Happy birthday, dad! 59 years awesome!

Okay, it’s about that time of the year again where I bust out of my comfort zone and tackle something a bit different from my normal slop. It’s my dad’s birthday. Happy birthday to my dad, Samuel! He turns something something years old today. Scratch that, he’s 59 today! I’m a sagittarius; I love precision.

A few weeks back my dad was rummaging through his backpack because he didn’t have his keys but they were right on the table and I laughed at him and told him he’s 58 and he went like, “What has that got to do with my keys missing?” You see, my dad doesn’t like to be reminded of his age. Neither do I. I mean I’m a chip off the old block. Lol

Is it too soon to say “my old man?” Even though it’s cliche, I seriously don’t know what I would do without my dad! This man has given me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believes in me! There are days when I’m over the edge ( like today) and I think I just can’t do this anymore. But he always instills grit, resilience and will power in me, with unfailing optimism that astounds me time and again. He is the finest example of loyalty, commitment and unconditional love in my life.

My dad exudes pride, even though I don’t necessarily fit into the long desired ideal daughter mould sometimes. Mental illness is hell on wheels; more often than not you will lose your cool. During my teenage years before I got my bipolar type 2 diagnosis, I went from hospital bed to hospital bed, one or two of them for surviving suicide. I remember missing school for the whole of second term in senior five. Dad wasn’t always there during all this turbulence and I was very spiteful about it. Today, I understand that he had his own struggles and I could not even see them because I was either too young or too preoccupied with this gargoyle that teaches my brain to have this nasty habit of overriding logic. I have since learnt that nobody is perfect. Dad has loved me to life. Dad has loved me in the best way he knows how to.

If I’m still here navigating life, it’s not because of these “magic” pills I pop daily. It is certainly because of my dad too. I know psychotropics can be a godsend but anyone who has experienced mental illness first hand knows that psychotropics, psychotherapy and an astounding support system is pivotal to recovery.

My dad and I go a long way. We are like best friends but I’m more of his sidekick. We are not very physically identical because I take after my mother. (But he would swear I look like his grandma, the one he named me after). I have his complexion though. Both of us are very passionate word weavers and very established blubber mouths; we can talk till you get vexed. He is a better storyteller, however, and I’m good at just snorting and laughing and cackling. My dad has got jokes for days. Our major pet peeve is bad grammar.

Not to burst your bubble but my dad does not quite understand depression. And that’s okay. He religiously asks me to explain what exactly I feel when I can’t get out of bed or how it feels right after I pop the pills. I try to tell him that depression is like someone throttling you and tearing right through your heart with a knife all at once, because that is the best way I know how to. My trips to the psych hospital have made me understand that there are people who just can’t relate to depression or mood disorders. All they experience is sheer sadness. My dad is part of that lucky throng. He says his greatest heartbreak was when his mother, my grandma, died in September 2015. I saw him shriek as he viewed her casket. My grandma’s death and its effect on my dad remains the biggest formative and painful experience of my life. The other one is pain. The brain. Pain in the brain. Pain in my brain. Mental illness. 9th Wonder of the world. Dying on the inside while still alive. Constantly being sent to a tailspin of grief for no discernible reason.

But by virtue of me being my dad’s daughter, I will always come out ahead. My dad is intelligent and tactfully skilled at survival skills and a pro at getting something for nothing. Well… So am I!

Happy birthday dad!

I profoundly respect you and admire your disposition and your diplomacy to deal with conflicts and complicated situations. It is difficult not to put you on a pedestal. You sure deserve an accolade. ❤️

( I’m sorry you aren’t having a big birthday party this year and I therefore won’t get the chance to bail you out of a botched speech with my own impromptu genius. I mean, I’m the smarter one. Lol).

Love,

Your daughter / grandma / sidekick,

Sharon CheChe.

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DEPRESSION, AMBIVALENCE, A YEAR OLDER!

I know many people perceive depression as an intolerable, persistent sadness and deep gloom. My most recent experience has vividly shown me that depression can be subtle, sneaky and disguised in symptoms that can be hard to identify. If you are having unexplained pains or aches, often feeling irritable, irked or angry for no discernible reason, crying at the drop of a hat –you could be depressed. This is me lately.

Depression is poking me in the most unexpected way, both physically and behaviourally. I’m obviously very lethargic but what hits hard is the frequent crying spells, the short bursts of spontaneous, out-of-nowhere (sometimes anxiety provoked) teariness. My little brother could be trying to show me a meme on his phone but I’d be very irritated and balancing tears and on the brink of slamming the door on his face just because he called my name “a little louder than usual.” On Monday I cried on the bus to town because I simply felt “unloved.” These feelings honestly make my stomach churn. I want out.

I have also have a significant lack of appetite. One meal per day suffices pretty much. I don’t even feel hungry in between. I’m also experiencing what feels like pathological guilt. I know guilt is a natural sensation at times but I have branded mine as pathological because it painstakingly scans the past and sees only a series of failures. I feel overtly guilty for having been born, guilty for having depression, guilty for having mental illness, right now I can’t think of any major life role (daughter, auntie, friend, girlfriend etc) without being consumed by feelings of guilt.

While these symptoms are specific “clusters” of depression symptoms manifesting to create different experiences of mental illness, it’s not too bad in the grand scheme of things. I mean I experienced another milestone… I turned a year older! Against all odds. Sailed through the shark infested bipolar depression waters of suicidal ideations, guilt tripping and everything in between. Forgive me but I’m happy sad, actually very ambivalent about this. Ambivalent for the prime reason that it was only yesterday that I walked into my 20s and let the tinges of adulthood kiss me fresh vibes of a world, tainted, yet beautiful. Ambivalent because now I’m inching closer to the quarter life crisis. Or so I feel.

However I must say turning a year older has triggered my love for reading and writing more. I’m falling out of love with my jeans and welcoming comfort to my skimpy dresses. I’m gladly binging on something called love. Something I had previously believed was a misnomer and a fictional concept. Love. Love that is a messed up world. Love that is going to fix us, no matter what.

So… Dear New Age,

You may look like a big number, but to me you are just as old as I am. You are the youngest I’ve ever been yet also the oldest I am. I’m just as paradoxical as you; tainted yet so pure. I would like you to know that I’m in search of something, something still unknown to me. We can discuss this over a year’s time as we turn over a new chapter on 10th December 2019, while we’re stumbling half drunk on our own musings and words. Until then, let’s learn a bit about love and a little more about ourselves. Let’s keep feigning strength until it’s inked in our bones. May we find our yellow brick road to recovery. May it strike us, one day, in retrospect, that these years of struggle for sanity were worthwhile. Peace and love, kid.

Happy holidays everyone,

Yours with the crazy rollercoaster life,

Sharida.

💜