Bipolar Disorder, Blogging, Life, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Mental Wealth, Mood Disorder

Y(our) Story Isn’t Over Yet;

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk to bloom. ~ AnaΓ―s Nin

You are worthy. These are the words echoing in my mind, vying for attention. Another life lesson has been cultured. As a voracious reader and a fledgling writer, I love words with all their nuances and layers of meaning. The connotation of the word “encourage” stares me in the face and I can’t hold it in anymore.

Are you discouraged? Struggling to navigate from cradle to grave: call of duty, earthly undertones, work, school, relationships, family, adulting …life?

Difficulties in your life do not come to destroy you but to help you realise your hidden potential and power. Let difficulties know that you are difficult. ~ A. P. J. Abdul Kalam.

How are you today? If you squirmed at my greeting then this post is for you. I’d like you to know that Your Story Isn’t Over Yet ;

It may seem like you have hit rock bottom. It may seem like you have hit a dead end. Perhaps turned a corner and suddenly rammed into a brick wall. Perhaps it is the same old compounding treadmill of vanity and no fruition. Perhaps it is jostling through the labyrinth of life searching for the exit from the debilitating maze of the mundane. Perhaps it is dying to live yet living to die.

If you have ever listened with shock as the doctor shared test results, if you have ever watched the casket close on your loved one, if you have ever lost a job, if you have ever had your heart mercilessly ripped out by the person who should have loved you authentically, if you are going into the red, if you are wallowing in self pity, if you are going to pieces, if all these have hit a little close to home… perhaps there are no more skeletons in your cupboard or no more crisis looming in the horizon but you are still angst ridden, dog tired, guilty, broken and longing for something different from your already full plate, this post is for you. Your Story Isn’t Over Yet;

These moments of trials and tribulations, these bouts of apathy and despair are the chief cornerstone on which your story of glory is founded on. Find and shield the blueprint. Guard it jealousy. When everything seems dark and dizzy, hang in there for a second more. Stars need the darkest night to marvel. And when they do, they adorn the night sky. If you are going through hell, keep going. Let your heart break, it is good for your art. There is no glory without story. Realise that your soul purpose is your sole purpose. The seed must grow regardless of the fact that it is planted on stone. It will be lonely but the caterpillar is alone in the cocoon because transformation time can only be done one on one. Take heart, because you will soon transition to the beautiful butterfly.

Failure is a detour; not a dead end street. ~ Zig Ziglar

Search for that tiny flare of hope, religiously. Make those recurrent episodes of closed doors, silent cries, lead heavy eyes and stuffy nose bring out your tenacity, your grit, your will power, your resilience, your strength. Process, own and manifest the power of nothingness. Keep feigning strength until it is inked in your bones. Adopt resilient dynamism.

Your wings are carved and shaped to slay the demons, therefore you will not be touched by turbulence in the aura. You will not be tainted by failure. Rise from the ashes like the phoenix. Soar like the eagle. Heal like the wolverine. There is beauty in the struggle; you are the radiant sparkle of beauty. ❣️

God is still out here drawing straight lines with crooked sticks! πŸ™ŒπŸΎ

Pitch your tent in the land of faith.

Your Story Isn’t Over Yet;

If you are probably wondering why there is that semicolon at the end of that mantra but not one more word as it should be after the semicolon, (or if you have been coming across people with semicolon tattoos sometimes often with the mantra), here is the reason: it is in solidarity with Project Semicolon, an organisation dedicated to “presenting hope and love for those who are struggling with mental illness, suicide, addiction and self injury,” and “exists to encourage, love and inspire.

A Semicolon is used when an author could have chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life.” ~ Amy Bleuel, founder of Project Semicolon.

