Friday, October 31, 2014

Black sheep come home

Earlier this week, when I got to work, one of my pals told me, "I have a favour to ask you."

As usual, I said, "Shoot!" Didn't know what I'd gotten myself into, but, as long as it wasn't anything too 'illegal', I was ok with not knowing what till he came to collect the favour.

Later in the morning they called me to the boardroom where Francis(the cameraman) had setup his equipment. A request I found odd was asking if I had carried my phone. Of course I didn't have it. Why do I need my phone anyway? Nooo! You want me to reveal saucy texts? But but I don't have anyone to send those to...

"No. We want you to call your dad on camera and tell him you love him"

"Huh? You want what!?"

Yeah, it was confusing, a mixture of emotions. See, while I'm not the dictionary definition of a black sheep, I come pretty close. For most of my life I have been cut off from most people emotionally, especially my dad.

Without revealing too much, all I can say is my memories of being a teenager aren't exactly pleasant, and I'd rather go through life never admitting I have ever been a teenager. With good reason too!

To cut a long story short, after growing up feeling abandoned and making a lot of mistakes, I came to realize that bitterness will never get you anywhere. Especially looking at how I'm slowly managing to shape me into the image of what I believe is the ideal person, I think I have more to be thankful for than to be bitter about. Which includes not allowing hate to be a part of me.

I guess if being clinically depressed is what was needed for me to quit being a little unemotional bitch, then it was worth it because while it may have taken away four years of my youth, it also made me eventually realize that I'm not alone in this world. This year has been especially trying on my family, with me almost dying twice. Ok, maybe I've exaggerated the second instance, since it involved surgery. Point is, they have been through a lot. I'm lucky because I lost part of my memory so I don't have to deal with most of the emotions that were involved at the time.

So here I was standing in front of a camera, I'd been asked to call my dad and say those three words. The topic of men not being able to express their feelings verbally has been the subject of countless articles and hence already familiar to many, therefore I don't have to discuss them in this entry. As the call was connecting I had enough time to think.

My dad has not been there for most of my life, physically he was, but emotionally no. In retrospect, I think he just didn't know what to do with me. I was the first born, so it would be unfair to judge him by it, especially seeing the good job he did with my brother and sister. It would be unfair to judge him remembering the numerous times he tried to set things right with me when I was in campus, and I was the one who consciously and knowingly resisted.

When I was depressed I guess it made it even harder for them because I cut off most people and moved out because I wanted to be alone. I could see they could sense something was wrong with me but I didn't want them to, this was my burden. Of course I knew I was depressed, but I also knew it is an expensive disease and I wanted to handle it on my own.

The call connected. My dad's voice. During the small talk as I tried to find a way of introducing those three little words into the conversation I remembered the events of this year. 

This has been the most dramatic year of my life. It counts as the first year since 2009 that my mind became my own again. The idea of killing myself isn't that new so I can casually talk about it. I guess. But the gravity isn't lost to me. My family didn't take it lightly, and only my immediate family(and now the world) know how close I came to allowing the world to beat me into a corner and giving up. And I owe them for always being there for me. For once in my life I decided to open up myself to my family and allow them to see me as the person I have become. Deep inside I know I've always loved them. The heavy veil of mental illness couldn't snuff that out. I just had to look and admit the fire was there.

As we were talking I knew that while I never tell them verbally that I love them, everything I've done this year has been also been geared at showing them I know what I put them through, I know they never left my side even though I couldn't see them. I owed them the verbal confirmation.

I forgot the camera was there and just said what I have been meaning to say most of this year. I'm sad it took being asked by a third party to do it, but like the depression, the end justifies the means.

No more black sheep

Monday, June 16, 2014

Cogito Ergo Sum

Am I scared? Actually, no. A bit apprehensive, but nothing more than that.

I guess, I made peace with myself and I am aware of my mortality. Anyway, I'll get back to that later after I get something else off my chest.

Some doctors really annoy me, they do their best to fleece insurance companies through their patients. I guess for the most part they can get away with it, but for some people, myself included, this ends up hurting us too, not just the insurance company. I have known for a few weeks that the only solution to what I have is surgery, and the doctor I went to last week knew that also, so why did he waste my comfort, time, and money with stupid follow up consultations instead of just going ahead with the surgery and not waste the money on medicine that didn't do shit to ease the pain I am in constantly.
Last month it was the dentist. Barring the fact that nothing has been right with my body since the last time I was in hospital, the opportunism exhibited by these physicians is worrying and annoying! Let me give an example of the dentist hospital. When you're paying in cash a root canal procedure costs 9 thousand Ksh. When they discovered I had insurance the cost bloated to double that, and despite my insistence they never explained where the extra cost came from. See, even though it's the insurance that's paying, there's a limit, and I need my insurance intact because my need for bipolar medication and access to a psychiatrist is constant so when these fuckers in their pursuit for unfair profit do their thing, they end up messing me because at the end I have to pay from my pocket.

Anyway, I'm supposed to go in for minor surgery in the next day or so. Though it's called minor surgery, if there's anything I picked up from the Wahome Mutahi incident, it's that there is nothing like "minor surgery". As long as they have to put you under anaesthesia and cut into your body, there's nothing like minor surgery.

In preparation I've scheduled this entry to post 2 days after I'm expected to leave the hospital. If I don't stop it from posting before then, well, we'll be sure something unexpected happened. Also in preparation I've reset all my passwords to something generic that can be guessed by all who know me...just to keep things easy.

Back to Rene Descartes. Pain always serves to remind us that we're mortal beings and that our physical presence is temporary at most, until the time we learn to manipulate our conscience being into another form or find a way of making it persist indefinitely.

Ever wondered what happens to you after you die? What if our conscience doesn't mean anything, what if there is no 'after'? What if there is no God to receive your soul? What if the idea of having a soul is just a result of the behaviour/reward conditioning that led to humanity gaining morality? What if cogito ergo sum only applies to this mortal state? Would you be scared to die then? Would you take your life more seriously if you knew that when it ends that's it for you? Or would you be more callous, knowing there is no punishment or reward awaiting you when you die?

Is this all?

I guess for me all I ever needed was love. Love for me justifies all. As long as I loved in this existence and gave as much as I received I won't leave with any bitterness tormenting me. I'm not worried for me, I worry for those around me and especially those that love me. I know that whether there is an existence past this or not, I lived this one as true to myself as I grudges, nothing but the emotions that drove me to care which is all that life is about, right?

~ for Abby, my fam, my pals and everyone I love or have ever loved

Friday, May 23, 2014

Conversations with the other woman

Ever wondered where the expression "..and one thing led to another and before I knew it.." came from? Here's one scenario. I have to add a disclaimer. While the conversation pattern sounds a lot like me, it's not, dialogue is easier when narrated in the first person.


Was just busy minding my own business when a call comes in. It's my long time friend, W.
"Hey, you"
"Hello to you too! Just checking up on you, been a minute"
"I know, right?! "
"Umenitupa sana(You've ignored[?]) me for long)! What's up?"
"You know, the usual, new job keeping me busy"
"Ah, liar, it's that new girl of yours keeping you busy"
"Nah, it's not like that. Plus we've been dating for almost a year, not that new"
"Really? Anyway, how are you?"
"I'm easy, enjoying life and all"
"We should meet over coffee and catch up"
"Yeah, sounds like a good idea. I'm free Thursday"
"Cool. See you then. It's really good to talk to you after so long"
"Same here. [short pause] Anyway, I'll call you Thursday... To confirm where"
"Ok. Bye"
In case you're lost, every other line starting with the first is me.

Thursday comes and we agree to meet at around 5:30 pm, after work, at a certain coffee place. I get a text. It's her.
"Hey, I'm gonna run a little late, probably till around 7ish. Do you mind waiting?"
I reply:"Ok"
7pm. Another text,"On my way. Can we meet at club X...I need something stronger than coffee right now"
My reply:"Ok"

At around 7:15 I go to the club and as expected, she hasn't arrived yet. Women and being fashionably late! I find my way to the balcony that overlooks a busy street and order a beer. The nice waitress sees it fit to bring two beers. They look enticing, especially because of the condensation on the bottles. From the correct angle they look just like they do in the advert. I send a short text to my friend telling her where I'm seated.

