LET’S TALK CRAZY!

I already know what you are thinking when you saw the heading of this piece. But it’s not what you are thinking. Mental health and the people suffering from mental health issues have often been referred to as crazy or at least that’s the first thing that crosses our minds when we hear the word mental health. Gone are those days though, mental health issues are becoming a serious matter as the food we eat on a daily. More and more people are opening up to suffering from mental health issues, issues as deep as depression. People from different social statuses, the rich and the poor talk about having to battle mental health issues.

As much as this information is talked about out here, it is still not welcomed in our homes, workplaces, churches as much as we would like it. The minute mental health talk will become cliché or music to our ears is the day we will have lost it. This should be a constant conversation in every space we exist in as humans.

I am not going to claim that I am a mental health expert in any way, shape, or form but what I can do is share my own personal experience, hoping that it can resonate with someone. About a year ago, when the pandemic hit, everything else seemed to be crumbling around me. Things at home were not looking good, still not looking good, the friendships in my life that felt reliable were beginning to weigh me down. I’ve felt alone before but not to this degree, the pandemic heightened everything. Childhood traumas and experiences became part of my daily thoughts. I didn’t know where or who to run to. My soul was crushing, my mind was playing games on me. I couldn’t take it anymore. I gained an incredible amount of weight, a friend used that to crush my already dead self-esteem.

Nothing was working in my favor, not work, not friendships, not the relationship, not family. N.O.T.H.I.N.G. In all this, I wanted to and I am grateful for my health amid a global pandemic. So… I went into hiding, still kind of in hiding. 

 Long story short, I ended up seeing a therapist otherwise known as a counselor. With therapy, I never looked at it with a side-eye except that I never in a million years thought that I needed a therapist to cope but when darkness approaches, it seldom makes a sound. It just creeps silently towards you like a cloud of smoke. Suddenly, you can neither breathe nor see. This is the reality that no one is talking about.

I just always thought I am doing just fine and everything that comes my way ranging from grief is something I can toughen out. Am an extrovert, there’s no way this could happen to me, or so and so has this, and that therefore he/she cannot be suffering from mental health issues are some of the myths that we need to debunk when it comes to issues mental health.

I recognize that my issues are nothing compared to what the majority of people have been or are still going through especially over the past year with the pandemic hitting. When it comes to mental health issues, am learning, the first step is to extend a hand of empathy but for us to empathize with someone’s experience, we must be willing to believe them as they see it, and not how we imagine their experience to be. If you follow through on mental health topics and online and offline you realize as a society we really lack empathy.

We lack empathy but we have a bag full of unsolicited advice and opinions, ‘Just get over it, you are pretending for attention.’ The list goes on and on. If you’ve been in the pits, a messed up, dark place of mental health, you know just how dark it can get, and believe me your unnecessary meddling does more harm than good.

Always choose silence more than you choose ignorance. Silence is sometimes better than being LOUD and WRONG like so many are. We cannot all be experts especially with sensitive topics such as issues of mental health but you can choose to educate yourself.

Certain questions come up during therapy that we can always ask each other to lighten the burden and stigma of mental health.

  • How are you feeling?
  • How is your heart today?

Sometimes, we feel like people with mental health issues look like this:

  • Being visibly sad/low
  • Struggling to maintain hygiene or appearance
  • Isolating oneself
  • Not being able to do daily tasks or work
  • Lay in bed all day doing nothing

But…Depression can also look like

  • Overcompensating with humor
  • Making an effort to make others happy
  • Pushes through work and chores
  • Doing ‘fun things,’ but not being able to enjoy it.
  • Repressing feelings as to not burden other people

Signs you might need a mental health break

  • You’ve been getting sick often
  • You feel overwhelmed and depleted
  • You haven’t been able to enjoy things.
  • You haven’t had much time for yourself
  • Your sleep/nutrition has been poor
  • You feel unmotivated and lethargic
  • You’re relying on unhealthy coping skills.
  • You’ve had trouble focusing on things.

