Letting go of what I never had

Sit with me in silent laughter.

By now I know the symptoms of a bad day. I will wake up in a sour mood. I will not want to leave the bed. I will negotiate with myself to work because I don’t want to be a beggar. I will refuse to journal because I know it will end in an even more foul mood or waterworks, both of which I don’t want to experience.

If you don’t have such days, I’m jealous.

As for me and myself, such a day never ends well. I started with one of those yesterday. For the most part, they end with hours of YouTube and sleep, but in others, if a trigger is introduced, chhhhiiiillleeeee…. (pronounced “child” but without the d. Blame Sarah Jakes Roberts.)

My riggers could be anything, but they all have an underlying theme- men getting away with shit. Anything from a chauvinistic comment that goes unmentioned to gospel artists messing up a woman’s life- that shit gets to me. I could choose not to curse, but that shit is heavy in my heart and I can’t express it any other way.

Because these all sound like things I should bring up in my therapy sessions, I’ll do just that.

But one thing these triggers do is send me down a rabbit hole, which is the basis of today’s post.

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Being molested as a child messes up a human to degrees that even they don’t understand in their later years. If you have been, male or female, you know what I mean. Pair that with a less than ideal environment to grow up in and behold, a mess of a human being trying to get through life happens.

And I have been trying to work my issues out. So when the following thought hit me, I had to just… let’s just say I felt a lot of things.

How do you let go of things you never had in the first place?

I’ll give an example. It’s like not getting a job and saying, you know what, screw that job, I don’t want it anyway, it was rubbish, the people are probably xyz, etc. etc. you know, sour grapes. So imagine that with your life, trying to let go of friends you never had, of relationships with people who never loved you in the first place, of a childhood that you never got to experience.

How does that work, exactly?

And I say this with utmost humor despite the space I’m in- it’s like trying to change up your life to be this thing, and then you realized you never had a life in the first place, so what exactly are you changing? LOL!

You can understand the level of delusion, yes?

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While that realization is painful, it’s one I’m happy I’ve had. Unclenching empty hands is easier, and realizing, moving forward, I have nothing to lose with the choices I make with how my life moves forward. I never had anything to lose in the first place.

I also realize what to pick and carry with me. Love. From people who were with me even when I had nothing, even when I didn’t realize I was empty. You are the real OGs.

Keep swimming.

Learning to walk depression “alone”

Before you raise your eyebrows, hear me out.

I cannot take full credit for the recovery I’ve had thus far. I have God, friends, a therapist, my parents etc. who have helped me along. However, there are journeys you have to walk alone.

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The first few years of life significantly shape your life. Sigmund Freud on his theory of psychoanalysis talks extensively about this, but there are some places he appeared to have missed the point entirely. He was convinced that everyone, like him, fights with feelings of attraction for their parents. In his case, he was sexually attracted to his mother. He had plenty of demons, including battling illnesses, brought about mental health.

It is the likes of Alfred Adler and Carl Gustav Jung, Freud’s students, and Eric Ericson who took the theory a step further. Eric broke it down to the stages of life; it is more of the experiences we refer to now, including the phases of finding one’s identity and self-actualization. There are other theories that I am yet to read that counseling psychologists use, but I found this one in particular helpful.

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My mom worked for the first six+ months of my life. That meant house helps, and if the horrors we’ve heard are to go by, my dad once rushed me to the hospital suffering from dehydration. I was a fantastic sleeper, and somewhere along the way, I learned to suck my finger to soothe myself. In those early months and years, I learned to be my support system. Imagine waking up, crying for attention for hours, and yet no one comes. I seem to have resulted to silence. Cry, if no one comes, suck my finger and move on.

This is the story of many people who didn’t have the best of caretakers when their parents were out hustling. I think it was soon after the incident with me that my mother opted to quit her job and stay at home for a while. My elder brother had my mother’s sisters present, so he was alright. My younger brother had a stay-home mother; she quit her job a few months before he was born.

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I learned to figure my things out, and while that worked as a child to save me tears, it is not the best approach now. There are pros and cons to it though. In the past year, I have learned to ask for help. Before I would act out and hope someone would take notice and do something. Now I know to speak and ask for what I need. Asking my dad to find me a therapist for me was a milestone.


However-


No one around me extensively understands depression and suicide; just one person and because they have their fight to fight, I cannot burden them. Others have a general idea, but nothing about a deep hole, a cloud and the loss of hope. If you are in a similar situation, I am sure you are very aware of how lonely that makes you feel. I’ve had to rely on those self-soothing methods I learned as a kid, only they haven’t always been healthy- sucking my finger earned me braces 10 years in.

If you are in this dark space, you might not want to hear this, but you are your best friend and hope of getting through. You have to give yourself what you need actively. How easy is that? It is not; it is still something I struggle with. Taking myself for a pedicure two days ago was an internal struggle. Am I wasting money? Should your broke self not be saving? Finally, I realized that I was in a low space; staying in my room would have made me feel worse. However, pretty feet would cheer me up. What is better?

You too have to give yourself what you need. Buy that candle, go by street food, stay in bed all day watching comedy. Do small actions that lift your mood. Your family, friends, partner and pretty much everyone will not be there for you round the clock. Learn to be there for yourself when they are not present.

You are a better ally to yourself than the voices are telling you.

We are wired for love; send some your way beloved.

Positive affirmations to combat depression: Your Character Vs. Your Identity

Working definitions

Character: the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.

Identity: the fact of being who or what a person or thing is.

Thanks Google.

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Living in your head, I think, is one of the primary causes of depression. The opposite is not avoiding deep reflection. The opposite is a balance between understanding oneself and still being present. If you’re like me, you will spend HOURS in your mind. And Google.

Here is what my mind has churned out over the years; these are accurate and not merely some way to beat up my self-esteem.

  • I have anger issues
  • I am still looking at my mustard seed-sized self-esteem like- “bloom baby, bloom!”
  • Erm… What are boundaries?
  • Cut me, I gut you

You get my point.

I was in a state of one of these episodes but I caught myself this time.

Sure, these are all things currently coming off, but who does God say I am?

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If you have grown up in a Christian setting, that question is rather out of flavor. However, may I offer a different perspective?

There is who God says we are- the head and not the tail, co-heirs with Christ, His beloved… these are all things we’ve heard, and know.

Now, if Jesus came and sat on your bed, and being a Friend, what would he tell you? If you said you are ____ (insert a shortcoming), what would he say?

What I think we’ve done is used scripture to band-aid our pains. I could sit here and say that I am the righteousness of God in Christ, but if I still feel dirty for what I said, did or thought, what use is that? His truth remains, but my posture is what makes it hard for me to accept it.

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Suggested way forward?

Let me use the thought that sparked this post. I was reading an article on co-dependency. The article talked about how it’s generational and something we learn from observations. As I was sitting in the truth of my actions (and marinading in it being a solid cause-but one of the many-reasons behind my many failed relationships), a different thought *hello there Holy Spirit!* came to mind.

“Sure, this is your present character, but who does God say you are?”

After the initial biblical affirmations, I realize that my identity is not co-dependent. My identity is in Christ; I am Christ-like. Everything else is an add-on that is unnecessary and can be shake off. I don’t know about you, but that makes working my issues through so much easier.

I am not changing my identity from being codependent to being Codependent No More, because, identity wise, that’s not who I am.

They are thoughts turned words, turned actions, turned habit, turned character and are now shaping my destiny. But they are not who I am. The work to remaining true to my identity is the same- I need tools to learn how to NOT be codependent. The difference is it’s no longer this thing attached to my essence; it’s a passing cloud. Gloomy, and makes me feel sad, but nonetheless, a passing cloud.

To new way of looking at things in 2019,

Cheers.

Oh look! You made it to 2019!

Well hello my beloveds!

After my previous post I’d like to insist that therapy works. I am not a ray of sunshine, but we are pushing through. What sticks with me and something A Course in Miracles insists upon, is that you ought to accept that your thoughts are a singular narrative. There is more than one way of looking at things. The answers won’t walk in with trumpets and your celebrity crush in tow with a placard, but it’ll come- eventually. They always come in a delightful manner, and it is in seeing things differently that you know a miracle has occurred.

One Shahisa Mutali asked in November for tips and tricks surviving hard days on a comment on this post. I can mostly talk about what not to do. And that is drink. Apart from the hangover, aching esophagus and guilt from the abuse to your body, alcohol is not your friend when depressed. That’s one. Another thing is not to remain in your head for too long. I work from home and the silence is not entirely helpful. I’m learning to watch movies, YouTube until the dark cloud passes, treat myself- basically do anything not to think when I’m down. Because the voices in my mind get dark VERY fast.

What has also helped is having a spiritual practice. It helps me to know even when it’s hard, I’m not by myself in the struggle. Belief in God doesn’t automatically mean that the depression will lift and you’ll be bright eyed like nothing happen. Nope. Things will still be trash, but the awareness of a Higher Power gives you hope that’s crucial to survival. Quite literally. 😅

Of quiet days and nature

No seriously…
Which brings me to, “what do normal people think about?” I was explaining to a friend that mental health is the mind working against itself. It’s hard because there is no tangible evidence as to where it hurts. It’s just your emotions are in turmoil, you can’t shut your thoughts up and you still have to shower. Like why? 😂

What do normal people think about anyway? Comment below, it’ll be super helpful tihihihihi!

Moving forward

I realize that exercise is something I have to take up to fight off what’s left of the cloud. Or at least shirk it down to a manageable size. I’m considering signing up for a gym membership because jogging… And I need someone up my butt torturing me with weights and other things to remain committed. Yep. I am officially those January-new-beginning we-gotta-get-that-body people.

Other aspect I wanna take up are- I was gonna say meditation and mindfulness. Yea. Not there yet. Taking myself for lunches and movies sounds more solid. 😂

Your journey is probably different, but remember to do things that a loving friend would do for you, but for yourself. Nothing kicks self-loathing harder than doing nice loving things for yourself. If you’re in the pits, start small. Get a shower gel you’ve always liked. Buy that snack you crave and reminds you of childhood.

Fill your well. People around you can try and help, but only you’ll get it right. There’s more in you than you think. You just need to remember to be willing to look at things differently. Be kind to yourself, you’re still breathing- and that’s a pretty huge deal beloved.

Smile. You made it to 2019.

Happy New Year to you, warrior.

Christian heartchat: When suicide comes knocking

Between the sleep in my eyes and the stigma on this topic, believe me when I say it’s the last thing I wish to post about. That and typing and editing via phone is cumbersome. How autocomplete thought I wanted to say Cumberland (lol!) is beyond me. I only do so because I realize it’s not about me.

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Before early 2016 I can say my life has been cloudy, but the one that doesn’t make you sweat but does get you depressed as the day progresses. After doing something terrifically foolish, I understood how you can be a Christian and slide into the devil’s “DM.” If you’re ranking sins in your mind then that’s you scrolling looking for his handle. Stop. You’re welcome!

I had an honest conversation with God and asked Him to get me out of the mess because if He didn’t, I was so sure I’d ruin my life. It was actually a guarantee; you don’t need to get two warning dreams to know fam! He didn’t have to but He did, and from that point I said I’d focus on him. After that commitment depression became part and parcel of my life. That and other manifestations of self-hatred. It had been there before, the cloudy day, but it got progressively dark to what began to look like night.

Darkness fell less than a week ago. I’ve mentioned here having suicidal thoughts (or have I?) and there’s nothing as bad as a mind working against you. If you’ve been here it’s something you don’t wish on your worst enemy. Think of the person you strongly dislike. Now think of the one you’d use the word “hate.” You wouldn’t wish those oppressive thoughts on them. Trust me. The fact that I know someone I love with the same issue hurts me to my life’s essence.

Sorry for the detour, I just find context super important.

I’ve been reading a lot about mental health so when for the first time the thought manifested into dialogue in form of a plan, I knew I needed help. And even in that awareness I was aware that God was still with me. I was on the phone with a close friend and after she prayed for me I said “I can see God even in this. But right now I am not okay, and I need to get help.”

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Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies [dedicating all of yourselves, set apart] as a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to God, which is your rational (logical, intelligent) act of worship. And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].

ROMANS 12:1‭-‬2 AMP

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What you’re going through is not normal. It is equally not of God.

Giving yourself up to God is a logical act of worship because He gave His son for you. A life for a life almost. So taking your life is out of question. Also note that it gives no prerequisite as to how you come. It says all of yourself as “holy and well-pleasing” to God. If Paul did anything in his lifetime was let us know that we only achieve that status in Christ. If you’re in him, even as you are, God sees you as worthy. Paul was a murder- what’s you’re excuse for refusing what the word says you are? Being conformed to this world for me was entertaining the thought of going through with the narrative playing in my mind to take my life.

I love an example given to me. It’s like playing Temple Run with suicide. Even when the gorilla catches up and kills you or you fall off a cliff, the screen refreshes and you’re back at it. You “die”, but when morning comes you’re back to running, fighting, coping. Does that sound like life in Christ?

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Which brings me to my second point; get help. There is such a thing as rubbish “help”. It takes the form of alcohol, the friend that’s messed with your self esteem for years, non-responsive parents, a pastor or priest with no counseling experience, that overly religious relative. Amani Counseling Center and KAPC in Kenya are excellent places to start. If you don’t have financial resources, I get that. Reach out to a supportive friend or relative. They might not understand, but they might be willing to help. I don’t have a list, but sort professional counselors.

Again, get help. Those thoughts are NOT normal and shouldn’t be with you for life. Don’t cope, don’t fight alone. Read as much as you can about what you’re going through- it’s hands down affirmed my belief that information is power.

Not your typical festive post. I know. But let your gift to yourself in 2019 be a sober mind, won’t you?

Merry Christmas

Things fall apart and quiet seasons

Joseph and Moses

Somewhere in the corner of my mind, I found it humorous that I can relate to these two characters in the bible. When you have a big mouth and are out here looking like you want to save the world, the Lord will humble you so hard. By the time you’re getting back up, He’s the only person you will give credit to.

I don’t take this platform lightly, that’s why I will take days, weeks and months before I post something. I am of the opinion that if it’s not my life, I have no business writing about it. In the space I am in, things are falling apart (they probably already have, there’s the odd rock sliding down the debris) and there’s now a silence. Joseph in a pit. Moses in the wilderness.

I might need to take issue with my high school (International School of Uganda) for using holocaust, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and an existentialist book as part of our set books. When I think back, there’s a phrase that comes to mind that the atomic bomb survivors talk about- the silence that followed the bombing.

People, these were my set books.

When I was meant to be focusing on who was bulling me, why I was in a rubbish relationship and why I couldn’t get above my average-ness-ness, I had a set book about people’s aches in pages to read, understand and analyze.

But again; the silence that followed.

Before the tears, agony, fear and all expressions of despair, there is a silence. It is almost like you’re listening to see if you’re still alive before you can assess the carnage. If you’ve seen footage of war survivors before the tears come, grieving what they’ve lost, there is a moment of silence; a moment of taking it in.

The mourning for what you’ve lost in your life is eventual but take stock first so that you know what you’re truly crying for.

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I had a moment last evening with friends where I called Christians who plaster scripture over things stupid aka “having or showing a great lack of intelligence or common sense”. It’s especially for those who throw scripture at you with the aim of conviction, only to bring judgment. Remember Job’s friends? I’ve done it, foolishly so, for a while, but after seeing how the only result it yields is a rift, I’ve come to follow Christ cue. Have you noticed how you feel no judgment over his interactions with sinners?

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If everything has crumbled all around you, take time to make an assessment. You won’t know what to rebuild if you don’t know what’s in rabbles.

Cheers my friends.

Finding peace in midst of the nightmare

I’ve been to Kakuma once, and in my ignorance when talking to a few girls asking their ages, I mentioned that schools would be open at some point. A woman, not sure who her kids were in the group, looked at me as I spoke to the girls, giving me a cold stare.

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If you’ve grown up in comfort, the idea of things getting better when it’s consistently been bad is almost offensive to someone who’s been through the SI unit of hard times: rape, witnessing a murder or having a near-death experience whether through starvation, by someone else, disease, nature or an animal. In Dadaab, some people I spoke to have been there for over 25 years, their going back out of the question.

If you went to the camp as a child, gave birth there, and now you see your kids future taking the same shape, what does “things getting better” look like?

What does “things getting better” look like for people going through a chronic illness? What about those in a cycle of abuse with no way to get out? What about for the person who helplessly watches someone drink their life away? What does it look like when nothing has changed for decades?

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I was having a conversation with a friend, and I realized that telling children life is hard from early on should be something all parents do. Pain doesn’t leave anyone untouched, no matter the level of comfort that you’ve grown up in. I wouldn’t expose my offspring (should I choose to and actually be able to bear them), to Disney movies only. I’d thrown in stories of Jesus disciples being executed despite doing good.

So yes, life is hard.

More of us need to sit in this truth longer. Money and keeping yourself occupied don’t make it any less true, and we need to stop telling our children and those around us that those two are the answers to happily ever after. Don’t let them go through the trauma of experiencing their livelihood burn to the grown, or something of that nature, and they think it’s the end of life because even money and hard work weren’t enough to protect them.

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Next time you’re in a rubbish space, sit in it for longer. Jamie Grace talked about it in the pregnancy context, but we do need to look at rough times differently. We shouldn’t long for better days; what if they don’t come, or not in the expected timeframe, then what happens? As you might tell by now, I’ve been through quite an experience recently, and with a lot of help from God and close friends, it has me looking at my now differently.

My offer to you is this; find peace in God.

Girl, that’s so cliché! Yea, well, it seems your life is either overall fair weather, or your heart grew cold.

Friend, find so much peace that when your rock bottom gives way, and you’re falling again, though scared and angry and frantic and questioning, you’re freaking out in God. That you’re screaming out His name because you know He’s there and no one has “got you” as He does.

Even when they tell you there’s no going back home, that your children might grow up illiterate, the medicine will not work, when you get the call that a loved one died, when you lose your job, a threat of starvation, someone might kill you- whatever your nightmare is, choose to freak out and finding peace in God. The pain might not go away, but at least you know you’ll never be alone.

Don’t let the nightmare you’re in push you away from God. Once you’re in the peace headspace, it becomes easier to get why Jesus was quiet on his way to the cross. He didn’t fuss, curse, and he didn’t cry ‘crew you morons!’ He knew there was something greater up ahead.

For you.

Yes. Your nightmare isn’t about you. It’s so that you can change hearts and save lives, whether you’re around to see it or not. The reward isn’t always tangible. Think of the most peaceful you’ve been. Now think it more profound, and attainable for much longer. And now think that you made the world a better place for one or more people by merely being at peace.

Cheers.