Daily Archives: August 21, 2015

Medicated Writing

I wanted to tear my hair out at many points during this day, but finally managed to finish the first draft of chapter 3 of my book. I have it printed out and ready to be attacked with my purple editing pen, but for this I must go someplace that is not my home – […]

Maybe Not

I talked earlier about some hallucinations I was having, or at least just had on two separate occasions. I just...

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Eric Garner

Originally posted on astound me: D.A. Królak:
Eric Garner by HB Creative // artist Howard Barry HBCREATIVE (AKA HOWARD BARRY) From the Series “We The People” mixed media…

Guest Post: The Softer Side of Catcalling

The image features a person with long blonde hair walking toward a grassy field.

Instead she leaned forward and whispered, “Pull up your shirt, honey. You’re showing.”

The first time I was catcalled I was 11 years old. But the first time I was looked at sexually without my consent was well before that. It wasn’t some creepy dude in a white van either – it was my kindergarten art teacher.

I remember thinking she had called me to her desk to compliment my work on last week’s art assignment. Instead she leaned forward and whispered, “Pull up your shirt, honey. You’re showing.” I yanked on my neckline and awkwardly made my way back to my seat, cheeks burning.

I spent the rest of the day feeling watched and peaking down inconspicuously to make sure my shirt was right – even though I wasn’t sure exactly what constituted “right.”

My clothing has continued to be policed throughout school and into adulthood. I don’t mean policed by dudes shouting out their car window, “Hey baby, what’s your number?” Instead it’s often been well-meaning older women who just want to help me be decent and modest.

By 3rd grade I’d been asked to stop wearing skirts to school because I liked to go upside down on the monkey bars. In middle school I was told to dress more feminine to make friends. In high school I was sent to the principal’s office because my tank top straps were too skinny. I’ve been subtly corrected by receptionists, nannies, professors, gas station attendants, relatives of every kind, and even children.

There’s been tons of discussion lately about the way women’s bodies are made public through sexual propositions known as catcalling. Our bodies are open to constant sexual commentary by any random stranger on the street, and that’s finally getting some much-needed attention.

What isn’t being pointed out is the reinforcement for catcalling provided by our mothers, aunts, teachers, bus drivers, bosses, and random ladies on a daily basis. When you single out a person for an assumed wardrobe malfunction, no matter how kind you think you’re being, you’re assigning certain values to their body. You’re imposing a “covered is better than uncovered” hierarchy that they may or may not share.

Most importantly, though, these kinds of adjustments have everything to do with sex. They are about covering up parts of my body that a passing man might view as sexual. Therefore, they are prioritizing that anonymous man’s perception of my body over my own comfort and independent decision-making ability.

Assumptions about sexuality, race, class, body type, and gender play into these social interactions. Young people who defy standards of beauty imposed by our white supremacist, misogynist culture are at an increased risk of surveillance and correction. Our very identities are often considered transgressive and therefore our manner of expressing those identities must be curtailed for the comfort of the viewing public.

We know that these older women are not trying to hurt us. We know they’re simply trying to help or interacting with us based on an outdated model of appropriate behavior. Many of them even identify as feminists. The issue isn’t their intention, it’s the impact. It’s minor interactions such as these that normalize rape culture. They put the pressure for security, modesty, and control on the victim’s body.

It may seem harmless and insignificant to tell a young girl to adjust her clothing. You may think I’m making a big deal out of nothing. The fact is, it’s a short step to the next part of many of our lives – the part where we experience sexualized violence.

When this happens (and it WILL happen, whether it’s catcalling or rape; it’s unavoidable) the “harmless” comments become very harmful. The victim – having been taught for years to change herself so she doesn’t look too sexual – decides not to report the incident, not to tell her friends, not to leave a violent situation because the violence enacted on her is made to be her fault, as if the way she dressed justified the violence.

She’s embarrassed. She’s made to feel embarrassed.

Imagine if our first reaction to sexual violence was not embarrassment but anger. Righteous anger. We can teach the next generation of girls that they have a right to their anger, that they don’t need to change a single thing to deserve respect. In order to do that we first have to stop adjusting them. We have to stop telling them their body has to be covered, or feminine, or uncovered, or any of the thousand conflicting and impossible rules they have to follow in order to earn respect.

Everyone has a different comfort level for their body. Let’s celebrate that diversity instead of criticizing it.

The image features the author, Julia, wearing a yellow-knit hat with a flower on it, smiling toward the camera.Julia Cuneo is an activist and youth organizer from Detroit, Michigan. She is obsessed with her cat and social justice. Although Julia was introduced to political organizing through feminism, she now works closely with the People’s Water Board and on educational justice issues.

Another Casualty

Just got off the phone with my mom, who told me about trouble a cousin of mine is having. He’s separated from his wife for no discernible reason.  They are having a lot of stress in their marriage because their combined children keep stirring things up between them, and one son is in jail for beating up on my cousin.  His wife told my mom that he had gone to a doctor who told him he was bipolar.  Mom asked me if that made any sense. I said I made plenty of sense because of some things that I knew had gone on in his past when we were kids and some of what had gone on in his previous marriages.  His wife is hoping it’s just simple depression and nothing as complicated as bipolar.  But I told my mom to tell him to call me if he wanted to talk about bipolar and find out more about it.   I hope he does, and I hope I can steer him to some help.

Otherwise have had  a good day today–met my homeschool  class and talked about writing fiction.  That was fun.  They have their assignments and I hope they come up with some good ideas for their stories.  I’m looking forward to reading them.

Going to the ballgame tonight, high school.  Ready to watch my middle one play in the band and see how the new show will go.  I’m hoping better than she’s telling me, because she says it’s just absolute chaos at some points.  So hopefully it looks better on the field than it sounds when she is describing it.  It’s our first year with a new quarterback, so it will be interesting to see how the team does as well.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

bipolar disorder in africa

Molweni apha. It’s time for another bipolar linkdump, but this time the links aren’t solely South African, there are some from the rest of Africa too. I went through a tribal exorcism in Senegal that involved a great deal of ram’s blood and that I’m not going to detail right now, but a few years…


dalekOkay, so this reference will be lost on those who are not familiar with Dr. Who. Whatever. It’s how I am feeling. Why? Oh, right. PEOPLE.

Yesterday (we will get to that later in the rant) after I taxed myself to the max with the dish “I am perfectly functional” performance…I decided to do “self therapy” and push myself even further. ‘Cos all I wanted was to curl up in a fetal ball. Instead, I invited R over to watch Human Centipede 3. He said absolutely, after he did an outcall.I waited. And waited. And waited. Around 9 p.m. I gave up. And no call,no text. This morning about ten minutes ago I finally get this vague message about a rough night and not being able to get away from a visit with a friend he hasn’t seen in years.

I wish I could post video of the vein in my forehead about to explode.

I shot back, “Could have sent a text. Busy is no excuse for being so rude.”

No caps. No exclamation points. Nothing but a calm statement of fact.

And no response. Because no doubt he is lamenting how mean I am for not understanding how busy and important he is. Or how he hasn’t seen that friend in years but he can see me anytime. Reminds me of when we lived together and I dared to ask him to spend time with me. Same childish response. (And it’s not just him, it’s the men I meet in general, they’re fucking rude little kids, I wait for them to pull my pigtail, they’re such whiny immature brats.)

Seriously, not ten seconds to send a text? If I do that to him, even for ten minutes, he has a tantrum. And when he does make contact, not even an I’m sorry? BASIC HUMAN COURTESY AND MANNERS. Is it too much to expect? Because he does this over and over and I am always the hostile bitchy one, I’m “in a mood”, I don’t “understand”. I am so fucking fed up and pissed off. It’s hard for me to extend myself, to invite anyone into my sanctum. To be blown off so rudely, not once, but twice now, is infuriating. Why bother with people? They’re just a disappointment and a torment. I am not anti social just because I expect basic manners, ffs.


Except my readers, ‘cos you guys get it and I love you guys.

Moving on, though my fury is still red hot and boiling.

I did six hours in the dish yesterday. Shop. Met P. Fetched spawn from traffic jam centra. Even a visit to mom’s, cos she claimed they wanted to take Spook shopping for school clothes but instead they had plans for my nephew’s birthday. No call from her, either. WTF is wrong with people?

P and I hit it off, we share a lot of the same opinions. She said she would definitely call me next time she needs to go to Wal-mart so we can do the buddy system thing. That’s cool. My dad has long told me that my opinion of this town and its people is my imagination, but even she mentioned it. So I’m not making it up. People here stare, make rude comments, and come off as hostile. I’ve never felt it anywhere else I’ve been.

Needless to say by the time all that was done and I finally got back to my bubble…I was taxed and maxed. I just can’t keep up. Hell, just picking my kid up from school amid the crowd and traffic is enough to traumatize me. Five days a fucking week? I’m gonna be in the Rubber fucking Ramada in a month. And I have all this other shit to deal with, like waiting on my disability review. Five months? Really? I know red tape moves at the speed of death but, ffs. This anxiety overhead 24-7 is draining. Just rip the bandage off, yay or nay. I am so sick of living this way. I have got to find a way to bring in money and not have to rely on disability. For whatever stress it takes away, it just brings different stress.

At this point…I am demoralized to the nth. Only saving grace is my kid is sleeping over at grandma’s tonight so at least I can wallow in my demoralization alone. Is it just me? Am I wrong to find all this shit so anxiety inducing? Am I wrong to call people on being rude? Is it really that insulting to want an apology when someone is so rude and inconsiderate?

I know it is definitely NOT unreasonable to be sick and tired of having people blame my bipolar for my outrage. Two words go a long way. “I’m sorry.” But that’s too much to ask of these fuckfaces. And it’s my bipolar anger that’s the problem? God,  no one should have to deal with this much stupid on a daily basis.

I am also sick to death of  “it’s not that big of a deal.” When you say you’re gonna come over and I rearrange my routine so everything kid related has been tended to and the movie can be viewed in the 90 minutes allotted to our friendship your importance can spare…Hell yeah I am pissed off. And I have every right to be.

Karma for all the times I flaked out on jobs and didn’t call. Back then, before mood stabilizers, it just never touched me how wrong it was. I figured by the third day of calling in sick I was fired anyway so I just never called. Or I was too manic to even have it occur to me. Well, guess what? I’m getting it back in spades. Except now I am trying to do right so the past never lets go. Mindfulness that, mental health professionals.

Half hour, still no reply from his highness. Unbelievable what I am expected to put up with. Yet he stopped speaking to me once and called me a user ‘cos I didn’t answer my phone at 11p.m. Just unfuckingreal.

Alone time. That’s what I need. I mean, I am alone now, but school pick up still looms so I can’t relax, my stomach is in knots. I feel panic bubbling no matter how much I try to “quash” it.

I think the Daleks have a point. Okay, I don’t think random murder of a species is ideal but hate is easy. Love is hard. Acceptance is hard. Being hurt, repeatedly, is hard. To hate is easy and freeing. Reminds me of the episode where the Dalek picked up some of Rose’s humanity and it chose to die rather than live as something it wasn’t. It knew only hate and having human notions of anything else repulsed the dalek. I can relate since every day I pretty much have to put on a performance and be something I’m not.

And I’d be a flat out liar if I said there aren’t times where I feel like that dalek and would rather die than go on living this way.

But of course, I don’t have real feelings. I don’t get hurt, I don’t require courtesy. Because I’m bipolar and everything I feel is wrong.

Misanthropy should be a religion. I’d be the fucking leader.


bipolar disorder in africa

Molweni apha. It’s time for another bipolar linkdump, but this time the links aren’t solely South African, there are some from the rest of Africa too.

I went through a tribal exorcism in Senegal that involved a great deal of ram’s blood and that I’m not going to detail right now, but a few years afterwards I was in Rwanda, working on a different project, and I happened to describe my experience to someone, and he said, “Well, that’s West Africa, and we’re in East Africa, and our rituals are in some ways very different, but we do have some rituals that have something in common with what you’re describing.” And he said, “But we’ve had a lot of trouble with Western mental health workers, especially the ones who came right after the genocide.” I said, “What kind of trouble did you have?” And he said, “Well, they would do this bizarre thing. They didn’t take people out in the sunshine where you begin to feel better. They didn’t include drumming or music to get people’s blood going. They didn’t involve the whole community. They didn’t externalize the depression as an invasive spirit. Instead what they did was they took people one at a time into dingy little rooms and had them talk for an hour about bad things that had happened to them.” (Laughter) (Applause) He said, “We had to ask them to leave the country.” Andrew Solomon

Mental Health Care in Sub-Saharan Africa: Challenges and Opportunities:
Moreover, the stigma tied to mental disorders is also an obstacle to care. In the sub-Saharan region, this reaction is deeply rooted in cultural beliefs and associations that some communities make between mental disorders and witchcraft.
Freelance photographer Robin Hammond has put a human face on mental health challenges in Africa. In his award-winning photo book “Condemned,” he documents the absence of mental health care in conflict-affected African countries. His photographs show the deplorable conditions under which the seriously mentally ill must struggle, and the absence of help or infrastructure to address their special needs. Unfortunately, governments there have used incarceration as a solution to ostensibly prevent the mentally ill from injuring themselves and also protect the public.
The AFrica Focus on Intervention Research for Mental Health (AFFIRM) hub is a research and capacity development hub, established in 6 countries: Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

South Africa


Psychiatry in distress: How far has South Africa progressed in supporting mental health? The trouble in South Africa is that although its mental healthcare policies are progressive, these are not filtering down. For instance, the department of health has reported that 53% of hospitals have been listed to provide 72-hour assessments of psychiatric emergencies, in keeping with the provisions of the Mental Health Care Act. However, reports the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), these hospitals frequently don’t have the staff or capacity to provide the care required. Patients end up being admitted to general wards, which adds to the stigma of their illness. Sometimes suicidal patients are turned away due to a lack of space.
Flying high and sinking low: bipolar disorder: When Charlene, 23, goes to her bedroom, opens her cupboard and takes out the green stockings and orange mini dress with huge circles all over it these days, she knows she is in trouble. She feels reckless and free – in fact she feels great – but at the same time she knows she is heading for a manic period which could last anywhere from a few hours to a week.  “When I’m manic I have no inhibitions and I’m likely to give away half my possessions – sometimes to virtual strangers.”
In a state of neurosis: tens of thousands of government employees suffer from chronic mental illnesses such as depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, but are too reluctant to disclose their conditions.
Coping with depression in the workplace: As a South African employer, there are proactive steps that you can take to manage depression in your organisation and provide support for your employees.
The Girl From Human Street (text and audio): A Memoir Of A Family’s Diaspora, And A Mother’s Depression
The South African Health News Service: (Mental Health  archives). Bipolar archives.


Imam & patients in Dakka, Senegal

Rwanda: who is safe from mental illness? “Due to lack of awareness, most people still think that mental illness is an ancestral curse or punishment for wrongdoing or disobedience from God.”

And if there’s one country that deserves the chance to heal, it’s Rwanda.

RE: “Who is safe from mental illness?” People do not inherit mental illness or mental disorders. True, mental disorders have a genetic basis for their occurrence or “inheritance”; however, people inherit the possibility or likelihood that they will at some time in their lives suffer from mental disorder. source

Kenya: Visceral – an Exhibition on the Workings of a Bipolar Mind: “One point in time, I was very depressed and was trying to come up with ideas. I got so angry I kept stabbing the paper with a pen and then fell asleep. Woke up afterwards and looked at the image and it was exactly what I was feeling, so decided to go with the dots,” Mwini says.

South Sudan & Uganda: Q&A: The impact of war on mental health. (audio)


“I am fine” – Ms Ada according to her clinical psychologist is suffering from a bipolar disorder. The YFM presenter, Adaeze Onyinyechie Ayoka aka Ms Ada, who allegedly staged her own kidnap and gang-rape has finally made her first public appearance and statement to the media.
Cultural Aspects of Manic-Depression in West Africa

Nigeria & Ethiopia: Abstract: Epidemiology and burden of bipolar disorder in Africa: a systematic review of data from Africa. (Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2015 Jul 9. [Epub ahead of print])
BACKGROUND: Bipolar disorder impacts negatively on the patient, the family, as well as the society. It taxes the health care services due to a combination of the illness with associated medical and psychiatric comorbidities. In Africa, unfortunately, knowledge of the epidemiology and burden of bipolar disorder is based mainly on studies from the USA and Europe. In this systematic review of literature from Africa, we highlight the epidemiology and burden of bipolar disorder.
METHODS: A systematic review of publications from Africa relating to the epidemiology and burden of bipolar disorder was conducted.
RESULT: Data from community surveys conducted in Nigeria and Ethiopia indicated a lifetime prevalence estimate of 0.1 % to 1.83 for bipolar disorder. Missed diagnosis rate of bipolar disorder was up to 36.2 %. In one study, 8.1 % of the males and 5.4 % of the females reported a previous suicide attempt. A study showed that up to 60 % of patients with bipolar disorder had at least one comorbidity. There were no reports on all-cause mortality and cost of illness.
CONCLUSION: Bipolar disorder is a major mental health problem in Africa. Scientific findings on bipolar disorder from Africa are consistent with the existing literature from other parts of the world. There still exists a dearth of high quality studies addressing the epidemiological, clinical, social, and economic burden of the disorder.

For me, the most interesting conclusion drawn is, “Scientific findings on bipolar disorder from Africa are consistent with the existing literature from other parts of the world.” Who’d have thunk it?


“When there is an effective service and people start to use it, that also has an effect on stigma. People become more accepting of people with mental illness because there is more hope.” Abebaw Fekadu, Butajira Hospital

Major mental disorders in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. II. Affective disorders
Socio-demographic correlates of bipolar disorder in Butajira, rural Ethiopia
Prevalence and clinical characteristics of bipolar I disorder in Butajira, Ethiopia: A community-based study

This is the one that fascinated me completely:

Bipolar disorder among an isolated island community in Ethiopia
Background: Psychiatric data on population groups of geographic and social isolates are rare, but can potentially give insights into factors of aetiological importance. The Zeway islanders have lived in geographic and cultural isolation for over three centuries.
Aim: To determine the prevalence of major psychiatric disorders among the adult population of Zeway islands.
Methods: A three stage screening design that included the use of structured interview instruments (CIDI and SCAN), key informants, and clinical assessment by psychiatrists was employed for case identification.
Results: Prevalence of bipolar disorders among the adult population (n=1691) was 1.83% (n=31) with 66% of the cases originating from one of the islands that constitutes only 17.33% of the study population. Only one subject was identified with schizophrenia.
Conclusions: A pattern of differential prevalence for bipolar disorders and schizophrenia appears to exist in this isolated population, which also seems shared by other isolated population groups. The high prevalence of bipolar disorders with clustering of cases on one island may represent an environmental or genetic factor of etiologic relevance that deserves further exploration.

According to a 2003 WHO report, close to 90 per cent of those in developing countries who need treatment for mental health problems receive no assistance. [2] Across Africa, there is only one psychiatrist for every million people. [3] As a result, doctors throughout the continent are realising that if they want to widen access to mental health, they can’t wait until there are more psychiatrists. source


St George's Mall, Cape Town

Sensitive Yvette

“Yvette, you can’t go through life being so sensitive.”  My dad’s words still haunt me today. I hear his voice right through through the other voices in my head. They throw insults at me. Word after word they cut, like daggers into my flesh I’m sure he never imagined having a daughter like me- sensitive […]


A couple of posts ago I mentioned that Sadie does too much of the talking in therapy. I sent her a link to that post and she took that comment very seriously. In my appointment yesterday, she completely backed off on the talking and left me there to uncomfortably fumble for words in response to […]