To whom it may concern: Here’s what mood disorders are about.

Disclaimer: I am not a mental health medical practitioner; therefore, kindly do not use this content for diagnostic purposes. It is strictly for informational purposes. I write as someone affected by a mood disorder, who’s done a ton of research, and a counseling psychology student.

Why I am writing this

If you have a mood disorder, feel free to share this with your peers. I came to realize that people still don’t get what mood disorders are. Reference points are13 Reasons Why and Netflix series with high school teens. The media tends to depict extremes; Joker and every disturbed character ever, all shows with a psychiatrist, a person on a sofa, and the question “how does that make you feel?”

I am writing this because the messaging I’ve been getting is that 1) I am overreacting. I should cheer up because I tick social boxes of basic needs, family, friends, and a job. 2) I am ungrateful. I ticked boxes, and on top of that, I have parents who foot my medical bills. So what am I complaining about? 3) I am moody for no reason. Well, it’s a mood disorder. It is an illness. We don’t tell a person with diabetes,  Down Syndrome, or asthma to chill out. Why do you ask me to do the same?

I am misunderstood and frustrated.

I’ll circle back to this at the end.

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What is a mood disorder?

So, here, I have to come through with a medical definition; this one is from Mayo Clinic of what a mood disorder is.

“A mental health disorder is characterized by persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, causing significant impairment in daily life.”

The thing about mood disorders is that several things cause them. It could be biological. If your mother/father has a mental illness, you’re likely to get it as well. It could also be having two schizophrenic siblings in one family because the genetic lottery was not kind. Here, you “inherit” the disorder. Otherwise, something could have gone wrong either as a result of injury or a mutation.

The other is psychological, and this one is loaded. Physical, emotional, and sexual abuse can all go under psychological causes because they ultimately affect your mind.

Physical abuse and neglect: If you’ve gotten a beat down at any one point of your life, then you can understand how that could bring lasting trauma. How do you even trust a world when, in your early years, you were shown that security and love is a rumor? With stress hormones on overdrive 24/7, how do you even function? And with this one, it’s inter-generational. It’s how you still hear women saying, “I deserved to get hit” in this feminist age and men being silent about physical abuse because “are you man enough?”

The other aspect is physical neglect- where you grew up with nothing. That could be as a result of poverty or just parents who, among different ways to show you they didn’t want you, didn’t give you much. You’ll have a delayed ability to learn, and poor social skills and emotional health, and in some cases, issues such as severe dissociative states. The baseline is that physical abuse and neglect stunt the brain. And then you expect this person to function well in society. Well! Next time that tout with second-grade education from the village who was born out of wedlock talks shit to you, take a chill pill. They are not okay.

Emotional abuse and neglect: Emotional abuse is prevalent. About 40 percent of people on the average report having experienced expressive aggression or some form of coercive control. And surely, there are some people saying, “It hardened us.” That is not being hardened. That is emotional trauma, and you’d rather be cold and angry instead of facing your childhood pain. So please, miss me with that. We have a lot of angry people on this planet, and if I was to guess, it has to do with psychological abuse they’ve experienced in the hands of their guardians, relatives, teachers, and peers. So how does this not mess you up?

Another form of psychological abuse that exists is emotional neglect. This one is hard to show because you don’t have the typical “my mother called me” and “my dad did.” In this type of neglect, nothing happened. That is a huge problem. What are the long term effects? Your self-esteem and emotional health are damaged. You grow up feeling empty, and you’re unable to handle your emotions. Words are powerful. Silence is deafening and destructive.

Think of it this way. When you’re in a fight with someone, and then they go quiet, what does that signal to you? Think of all the agonizing thoughts you experience during that time. Now, as a child, when you have parents that emotionally neglect you, it signals to you that, as a human being, you don’t matter. It also says that your emotions don’t matter. Now send that child out into the world.

(This phone generation: be hella careful what you’re teaching your children.)

