Mental Health

DEPRESSION, AMBIVALENCE, A YEAR OLDER!

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.

Happy holidays everyone!

💛

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Death, Mental Health

GOD BLESS THE DEAD. 🙏🏾

29/11/2018. In memory of our angel baby, my nephew, baby Naem, born sleeping today. He was the most ethereal of them all; perfect even in death. I will never be able to expound on how for the past several months 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, baby Mara, my beautiful niece, born sleeping too, on 02/06/2017. She was the most dainty baby I ever laid eyes on. Born endowed with a headful of black curls, perfect caramel skin and a prominent nose. So graceful in her deep sleep!

And also in memory of our other angel baby, also perfect on so many levels because God does not make mistakes. Our guardian angel, sibling to Mara and Naem, the baby we carried but never met.

You three are forever cradled in my heart and I like to think that all of you are now in great grandmas’ strong arms, basking in heaven’s glory until we get there. (I think I might need an extra pair of arms because too many of my loved ones are up there and when I get there I’m planning to hug all of them and never let go!) Until then, I’ll be here looking after your big brother, baby Yul, the tiger shark, our now turned sunshine baby, keeping all your memories alive. The stark reality is that big bro is only six but he can already tell visitors that his baby sister (Mara) “went to be with Jesus.”). I know this pain feels insurmountable but hey I love you four in all seasons, and love is paramount, that is why we teach big bro to keep your memory alive. Plus he is the smartest six year old you will ever meet. So much style and grace in one little human. He radiates so much positive energy and his demure demeanour lights up a room! His toothless grin improves my mood tenfold!

Your mother? Well she is absolute dynamite. A bundle of stardust. A powerhouse. A wonder woman. A beautiful million dollar bill. A young woman full of utmost grit, admirable tenacity and a extra big heart. My big sister who doubles up as my bonus mother. Not just to me, but to all of my siblings and every young soul she crosses paths with.

Dear Lord, I know You are still at the throne and Your word says You are closest to the broken hearted, wrap Your loving arms around these angels’ mother and bless her with Your peace that transcends all human understanding as we keep trusting You to restore like You did with Your servant Job. Teach us to wait upon You. Just like Your word promises in Isaiah 40:31, may You renew her strength and mount her up with wings like eagles, may she run and not grow weary, may she walk and not faint. 🙏

In memory of Naem, Mara and little guardian angel. 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

WELCOME TO MY BRAIN; YOU MIGHT WANT TO BUCKLE UP!

As a fledgling blogger, voracious reader, Mood Disorder survivor, fulltime auntie and a student of life, I realize it is almost impossible to navigate from cradle to grave without coming head on with the besetting sin of audacity, bigotry and injustice. I don’t think I can expound enough how tired I am of bigotry and all forms of pigeonholed beliefs.

These sins are better shared. These sins are better highlighted. Raise your voice. Protect your energy. Protect your aura. Protect your sanity. You have the right and the moral imperative to do this. Speak out on the countless injustices that surround us, without fear of retribution. Be candid. Be bold. Be uncensored. Because when you turn a blind eye to this, injustice thrives.

I must say I’m particularly impressed by how the digital revolution makes us see even the injustice happening far from our shores.

But I want to believe that humanity shares a vision of equilibrium. And I also believe the world will not fall back into balance on its own. We must therefore raise our voice. We must not condole audacity, bigotry and injustice in any form, whether racism, classism, sexism or even “sheer” suppression of voice. The more we muck with these sins, the more we have to dedicate ourselves to unmucking.

Speak out on injustice because justice is something that is pivotal to our being. Speak out.

My pillar virtues are justice, grit and tenacity. I continue to envision a world that is just and balanced and harmonious; a world devoid of all stigma, including those related to mental health.

But where did the rain start beating us? Let’s go back to the drawing board, let’s make another blueprint, let’s do a thing, two or three, let’s create a safe haven, let’s make the world a better place!

A few tips on how to fight injustice:

  • Set an example. (Make changes in your own life).
  • Speak out. (This could be by a simple blog like I’m doing or by posting on social media etc).
  • Exercise your right to vote.
  • Donate to a course in which you believe.

Power to you!

✊🏾

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Mental Health

COLD TURKEY!

Hey everyone! It’s been a minute! Life definitely happened during my hiatus; I underwent a huge rollercoaster of emotions.

I moved to another town and as any other human, I developed personal relationships with others, some of them my loved ones, and notably some of the relationships started with adoration, moved to isolation and culminated into extreme gaslighting. But there is this one that stands out: one involving an extremely awe-inspiring person. Yeah, it may sound sappy and cliche or even somehow mawkish but getting over this one would sure be a daunting task. Lol. This isn’t some phase of hypomania. I know I’m bipolar, but still, hell to the damn no.

Well I appreciate all these experiences. As a firm believer in the notion that one must learn from everything that comes at them, I appreciate the yin and the yang, all of that.

That aside though. I STOPPED my psychotropic medications… COLD TURKEY! This is not advisable clinically and it was not a personal decision. It has been about 14 days of not taking Prozac (my antidepressant) and Olanzapine (my antipsychotic and mood stabilizer). These two psychotropics have been my “wingmen” for two years now. I love how psychotropics are steadily percolating through our culture and shaping the public understanding of mental health.

I must admit it hasn’t been a walk in the park as I have had to try many psychotropics before I arrived at these two. I have previously taken amitryptiline, carbamezepine, haloperidol, artane, escitalopram etc. Looks like I pretty much hit the psychotropics jackpot when I popped my first Prozac and Olanzapine.

Prozac and Olanzapine have been a godsend to me. They have constantly awakened me to the poignant beauty of this life. These drugs are nothing short of magical; they have resiliently fought my random feelings of lethargy and constant bleakness and random outbursts of emotions for almost no discernible reasons. Words fail me.

But dear folks, the chickens have come home to roost. I’m having serious withdrawal symptoms that range from insomnia, confusion, anxiety, agitation, nightmares, fatigue, migraines, muscle spasms, fogginess, flu-like symptoms, night sweats, tingling and numbness in the arms and legs. Literal brain zaps.

However, because my bout of depression is not here yet and my appetite is not messed up, a part of me is secretly hoping that this is just a slump and everything would resolve itself and someday I’d be able to lead a “normal” life. Ignorant as it may sound.

Let it be known that I’m not advocating for abrupt discontinuations of psych meds (your psychiatrist needs to wean you off them!) because these drugs cause biological adjustments in the brain, but so do mood disorders. This is no scant basis. Exude caution. Boy doesn’t it look like I’m making another impromptu visit to my psychiatrist soon?

Love, light and healing to all mood disorder survivors!

Yours with the crazy rollercoaster life,

💛.

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Mental Health

DESTIGMATISE THE CONVERSATION AROUND MENTAL HEALTH.

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 had successively been going wrong leaving me feeling like the butt of life’s joke. But that’s not my burble for today.

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 but I must say it was a very close relative. He tried to shame my dad for “having a bipolar child” and told him that “he needs to get his head checked urgently too. ”

Okay. Can I be honest? Lay my cards on the table? 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, much less a close relative. 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. I’m the prime purveyor of tenacity and resilience.

“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 lucky that I got a proper diagnosis and my psychotropics seem to be working like a shaft of light into my weary, befuddled brain. My minefield mind is on a hiatus. Medication can be a godsend. But this doesn’t happen overnight; I hereby encourage my fellow survivors (because to me they will always be survivors rather than victims) to persevere, have grit and hope that the right antidote to this darkness can be found.

Well September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. 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! ✊🏾

Yours with the crazy rollercoaster life,

Sharida.

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

MEET IDA-SHARON. 😊

Hello everyone! It’s been a hectic few weeks of trying to get my brain meds to comply. Whew! S/o to my minefield mind (I nicknamed my mind the minefield of self-actualization and lethargy! 😭) for finally behaving. At least long enough for me to publish this blog.

My name is Ida-Sharon. (I’ve grown up to really really love the inspiration behind my double-barrelled name!) S/o to my parents, the realest MVPs for giving me this mighty name! Lol. My common nickname is Sharida. (When I was young I almost lost my reflex learning how to spell my real name Ida-Sharon, my teachers would sometimes change the order to Sharon-Ida which I almost frequently spelt as Sharida! My siblings binged on mockery; that’s how my sweet nickname came to birth!)

I’m in my twenties, mostly weighing around 55kgs depending on the seasons and phases. Lol. Standing at about 5″2. I have 5 siblings: Bill, Beryl, Bridget, Brenda and Brian, and one nephew (my favourite person) and the cutest gosh darn dog (Bruno) you will ever meet! My father is my lifeline and my mother is dynamite, a bundle of stardust. My siblings are the reason I don’t fret.

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

I’m bipolar. Scratch that. I have Bipolar Disorder. Bipolar II Disorder to be specific. But I cannot be SHAMED; I wear my Bipolar Disorder like a CROWN. 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, and 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. I’m sensitive and creative. I’m a music lover; I wake up and go to bed with music. I’m intuitive and compassionate. I’m that girl dancing to the beat of her own voice. I’m 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 contradiction. I’m passionate and imperfect. I’m a playful spirit with an old soul. I find comfort in independence 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’m 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 just living my dash while rooting for everyone affected by the scourge of mental illness.

A few of my favourite things / people :

  • Smiles that heal the world.
  • Sunglasses.
  • Colour blue.
  • Tupac Shakur & The Outlawz. (They are my spirit animals. Everything they do resonates with me on a personal level).
  • The Psalmist.
  • The Blogosphere.
  • Beards that connect.
  • Philosophy.
  • Riveting reads.
  • All things anti-establishment.

Love,

Sharida.

❤️

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Mental Health

9 P.M. REMINISCENCE.

A few years back I moved to another town. This meant another check to determine if I was still eligible for mental health support. I checked into the nearby sprawling psych hospital. I had been entitled to monthly psychiatric reviews which weren’t therapy as such, but were a fairly stable touch point for me; I wasn’t just flung into the world with my minefield mind and behaviours seemingly careening out of control.

My anxiety definitely didn’t let me sit still in the waiting room so I leaned over in looming agony, furrowing my brows in confusion and religiously mumbling in something between pain and lassitude. I struggled with competing thoughts. Being a student journo, I tried to frame that as a learning opportunity, focusing on evaluating the facility and its many loopholes rather than my own. So instead of warily tweeting these ruminations on insanity like I had always done, I searched other faces for signs of inner turmoil, lethargy, disillusion, disenchantment and everything that hit a little close to home. I know mental illness doesn’t have a “face” but when you are in with “the kindred” you can’t help but search for things in them that you can identify with — so you feel less alone.

One man giggled at a bumblebee that landed on his thumb. An elderly lady could not stop jiggling her left foot and another svelte young girl folded what seemed like a prescription leaflet until it could fit into the palm of her hand and kept it clenched in a fist. I noticed another elderly man with a vaguely erotic ogle! We certainly came from different worlds but pain was the common denominator in this particular throng.

Fast forward to my assessment. I think I lost my cool. A man with a hardened exterior who seemed like a med student, proudly donning his white coat, shepherding patients to and from consultations, sometimes addressing them in that “sing-song” pre-school teachers voice and other times addressing them like adults, came to my assessment. He gave me a stern look and I couldn’t help feeling like a phoney. Yes, phoney because I had answered “no” to most of the questions. God knows I was being brutally honest because I’m mildly asocial sometimes and I need help with interpersonal relationships since I’m a hermit. Strange how this time I did not use suicide “buzzwords” which usually happen with such spontaneity. I have had morbid fascinations with suicidal ideations as a daily struggle.

See I was desperately looking for a reset button, a safe haven and recovery. Joke on me, Mr. Med Student wasn’t having any of that. He handled me frivolously. It felt like a judgement in black and white, as if I was being accused of fabricating a diagnosis. Like I had just plucked Bipolar II Disorder out of the blue; like I should just whack some studs in and get on with it. Well, I feel like wearing a sparkly pair of studs when I’m feeling under the weather is only going to help in the sense that it will make me look like a snazzy, depressed, bipolar ridden hermit. Plus when I’m feeling that under the weather, I couldn’t give a flying f*ck about what I look like.

So you people think if we can make it out of bed and into the world there can’t be anything wrong with us in the subsequent?

Wow! What an incredibly polarised view of people’s mental health needs. It is not down to my assessor. He was just doing his job, even if not with the best of ethics. But unfortunately he is part of the bandwagon that is part of a system that is part of a society that perpetuates the most lethal of mental health misconceptions: that if somebody seems okay they must be okay.

While much of my odyssey with mental illness and recovery sometimes still seems to be guided by a broken compass, I recognize the importance of unplugging, looking within and being present. And I’m here today, purveying grit and tenacity and fighting this monster, a pill for an emotional ill.

✊🏾

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