Her eyes are like embers of coal
They bear no reflection of a soul
She carries the scars of a thousand wars
Yet they say the course was never worthy.
As she listens to the voices in her head
The things she dreads most seem to haunt her the most
The daily verses she rehearses are often quite morose.
When did society decide to ignore
This disease of the mind?
When did our default
Become the “I’m fine?”
When will they all open their eyes
And cease being blind
To the life behind the mask
And the hurt behind the laugh?
She is quite twenty
But she is not hearty
Her mind’s gone awry
Dare not pry
But in her eyes are stories left untold.
I am her.
I’m not sure which sin I’m trying to atone in this letter but I know for a fact that intrinsically, deep, deep down, I am tainted. A tainted daughter, sister, aunt, niece, relative, friend, student, citizen, blogger —whatever it is, I am tainted. A tainted and temperate angel.
I still find myself wallowing in self-pity and going to pieces. I have convinced myself that I’m desperately foul inside, both in my heart and in my brain. Apologizing for this insidious and compounding illness to you every time and especially today, is a horrid way to celebrate you on this fine Mothers’ Day or on your 59th birthday that is due tomorrow. Apologies are just words, and words are transient.
Mama, these are the thoughts mulling around in my bipolar mind. I have this hedonistic desire to journey this trial and love on the truth. Writing about my condition feels like a blank slate, taking away some of my own drama with each post. This is my internet ‘black box’ where I can voice everything that I don’t voice to you and the people in my life. This is a glimpse into my minefield mind and how I let it explode through my pen, allowing my thoughts to be glamorized by the anonymity and obscurity of the web. This is me sharing the (s)wims through the shark-infested bipolar and depression waters.
I’m sorry that I have become too lethargic, too ratty, too cross, too self-involved or too narcissistic to sometimes acknowledge you. Here’s to let you know that you are absolute dynamite. You are a bundle of stardust. You are my lifeline. You are my all. Thank you for loving me through my sins and failures. Thank you for loving me to life. Happy Mothers’ Day.
As soon as I got my prescription and was making my way to the pharmacy, I warily googled what population percentage of
the world was on antidepressants. Well I couldn’t find an exact figure and I was certainly ambivalent that I had joined that throng; I popped my first amitriptyline later that evening. (I have since taken citalopram and I’m now on Prozac).
My antidepressant journey kicked off with major dietary issues (my appetite went through the roof and I ate so hoggishly I’d lose my breath resulting into a medley of gasping, lip-smacking and ruminating. Lol), blurry vision, constipation and persistent migraines that made me wonder if I had an undiscovered malignant brain tumour. Sheesh, anxiety is really a blast when trying out meds for the first time! The first indication that something was up came in the next couple of days when I woke up to go to school but my legs were barely working, I was in the grip of convulsive shudders. I was also in a state of extreme dissociation that felt like I was entirely present in the world yet feeling extremely detached from it. I had drifted into mental autopilot. This drug-induced fugue was even more intense than what I experienced when it was happening naturally. Being on meds made my depression worse because it now graduated to what bordered stupor.
Over the weeks I pondered on stopping my meds cold turkey. Of course I was aware of antidepressant withdrawal syndrome. The leaflet that came with the drug warned that in the first days you might find symptoms that you are trying to counter, come back even more strongly. But I was overwhelmed. It was like playing symptom whack-a-mole, except that you are whacking bits of your psyche and sanity. I was on the brink of giving up all hope. And honestly comments like, “Uko na ugonjwa ya wazungu… “ coming from my sister were just adding salt to injury. I discovered I hadn’t known enough despair when my dad actually advised me to tuck my meds in a discreet pocket so as to hide it from plain view, and to only take them once I bolted my bedroom door and ensured no one was looking! He was sure just protecting me from the stigma but my paranoia imagined maybe he just didn’t want his smugness to be tainted by a mood disorder. (I know this is super mean of me). That was a terrible blow to my blue devils though. But I came to understand that these two people were extremely innocent and just a mirror of society’s stand on mental illness. They meant the best for me. It’s amazing how now they form my astounding, solid support system. One that is comprised of friends, family and the cutest, most doting gosh darn dog you’ll ever meet!