I hereby regurgitate the beautiful mantra of Project Semicolon by giving my testimony. I am a young woman living with Bipolar Type 2 Disorder. I have survived suicide. I am definitely not some of these labels and actions but rather a survivor. Not a victim, a survivor. My morbid fascination with suicidal ideations and tendencies are erstwhile struggles now. So I’m not doing this to be judged or fawned over – I’m doing this to be matter of fact. I have an astounding support system of wonderful mental health professionals, friends and family. A team that supports me, and I support you. I do not want your sympathy, I want your empathy. I want you to know that somewhere someone you love shares my story in one way or another.

My Story Isn’t Over Yet;

Today is also the annual World Mental Health Day. πŸ’›πŸ’› This year’s theme is suicide prevention, in order to raise awareness and action to prevent suicides. Therefore I will do my part: if anyone reading this is struggling, I will listen. Empathetically. Remember sadness is a mood but depression is a mood disorder. We are alone, TOGETHER. We are fighting the good fight whether or not it shows. My DMs are open and I’m looking foward to start an epidemic of smiles!

✊🏾

Love,

Ida-Sharon.

Standard
Death, Mental Health

DARLING SHARIDA…

Listen baby girl, you are beyond STUNNING. Do you hear me?

You have always been the girl that lets life happen to her. The girl that rides the rollercoaster of Bipolar Disorder without a seatbelt on. The girl that fights back the sting in her eyes when least expected to pull herself together. The girl that is almost painstakingly adept at keeping her cool in the wake of the turbulence that is circular insanity.

Today, in retrospect, looking back on some of your blog posts and I am absolutely gobsmacked at some of your posts. Equally inspired and revamped because you found people on the same wavelength as you. (Underestimate the blogosphere at your own peril.). One thing is still vivid though: the skeleton that spooks you every time you open the closet. The black dog. The brain fog. The pain in the brain. OG depression. The slayer of beautiful souls. The throttling monster. The barbed arrow right through the heart.

You have hugged your knees, cried for hours until the tears dried and the throat hurt. Until you got a stuffy nose. You have sat on the floor of your room, sulking, yet in daze at the stormy situation that compounded you.

It is a pity that even as you write this, you keep glancing over your shoulder because you know the black dog might be back sooner than later, but you tread on because you feel compelled to get this out. Anxiety, the black dog’s significant other, is probably sitting in the corner watching you, anticipating their grand return. These two are the functional duo that still rob you of your functionality many years after their debut. The tricky, conniving and manipulative duo. The elephants in the room. The ticking time bombs.

But I’m glad that you are learning to dance in the torrential downpour. Like a phoenix, you are starting to learn how to emerge from the ashes to start a new life. I have seen you plummet to the state of despair and depress. I’m happy that you still have the key even when the black dog steals your self esteem, debilitates you (often to the point that you have no oomph and no motivation) and wraps it in chains.

You, Sharida, are larger than life. You stun me!

I couldn’t help but smile 😊

You have been through different phases like mazes but you are still the prime purveyor of utter grit, resilience, tenacity and strength and resolve of character. You are fully aware of the inherent beauty in the promise of the life ahead of you. You dare to pich your tent in the land of healing and destigmatization. You choose to be a prisoner of hope. You are bold, candid and uncensored on matters mental health. You tell the home truths about it. You adorn the fact that madness and genius go hand in hand. You understand that depression did not break you, it broke you OPEN. You know that you are not here inspite of the challenges, you are here BECAUSE of the challenges! You know that we must all meet our moment of truth in this thing called life. Nobody is invincible; no plan is foolproof. You are unstoppable, not because you have failures or insecurities or doubts but because you soldier on despite them. You still know, in the grand scheme of things, you are BLESSED despite the speed bumps along your journey. A journey that sometimes seems to be guided by a broken compass. A road to redemption that sometimes seems to have no GPS. A significantly odd odyssey. The odyssey of the odd.

You, NyaChula, are as clear as mud. You stun me!

You internalize how depression teaches you empathy, how anxiety gets you to be more organized and how suicidal ideations teach you to appreciate each moment you almost didn’t have. You are slaying a demon that can’t be seen β€”feels like you have been through a fight but you have no punches, kicks or head butts to show for it yet you feel painful aches.

You, Awuor Super, are a super powerhouse. You stun me!

Four years after the death of your beautiful grandmothers and you still have conversations with them on the regular even though you have not heard their voices in years. You have learnt how terrible it is to love something that death can touch. You now know that when you watch the casket close on your loved one, it somersaults your mind forever. You have felt the paroxysm of pain. You have learnt that it doesn’t get better; you only get stronger. You know that you are in it for the long haul; it is a pill for an emotional ill. Until you find your yellow brick road to healing. You must keep feigning strength until it is inked in your bones. You must be psyched. You must be firmly rooted, built up and established in the faith. You must master resilient dynamism.

You, Shay Outlaw, are stout-hearted. You stun me!

You would rather be a burning passion than a perfectly put together coward. You are powered by the wilful disregard for convention. You ooze authenticity and razor-sharp wit. You still believe in the sound of space, the hope of time, the greatness of nothingness, the power of pain, the change of the unstoppable and the essence and beauty of the strange. The beauty that can only be seen when you align your mind with your spirit.

You still let your hair down and live your dash.

You, CheChe, are the oracle on mood disorders and mental illness. You stun me!

You know too well that these are not whimpered words but silent yet candid ruminations of a young woman seeking normality within bipolarity.

You are beyond STUNNING. Chase your calling, sis.

Love,

Yourself

❀️

Standard
Mental Health

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 happily unhappy, 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. Readership is powerful. The pen is mightier than the sword. Underestimate it at your own peril. 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.

πŸ’œ

Standard
Mental Health

COLD TURKEY!

Hey everyone! It’s been a minute! Life definitely happened during my hiatus; I underwent a huge rollercoaster of emotions.

I moved to another town and as any other human, I developed personal relationships with others, some of them my loved ones, and notably some of the relationships started with adoration, moved to isolation and culminated into extreme gaslighting. But there is this one that stands out: one involving an extremely awe-inspiring person. Yeah, it may sound sappy and cliche or even somehow mawkish but getting over this one would sure be a daunting task. Lol. This isn’t some phase of hypomania. I know I’m bipolar, but still, hell to the damn no.

Well I appreciate all these experiences. As a firm believer in the notion that one must learn from everything that comes at them, I appreciate the yin and the yang, all of that.

That aside though. I STOPPED my psychotropic medications… COLD TURKEY! This is not advisable clinically and it was not a personal decision. It has been about 14 days of not taking Prozac (my antidepressant) and Olanzapine (my antipsychotic and mood stabilizer). These two psychotropics have been my “wingmen” for two years now. I love how psychotropics are steadily percolating through our culture and shaping the public understanding of mental health.

I must admit it hasn’t been a walk in the park as I have had to try many psychotropics before I arrived at these two. I have previously taken amitryptiline, carbamezepine, haloperidol, artane, escitalopram etc. Looks like I pretty much hit the psychotropics jackpot when I popped my first Prozac and Olanzapine.

Prozac and Olanzapine have been a godsend to me. They have constantly awakened me to the poignant beauty of this life. These drugs are nothing short of magical; they have resiliently fought my random feelings of lethargy and constant bleakness and random outbursts of emotions for almost no discernible reasons. Words fail me.

But dear folks, the chickens have come home to roost. I’m having serious withdrawal symptoms that range from insomnia, confusion, anxiety, agitation, nightmares, fatigue, migraines, muscle spasms, fogginess, flu-like symptoms, night sweats, tingling and numbness in the arms and legs. Literal brain zaps.

However, because my bout of depression is not here yet and my appetite is not messed up, a part of me is secretly hoping that this is just a slump and everything would resolve itself and someday I’d be able to lead a “normal” life. Ignorant as it may sound.

Let it be known that I’m not advocating for abrupt discontinuations of psych meds (your psychiatrist needs to wean you off them!) because these drugs cause biological adjustments in the brain, but so do mood disorders. This is no scant basis. Exude caution. Boy doesn’t it look like I’m making another impromptu visit to my psychiatrist soon?

Love, light and healing to all mood disorder survivors!

Yours with the crazy rollercoaster life,

Ida-Sharon.

A rare photo of me smiling

Standard
Mental Health

DESTIGMATISE THE CONVERSATION AROUND MENTAL HEALTH.

I have not been able to blog for several weeks because my depression has been a witches’ brew of guilt, anger and bad religion. Lethargy had drained and numbed me to life itself. Things had successively been going wrong leaving me feeling like the butt of life’s joke. But that’s not my burble for today.

Today I’m going to respond to something that cut me to the quick. I’m going to do it with dignity and not resort to name calling but I must say it was a very close relative. He tried to shame my dad for “having a bipolar child” and told him that “he needs to get his head checked urgently too. ”

Okay. Can I be honest? Lay my cards on the table? I have to write this so everyone here can get a good look at ignorance and audacity in an overtly heightened state. Nothing is ever worth demeaning a person’s existence, much less a close relative. Society needs to destigmatize the conversation around mental health. We cannot do this by talking? Straight forward isn’t it? No.

Most people start the transition from childhood to adulthood looking to the future at a world of possibility. I on the other hand transitioned by a diagnosis of Bipolar II Disorder. But I cannot be shamed because I wear it like a crown. I’m the prime purveyor of tenacity and resilience.

“End mental illness stigma” is a phrase we hear often. The word “stigma” technically means “a mark of shame” and in the context of mental illness advocacy, we mean the unfair mark of shame others assign to us when it is revealed we live with different mental health conditions. It can also be shame we assign ourselves when we feel like there is something wrong with how our brains work, and decide to keep our thoughts hidden from others. However this idea of “ending the stigma” only scratches the surface of the real shame, micro aggressions and acts of discrimination people who live with mental illness sometimes face.

I’m lucky that I got a proper diagnosis and my psychotropics seem to be working like a shaft of light into my weary, befuddled brain. My minefield mind is on a hiatus. Medication can be a godsend. But this doesn’t happen overnight; I hereby encourage my fellow survivors (because to me they will always be survivors rather than victims) to persevere, have grit and hope that the right antidote to this darkness can be found.

Well September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Society should stop making mentally ill people feel bad for their symptoms. We are flaky. We are sleepy. We are grumpy, aggressive and forgetful. We lash out. We cry. We over think and over compensate. We are sorry. We are trying. We know we are in limbo between too sick to be healthy and “not sick enough to be healthy. ” S/o to everybody battling an invisible illness! πŸ‘Š

Yours with the crazy rollercoaster life,

Ida-Sharon.

Standard
Mental Health

9 P.M. REMINISCENCE.

A few years back I moved to another town. This meant another check to determine if I was still eligible for mental health support. I checked into the nearby sprawling psych hospital. I had been entitled to monthly psychiatric reviews which weren’t therapy as such, but were a fairly stable touch point for me; I wasn’t just flung into the world with my minefield mind and behaviours seemingly careening out of control.

My anxiety definitely didn’t let me sit still in the waiting room so I leaned over in looming agony, furrowing my brows in confusion and religiously mumbling in something between pain and lassitude. I struggled with competing thoughts. Being a student journo, I tried to frame that as a learning opportunity, focusing on evaluating the facility and its many loopholes rather than my own. So instead of warily tweeting these ruminations on insanity like I had always done, I searched other faces for signs of inner turmoil, lethargy, disillusion, disenchantment and everything that hit a little close to home. I know mental illness doesn’t have a “face” but when you are in with “the kindred” you can’t help but search for things in them that you can identify with β€” so you feel less alone.

One man giggled at a bumblebee that landed on his thumb. An elderly lady could not stop jiggling her left foot and another svelte young girl folded what seemed like a prescription leaflet until it could fit into the palm of her hand and kept it clenched in a fist. I noticed another elderly man with a vaguely erotic ogle! We certainly came from different worlds but pain was the common denominator in this particular throng.

Fast forward to my assessment. I think I lost my cool. A man with a hardened exterior who seemed like a med student, proudly donning his white coat, shepherding patients to and from consultations, sometimes addressing them in that “sing-song” pre-school teachers voice and other times addressing them like adults, came to my assessment. He gave me a stern look and I couldn’t help feeling like a phoney. Yes, phoney because I had answered “no” to most of the questions. God knows I was being brutally honest because I’m mildly asocial sometimes and I need help with interpersonal relationships since I’m a hermit. Strange how this time I did not use suicide “buzzwords” which usually happen with such spontaneity. I have had morbid fascinations with suicidal ideations as a daily struggle.

See I was desperately looking for a reset button, a safe haven and recovery. Joke on me, Mr. Med Student wasn’t having any of that. He handled me frivolously. It felt like a judgement in black and white, as if I was being accused of fabricating a diagnosis. Like I had just plucked Bipolar II Disorder out of the blue; like I should just whack some studs in and get on with it. Well, I feel like wearing a sparkly pair of studs when I’m feeling under the weather is only going to help in the sense that it will make me look like a snazzy, depressed, bipolar ridden hermit. Plus when I’m feeling that under the weather, I couldn’t give a flying f*ck about what I look like.

So you people think if we can make it out of bed and into the world there can’t be anything wrong with us in the subsequent?

Wow! What an incredibly polarised view of people’s mental health needs. It is not down to my assessor. He was just doing his job, even if not with the best of ethics. But unfortunately he is part of the bandwagon that is part of a system that is part of a society that perpetuates the most lethal of mental health misconceptions: that if somebody seems okay they must be okay.

While much of my odyssey with mental illness and recovery sometimes still seems to be guided by a broken compass, I recognize the importance of unplugging, looking within and being present. And I’m here today, purveying grit and tenacity and fighting this monster, a pill for an emotional ill. (I’m on olanzapine and fluoxetine now).

Aren’t selfies one of the greatest inventions of modern times? πŸ˜…

Love,

Ida-Sharon.

πŸ–€

Standard
Mental Health

OPEN LETTER TO MY MENTAL ILLNESS.

Dear old friend,

Howdy!

We’ve know one another since time immemorial. Ours is an odyssey, a rollercoaster, an infinite journey. From self-harm to therapy to antidepressants to antipsychotics to mood stabilizers. Sheesh, buddy, look at this pattern of psychotropics. Don’t you ever tire? Could you simmer down? Could you throw in the towel please? From suicidal ideations, to suicidal tendencies, you’ve been through it all. Through the furnace, through the blizzard.

Bud, you’ve helped me sleep for 18 hours a day and you’ve also ensured I didn’t rest my head for days in a row. You my friend have been the common denominator through my somnolence and my insomnia. Wow aren’t you just so paradoxical! You stun me.

You’ve helped me attend 4 different high schools in a few years. You’ve help me destroy a lot of relationships. You’ve helped me brood for 8 months over relationships I was in for 2 weeks. You’ve helped me become a train wreck. You’ve helped me spend masses of money I don’t have. You’ve helped me have an irrational intense anger towards everyone and everything. You’ve helped me become that angst-ridden young woman crying in the bathroom at lunch break. You’ve helped me fixate and obsess on the outlandish things I did when I was hypomanic then begin to hate myself for it. You’ve helped me lose my cool. You’ve helped jinx me.

You, my friend, are the only one constant in my life. You are hell on wheels. You are the devil. You make my stomach churn.

Well I’m obviously not paying homage to you for being part and parcel of me. Now more than ever, I wish you could leave me alone.

Aren’t you tired of them branding me “lazy” when the lethargy you bring is so debilitating that I can barely get out of bed? Don’t you see they can’t see that I’m SICK and not weak? Hey, I’m dog-tired. I’m disgruntled. I want out.

Peace out, you will not be missed.

Frienemy,

πŸ‘‹πŸΎ

Ida-Sharon.

Standard