Sexual abuse: A messed up fact that I came across was that if you were sexually abused as a child, there is a 60+ percent chance of re-victimization. What happened to you as a child is not enough; you’re also likely to get raped when you’re older.

That one pained me on a personal level. But the math made sense. Unless you go for therapy, you tend to downplay dangerous situations as compared to other people. Maybe next time you’ll have more compassion for that chick hanging out questionable characters? The global stats are that 1 in 3 women will be sexually abused in their lifetime. She could be that one in the three, dear. Be kind.

What are all these a recipe for?

Say your grandpa has diabetes, your dad does as well. The odds are that you too, will get it. However, that doesn’t have to be the case with early intervention. And that’s the thing people need to understand. If your child has been through something traumatic, take them to therapy. ASAP.

Now, let’s assume you do nothing and boom, you have diabetes. That’s the same with mental illness. If you have a predisposition to get it, and the environment is “right,” you’ll suffer from it. For others, you’re born with it; you could have the rosiest of upbringings and still have a mood disorder.

Now, here’s where things just get murky. Research after research suggests that the factors I’ve talked about cause changes in the brain function, and also specific neural circuits in the brain get altered. Case in point; neural circuits for the ordinary person have no issues producing happy hormones. The rest of us, we need medication to rewire those neural circuits to even think life has the potential to be a happy place.

So the brain circuitry is off. Manifestation of the same is changes in appetite, sleep, concentration, energy levels, daily routine, mood and even self-esteem. There will be physical and behavioral symptoms. The results? The DMS5 has a full list of mood disorders that you can check out.

Bottom line: There is no singular cause of mood disorders. It’s a combination of a couple of things that scientists are still working to figure out.

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Frustrated and misunderstood.

If you’re in this space, here are some things that might help you through. They have for me.

  1. You didn’t ask for this. Don’t let your mood disorder be a millstone around your neck that drowns you with guilt and shame.
  2. If they haven’t been through it, they won’t get it. It’s not their fault. It just means you need to either find your tribe or make peace. It doesn’t also mean you have to isolate yourself either.
  3. Get help where you can. As long as it helps you heal your childhood trauma and cope, go for it.
  4. Don’t let anyone tell you how your wins should look like. Did you get out of bed? Celebrate! Did you survive a social function? Yay! Did you say no to booze this one time? By the way, you’re doing well. Only you know your struggles intimately and can see when you’re improving. Don’t let others make recovery markers for you.
  5. A LOT of your pain resides in childhood. If you continue to ignore that by the way, you’re not going anywhere. Denial can only take you through life for so long. Face and heal that part of your life.
  6. READ. READ. READ. LIKE DAMN IT! READ! You have information at literally your fingertips. Google imposter syndrome, depression, constant butterflies in my stomach. If it’s too much, incognito is your friend. Search “why I hate my parents so much?” or “why do I date bitches or assholes” and “why do I always think about sex?” Ignorance about our ways in this time and age is almost offensive.
  7. Self-awareness and moral courage; these are the two pillars you need. Always.

Take away

Next time you’re tempted to tell a friend who’s told you they have a mood disorder to cheer up, google on appropriate ways to support them. Otherwise, silence is also a plan, but understanding would be better.

Here’s why; they haven’t killed themselves. You guy, they have tried. THEY. HAVE. TRIED.

Cheers.

Advice of a semi-healed complainer

*semi because I am not familiar with perfection.

I think my spiral into crisis began when I asked a few of my friends how much and how often I complain. That was in 2016, I think. I remember I was laying on the guestroom bed taking a break from ironing the mountain of clothes our household produces.

Yes. We iron our clothes before hanging them.

The responses were honest, and the truth was that I complained a lot. It was about things typically complained about. But there’s one response from a then-close friend that had be rethinking my life. She said, plainly, 5/5 was my score. That was followed by exclamation marks.