Tenacity, grit and resilience are my middle name. I eventually hit the antidepressant jackpot in about 6 weeks! Amitriptyline finally worked. Dawn came. There was a bright side, the much awaited breakthrough. It pushed me to be more cognizant of how I felt emotionally, physically and mentally. Everything that was careening out of control came to ease. I beat the intense anguish and debilitating lethargy that had for many years lingered over the surface and spilt into nearly every facet of my life. I was completely stunned. I found myself constantly wondering if that was what “normal” felt like. Well if that was it, then it sure tasted like sweet heaven. Woo-hoo!
Why am I writing this?
- I am writing this because society carries a lot of stigma about antidepressants (and psychotropics) judging by what I see represented in art. I want to break the notion that humans are over medicating themselves and therefore medication should only be limited to ‘more serious’ illnesses like diabetes and heart disease. Get it from me, antidepressants can be a GODSEND, and the channel to finding oneself. Of course the weight gain associated by it sucks, but in the grand scheme of things, it isn’t so bad. The pros far outweigh the cons.
- I am writing this to create awareness that not all pain is physical and not all wounds are visible.
- I am writing this, not to be treated special, babied, judged or fawned over, but for this to be matter-of-fact.
- I am writing this because May is Mental Health Awareness month.
It is April 2015, I’m standing in the waiting room of my local hospital. I lean over in agony, using the back of my hands to wipe away my tears, furrowing my brows in confusion and mumbling in something between pain and lassitude. One thing I’m certain of however, is that I’m enshrouded in heartache, lethargy and disillusionment. I’m afraid this is what most of my adult life has entailed. Finally I get a glimpse of the receptionist signaling me. She seems to be looking at my jaded self with a bit of contempt but I still tell her, “I need to see a psychiatrist or a psychologist. ” She asks if it is an emergency, I tell her it is but she still says the next available appointment isn’t until next Monday -even though I take it, I’m not too sure I’ll make it that long. Joke on her, I’ve had my back up plan for suicide in place since my bout of depression began, and it’s only been a matter of timing. I have had morbid fascinations with suicidal ideations and held such tendencies. (Wait I survived one suicide attempt!) My mind is going awry but I still manage to get home in one piece.
Monday came. Whew!
A diagnosis. Clinical Depression. This was where my odd odyssey peaked.
Well a diagnosis is both a terrifying and a relieving confirmation. It is paradoxical; it can be both a breakthrough and a gateway to another long and difficult path. Finding out I suffered from clinical depression wasn’t surprising to me. Instead it was CONFUSING. Confusing because of the stigma associated with people living with mental illnesses. I feel like I will never be able to expound on depression with ease; depression makes my stomach churn, I find it bone-chilling. The way it is insidious and compounding really breaks my heart. I mean how do you describe dying on the inside while you are still alive? How do you go about in a society that is hellbent on believing that we are just “lazy” or “attention seekers” or “weaklings? ” How do you explain to random people that we have to take meds daily to manage a chemical imbalance in our brains?
The biggest misconception about us mental illness spoonies is that we are homogeneous in some way. Some believe that the badge “mentally ill” should only be applied to delusional, homicidal, chainsaw-wielding psychopaths. Some believe it should only be applied to angst-ridden teenage girls crying in bathrooms at lunch breaks. Some believe it should be applied to grown humans walking naked in the streets and eating from bins. I assure you the three characterizations might only be applicable to a fraction of the mentally ill community. Because we are diverse, flawed, vibrant and beautiful in so many levels in every way we exist in this world outside of the stereotype that society places upon us. The only misconception here is that we could possibly be lumped into such deductive categories.
Hi, my name is Ida-Sharon. Welcome to my odyssey. Here are the inner musings of a chemically imbalanced (therefore deemed odd) girl seeking normality within bipolarity. Here is the journey to my recovery guided by a broken compass. Here is the write direction.
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Thanks for joining me!
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton