Art, Bipolar Disorder, Blogging, Creative Writing, Depression, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Mental Wealth, Mood Disorder

DEAR DEPRESSION.

My old friend, the black dog, the slayer of beautiful souls, the barbed arrow right through the heart, the chaotic evil, the disaster looming over the horizon.

OG Depression, 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 or let it slide. I made it crystal clear on my last post that exulansis does not live here – my pen will keep bearing me witness.

You claim to be 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 very African mother passionately calling me “the star” when she has five other wonderful children that sprung from her womanhood.

Love. It’s my 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 doting fine man made of textures deeper than what I had been apprenticed to; the man polished by greater forces than bowling alleys.

Love is that stranger at the mall about 6 years ago eavesdropping on my conversation with a friend and remarking, “You are intelligent!” Love is me jokingly replying in a somewhat cogent tone, “Or maybe I just have good grasp of language!” Love is the wide grin preceeding us exchanging numbers and love, yes, love is him showing me to my first psychiatric appointment!

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 that yet another very little girl at the sidewalks, the little girl whom I thought very well looked like eight glasses of water and seven hours of sleep, the beautiful little creature, the one at the sidewalks, the one that asked if she could touch my ears simply because, “zinashine kama stars,” going by the many piercings and golden jewelry. Of course it was a mighty yes from me!

Love, still on these little people, is that very very little boy from the opposite gate that returns the gesture by waving and smiling back each time we lock eyes. My goodness, whose beautiful son could this be?!

Love is my siblings finishing each other’s sentences. Love is the deep and seamless conversations from our childhood.

Love is my kinsmen in Ndhiwa, my neck of the woods, the cradle of the mighty Gor Mahia, the heart of the village, where people “lead the lives they choose” (not my words!), proudly putting me on a pedestal, paying homage to me, holding me in such high esteem as the strong woman, my great grandmother, CheChe, the woman who birthed that whole clan, the woman that willingly left Tanganyika because love knocked on her door, the woman my father named me after, the woman whose blood I’m so blessed and humbled that my children and their children’s children will carry for generations to come. Love is me tracing my roots to Tanzania and that side of the family’s every deed spontaneously giving hints of love.

Love is a real bond in a flawed world.

Love is Father Time allowing me to make monumental memories with my loved ones.

Love is my unborn nephew due sometime this month! The month of love!

Love is me learning a bit more about love and a little less about myself. Love is all the positive words and their nuances and layers of meaning, love is all the words that orchestrate me to leave my comfort zone or be my brother’s keeper. Love is me feigning strength until it’s inked in my bones, love is me drowning in insidous and compounding waves but still waking up to try and reach the shore tomorrow. 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 children 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 is my ocean of confidence.

Love is Wabi-Sabi. Love is me 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 me understanding that love is still very much in need of love today.

Love is me agreeing that life is my textbook and everyday I must breathe in a new page and be taught.

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

Love is me processing that the pen is mightier than the sword and paper is more patient than people.

Love is me 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 me 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 rosebuds.

Love is the beauty of the strange, the hope of time, the sound of space and the uncertainty of impossibility.

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 me learning that in order for good things to come my way I must believe that I deserve them.

Love is me being nonchalant, unbothered and aloof from the playful bickerings that strive to force ugliness into my soul.

Love is me acknowledging that I cannot settle for being the gold fish in a fishbowl yet I have the capacity of a shark in the ocean.

Love is my aching awe and strong rush of gratitude for the good and the bad, for the yin and the yang, for all the blessings and the lessons.

Love is my philosophy. Love is my yellow brick road to happiness. Love is the future.

Love is not you, depression!

Love is me, me chasing my calling!

Peace, kid.

©️ Ida-Sharon

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Art, Bipolar Disorder, Blogging, Mental Health, Mental Wealth, Mood Disorder

MIGHTY GRATEFUL.

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 certainly a year wiser and tentatively a stone lighter.

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. Please. And thank you.

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 to / for:

  • God. For being 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.
  • Bipolar Disorder. Circular Insanity. For OG Depression, the black dog, the brain fog, the throttling monster, the slayer of beautiful souls, the barbed arrow right through the heart. Grateful really? No, BUT… for being an eye opener, for giving me insight, for giving me depression which teaches me empathy, for giving me anxiety which gets me to be more organised, for giving me suicidal tendencies which taught me to appreciate the moments I almost didn’t have.
  • Me. Finding myself. 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 bipolarity and my femininity and their secret theatres of power and influence. I now strive to act as a redeemed, empowered young woman and a daughter of philosophy and ethic. A powerhouse, 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. (God bless Kid Cudi). For the tasteful and timeless genre that is Ohangla. For its beautiful beats and for my dancing feet. (Please give ALL the flowers to Prince Indah).
  • The wind, the zephyr. I mean have you ever spent an unholy amount of time trying to make your hair tame only to step out and have the wind leaving like a witch that just flew on her broom? I’m grateful to the wind for constantly validating my princess hair!
  • Dr. C.O. 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, a quality friend, a real ride or die.
  • 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. For being a real bond in a flawed world!
  • My friend G. For the simple fact that we finish each other’s sentences.
  • My friend H. For being the sunshine in my last memories of O’ Level. And for constantly crossing my mind and lifting my spirit throughout A’ Level. 7 years on and she still saves the day from many miles away on video call!
  • My friend T. A person made of textures deeper than what I had been apprenticed to. A person polished by greater forces than bowling alleys.
  • My cousin BT. For his stellar personality.
  • My nephew Y. For his smile which 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 awesomeness with a twist of wow and plenty of fun. For loving me religiously.
  • My grandmother. A daughter of the islands who had the most beautiful wrinkles around her eyes when she smiled. A woman whose eyes radiated beams of light with just one grin. A woman whose whole face was the map of her life. A magic maker. A birth giver to stars. For the 21 great years she was in my life as my bond companion.
  • My parents. If I didn’t have them I’d never see the sun.
  • Roses. The only flowers that convey messages without words!
  • Fair weather friends, phoneys, wet blankets, naysayers, rabble-rousers, unnecessary tirades, the losing team. For subconsciously reminding me that love’s still very much in need of love today, and that I’m imbued with heavenly powers and I can use it well for the highest good.

© Ida-Sharon

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Bipolar Disorder, Blogging, Life, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Mental Wealth, Mood Disorder

Y(OUR) STORY ISN’T OVER YET;

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk to bloom. ~ Anaïs Nin

You are worthy. These are the words echoing in my mind, vying for attention. Another life lesson has been cultured. As a voracious reader and a fledgling writer, I love words with all their nuances and layers of meaning. The connotation of the word “encourage” stares me in the face and I can’t hold it in anymore.

Are you discouraged? Struggling to navigate from cradle to grave: call of duty, earthly undertones, work, school, relationships, family, adulting …life?

How are you today? If you squirmed at my greeting then this post is for you. I’d like you to know that Your Story Isn’t Over Yet;

It may seem like you have hit rock bottom. It may seem like you have hit a dead end. Perhaps turned a corner and suddenly rammed into a brick wall. Perhaps it is the same old compounding treadmill of vanity and no fruition. Perhaps it is jostling through the labyrinth of life searching for the exit from the debilitating maze of the mundane. Perhaps it is dying to live yet living to die.

If you have ever listened with shock as the doctor shared test results, if you have ever watched the casket close on your loved one, if you have ever lost a job, if you have ever had your heart mercilessly ripped out by the person who should have loved you authentically, if you are going into the red, if you are wallowing in self pity, if you are going to pieces, if all these have hit a little close to home… perhaps there are no more skeletons in your closet or no more crisis looming in the horizon but you are still angst ridden, dog tired, guilty, broken and longing for something different from your already full plate, this post is for you. Your Story Isn’t Over Yet;

These moments of trials and tribulations, these bouts of apathy and despair are the chief cornerstone on which your story of glory is founded on. Find and shield the blueprint. Guard it jealousy. When everything seems dark and dizzy, hang in there for a second more. Stars need the darkest night to marvel. And when they do, they adorn the night sky. If you are going through hell, keep going. Let your heart break, it is good for your art. There is no glory without story. Realise that your soul purpose is your sole purpose. The seed must grow regardless of the fact that it is planted on stone. It will be lonely but the caterpillar is alone in the cocoon because transformation time can only be done one on one. Take heart, because you will soon transition to the beautiful butterfly.

The butterfly is only beautiful because the caterpillar is brave.

Search for that tiny flare of hope, religiously. Make those recurrent episodes of closed doors, silent cries, lead heavy eyes and stuffy nose bring out your tenacity, your grit, your will power, your resilience, your strength. Process, own and manifest the power of nothingness. Keep feigning strength until it is inked in your bones. Adopt resilient dynamism.

Your wings are carved and shaped to slay the demons, therefore you will not be touched by turbulence in the aura. You will not be tainted by failure. Rise from the ashes like the phoenix. Heal like the wolverine. Repeat until you can soar like the eagle. There is beauty in the struggle; you are the radiant sparkle of beauty. ❣️

God is still out here drawing straight lines with crooked sticks!

Pitch your tent in the land of hope.

