1. I am grateful for my father and my sister who are both alive and doing well.
2. I am grateful for I have a shelter to sleep in and food to eat.
3. I am grateful that I have bed despite its discomfort. I am still grateful.
4. I am grateful for my family both nuclear and extended who are always there for me when I need them and who come through for my family in times of need.
5. I am grateful for finishing school and doing so while passing my exams greatly.
6. I am grateful for my health and both the health of my family and friends.
7. I am grateful for the chance I got at an internship. It was my first chance and I am grateful that it may go through.
8. I am grateful for this blog that reminds always that I am a talented writer and will only get better from here.
9. I am grateful my sister’s support and everything she does to keep me going. The words of encouragement, the pep talks, the feeding and everything. I cannot fully express how grateful I am for her.
10. Finally, I am grateful for life. On many occasions, it is easy for me to go down the rabbit hole that is suicidal thinking. I struggle often to find the meaning of life for myself but I know I need to constantly remember to be grateful for the life I have.
11. I am most grateful for my mental health. It was in the gutter and few months ago and doing better now. I am grateful for the antidepressants I have access to every month to get better.
Last night, in the wee hours of the morning, after a night spent drinking a cold cider [pretty much the only alcoholic drink I can stand to take], I happened to take a vague trip down memory lane. Truthfully speaking, I have a shitty memory of my life and childhood most especially. Maybe it’s cause it wasn’t all that or better yet, I choose to not think too much into it because most of those memories entail a childhood that felt a lot like someone else’s. I have had this conversation before with my sister on countless occasions of just how much my life before I was 14 years old feels a lot like a hazy dream I had that wasn’t quite my own. Admittedly, a lot of my childhood is packed at the back of my mind together with the memories of my mother. She was in hind site all I remember from my childhood. My mother was front and centre of my life and like for me as it was for many others, I adored her and relished every bit of time I got to spend with her, despite that time being quite short. But before we cue the sadness, this isn’t meant to be about her absence but more of what her presence was like with me. For me to write this is like taking an excursion into my past and most specifically my childhood memories of me and my mum. I predict that it may not be so long but I surely will try to dig deep into my subconscious mind for what I would regard as treasured but forgotten memories.
The amusement park adventure.
If my memory serves me right, I was ten when my mum took me to my first amusement park a town over from where we lived. It was always there but it was an annual occasion that which if I think of now was more of a theme park than an amusement park since its main theme was agriculture. Farmers from around the county would put on display their crops and different entities regarding agriculture. Aside from that, it offered an amusement park for kids who got a chance to tag along with their parents. For those who may be wondering, especially if you are Kenyan, I am talking about the Nyeri show or the most known one, the Nairobi show. I was ten when my mum surprised me with a trip to Nyeri show. On a Saturday afternoon, after we’d both been in tuition, her as a teacher and me as a student, she told me she wanted to take me to someplace nice. She and I were major suckers for surprises. We loved to see each other’s faces light up from doing something we both regarded as special for each other. I remember being ecstatic on arrival at the show. It was an entirely new experience for me because of its rarity. I wouldn’t have guessed in a million years that my mum would take me to such a place because I knew of the impossibility of the chance of ever going to one. I don’t say this because she wouldn’t have loved to take me there or any other fun place, on the contrary, I know that my mum would have given me the world if she had it. The reason as to why it was beyond my wildest imaginations for us to have gone there was because I was aware of how things were financially for my family. I didn’t grow up in a wealthy family. Maybe partly the reason why I often don’t revere back to my childhood is that I didn’t have the best childhood. Things were often too tough and quite heartbreaking for my family, especially because despite it all, we held out a lot of hope that things would get better but they never quite did. So hence the surprise when my mum got to take me to this show when I knew that on other days it never would have stood a chance since I too was well aware that we couldn’t afford it.
It is still quite vague in my head, but I do remember we walked around the park and we could see kids having fun engaging in different activities and running around. I must have felt quite like I’d just walked into a movie that had a carnivore airing and I was quite in awe to be in it. I remember going on my first merry go round there as well as my first horseback ride and camel ride. For a kid who was terrified of a lot, I applaud myself for even agreeing to try those things out. Though, it was on that first ride on the merry go round that absolutely scared the wits out of me. I remember absolutely dreading that ride the minute I got off it. I remember feeling like my heart kept leaping out of its rib cage every time the merry go round would start on another round. It was absolutely dreadful, and I probably swore to myself that I would never get on another ride like that again because I have actually never been on another merry go round since. Apart from that, I remember us walking around the park that was quite vast. It resembled a big ranch of sorts. We walked around, I vaguely recall us stopping and looking at various exhibitions on different agriculturally based things. Those bits of that day may not have been my most favourite but I wouldn’t have changed those moments for anything because, despite everything, I was together with my absolute best friend. I was with my mother.
A graduation party of sorts…
Earlier I recall writing that my mum and I liked throwing surprises for each other. This time around, I threw her one. It wasn’t anything grand or big, it was the bare minimum, but it was entirely from the heart. It was on the 31st of August, 2007. I am aware of the date because I am lucky to have a picture from that day where my mum was receiving a certificate award for a discipleship class she had been taking in the church we used to attend, which technically is still the church that we go to even today. I will hopefully be able to attach the picture beneath this post so you can see just how beautiful she looked on that day. My mother’s beauty was unmatched, both from a biased and non-biased approach. She stood out wherever she went because she was an absolute ray of sunshine. So on this day, she left that afternoon to go pick up her certificate of completion for that course she had been taking in church. I recall being the only one at home that day so I tried racking my mind on how I would celebrate that win for her. I was nine years old and very much broke. I remember wanting to do something special for her before she came home but I didn’t have the slightest clue on what it is I could do for her. I then came up with a small idea of buying her some cakes which were sold at a shop across our house and maybe including a soda along with it. Did I say buying, I meant taking it on credit since I had zero money on me then, funny how it’s still the same case now. So anyway, I went ahead and got the little delicacies I needed and arranged them on a plate on the table alongside the soda and two glasses. I must have that quite highly of myself then because I intended to go all in. I then closed the curtains to the living room and lighting up two candles and setting them side to side from the plate. I knew she wouldn’t be long before she got home so now all I had to do was wait. On her arrival at the gate, I quickly rushed out to meet her so that I’d request her to close her eyes as I guided her to the house. It definitely wouldn’t have been a surprise had she otherwise walked in just like that. Nothing gave me more joy than seeing her elated face from seeing my surprise for her. I wanted her to know I was proud of her for having gone through those classes and having graduated from them regardless of how meagre it might have seemed to everyone else. We got to share that little celebration together and most importantly, she knew that I would always be her number one cheerleader. [cue the tears]
To be truthfully honest, I am quite surprised by myself for even recalling that much about those two treasured memories of my mum and I. I most times try not to recall memories of my mum because of how much of them are a reminder of her absence today. What I didn’t realize was that alongside those memories were beautiful times that we got to share together. I was so focused on avoiding the hurt that I forgot the love and beauty in remembering the happier times where she was more present than ever. I miss her, beyond what my words can conjure and maybe that’s what hurts the most. Missing her and having no way around to having her with me. But writing about those two memories have brought me so much closer to her than I have allowed me to feel in a very long time. Maybe somewhere along the line, I will allow myself to remember more of her with a lighter heart than a heavier one. She does deserve to be remembered for how amazing and just enigmatic she was. My mother was an angel and it’s just deserving that I share my memories of her and her angelic ethereal self with the world.
“Tell me, what it is you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? “Mary Oliver
Well Mary, I can’t say there’s much I’ve already done with my one wild and precious life for I’m just twenty three as of a month ago. But let’s say it ‘s all the life I’ll ever get to live. Let’s picture this as the only life I’ve lived and that be enough. We may as well not plan for a future that’s yet to be lived, am I right? So for my puny little life, I will have quite the childhood. I’ll try to find the words to sum it all up but I’ll always come up short. It will be a mesh of a little bit of everything; it will not have been the best years of my life but it will be the years I’ll wish to have held onto more. It will be the years I should never have taken for granted, but still somewhat did. As a kid, I’ll be my best version of prime & proper, at least to the world I’ll try to be. Back at my house, I’ll be the biggest pain in the ass and my arch nemesis will be none other than my dear ole mum, God bless her soul… She’ll take the blunt end of my onset of puberty and will match my energy of being a serious pain in the ass. But despite it all, I’ll adore her existence like that of a god. She’ll be to me like every mother is to their child, their first god and their lifeline. I will not realize just how much the world is unfair to you until the day my lifeline will be taken away from me. Simply, I will learn of one of life’s toughest experiences which will alter the entire basis and trajectory of my life.
Like it is for most people, those lucky enough to have the blessing of family, I’ll live for my family. With one sibling and a single father, I’ll pour out every bit of love in me to them, which now that I think about it, might explain why it will be hard to love anyone else with the intensity and magnitude that some will seek from me. I will adore my family and be in their embrace through every day spent of my puny but precious little life. My dad will be that friend you can’t quite get enough of but still gets annoying every so often. He’ll have my back always and I’ll grow to protect him to the best of my little ability. As for my sister, she will be my best friend, my companion, my roommate and my all rounded life partner. We won’t have much of separate lives since we will be often together too much of the time. She will be my provider for quite the while and I’ll ride it out till what I hope will be the start of my own adulthood. She’ll complain I eat a lot but continue to feed me regardless. What can I say Mary, a girl’s gotta eat to grow. Sometimes indulging into her cravings a little bit more than she should. All my life’s significance, regardless of whether puny or not, my sister will be there for them. She’ll cheer me on and help me brush of the dust from the times I’ll have fall off my feet. She’ll vicariously live through me in my relationship escapades for they will be quite a few… Mary, you may be quite surprised by just how much I’ve experienced in the realm of “love”…I will trust no one more than I trust her and I’m uncertain I’ll ever know what it’s like to have anyone closer to me than her.
I will go through highschool and regard it as the worst years of my life. I’ll hate every day of those agony ridden days. I’ll want to escape to my dreams every day of my life for those four years and I’ll have my heart broken by the impossibility of my dreams ever coming true. I will peg on God to pay His dues to me even despite knowing deep down, He owed me nothing. I’ll walk down the streets of my school every evening looking up at the stars and hoping against everything that the brightest star of all will mean my redemption from my misery. It will surprise me that despite feeling incapable of feeling anything else besides sorrow, I’ll grow to love a girl immensely in the midst of it all. I’ll use her as a distraction from my grief but then, my emotions towards her will envelope me like a dome. She will eventually become all I’ll ever think of in those years and even a few years after that. I will feel hate and this wildly twisted obsession over her that will force me to think again over what I thought I knew about my sexuality. She’ll become the true bane to my existence and I will not know till date whether it was all just a projection of my grief or I just had the worst case of adolescence. Even later in life, I will still regard this girl as quite the enigma. I will have gotten better reins of my emotions when it comes to her but traces of her will still linger and hover over my conscience. I will complete highschool with the passion to charge the world. I will have my dreams hanging from my shoulders and what will then be a well sort out plan to kick start the dreams into motion. I will then learn that it’s a lot harder than I might have thought. My passions and my sorrow will set sail my career into psychology.
I will go through college and have quite the silent rollercoaster. Silent because not a lot of people can attest to anything major happening in my life but it being a rollercoaster because I certainly will have my fair share of things happen in those years. I will loose my virginity in college, and it won’t be memorable. It will not mean much and neither will it be some instrumental rite of passage for me. It will happen and I won’t care to much over it… that’s all that will be to it. I will have boyfriends, and a man-child friend too. My first relationship will be, for lack of a better word, meh. Though at the beginning, I wouldn’t have considered it so, for I will have wanted more from it. It will be based on sex marathons and on and off breaks. In time, it will be the trigger to a very uneventful onset of my first depression. It will kick-start a tirade of emotions, downhill turmoils and a whole lot of anxiety. It’s in college where my battles with mental health will become the fore front of my life. Depression will become my shadow and I will loose recognition of myself without it…Before I can even delve further into what my life will become in regards to my mental health, let me tell you about the man friend I will be crazy enough to date… It will also be in my early twenties, when I’ll have my interest picked on matters BDSM. In the case you’re not aware Mary, this is a kink in sex for those who are unconventionally woke. It will be in my venture of this kink that will lead me to meeting and somewhat dating a man-child who will then be 44 at the time. I know what you’re probably thinking but trust me, at the time it won’t seem as absurd as it might now. He will at the beginning feel like a breath of fresh air (no pun intended in regards to him being old and all..) and I will be enthralled by him and his take on the world. His bluntness will at the start look like something to be admired but it will soon wither in my eyes for it will not go unnoticed to me how emotionally dry he will be. As he himself will say, “I’ve got the emotional depth of a pin cushion”. I consider myself lucky for I will actually know what a pin cushion is like. After that, we will end things between me and this man but we will keep in touch and that will be a mistake I will soon learn dearly from.
I will go through life one day at a time…I will experience a mental agony that nothing will have ever prepared for me. I will learn to cope with this said agony in ways that will leave permanent scars, both on my skin and on my mind. I will still continue to dream and be a little girl on the inside. I will go through life plagued with anxiety that I’m never doing enough, that I’m not the best at anything that I do. I will still keep trying regardless, even when I will want to choose death over life. As I said earlier Mary, my life is still puny and hasn’t matured as much so there’s only so little I can tell you of how my life turns out… I will try my best to write more of how my life goes, maybe when I’m thirty, I will write this again. I will to you how my puny but precious wild life will have gone down. Hopefully, it won’t be so puny anymore.
“Inspired from the book ” It’s okay to laugh ,crying is cool too” I haven’t even completed it yet but I’m sure it’ll be a wonderful read.
Through my mental health journey, I’ve grown to learn that it looses it’s aspect of private and individual just cause of what & who it ropes in along the way. In my case, my ongoing journey has roped in a few people, some were strangers who turned into family and others were family right from the start. It weighs heavy on me as a person who struggles quite often with the mental battles I go through, and this is not because of what it’s done to me, but because of what it’s done to those around me who’ve stuck by me despite my ailing mind. I have seen it tear down my sister and it was for me more excruciatingly painful than any insition I’ve ever put on my body. I remember last year when I had my depressive episode for about six months. It was right about the time when my country was on a lockdown due to the pandemic. I was stuck in our apartment with my sister and we had no means to go home due to a cessation that had been implemented on my country which prohibited me to travel. I self harmed more during that period than I ever had before and it became an instinct & it was such an impulsive nature for me to do, I grew numb about it. I ratted myself out to my sister cause I knew if I didn’t, I’d have probably not so intentionally hurt myself beyond what my little first aid after care routine could handle. Even then, despite being so out of touch with anything else besides the throes of my depression, I could see just how much my battle was weighing in on my sister. She carries her emotions on her sleeve so it wasn’t so invisible to me just how exhausting it was for her to see me go through that gutter. It’s not until recently in one of the countless conversations we have about my mental health did she admit to hating her work over that period when we were quarantined together and that she wanted to cry her eyes out everyday she had to do her job. She wasn’t sure if anytime I wasn’t in her periphery, I wasn’t cutting myself and now me being aware of what it must have been like for her to go through that, genuinely breaks my heart.
My guilt in depression is tethered to what my battles have done to others besides myself. I can honestly say, I haven’t found love enough for me to feel guilty over what being mentally ill does to me. It’s what it does to those I care about that shatters me the most. To say I have tried to hide the ugly effects of my battles from my loved ones would be putting it lightly. Sometimes I just rather die with it and let it rip me from the inside out all on my own than let it seep out to those who matter more to me than anything. With my dad for instance, my old man doesn’t know just how much effort it takes his last born daughter to live through each day as a depressive. On some days, I want to shout it to him with such aggression about how I can’t seem to shake off this sadness that I’ve carried around for all my life. On other days, I can’t help but think he’s better off in the dark, from it all. Untainted from my demons.
It’s been both a blessing and a curse having my father out in the clear from my battles. It’s been a blessing because then he doesn’t have to look at me different. For now he knows the bare minimum concerning my depression. He would still be in the dark if I had never needed his help on buying antidepressants last year after starting therapy. It was a hard enough secret to keep cause then it was just me and my sister having to find means on how we would get money to take me to therapy and for me to see a psychiatrist as well. It got so hard every two weeks trying to figure out how to come up with the sum of money I needed for every therapy session because I couldn’t tell my dad that I needed money for something he was completely out of the loop on. When I finaly had to ask for his help, I came home with a prescription letter from a psychiatrist with a list of antidepressants I needed to start taking. This was right after my county opened it’s borders and the cessation that had been put in place due to covid was lifted hence why I got the chance to travel home which put a halt on me going to therapy because it was in different counties.
To say I was nervous bringing up that subject with my father was an understatement. I wasn’t sure he’d grasp what I was saying or if whether he’d even understand the gravity. This isn’t to imply my dad is slow or anything like that. On the contrary, my dad is pretty intelligent. What I was worried about was whether it would make sense to him the way it was meant to, from my understanding. It’s through him and our conversations together that the aspect of being an African and having a technically African raised father that I saw how much ones background and tradition affect different aspects and subjects which in my case was & is mental health. He actually took it quite casually which was what I thought I wanted but turns out it wasn’t what I needed. I didn’t see concern on his face when I tried telling him that I struggle with depression. Instead I got a speech on prayer & exercise and how much it would help keep me less idle. I told him that it had nothing to do with that and that it was a chemical imbalance in my brain that made me depressed and it still didn’t faze him. I was quite frustrated to say the least but I understood him despite it that he couldn’t just magically see it as I did. I gave him the prescription and told him that I needed him to buy me that medication and he was fine with it.
Whoever believes that they can go through mental health on their own have it quite wrong. I never knew just how much I’d need my father’s understanding until I finally brought him into the know about my struggles. A few days before my last birthday, my dad finally bought me the antidepressants I had been prescribed and I decided to start on them the day after my birthday. I’d already been on a different set of antidepressants two weeks before and they had really exhausted me out so I didn’t want to be loopy on my birthday since I was gonna have a little shindig going on that day. Cue to when I finally started my new meds did I see true & genuine concern which was more than his impassive nature had ever expressed. A few days in after I had started on my new meds, I got some really scary side effects after taking them and I thought I’d get them under control by buying some antibiotics. I had major and I mean major heartburn and aside from that, my heart rate was over the roof. I had heat flashes and I could hear my own heart beating so loud and quite fast, I was certain I was having a heart attack. My dad’s girlfriend is a pharmacist and I asked her if she could prescribe something for the heart burn and she asked me about the meds I was taking and I told her what I was newly on. Later that night when my dad came home, he was beyond agitated. Apparently, after my conversation with his girlfriend earlier, it was apparent to her that one of the antidepressants I had been prescribed to was very severe and was mainly for schizophrenics. In basic language as was explained to my dad, he was told they were for ‘crazy people’. That was genuinely the first time I saw my dad loose his calm and look so terrified. I believe it dawned on him that he’d just bought his daughter over the counter meds that were going to completely alter my mind and irreversibly damage it for life. For the record, I never once thought of it as my dad’s fault because it wasn’t, neither of us would have known. He felt responsibile for that mistake since he hadn’t done research or any enquiry about the meds he was buying me before he handed them to me. I on the other hand was more upset that a supposed legal & professional psychiatrist had prescribed to me medicine he knew wasn’t meant for me and which would probably have adverse effects on me but went ahead and prescribed it regardless of knowing all that. I was livid and after that, I quit taking the meds all together because despite how badly they were reacting to my body, they weren’t meant for it from the very start.
After that experience, I have not had therapy or been on any other antidepressants since. I soon after asked my dad if he could look for a different hopefully better psychiatrist to whom I would see and get a better diagnosis of my mental health as well as better effective treatment. This is where it has proven to be very difficult to get my dad on board because he quickly fell back into his slow paced process of doing things. It’s been a few months since that encounter with the antidepressants and after that, my life sorta fell back into routine. School opened and everything else took a seat at the back of my mind. I didn’t get better per say but the depression went back to being my day to day cup of tea, the one I was accustomed to. Now, due to different triggers, I am in the middle of another depression episode and I thought it would be perfect timing to see a new psychologist & psychiatrist but mainly the latter. I made my dad aware of my need now for a psychiatrist and told him I have been struggling again but he doesn’t seem to see the urgency of it. Even just thinking about it right now, is nerve wrecking. I’m triggered by his lack of motivation and urgency in getting me help especially now when I’m not at my best mentally. I admit he’s not fully in the loop of just how bad my mental instability goes, he is clueless of my self harm which has started again after I’d been clean for 98 days. I have racked my mind on how to bridge that information to him without alarming him but I just don’t know where to start. On some days, I want to just show him my arms and let them speak for me but I get scared of what he’ll think or do. It’s taken me a lot to admit that I am mildly suicidal as of currently and I am going through the days trying to find the will to see through the end of each day. He isn’t aware that I don’t know how much waiting I can do anymore before I can completely disintegrate. I am trying to be patient but it’s hard when my mind isn’t on board. So yeah, that’s where I currently am. Mental health is so contradictory in how personal & individualistic it is but also how communal it trickles down to. I hope that the wait isn’t going to be longer than my mind can hold off from completely falling apart.