That legit stopped me in my tracks because what close friend calls you out like that? To her credit, she was right. Looking back, I complained more than I realized and nothing seemed to be going right in my life. Looking back I pushed away a lot of people because of that. So if you left my life for that reason (among others) that was the right call.

I was hella toxic.

~~~~~~

Now I blue tick people and block them when I catch a whiff on nonsense in my inbox.

If you did that to me, I seriously get it.

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Yes! You saw it coming!

THERAPY!!!

So, the thing about therapy, at least if you’re serious about getting better, is that you can’t stay in the same place. You can’t talk about the same thing each session. You talk about it, come up with a solution and MOVE THE FUCK ON. If it comes up again, that’s okay, you slipped up. Now, let’s find another strategy. But one thing is consistent; falling forward.

SO, I have been falling, a good one, but forward. And no, those weren’t my words. I have smart analytical friends.

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Nowadays, I will be in the middle of something or a conversation, and my mind goes quiet. No activity, no noise, no thoughts, just quiet.

This silence used to worry me. I have a pal, observant as HELL (and also smart and analytical), who can tell when my attention shifts. It usually when mind has gone quiet and I’m trying to figure out what the hell is going on in there. Like what the hell are those thoughts up to! Apparently I have this look in my eyes that I’ve checked out. I am present, listening, but there is me wondering…

Until it hit me this hot afternoon in a bus to town. At Globe to be specific.

That is how normal minds work.

When you ask someone what they are thinking about and they say nothing?

That in all my years of life has never been the answer. Even when interacting with people, my mind was always as loud as the busiest and noisiest part of town. So you can understand why I was so confused!

THE MEDS ARE WORKING!!!!!!!

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So Wambaire, what does your journey to sanity have to do with complaining?

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If you complain about something more than once, change it.

If you can’t, shut up about it. At most, talk about it with close friends, but even then, don’t wear them the fuck out with the same thing.

If you can’t changing it, ALSO, find a coping mechanism.

If you can’t find one, and that thing is legit consuming you, see a counsellor.

PLEASE.

And not because I’ll be one soon… hehehe! But no, seriously. Please. Even if it’s one session.

From a former semi-healed complainer, counselling legit works.

Thank you and have a Merry and Thankful Christmas!

(How it was once a pagan holiday we’ll discuss another day…)


Cheers.

Joker: a reflection of reality we don’t want to see

If you’ve never read about depression, please go here. If you have a general idea, please click here. If you don’t have depression and you think you know what depression is, click here. If you are depressed, click here. If you’ve been diagnosed with depression, click here.

When you’re done, please come back to this post.

~~~~~

*spoilers ahead.

I made the error of watching Joker a second time yesterday.

I am not okay.

~~~~~

Mental health.

Mental illness.

Craziness.

Crazy

~~~~~

After watching it, I told my close friend that I was ashamed.

I am on medication. I hear these are “baby” medications from people who equally battle more complicated manifestations of mental illness. I know someone with a combination of stronger medications to keep them, at the very best, okay. There is the occasional pill popped when an anxiety episode kicks in.

I have a father who pays for my medication because I can’t afford insurance. He also pays for the psychiatrist visits and to see the counselor. These services are not cheap in Kenya, or anywhere for that matter. Because, mental health.

So, how dare I, who’s getting help, talk about mental health?

~~~~~

The devil is a liar.

If you don’t believe in him, then tell those thoughts in your head to sod off if you are in a position to get the help you need.

Don’t be an ungrateful human. Speak your truth. We need more of you. How else will people know there’s hope??!

~~~~~

Joker. I could relate with him. I could ABSOLUTELY relate with him. I have mentioned here I was in a psychiatric ward (post on this another day), and even after, before the meds kicked in, I remember going for my appointment two months later and telling the psychiatrist that I talked to myself out loud one time when walking to the stage in response to this whole scenario I had created in my head.

It was once, but when it happened I panicked. I was officially going mad. Remember that scene where it hits him that the love affair he was having was a delusion?

That movie triggered me.

I get when he killed who he did. The difference between he and I is my mental illness being diagnosed early and medicated. I have heard of a woman taken to Mathere after killing her husband during a psychotic episode. A few months later she got to go home. I’ve had someone close to me in the same institution.

~~~~~

I was ashamed that I have access to the resources and support that I have.

But now, I am thankful. I am thankful to the God and the forces that be for the support I have.

And from this gratitude, I will shed the light.

Mental illness is not a podcast. It is not an interview. It is not a hashtag. It is not what your favorite celebrity has. It is not to be packaged and it is not bite-size.

It is the brain working against you. And that, is the scariest shit there is on this planet. Look at a child with leukemia being positive, and loving and full of joy. Their mind, spirit and soul are aligned and they have peace despite their pain. Mind blowing and admirable. They have an anchor. But when you mind is ill, you have nothing.

Nothing.

Picture yourself having nothing to hold to.

That’s why Arthur Fleck lost it.

And I get him.

Because, what good was keeping his shit together?

~~~~~

Get help.

PS: I am African. I am Kenyan. I am a woman. I KNOW mental illness is stigmatized. But speak, I will.

“You made me feel-” and other lies we tell ourselves

“The people who trigger us to feel negative emotion are messengers. They are messengers for the unhealed parts of our being” —Teal Swan.

No one can make you feel.

Pause and read that again.

Now, let’s proceed. I came across this quote in 2016 there about, and it was during a time of my life where complaining was a hobby. There was always something wrong with my life, with the people around me, with my work- just everything.

During the end of 2016 I got into- calling it a relationship would be a tall order. Let’s just call it a “mistake”. And boy was I triggered!!! Everyday it seemed like this ninja would do something to set me off or hurt me. It’s when I came across the quote by Teal Swan and in a span of 3 months I had grown so much that I cut the relationship off.

The hangups took a while longer, but it’s safe to say that’s a closed chapter. What. I am human.

The reality was, I was the one feeling those feelings. He might have triggered them, but I had to take responsibility of my emotions. So I’d ask myself, ‘What wound do you have that makes his words/actions feel like salt?”

Side note: Emotional abuse can be subtle. But I changed so much just by being with this guy and dealing with my wounds that even my taste in men changed. Since then, I’ve dated some really decent guys.

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I’ve been called heartless, and while I think it is a genetic condition from my father’s side (LOL!), I’d like to think of myself as someone who largely has learned to handle their emotions especially given my history. When sober 😁

Note: I am not talking about my mornings and my random mood swings. I am not a morning person and my hormones are everywhere. 😅

If I snap, it’s because I have assessed my emotions, there is no wound, and you’re just being to tool. And there, I will put you in your place. That’s a given. Or just ignore you and act like you never existed in the first place. Again, it’s that genetic condition.

That said, I can say I’ve been legit hurt very few times in the past three years. Hurt in the sense that I am unable to get over whatever it is. And even then, I sit down and think about it until the pain is gone.

