Sh*t not to tell people on antidepressants: A handy guide

I have kept this post in my drafts for perhaps two months. My worry was that society is now making mental illness “cool” and “the kids of these days are weak, entitled brats.” I didn’t want what I have to say getting lost in the noise. I don’t want that pity that comes with speaking your truth about your struggles. I just need you to listen. For a change. Then let’s have a discussion.

The conclusion of my story is that even after overcoming this suicidal episode, another stormed in. This time I had a plan. I didn’t want to be rescued, I just wanted it to be over.

God/ Higher Power, of course, had other plans and an uncle of mine (such a beautiful soul), after a coffee date that had me in tears for an hour or more, told me we needed to check me into a psychiatric ward. I might tell you about it one day. Right now I’m still traumatized.

I was tired of life people. I’d wake up wanting to be dead. And that is where I will begin this handy guide of sh*t not to tell people on antidepressants.

Keep in mind as I write this, I’m UNDERSTANDING you MANAGE depression. More on that in a later post.

#1 You just have to think positive thoughts.

B*tch. I’d tried that. I had done that. I had Smiling Mind as a meditation guide. I am the among the most self-aware people you’ll come across. I was looking for ways to turn my dark thoughts into positive ones. I had prayed and fasted and even tried to exercise to lift my moods. That was before my mind said “what’s the point, you don’t want to be alive anyway.”

I had talked to people to try and help change my thoughts. I had been seeing a therapist for more than six months. And yet the oppression, the hopelessness, the hating every morning I woke up persisted.

Advise to non-experts: Shut up and listen. We’d tried this already.

#2 You just need to change your environment

There’s a phrase for that; running away from your problems. I see the logic in getting a fresh start somewhere like in the movies. But let me break it down for you why in my context it was not feasible, at least immediately.

For one, if you are a woman moving out on your own, getting rapped is something that’s at the top of your list of fears. As for someone it happened to in a room with someone I perceive to be my friend, I’m not keen to have a repeat, this time with strangers with a master key. Sure there are a tonne of women who haven’t had their houses broken into, but I NEED to move to an area I FEEL secure. My mind has the ability to take one negative thought and turn it into a series with eight seasons that has more horror than the Game of Thrones. It’s torture. And I hadn’t saved up enough to move into a place where I don’t end up obsessing when a drunk neighbor trips over my welcome doormat.

Secondly, the things that you are moving away from do not change just because you’re absent. In my context it would have meant cutting off the family entirely. I am not wired like that. So what I did instead was develop coping mechanisms and set boundaries, that way I don’t find myself dealing with a circus monkey that’s not mine.

Advise: Shut up and listen. Unless you’re a sponsor, because we’d thought of this already. The math wasn’t adding up. It is likely the case in another person’s context. How do I know this? They have a thinking brain like yours. And if you had their brain, you’d arrive at the same conclusion.

#3 Stop thinking too much

This is different from thinking positive thoughts because it is asking you to suspend thoughts that you cannot control in the first place. It is like using ‘not thinking too much’ to regulate your insulin production when you’re a diabetic, to stop a runny nose when you have a cold, or to eliminate the spread of cancer cells to other parts of the body.

You cannot say ‘mental illness’ and drop the ‘illness’ all together when you’re thinking or discussing the topic. It is a illness of the brain. The wiring was off and I seemed not to be producing enough dopamine and other happy hormones as a result of genetics and environment.

So please, don’t tell my ailing mind to stop thinking too much. At this point I’ve mentioned I had tried prayers, a shrink, exercise, and meditation. But the chatter in my mind would not stop.

Advise: Shut up and listen. You’re more helpful that way.

*There’s one ninja who told me to do yoga. I appreciate the advice but if I don’t wanna trade lives with you, I’ll pass on the advice.

And yes, I am roasting people along the way.

#4 You shouldn’t depend on meds to change your thinking

Here is where I ask people to produce their psychiatry degrees and masters. I understand that there’s a problem in the States and even here where doctors are more concerned about keeping you coming back than getting you better, but assuming that’s the case all the time is inaccurate.

I’d personally slap someone who came and took my meds and told me to get back to trying positive thinking. For the FIRST TIME in my LIFE I can be present without thinking a tonne of other thoughts at the same time. I can hear the birds, I can notice colors, I see people, I notice the road and constructions going on, I remember conversations… I am seeing, hearing and feeling. I had my first ulcer attack at 9 years old. Please. Don’t.

Before I wasn’t able to do all I’ve stated because ‘nobody’ was home. My body was on autopilot as my mind ran scripts on breakups, murders, loosing jobs, being raped, being attacked, being shamed, being arrested for something I didn’t do, all the sins I’ve committed, how my efforts are doing nothing to change my life, how I am 28 and still don’t know what my purpose etc. ALL THE DAMN TIME. Not to mention that all these fears made me do some dddduuuummmmbbbb stuff.

I have a fantastic psychiatrist who’s main aim, in his words, “is to keep you alive.” He asks the right questions and even adjusted dosages, reducing one and adding another because during the review I still sounded like I was just alive and not living.

Advise: Shut up and listen. Unless you’re a psychiatrist, and even then listening would help you arrive at the same conclusion.

#5 But you come from a good home, why are you stressed?

The idea that money = to less stress is exhausting. Let’s put that out there and if you’re still having an issue comprehending such factors let me help you. How many artists have died from a drug overdoes? Why do you think they were taking drugs in the first place? How many celebs have committed suicide? What about stories of middle and upper class families being in the media spotlight for gruesome murders or suicide? What about all of them that you hear are secretly in and out of hospital because they’re unwell and suffering. Let’s talk about the dead, what kind of chaos do they leave behind as children and spouses fight over the inheritance?

What makes you think people who are more well off than you don’t have problems? How entitled, selfish and judgmental are you to think that you and people like you have rights to the pain that the world dishes out? What, should the rest of us not complain because we use St. Ives body lotion and not Nice and Lovely? Because what we adorn our bodies with, what we feed it, and the kind of shelter it stays under is meant to erase emotional, psychological, and physical pain?

What’s worse is the people who ask me this question know NOTHING about what goes on in my life. The close friends that do understand and know why I was nearly an alcoholic at some point trying to cope with the pain I was going through and they support me. The rest of you, please lets not assume my life because my camera clothes are deceiving you that I go to Woolworths.

Advise: Shut up.

Conclusion

Yes, this is another post on your timeline about mental illness. But please note, I am tired of the ignorance. A lot of us are. We are in real pain because of this illness that we did not choose, so please, put some RESPEK on it.

PS: thanks for the images and gifs Google.

PPS: Please read a book. Or several. Before you talk. Thanks.

Cheers.

Of suicide and life’s substance

*email updated. Just for you…

I have talked about suicide here before, but there is an awkward space that one enters after when you choose to fight for your life.

You’re very aware you cannot kill yourself no matter how well you plan it or merely think it is the way out. But then you also look at your life and are in limbo, you know it has meaning but the details are a bit sketchy- and we don’t like sketchy. You have a lot to be thankful for but you’re super sad- it’s weird, right?

If you read this and you’re in that space, know that you’re not alone. We are legion. I don’t have an answer but I find that a burden shared is sometimes lighter.


wambairemaureen@gmail.com. If you have absolutely no one to talk to, I am here for you. I promise to never air your business. I do also hope you understand that we are our own savior because we have God within us. So, if you do share, I can only listen to the best of my ability and share whatever wisdom I have picked up along the way. But above all, see a professional therapist or psychiatrist. They are equipped to help us out- I am a testament that they work.

If you’re absolutely fine and you know someone who isn’t, share this with them. It just might help.

Don’t despair.

Cheers.

When Kings make mistakes: the value of a woman’s voice

My Facebook timeline this week (pretty much since it came into existence but hey) had me thinking just how much we still both overtly and subtly chisel women down. It’s more overt when we do things we’ve been “taught” by the patriarchy not to do. Preferred tool of choice? Shame. Which brings me to “nagging.”

So it’s said this year the yawning emoji will be launched, and of course there’s memes about it. The one that just made me sign was the one about men sending this emoji to women who send those “stupid long paragraphs.”

Well.

I am the kind of woman who sends long paragraphs when I need someone to understand something. I am a believer of context and in removing ignorance about how I wish to be treated. And since we’re throwing shade, if I send you long paragraphs more than twice in one month, I am usually a step away from using crayons to aptly illustrate my point. I am usually, at this point, frustrated and angry. Not talking about it, ignoring it and continuing to do the same thing I brought up, to me, is a sign of disrespect.

#TimesUp

But as women we’ve been told not to nag. STILL. We are more vocal, but that’s still there, only this time different words are thrown around.

We’ve been told men don’t like long stories. Men don’t like being told when they are wrong. First seduce and feed him, then sweetly tell him what about his behavior is affecting you and what you’d like done differently. If he changes, reward him. If he doesn’t, you should still treat him like a king. Also, if you can ignore it, please do. For the sake of peace. You don’t want to be the reason he steps out of your union. If you don’t keep quiet he’ll go find another woman that appreciates him for who he is.

~~~~~

Ciru Ngigi had started a conversation on Facebook many months about children and daughters specifically being angry at their mothers for the men they chose to marry. I wrote or asked something in the comment section and this lady DM me. We talked quite a bit; she made me realize that for the most part, family dynamics are toxic. But there’s something she said that pains me till today. Her husband will insist on having sex even when she doesn’t want to, and when she is in pain. She has no choice but to be quiet for the sake of her daughters. We’ve been taught, “If it’s your husband, it’s not rape. So keep quiet and don’t try to bring drama.” 

~~~~~

Men can talk about your outfit, body, mothering skills, cooking, working, not working, temper, attitude, vagina size, weakness, speaking up, number of sex partners, where you’ve been, whether you deserved to be harassed or raped, menstrual cycle, how many kids you do or don’t have, character, HAIR, mental health, hormones, curves or lack there off, outfit, drinking, partying, praying, being a wife material or nah- and God forbid you tell him how communication is important to you.

I’ve been told a lot of things by male age mates that have stuck with me but for this context I’ll tell you two. 1) “Wambaire, don’t be those chicks” after calling out bad behavior. 2) Men are the head and women are the neck. Aka men are meant to think for women so we have to run decisions about OUR lives by a man first.  

I’ve been character assassinated and blue ticked for pointing out things that dishonor me. You’d think I’d tweeted “@blah your penis ain’t shit” and send a screenshot to his family group.

Before we get into the whole “that’s not a real man” narrative, let’s look at the wider context of what the woman faces. If you’re not married and with no kids (or do) in your late 20s, it’s like you’ve attracted such characters since your campus days. Not all men are like this, duh. However, these snide remarks and memes I see online let me know that there’s contempt against women who dare point out something a man does that’s making them unhappy.

Here’s the cream for me; the sketches and memes about the “crazy” chick. The one who breaks up with her man for not responding promptly? And how dare she do that? Never mind your phone is always in your hands when you two are together. And this is just one example.

What I am tired of is how women being told to shut up has morphed now more so into “humor” and gas-lighting so that men can still be mostly PC when they say “it’s just a joke”. That disclaimer is lest the feminist movement comes after them so they can say “it’s not about you, it’s about THOSE chicks.” And when you push hard enough, you’re now the problem for having no humor and maybe, just maybe, you are those chicks because look at you acting crazy.

Like, as in, it’s 2019. We haven’t grown past high school?

#metoo and #timesup are amazing, but my timeline tells me plenty of men are raising little boys like them. Boys who’ll silence my daughter if she dares say what makes her unhappy and she values. Because it’ll mean she wants and needs to be heard.

And what would be the value of her voice anyway?

Don’t make the monkeys dance; take them back home

“Not my monkey, not my circus”

I think that every spiritual journey comes with a moment where someone fell off the face of the earth. The lawyer who owned a Ferrari sold it off and went to become a monk. Elizabeth Gilbert went off to Bali. Jesus didn’t have these luxuries so he went to the wilderness. I also feel nuns disappear of ages before resurfacing- you’d think they all enter into service in their mid to late 30s.

I have a friend who drops off the grid months at a time. She’s taken Lent seriously, and on the Ash Wednesday I wished her a Happy Easter. She might want to prologue her leave from the world.

And then there are people like me and you. We have things we are tied to and we don’t have the time to go off for large chucks of time to be by ourselves. So we find ourselves praying for plans to get cancelled and snob calls because we need silence. It worked for Oprah. Woman was on air every day for what, 25 years?

~~~~~

The reason I don’t like other Christians aka my fellow brethren and sister-ren is because we are a huge pile of mess. You’d think the sinner’s prayer was a cotton swap that wipes your foolishness, crazy making, fornicating, cheating, murdering, adultery-ing, lying, and corrupt, hating and gossiping self. Like you’d think that, no? The reason I don’t like them is because I am trained not to like them, because I have been trained not to like myself.

Be like Jesus, they say. If I was to remove the fact that we are called into a son ship with God and Jesus is my brother, I am nothing like Jesus. NOTHING. The older I get and more frustrated I become with my reality, the more I want to crawl into the hole these enlightened people crawled into. And it’s not even because the world is crazy. Unless you are self-harming and have problematic thought patterns, sinning without involving other parties is HARD! Like what will you do? Rob yourself?

That brings me to this realization. When you are transforming and going hard on the inner or spiritual journey, you are SENSITIVE on levels that you can’t even believe. I have become like my grandmother.

When I was young we’d go to the village over holidays for a few days to weeks. Now my Nairobi body needed lotion-ing, not Aremis, after a bath if we were going somewhere. I can’t remember what I was getting from the outside kitchen that was so smoke-filled that I could barely see my grandma. But before I was two steps in, I heard her say in my mother tongue, “HM! Get out! I cannot stand that perfume!”

It took shooing by an aunt to realize she was referring to the lotion I had on.

That’s me right now, but with bull-dung.

~~~~~

Spiritual journey do not come from a place of feeling high and mighty and better than the rest. It is distorted to mean such when the reality is people take these journeys to deal with things within themselves and to elevate to a higher experience of living. It is becoming so acquitted with the bull-dung within yourself that you spot it in a heartbeat within others.

There is a tricky balance I am yet to get to. I often tell people “not everyone thinks like you” and “if I was born in their shoes I would probably be the same” to quell their rant, especially if I feel they are being utterly self-righteous. And dah, I don’t always take my advice.

I want to see people as they are, bull-dung and all, and still feeling compassion toward them.

Right now I am not there. Don’t even pray to ask God, I am telling you. And I think it is time we started having honest conversations about what happens on the journey to being more like Jesus. If someone had told me about this mess I wouldn’t be ignoring calls and messages. I would have just taken myself to the wilderness and come back when I had some sense of balance.

Sheesh!

I should write a book one day about things I wish I knew before I made the conscious decision to be a Christian. Sigh.

Point is, if your spiritual journey, Christian or not, is looking some type of way, that’s normal. Levitating cross-legged is for the movies.

Cheers.

Yep. Christians are not exempted from bad life experiences

Before I say how story books, Disney movies and everything I watched where evil triumphs all was partly a sham, I’d like us to be clear. Life can be painfully hard.

~~~~~

I think there is a watered down Christian narrative we follow. I am not talking about prosperity gospel; there are renowned preachers I watch and ask God if he’ll allow them entrance into heaven. And then I remind myself not to be judgmental toad. I am talking about the sunshine and happy rays perspective presented.

“Follow God and all will be well!”

You’d think that the first people to get the Holy Spirit on earth would get a pass and not be boiled in hot oil, hang upside down or beheaded. But please, tell me more about how fabulous the Christian life is!

I won’t lie. It is fabulous. You’d think I was mocking the process the entire time. No, life can be quite rubbish, but the reason why most people are not articulate about it is because the truth will make you run. If people had told me the path to self-awareness and closeness to the Holy Spirit was this hard, I would have done one of two things. I would have said no thanks. Otherwise I would have done something I wish I could have done; braced myself.

~~~~~

I have a tattoo; feel free to throw scripture that makes you believe I am going to hell. Please, especially because should your husband die and you have no children, you DON’T have to get yourself a kinsman redeemer. That refers to you having to marry and give birth by your husband’s male relative. I’m sorry; who did you think Boaz was? LOL!

Where was I? My bad; I have a tattoo. There were two things I was upset about. The first was the symbolism. The second was how I had not anticipated the extent of pain. I hoped that my younger brother had said how painful it would be. Like on a scale of one to ten. I thought it was a 6 at most. For me it was an eight but there is something about the lack of knowing what’s coming that throws me off and has me calling my ancestors. Never mind I have sensitive skin. I currently have a bruise on my hip I’m like “what pillow hit you?”

~~~~~

If you are reading this and you are ish ish about your relationship with God but you are considering this, I urge you to go the other way. “But Wambaire! You should bring-“ You know that life with Christ is worth more than anything on the planet. However, if you think that getting to a healthy place in both your soul and spirit (no, those are not synonymous; they are dealt with separately) will be easy, this is not for you.

You will hit rock bottom with the top of your head. You will have a bad marriage, a child with terminal illness. You will end up in hospital on life support, you will have people betray you. You will have no friends and you will be lonely.

But God- He’s so worth it. If you don’t believe me though, you keep doing you. You and I will have the same experiences (who thought a suicidal Christian was a thing?) but I’m here fighting mosquitoes and at peace that I am in the best head space I have been all my life.

My point is; beware.

Cheers.

Don’t scratch the scab

I can’t pinpoint when the change happened, but as with everything, it was probably a bit at a time. The river that is my life eventually wore down a bolder in the way and proceeded to flow freely. It could be the wakeup call after being at the underside of rock bottom and swearing not to go back there. It could be that I am healing. It could be many things, but even that I won’t fuss about.