Failure is a detour; not a dead end street. ~ Zig Ziglar

Your Story Isn’t Over Yet;

If you are probably wondering why there is that semicolon at the end of that mantra but not one more word as it should be after the semicolon, (or if you have been coming across people with semicolon tattoos sometimes often with the mantra), here is the reason: it is in solidarity with Project Semicolon, an organisation dedicated to “presenting hope and love for those who are struggling with mental illness, suicide, addiction and self injury,” and “exists to encourage, love and inspire.”

A Semicolon is used when an author could have chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life.” ~ Amy Bleuel, founder of Project Semicolon.

I hereby regurgitate the beautiful mantra of Project Semicolon by giving my testimony. I am a young woman living with Bipolar Type 2 Disorder. I have survived suicide. I am definitely not some of these labels and actions but rather a survivor. Not a victim, a survivor. My morbid fascination with suicidal ideations and tendencies are erstwhile struggles now. So I’m not doing this to be judged or fawned over – I’m doing this to be matter of fact. I have an astounding support system of wonderful mental health professionals, friends and family. A team that supports me, and I support you. I do not want your sympathy, I want your empathy. I want you to know that somewhere someone you love shares my story in one way or another.

My Story Isn’t Over Yet;

(Today is the annual World Mental Health Day. This year’s theme is suicide prevention, in order to raise awareness and action to prevent suicides. Therefore I will do my part: if anyone reading this is struggling, I will listen. Empathetically. Remember sadness is a mood but depression is a mood disorder. We are alone, TOGETHER. We are fighting the good fight whether or not it shows. My DMs are open and I’m looking forward to start an epidemic of smiles!)

© Ida-Sharon

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Bipolar Disorder, Blogging, Life, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Mood Disorder

HEAVEN COULD NOT WAIT.

Friday 4th September 2015, 08:30 pm. She shuddered and expired. Heaven could not wait.

My eyelids turned lead heavy, my heart painstakingly hollow and my blood felt like acid. My grandmother was gone.

She had certainly been at death’s door for some months but I was not ready for that moment. Nobody is ever ready for mortality.

You see my Dana was larger than life. She was my first country. She was beyond love. She was ahead of her time yet still on time. She had a demure demeanour that easily lit up a room. She was always wreathed in smiles. She had the most beautiful wrinkles when she smiled, as if her face was the map of her life; her whole face radiated beams of light at just one grin! She was beauty and everything that pertains to it.

Laced with self-consciousness, intuition, veracity, willpower, tenacity, grit and LOVE. A senior citizen and your typical African (great)grand(mother), and as such, had some of the obligatory traits — spontaneous deafness, an unerring ability to stand right in the way and a bat-like sonar system that allows her to shout your name at the top of her lungs when you left one dish undone but stand ten toes down when she herself did that. She was an absolute sweetheart in the grand scheme of things though.

This lady binged on love and affection. Authentic love and affection. A birth giver to stars. A magic maker. She had children, grandchildren and great grandchildren who would keep her on her toes; a wild ride to places she’d only see on telly. But I saw something striking in her liquid eyes, something that guided me from the moment I met her — her unflappable philosophy that whatever came her way she’d manage. And because she’d manage, we would, too.

Her relationship with God was a very skyward and personal one. She regarded Him as a friend. My own journey has been perhaps convoluted, my image of Divinity has somewhat shifted from that childhood vision (I believe due to my struggle with mood disorder), but the simplicity of those prayers remain! And so does something she told me when I asked her where God lived. She smiled at me very broadly and replied with a laid-back tone but somewhat cogent force, “In your heart.”

In her demise, I learnt that when the sled of death launches on you, when you watch the casket close on your loved one, it somersaults your mind forever. It brashly disrupts your mental, emotional and physical equilibrium. It brazenly reminds you of the frailty and fickleness of existence. Realisation dawns on you how terrible it is to love something that death can touch. I still hear the sound of her laughter under the starry sky in the middle of June, I still see her snow white teeth and her beautiful wrinkly cheeks traced with tiny spider veins, I still find bits and pieces of her in my musings and I still hold random conversations with her in my head 4 years after her passing, religiously. I still reminisce on everything.

I have learnt that there is no sanctuary for death; no respite, no silk cocoon you can wrap yourself to avoid it. Death is life and life is death and therein lies the metamorphoses, for both change and death are inevitable. Death can come fragrant as a dozen roses tied in silk ribbon, or it can slither in on the belly of a snake waiting for the right moment to strike or it can wrap itself around, throttling your breath from you. Death is the cold cup of coffee you never finish as you write your last words.

I think what puts us on edge regarding death no matter how familiar we think we have become, is its finality, surreal because there is no grand finale, no crescendo that can lead up to the moment.

Death will die too, one sweet day.

So dear Dana, I know I walked into your sendoff significantly mortified and soul-sick and a complete cesspool of mental illness, but today, 1460 days on, as I type this, I’d like you to know that I’m consciously blooming into an orchard of sunsets. Not because it got better but because I got stronger. Because I’m a budding wolverine, by virtue of you having been a veteran wolverine. That is why I must typify stout-heartedness, courage, ferociousness, aggression and fearlessness. I symbolize everything that is threatening or threatening. I’m firmly rooted, built up and established in the faith. In the faith that if it is good it is beautiful and if it is bad it is experience. In the faith that everything will be alright in the end so if it is not alright it is not the end. In the faith that I must keep feigning strength until it is inked in my bones. In the faith that I am a gladiator and I must never lay down my shield.

Thank you for teaching me that my patchwork heart and my glitchy mind are all WORTHY.

You are cradled in my heart eternally! I miss you terribly! I love you mightily!

And to my other Dana, my maternal forebear, Suzanna, woman of statuesque beauty, exquisite strength, precision, courage and LOVE. She was as alpha as they come. Strict, advocative and now peaceful and free as a dove. (She laid down her shield and gained her heavenly wings earlier on in February 2015).

So dear Dana Suzanna, you are the missing piece of my heart. Your memory is my keepsake. My life is a conduit of your love and the monumental memories that we made.

Thank you for teaching me that all my sharp edges and missing parts are all LOVEABLE. Thank you for adorning me.

You are etched in my heart forever! I miss you greatly! I love you authentically!

PLEASE GIVE ALL THE FLOWERS TO MY FATHER’S MOTHER AND MY MOTHER’S MOTHER! ❣️

© Ida-Sharon

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Bipolar Disorder, Life, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Mood Disorder

MYSELF IN A NUTSHELL.

As usual it has been a frantic few weeks of trying to get my brain meds to comply. Whew! S/o to my minefield of a mind for finally behaving. At least long enough for me to publish this blog.

My name is Ida-Sharon. My nickname is Sharida. (When I was young I spent an unholy amount of time learning to spell Ida-Sharon. My father had named me Sharon Ida at birth but my mother changed it to Ida-Sharon during Baptism because she was Catholic and she loved double barrelled first names, but I didn’t find out until a little later in life. So I frequently misspelt Sharon Ida as Sharida. That’s how it came to birth).

I’m in my twenties, 53 kgs heavy today, 5’2 tall. Sibling of five and owner of the cutest gosh darn dog you will ever meet! My father is my lifeline and my mother is my heart. My family is the reason I don’t like to fret.

I speak about 5 languages including Swahili, German and Luganda. I think polyglots are quite alluring.

I am bipolar. Scratch that. I have Bipolar Disorder. Bipolar II Disorder to be specific. But I cannot be shamed because I am a survivor and not a victim, because I wear it like a crown. A crown of grace and grit.

I’m a conversationalist, very doting and a purveyor of resilience. A firm believer in the notion that everything will be alright in the end, so if it’s not alright, it’s not the end. Born into strength, I’m endowed with the spirit of the concrete rose: beautiful and delicate yet full of grit and tenacity that strikes more firm than its thorns.

I experience life through emotions. I am the patron saint of soulfulness. I feel colours, see love, smell achievement and hear a smile. I find bits and pieces of who I am in unexpected places. I fear having my voice muffled; my instinctual nature shunned. I value my freedom and the interpretation of who I am. A music lover; I wake up and go to bed with music. I am intuitive and compassionate. I am that girl dancing to the beat of her own voice. I am all that is of this world both seen and hidden. I have unintentionally broken hearts and had my heart broken intentionally… Love is life’s biggest labyrinth. I am passionate and imperfect. I am a playful spirit with an old soul. I find comfort in penning as much as I do in a riveting read.

I love being a woman (we are the world’s most passionate / compassionate nurturers). I love my faith; I love who I am and who I will be. I refuse to apologize for who I am. Apologies are just words and words are transient. I am open minded and willing to try just about anything. I believe life is my textbook and day by day I will breathe in a page and be taught.

I’m living my dash while rooting for everyone affected by the scourge of mental illness.

Some of my favourite things / people :

  • Rap lyrics and rosebuds.
  • Pens, paper pads and paperbacks.
  • Tupac Shakur and the Outlawz. (Everything they do resonates with me on a personal level).
  • Sunglasses.
  • The colour blue.
  • The Psalmist.
  • The Blogosphere.
  • Beards that connect.
  • Full brows.
  • German accents.

© Ida-Sharon

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