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I like to think of pain as teachers. Salt only hurts you when you have an open wound, and even then, it’s a cleansing agent.

~~~~~

Next time you want to blame someone for making you feel a certain type of way, be a grown up about it and own your emotions, yes? After, sit, locate the wound and heal. From there, your actions will flow from a place of wholeness that even the person who triggered you will fall back.

Growth baby, growth.

PS: Same principles apply when you feel hurt by God.

Someone needed to read that.

PPS: I’m not a pro at this. So please don’t come after me when I write a triggered post on social media!!!

Also, therapy works.

Cheers.

The voices in your head

Therapy works.

Moving on.

I’ve been seeing a counselor for more than a year now, and I realize that most of the voices in my head were other people’s voices that I had internalized.

I’ve had an incredibly good week where I have nothing to complain or be sad about, all thanks to the unpacking of the negative voices in my life. I realize that they come in the subtlest of ways, and from the most unlikely people. For me, I realize that I generally come from a toxic clan, and as I continued to seek therapy, I realized that a lot of my insecurities and pains come from them. The rest is just my foolishness.

So before you think you are crazy, or believe the voices in your head, look at the people around you. What are they saying about you? Is there a similarity with your inner voice?

Beloved, you’re not a horrible human being. Someone made you believe you are and you lived up to their ideal.

Find your way back to the true you.

Cheers.

“I wish I was that dog” and other thoughts

Have you ever looked at a bird, monkey lazing around in a zoo, a slothing cat meme, a baby or other creatures (😁) and thought to yourself, “I wish I was that __”?

If not, you’re free to leave. Clearly we don’t share the same wavelength of life 🤪.

That was me this morning when I was in a matatu heading for my classes. Adult learning is just something else. I had snoozed the alarm, struggled to get out of bed, and even had my mother pray for me because the levels of “I DON’T WANNA!!” were so high I thought I was in the wrong career path.

Like perhaps my calling was to stay in bed for ever and ever, wasting away… and drifting off into the afterlife where things are perhaps better than this life…

Yes, I was having a depressive episode.

Now that the day is coming to an end, I no longer feel like that. I was walking home listening to jams after seeing my friend and her new born baby in hospital and when I began to wonder what was wrong with me in the morning.

Heck, I even walked past my ex’s house when he’d just driven in and I felt no inclination to call out a greeting or give him a call. Jesus heals I tell you! 🥳

What’s the point of this post?

Your feelings are valid, but they need to be overruled if you’re to rip the good things in life. Next time you’re wishing your were something or someone else, just say a ‘noted’ to that thought and continue about your life, ensuring you’re doing the big and small things to make it the best.

That said, all the best. I’m saying this after stopping life and spending two days in bed because depression.🙈

Image result for cough cough gif

*cough*

This too shall pass.

Cheers

“and that was the last time we talked” and other stories

There is this one guy, at midnight, sent a message saying “I’m so horny”. His profile picture was his son. And that was the last time we talked. #FromFriendZoneToFuckOffZone

There is this other guy, he told me he wanted to make me his blanket. That was the last time we hang out. #NoThanks

There is this other ninja who told me his girlfriend goes through his phone. I thought it was a joke and called to talk about why his earlier statement about Africans being stupid is problematic. He didn’t pick but she called me back, using his phone. That was the last time I had any form of respect for this ninja. #WeakAssHuman

There was this other time, my friend’s girlfriend read our messages about random ish, and now I am apparently the reason why they have issues in their relationship? #IKnowIAmFlyButGirl #HeLovesYouBitch

And then there was this one guy, who dumped me before we even started dating. That was the last time I told a guy that I like them first.

There was this other guy that only called me during the weekends. I told him I was with my boyfriend all weekend that is why I couldn’t pick his calls. And that was the last time he text. #Phew

There was this other married guy I was having a conversation with at the hotel bar, and he kept looking back because he expected his wife to show up. I have him my number (I block people like a hobby), and then he told me to send him a photo. That was the last time we talked. (here I was thinking I could have connections to the World Bank.)

And then there’s this ratchet guy, he asked my cousin if she fucks campus kids. He soon found out the answer (I had to throw that in. Worst pickup like ever!)

There was this other guy, who has a wife and two kids, and he asked me to be his girlfriend because he loves me. And now my anthem is “I refuse to be the other woman!” #MarriageCounsellingIsImportant

And also there’s this guy, we haven’t talked for perhaps three years, and after spotting me in my neighborhood, he thought we had a future. I got blue ticked when I emphasized “kuna venye…”

And then there’s this boyfriend of mine, who after an argument, told me he had struggled me and buried me in his dreams. Now you’re good.

And yes, today is the day that no fucks were giving.