~~~~~

When I don’t get my way, I merely move on. Before it was an entire struggle; an inner dialogue of why they did not respond to my text. It was wondering what about my company would have people overlook me entirely. It was a pity-party of how I was a loner and no one cared. Now, it’s a shrug and we look for something else to do. It’s like noticing you’re out of coffee and opt for tea. Not the same effect but satisfies the itch.

That is one of the many examples of healing I’ve seen.

And it is weird.

~~~~~

Sabotage; our dear old friend

I noticed as humans we have the capacity to seek out drama. Before you blame everyone around you, check your boundaries. You just could be the one allowing drama. In a sense, I was a low key crazy-maker. I would poke at something to see how it reacts. It was more out of boredom than malice. Or honestly put, it was the idea that most people work off from; it’s better if someone yelled at you than them giving you the silent treatment. Effects of neglect in childhood; and yes, we are all broken and busted. It’s part of the human experience.

Even as I come into my own and love myself and company more, I’m finding that I’m kinda bored. I find the stillness and the peace weird. It is like having on a super gorgeous outfit that fits perfectly and still feel uncomfortable. Stop touching it, it’s fine!

If this doesn’t make sense, that’s quite alright- shelf it for when it does. If it does it’s likely you are healing and lack of turmoil, pain, anger and frustration and the kind is strange. Before you slide into his or her DM looking for closure or whatever other foolish reason you conjure up, go see about the tension in Cameroon between the French and English speakers. There are a thousand different things to do other than go looking for disappointment.

They haven’t changed. By the way. In case you were wondering.

So what’s the lesson?

There is stillness and peace in healing. It also feels like a lot of nothing happening. However, rest. You’ll need it when it’s time to face the world anew. It’s boring but necessary, so don’t ruin it.

Note to self.

For when you’re so stuck, that your stuck is stuck.

I found humor in my journey, along with the awareness that I am crazy and a lot to handle. I think I had been too modest about my ability to go off on people like a firecracker when I found them to be displaying “bad manners” LOL!

Therapy has been a big help, certainly something I will advocate for the rest of my life. Why? Because those who meet me in the future have a lot less to handle. Ha! However, until my session last week I had not understood the source of my stuckness.

Now that I have, boy am I letting it rip!

~~~~~

I was the type of person to continue texting and calling a guy who treated me anyhow because I liked them. I was the type to hold on to friends that had no business being my friend because I always got the short end of the stick. I was the type not to set boundaries with my folks and as a result, I, the grass, suffered. I was the type to not know how to handle my emotions, so I found solace at the bottom of a bottle of something hard. Saying “no” was impossible as well.

I am perhaps still all these things to a degree. I believe in supernatural turnarounds, but it just might take me practice to become completely unstuck because it’s been years of this crap.

~~~~~

When you don’t know better, you cannot be and do better.

That is my understanding of unsticking my stuckness. For years I have been pursuing justice I will never get for the wrongs done to me from when I was a child. For years I let the anger eat me up, leaving me stuck in patterns that had me questioning my sanity. In hindsight, I remained in trash relationships because I wanted THEM to see what THEY were doing wrong so they can apologize, change and treat me better.

Yea… no.

Courtesy: Seek Logo

There is a release in understanding our history. The theory of psychoanalysis in therapy speaks on unearthing forgotten things of the past to explain our present selves. But only a small number of us ever will.

(Here is what they don’t tell you about the process: It is as painful as you can imagine. Only worse. The emotional pain gets so bad you can feel it in your elbow LOL! But think of it as exercise; there’s a price to pay to get healthy.)

If you noticed you have been doing, thinking or saying some dumb things for years and can’t seem to get unstuck, venture to the past. Forget the facts, and sit in the emotions of the little child that you were. Cry, wail, say how angry you are.

So no, you weren’t born this way; the world just landed your soul a blow at birth; that’s why it is deformed and bleeding.

Yes, life sucks, but keep swimming.