The idea that talking about mental health is attention-seeking is poison. People die in silence every day due to this judgment and people then finally say, “I wish they spoke up.” Let’s talk about mental health and not leave it until it’s too late.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month so please take advantage of the energy and tell your story. This is the month to find solutions to problems you may be suppressing. The only way to eradicate the stigma around mental health is for everyone to tell their story of pain but also of triumph and this is the month to speak.

Find resources online or people you can reach out for help. Here are a few resources I have for you;

https://niskize.co.ke/

Red Cross Helpline: 1199

https://www.betterhelp.com/

Sending Love and Healing you way.

MILLENIALS AND POLITICS

Politics, such a morbid topic, one that we love to hate both at the same time. Everything that happens in the world of politics affects every one of us whether we are active participants or not. A familiar phrase by the late President Daniel Moi was, ‘Siasa mbaya, maisha mbaya.’ We are witnessing this phrase come to play currently in this country.

Growing up in a Kenyan home meant that you knew what political party your family subscribes to and by default you subscribe to the same political party. For instance, A Luo family automatically subscribes to ODM and supports Raila, A Kalenjin automatically supports Jubilee and supports William Ruto. A Kikuyu subscribes to the Jubilee party and supports Uhuru Kenyatta. The list goes on and on. You can fill in the rest for yourself. As I’ve gotten older, I have realized all these prejudices do not serve to benefit anyone. To support a leader just because he comes from your tribe is doing an injustice to yourself because when we do end up with crappy leaders as we do now, we ALL suffer.

When prices of local items go up, there is no section for a Kikuyu or a Jaluo. We ALL suffer. I understand that these prejudices are difficult to get rid of, we have all played a part in propagating so many of these prejudices in one way or another, I know I have but it is never too late to change our ways because things are not looking so good.

Every day when I watch and listen to headlines in this country, I can’t help but feel hopeless for myself and other people as well. You see it is somehow justifiable when our parents support people based on their tribe because, at the end of the day, they have their lives made already. But even with that being said, it is still very important to participate in politics, know who you’re MCA, MP, Governor, and Senator is. For things to change, the system must change. It is another thing though when the younger generation do it {you and Me – Millennials}. It saddens me when people my age do it. Because in all honesty, this government has not in any way shown that it cares for the young people of this country. We are going into 8 years of this administration without any bleak of hope towards the youth of this country.

If you’ve job hunted in this country {I know I have}, you know how difficult, frustrating and depressing this process is. Before you give me that desperately tired logic of, ‘Start a business, build your own table.’ I want you to ask yourself where this is coming from and what it takes to start a business; financially, emotionally, and mentally. I also find it extremely corny and disturbing that this statement is normally uttered by grown old folks who have held government and public service jobs their entire lives. How ironic, don’t you think? Why then haven’t you started a business? Since it seems like such a great piece of advice. Normalize questioning some of this unsolicited advice. To make it worse, the pandemic has heightened everything so even that job hunting process is becoming impossible. If you have a job, as some people do, you are struggling to keep it by all means possible, with ridiculous curfew hours that do not in any way make sense to the typical Kenyan mwananchi who is out looking for his/her daily bread. Let’s not even talk about the hiked fuel prices. How much more could citizens take? Hell, even an internship is difficult to come by.

Then there is the gibberish (yes I said it) that is BBI, should I go on? There is a lot that has gone wrong already and it is up to us, the young to say that ENOUGH is ENOUGH. The revolution cannot happen while some people are comfortable with the status quo. 

Recently, there has been the issue of curfew enforcement whose enforcement has gone wrong. Privileged people came out to say how Kenyans should know better. To the privileged, why would you speak from your gated suburbs, in the comfort of your own home berating Kenyans whose only crime is wanting to go home? The problem I have with politics and leadership in this country is everything is about punishment, be it not having a huduma number, etc. The supposed remedy for everything is punishment.

Everything we are currently facing in this country ranging from the health sector, corruption, creative industry fall is due to bad and poor leadership. You cannot fix the public health crisis by treating citizens like criminals. The hubris is made even more glaring when we add in the fact that the leaders are criminals.  YOU are the criminals. Fix the problem, not the people.

For the average middle class who constantly display their ignorance by thinking these injustices will never befall you and I let me submit to you today the middle-aged citizen is one health crisis away from abject poverty. Not to wish anyone any downfall but it takes that ONE admission to the Kenyatta Hospital to realize that you were as financially great as you thought you were. As long as the middle-class citizens can fuel their cars, pay for their apartments and watch Premier League and Netflix a revolution cannot happen.

It has also become clear as day that we will never be able to ‘Harambee’ ourselves out of bad governance, we can’t entrepreneur our way out of incompetent regimes, and we can’t ‘PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY our way out of a bad system. This country is BROKEN and it hurts ALL OF US.

  • I hope there comes a time in this country when we realize that:
  • The government is supposed to work for us.
  • Harsher conditions aren’t an indicator of a working government: If anything indicates signs of a dictator government which is a dangerous path to tread in.
  • Foreigners don’t deserve better treatment; that there’s a difference between hospitality and discrimination.
  • But also that punishment is not a mode of communication especially from the government to its citizens.

Let’s be part of national conversations, social media is an amazing place to participate in national conversations. Let’s not wait for another 5-year mess to realize our mistakes as millennials, as a people, and as a country. So… Now is not the time to say, “I don’t like politics,” because politics definitely likes you and it certainly affects you.

To be silent is to be complacent, I don’t care what your excuse is. TO BE SILENT IS TO BE COMPLACENT.

March ~ WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH!

Every year in the month of March your timeline on social media is probably bombarded with International Women’s Day posts. I know for a fact that I enjoy seeing those. I make sure to fall under the group of people that post as well.

If you have anything like my upbringing, then you know what the true definition of woman power is. I not only know it but I have witnessed it in full display. Therefore for me, everyday is women’s day. I am in awe of women and what extraordinary things we can do when we set our minds to it. I want us to translate these International Women’s day post into actions, how you ask? I am about to indulge you but first let me digress alittle bit.

Probably, a day or two before I had written this to publish on the actual day of March 8th which happens to be International Women’s day. I had second thoughts and decided to watch the big #OprahMeghanHarry interview which turned out to be a great decision because that interview added to my already existing thoughts. I could dissect that interview till infinity. Sidenote: If you haven’t watched that it, please find a way to watch it.

The one thing that was clear through out that interview is that Meghan is not a woman who cows down easily,not before and definitely not now that she is the Princess of Duchess. Just like my image reads, she is a woman who speaks up, steps up and rises up and that is something that should not be just be appaluded but celebrated as well. Think about how different the world would be if as women we would be bold enough to do these three things; Speak up, Step up and rise up to the occassion every single time we are required to. I know it’s difficult but we can do it.

Circling back to how we can translate International Women’s day posts into action. Start by celebrating the women around you. The women that you DIRECTLY interact with, after all, charity begins at home. I hate to admit it but not much action is being put into amplifying women’s voices. It’s impossible for change to happen if we only lead with words. Start by being a woman’s woman. Continue with making spaces for the women around you. Believe women when they share their joys and most especially when they tell their stories of pain and struggle. Be the woman that shows up for the other woman, in private and in public, be the woman that prays for the other woman, be the woman that corrects the other woman with the intention of seeing her be better rather than wanting to shame, dishonor and disgrace her..

All these are not easy considering how as little girls we are raised and conditioned to see the girl next door as your competition. If we are not competing in weddings, we are competing on who will get that man’s attention. All of these things can be unlearned though. Today and every other day, I want you to claim that, YOU ARE EVERY WOMAN, IT’S ALL IN YOU.

“Women don’t need a day. Women need equal pay, paid maternity leave, flexible work, leadership position, board seats and funding.”

“Please, stop wishing women strength when there’s not enough strength to overcome the expansive structural violence that holds society. Instead, wish women better; inclusive, equal, safe and accountable structures so they don’t have to be strong. Wish women their full humanity.” Scheaffer Okore ~ Political and Women’s Right Activist.

Powerful women —

Inspire other women to be

powerful.

Healed Women —

inspire other women to heal.

Compassionate women —

inspire other women to be

compassionate.

Creative women —inspire other women to be

creative.

Women give birth to other women.

Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.

Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg