I was once someone that would read relationship advice articles scoffing at what were commonly myths and misconceptions of how romantic love works. I was a teenager anyway; and we all know that teenagers are authorities in all topics under the sun. I watched too much television, smuggled home a few erotic fictional novels, read too many unimportant magazines, eavesdropped on many adult conversations and ‘dabbled’ with a few adult films (do not judge me).
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I do not say much about my parents. There is nothing to be said about my folks outside my therapy sessions. Out of a need for privacy I usually keep my family members out of any advice I give on this blog. This Christmas I decided not to visit my parents in their new home, just a couple of hours away from where I live. It is something selfish for someone that writes on a mental health blog to do, but it was the right decision. It is January 15th as I write, yet I have not had a verbal conversation with my parents since the year begun.
Kenya is a country on the East side of the African continent. Mental illness is still a taboo subject here. Even among the elite and educated citizens, witchcraft and curses are still considered the greatest cause of mental illness. It is common to read in the media that mass hysteria is caused by djinns or demons.
When an earthquake occurs in the ocean, the ripple effect causes tsunamis whose effects are felt on shores thousands of miles away. The intrigue about tsunamis is that they can never be predicted and even when they are anticipated the damage caused is always unprecedented. Bipolar relapses are often like the tsunamis, even with all the well documented warning signs available to patients and caregivers sometimes we end up being caught off-guard. The ripple effects of a relapse are usually depression, mania (or hypomania) and at worst mandatory hospitalization.
I woke up one day in 2011 in a 50 feet by 50 feet room lying on a mattress on the floor. One week had elapsed since I was consciously aware of where I was. My phone had gone off and I had not shown up for work or called any of my family members in a week. The only sign of what could have happened in that week was an empty bottle of vodka right next to me. This is my first recollection of what a crippling depression could achieve when it runs riot. In that moment I realized I was completely alone.
.and then unexpectedly there's calm,
all I thought I knew about myself and the
World becomes the fleeting thoughts of
Man under siege from his own mind.
The storm has passed for now.
Every time someone suggests I read an article on having Bipolar, I discover that articles written or paraphrased by normal people always find a way to quip on how people with mental illness should adopt more normal activities in order to enjoy life. It is appalling that with all the available information and sensitization on mental health, the myths like mental health is a spiritual or worldview problem fixable with a religious tweak still thrive. There are many solutions to universal problems, but human beings are not as different as we would like to believe.
My name is Denis Muthuri from Kenya, Africa. I was diagnosed with unipolar depression at 18. By the time I was 23 my condition degenerated with all my symptoms pointing towards bipolar disorder 2. At the time of my diagnosis I was self-medicating with alcohol binges leading to hysterical outbursts that required me to be institutionalized.