Mental Health Conversations

In light of all the #MentalHealth conversations coming up especially on #Depression and #suicide…
Sometimes these things don’t bother us and don’t make sense unless you put a face to it or it happens to someone you know or hits you personally.

Like many people, I used to think depression was one of those #WhitePeopleProblems. Something spoilt brats or weaklings or lazy people use as an excuse. So what if you were feeling sad? Life is hard enough on everyone but you don’t see the rest of us sulking or refusing to get out of bed.

Then third year happened in campus. In first year I was one of those very vocal people in class. I was actively involved in CU and very active in a few school clubs. Second year, I even became better. I got out of the slump I was in and went back to the fashion loving person I was. Heels and dressing up became the norm. I was happy and free.

Then third year happened. I started feeling a little more sickly than usual. Stomach issues from Timbuktu and back became a daily affair. I missed more classes than I could count. I also started locking myself in my room frequently. I had very close friends but I’d also cut them off. The number of times I’d cry or binge watch series just to survive!

People said I was being lazy and loved sleeping too much. That I liked skiving classes and the few I attended I’d walk out of half way. What they didn’t know is that I’d wake up each day (late as usual) and I’d be set for class when suddenly after breakfast, all hell would break loose. What I didn’t know was that my journey with depression and IBS had just begun. Last year is when I finally discovered the truth.

From then on, things pretty much went downhill. Countless moments where I’d feel too paralyzed to function. Moments where I’d break down and cry till I was numb. Too many times I’d be overwhelmed by everything going wrong. Enough times of isolation. Cutting friends off. Feeling like a constant disappointment and a burden.

To say that depression sucks, is an understatement. It’s a monster that doesn’t discriminate between the black or white race, rich or poor, weak or strong, fat or skinny, sick or healthy… anyone is prone to it and nobody chooses this.

I didn’t think this was serious until I lost someone to suicide and had a very close friend have a psychotic break because of depression that pushed too hard. From then on, I’ve heard from countless people in the same boat.

To those who are directly affected, hugs to you dear; you’re much stronger than you know!
To those who stick by people affected, oh darling, you have no idea how amazing you are.
To those who are starting to take interest in this and are trying to learn, please keep at it, you have no idea the difference you’ll make.

Advertisements

Petals Among Thorns

Let me begin by saying: being sick sucks! Anyone who’s been sick knows how uncomfortable and inconvenient it is. I don’t think there’s a single person who simply enjoys being unwell.

That said, I’m stuck in the house AGAIN, for the third day. What started as an annoying sore throat turned into tonsils and a flu. It got worse and I bought some drugs which worked until they suddenly didn’t. I figured since it was a public holiday, some sleep and plenty of concoctions would be everything I needed. So I slept and drank hot water with everything; lemon, ginger, honey and fenugreek.

Then the second day came and I was still sick. Fatigue and sleep came in plenty. I thought I’d rest a little then get working. Well, IBS had a big surprise prepared. I’m guessing all the concoctions plus the infection triggered the IBS.

Oh boy, I don’t even know where to start with this one! IBS is one of those things you don’t wish even on your worst enemy. Picture a life where every time you eat something, your tummy reacts. Bloating and countless trips to the loo. Muscle cramps and random chest pains where you can’t tell if it’s a heart attack or just your tummy acting up. Then my favourite is the depression.

Sigh, how our brains connect with our intestines, is one of those things I marvel at and equally frown at. Imagine having anxiety and depression just because your tummy issues flared up. And then experience the opposite where anytime you are anxious or stressed, your tummy reacts instantly.

I must say, depression has to be the worst part in all this because you can’t predict when it hits. Granted, now I comprehend things much more, so I handle it better. But even with that, it still sucks.

When it’s mild, you can go about life as usual, only that you feel like you’re carrying this heavy load that keeps slowing you down. When it hits hard; you’re crippled. There’s little or nothing you can do at that time. Your world stops but your brain goes on overdrive. Suddenly every little failure and anything that’s not working is highlighted. You feel like a wreck; like you’ll never really do anything right. You cry over the normal life you’ll never have as you remain overwhelmed by all other issues.

Thankfully, that doesn’t last forever. You hit rock bottom pretty good then you come back to life. But that cycle can easily break you; it chips at you deeper and deeper each time.

Nevertheless, I must also say that I’m grateful. Walking around with a body that often misbehaves has taught me plenty of grace. You have more compassion on others and on yourself. I have learnt to be kinder to myself and to choose peace always.

Learnt that it’s okay to have days where you seemingly do nothing; rest is essential. That it’s okay to go at my own pace and not compare current me with the me I’ve always known or with other people. That life is different now and it’s okay to take things slow when I’m not well. I have also gotten to know the importance of support systems and relaxing techniques.

Yes, I wish life was different. Yes I still believe God heals and have experienced that personally. Yes I’ve prayed countless times and had crazy faith. Yes I’ve cried enough times asking God why on earth He thought I’d be able to handle this. Complained enough about Him not taking this away yet He has the power.

But I’ve made peace with the fact that I’m loved insanely and that God doesn’t always calm the storm but calms His child in the storm. Because ultimately, storms not only leave us much stronger but there are beautiful lessons we’d never learn if life was all nice and smooth.

Dark Cloud Chronicles

I’ve been see-sawing between utter hopelessness and fierce resolve in the very recent past. Had days when I was a warrior ready to battle whatever life threw at me. But then there were those days when despair gnawed at me and I gave up on ever having a normal life. On such days, I’d be sick and tired of being sick; fed up with not being able to live up to expectations at work; disappointed that I wasn’t who people knew I was and done with hoping for a good life (whatever that means).
See it’s one thing to be knocked down by different things in life; it’s an entirely different thing when all the blows come but your greatest opponent is yourself. When your mind fights against you. When your heart is too wounded to beat one more time. When your body is weak because of assaults by one form of sickness after another. When your spirit feels lifeless.

Today I listened to a TED talk where they said that according to research done, by 2020, depression would be the 2nd highest form of disability… yes, disability.

On normal days, I’d scoff and say they were being overly dramatic. But then I woke up feeling all flu-ish and thinking, “Dear Lord, I can’t be sick again! Not again”. Then I recalled how I walked out of a work thing on Saturday because of unbearable pain. How I missed a staff meeting on Tuesday because my teeth decided aching ceaselessly for days would be fun. How a week or two ago I was on sick off for a couple of days because of something entirely different… this list is endless.

That’s when it all began crumbling. I started wondering why I was even bothering trying to live a normal life. Little by little, I sank and before I knew it I was completely drowning and unable to do anything; like completely couldn’t do a thing… then that TED talk made sense.

I think it would be tragic if their prediction came true because it would mean millions upon millions are battling with an enemy that lies within; a monster you wouldn’t wish even on your worst enemy.

My heart breaks for anyone caught up in this.
So if this is you today; hugs to you darling.

Tears For Breakfast

Table is set

Heavy thoughts line it up well,

Despair provides a lovely cover.

The appetizer first

Pretty pink and white pill,

More thoughts to wash it down.

Frustration, heartache, despondence

Make a balanced diet.

Pop out those flavours

A dash of salt will do

Yes, salt in fluid form.

Drown that with music

As you nibble on tea and bread.

But that’s just the cover up

In reality it is evident

Tears were your breakfast.

Mountains and Valleys

I have finally decided to come here and fess (this should tell you how reading Little Women all week and watching the movie, has had an effect on me). I have carried enough and since writing helps me unpack, I’m doing just that. 

This has been a gloomy week, which makes little sense because I had the most wonderful Easter weekend. I’d planned to go home and enjoy plenty of introverting since the whole family was travelling upcountry. Needless to say, my plans backfired beautifully. Don’t you like it when God wrecks your plans and trades them for lovelier ones? 

Friday turned out to be my turn to enjoy being daddy’s girl. Went to town with him and had quite the shopping spree then late lunch at some Resort. He told me to call my little sister (not biological) to come join us and her classmate who he has a spot for since her accident. That man has such a big heart! Went to pick my friend for a sleepover and had fun ‘shopping’ in her house (that’s what true friends do, Lol). 

Saturday was mostly cooking for guests and the compliments are always worth the effort. Then ended up in town again, this time round having a girls’ day out with mum. This time round I got more than I expected from the shopping including a pretty high-low dress that had my dad voicing his concerns since he believes I’ve grown so fat that the poor dress wasn’t fitting (smh).

Sunday in church gave me plenty to meditate on and friends to reconnect with. Went for an Easter concert in town since I’d promised little sister that I’d go. Oh the praise and worship was everything my spirit craved! Decided to go for coffee which we thought was unwise since we both had limited cash. Goodness, the surprises God pulls! Someone came and paid for our mochas and cakes in advance! 

I travelled back the next day with my heart very full. I’d been more than loved on and God took me from one amazing experience to another and another. I’d received more than I’d ever imagined.

So why was it hard to have all the wonderful memories overshadow everything else? Monday evening had me battling depression alongside a misbehaving body. Later I realised the link between the condition disturbing my digestive system and depression. 

From then, things haven’t been too different. Ennui at work, long hours that made a point to move even slower, heavy downpours and dull weather that seemed to reflect my internal state and feeling completely alone. 

I didn’t go to work today; I have my misbehaving body to thank for that. Which means I’ve been in bed all day and have had all sorts of thoughts. Feelings of despair have been the thing this week. Eventually told God how I felt I wasn’t worth entrusting the gifts or talents He’s given. Wasn’t worth giving a family since I can barely keep my own house. Wasn’t worthy of love. Basically feeling like I wasn’t worth the things I hoped for.

It’s been a lot to handle and I’m not bearing it all too well. I should be drawing especially close to God right now but I’ve been lost in books and social media because I feel like I don’t even have the discipline to be intentional with God like I should. He’s been very nice and constantly present so all I’ve been doing is conversations with Him while nicely tucked in bed. 

I’m not sure how the next days will turn but I am not perturbed. Valleys precede mountains and dark days don’t last. Sorrow may last for the night but joy sure comes in the morning. So yes, this not-so-little woman will keep keeping on.

The Impossible

​Friday 25th November 2016:

Spent most of the day in bed on the edge of depression. Sometimes it felt like I’d climb down that cliff a little, then climb right back to the edge. Teeter tottering.

Something akin to a panic attack would creep in then leave me be.

Why wouldn’t that judgment just come quickly? What if the judge didn’t rule in our favour and come Monday, we’d still do those exams? Maybe suing the Council of Legal Education wasn’t the best idea; maybe we should have simply focused on reading for those Bar exams and gave up on seeking justice.
By the time I realised we weren’t going to win, I felt BETRAYED! How on earth would God give me so much peace yet He knew all hell was about to break loose? Why didn’t He intervene? He knew how much I’d been through and how reading had been almost impossible. Why wouldn’t He make a way and have the exams at least postponed for even two weeks? He knew there was absolutely no way I’d sit for those exams because I had nothing to write.
By evening, I was glad my friend had planned for us to have coffee on this day. This would be a much needed distraction; at least God knew what He was doing when He allowed me to agree to this, days before I knew how badly I’d need it.
Got myself to town and had one of the longest coffee dates I’ve ever been out on with any friend. By the time I was done, I felt encouraged and with a new resolve to make use of the weekend and not to defer my exams. Maybe I can do this.
Then God reminded me of the previous day: Thursday was nothing short of a miracle! I’d gotten a job in a way I couldn’t explain and after an interview I’d never anticipated. It was relaxed and brief. Before I knew it, I had a job and had not been asked anything people normally get answered. In fact it felt like a meet and greet: getting to see the person who you’d picked for the job. I was in awe of God! 
The God of Thursday was still the God of Friday.
Long story short, Monday came and the two weeks of exams were probably the hardest two weeks of my life! Clearly, I hadn’t seen anything yet when I thought that all hell had already broken loose. I was sick on each day and every morning and evening, I would quit, cry and be on the verge of depression again. I even got food poisoning on each week, which was crazy since I only had food poisoning once, 14 years ago! Each day I’d cry and tell God how impossible it was and that He was demanding of me something I couldn’t do. 
But every morning without fail, God would pick me up and hold me in His arms each night. In every paper He’d flood me with peace that didn’t make sense. Each day He’d remind me that my battle was in showing up, not in what I wrote on that paper. Then to ensure I had no room to quit, He put people who would call or text me morning and at night. 
From yesterday, I’ve been hearing more stories of people God had burdened to pray for me during those two weeks. People who didn’t have to but they still remembered me when they talked to God. Different people in different places who God used to set up what I have come to see as my biggest miracle this far. 

Depressed?

I am not depressed but I now understand what it’s like for people in depression. I know how you want to shut the whole world out and simply be left alone. How staying in bed all day and night feels like the best option. How you can slip into numbness because emotions got overwhelming. How food has no appeal and even when your tummy decides to complain, you lack the drive to go look for any food to silence it.
How it feels like you’re floating around. How sleep becomes a panacea.

Then if people invade your world or you’re in a place where solitude is impossible, you’ll smile at people and act interested in what they’re saying but deep inside you simply want to be alone. You know how to fake it.

Thinking isn’t a good idea at this time because your mind will remind you of everything that isn’t right, so it’s easier to block out any and every thought for the sake of maintaining your sanity.

Hope seems bleak, encouragement doesn’t really hit home and it feels like no one else would understand.

But I want to let you know that you’re not alone; many of us have been down that road it’s just that we seldom talk about it. This is not permanent and though it feels like too much to bear or like an undefeatable foe, this too shall pass.

May the peace of God that surpasses all understanding, guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7)

Sending my love and hugs to you right there where you are. You’ll be just fine…