautiful niece, born sleeping too, a year ago. She was the most dainty baby I ever laid eyes on. Born endowed with a headful of black curls and perfect caramel skin. So graceful in her deep sleep!

And also in memory of our yet another angel baby, also perfect on so many levels because God does not make mistakes. Our guardian angel, the baby we carried but never met.

In memory of our angel babies. In memory of all the babies we carried but never met. In memory of all the babies we held but could not bring home. In memory of all the babies we brought home but did not stay. In memory of all the little angels too perfect for this tainted earth.

God bless the dead.

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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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Mental Health

FIRST ANTIDEPRESSANT EXPERIENCE

As soon as I got my prescription and was making my way to the pharmacy, I warily googled what population percentage of the world was on antidepressants. Well I could not find an exact figure and I was certainly ambivalent that I had joined that throng; I popped my first antidepressant later that evening.

My antidepressant journey kicked off with major dietary issues (my appetite went through the roof and I ate so hoggishly I’d lose my breath resulting into a medley of gasping, lip-smacking and ruminating), blurry vision, constipation and persistent migraines that made me wonder if I had an undiscovered malignant brain tumour.

Sheesh, anxiety is really a blast when trying out meds for the first time! The first indication that something was up came in the next couple of days when I woke up to go to school but my legs were barely working, I was in the grip of convulsive shudders. I was also in a state of extreme dissociation that felt like I was entirely present in the world yet feeling extremely detached from it. I had drifted into mental autopilot. This drug-induced fugue was even more intense than what I experienced when it was happening naturally. Being on meds made my depression worse because it now graduated to what bordered stupor.

Over the weeks I pondered on stopping my meds cold turkey. Of course I was aware of antidepressant withdrawal syndrome. The leaflet that came with the drug warned that in the first days you might find symptoms that you are trying to counter, come back even more strongly. But I was overwhelmed. It was like playing symptom whack-a-mole, except that you are whacking bits of your psyche and sanity. I was on the brink of giving up all hope. And honestly comments like, “Uko na ugonjwa ya wazungu… “ coming from my folks were just adding salt to injury. I discovered I hadn’t known enough despair when one of them actually advised me to tuck my meds in a discreet pocket so as to hide it from plain view, and to only take them once I bolted my bedroom door and ensured no one was looking! They were sure just protecting me from the stigma but my paranoia imagined maybe they just didn’t want our smugness to be tainted by a mood disorder. (I know this is super mean of me). That was a terrible blow to my blue devils though. But I came to understand that they were totally innocent and just a mirror of the societal stand on mental illness. They meant the best for me. It is amazing how now they form my astounding, solid support system.

Tenacity is key. I eventually hit the antidepressant jackpot in about 6 weeks! Dawn came. There was a bright side, the much awaited breakthrough. It pushed me to be more cognizant of how I felt emotionally, physically and mentally. Everything that was careening out of control came to ease. I beat the intense anguish and debilitating lethargy that had for many years lingered over the surface and spilt into nearly every facet of my life. I was completely stunned. I found myself constantly wondering if that was what “normal” felt like. Well if that was it, then it sure tasted like sweet heaven!

Why am I writing this?

  • I am writing this because society carries a lot of stigma about antidepressants (and psychotropics) judging by what I see represented in art. I want to break the notion that humans are over medicating themselves and therefore medication should only be limited to “more serious” illnesses like diabetes and heart disease. Get it from me, antidepressants can be a GODSEND, and the channel to finding oneself. Of course the weight gain associated by it sucks, but in the grand scheme of things, it is not so bad. The pros far outweigh the cons.
  • I am writing this to create awareness that not all pain is physical and not all wounds are visible.
  • I am writing this, not to be treated special, babied, judged or fawned over, but for this to be matter-of-fact.
  • I am writing this because May is Mental Health Awareness month.
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