She comes in at around 7:30 in a flurry of designer perfume, panting, looking as beautiful as always.
"Hey! Sorry for being late. Traffic" [Hugs and perfume]

She looks at the beer. One is already halfway gone.
"I see you've already started without me"
"Yeah, couldn't just sit without taking anything"
After taking a seat she beckons to the nice waitress, " I'll have a cocktail"
She reaches into her bag but I interrupt her,"I'll pay, don't worry"
"No! I came in late, I insist. Today is on me," she turns to the nice waitress, "and two more beers". She turns to me, "Cold?"
 I nod.
"...and two more beers, cold," she finishes.
I look at the cars passing below then turn back to her, "I thought you needed something stronger than coffee"
"Nah, changed my mind, plus I have an early meeting kesho. I'll just have a smoke or two to get the buzz going"
I finish the first beer, and indicate to a passing waitress to open the other one. As she does it, the nice waitress comes with the rest of the drinks.
"You're not talking much today, are you?" she asks.
"Haha. Sorry, my mind was on something else. Anyway, how are you?"
"Good. Care to share?"
"Not really, it's a work thing, you wouldn't understand"
"Knocked up a workmate, you dog you" [She laughs]
"Haha, where did that come from?"
I take two swigs.
She looks at the bottles, "If you continue like that you'll be drunk in thirty minutes. Not that I'm complaining fact,  I want that"
"Huh? Anyway this is how I take my alcohol, you know that. Nursing is for pussies!"
She giggles, then reaches into her bag and takes out menthol cigarettes. She lights one.
"You mind?"
I wave my hand. "Nope"
I finish the second beer.
"Slow down cowboy"
She inches her seat closer till it's touching mine. She stares at the street below, "looks beautiful, doesn't it? Feels like old times, you know"
"Yeah, I'd also missed this, just hanging out"
"You look've lost weight"
"Haha, thanks. Isn't it the man who is supposed to say that to the woman?"
"We're empowered nowadays, haha. We get to do everything you guys do"
"Except peeing standing up"
She laughs and slaps my thigh gently, "You're silly! I'd missed that too. Your stupidity"
"Aww. But you are the one that got a guy then forgot about her friends" [Feigns sadness]
"Me? No! I never avoided anyone. It's you and that girl of yours. How is she by the way?"
"She's good. Your guy?"
"I don't know. We broke up a few weeks ago"
"Sorry for what? I'm free to do what I want, no more relationship complications"
"Happy for you"
She turns with a serious expression on her face and looks at me intensely, "what do you see in her?"
"Eh? That's a random question"
"I'm serious. I just want to know. Indulge me"
"Ok. She just makes me happy. I've never been with anyone like her. She is..."
She interrupts me, "You've stopped drinking"
"Oh, didn't notice"
"Well? Drink up"
"Hahaha. Are you trying to get me drunk, W?"
"Hahaha, maybe..."
"Where were we?"
"I'm just tired of men. They're so annoying!"[she sighs loudly]
"Haha, careful now, remember you're talking to one"
She turns back to me with that intense look again.
"Why can't all men be like you?"
"Like me...?"
"Yeah, you're one of the nicest guys I know. Plus you're faithful. She's lucky"
"Yeah? 'nice' gets you friend-zoned. I think I'm the one who's lucky"
She laughs.
"Maybe I'm having second thoughts about doing it to you"
"Doing what?"
"Haha. Isn't it a bit late for that?"
"Is it really?" she says thoughtfully, "can I tell you something?"
"Um. Ok"
I take several swigs, though the first beers had already gotten me more than tipsy. Lightweight.
"It's something really personal"
Little alarm bells go off in my head. But I'm drunk, can't hear them that clearly.
"I already know most things about you. Shoot," I say.
"That's part of it, we already know everything about each other, right?"
"And I trust you"
"I'm serious, K(my name)"
The hand on my thigh moves in a rubbing motion. Funny. I'd forgotten that was there. Feels good. Alarm bells go off in my head. Can't really hear them over the sound of blood rushing to my head. I finish the third beer and get started on the fourth. A gentle touch on my hand hints that I should put it down for now.
I look at her. I already knew she looks beautiful. But now she looks ravishingly beautiful. She's looking at me. Her lips look soft and enticing. I remember my girlfriend.
"No," the words come out hesitatingly, "I can't."
I turn away and look at the street below.
"Why?" It's a soft whisper next to my ear. I can feel her warm breathe... menthol. I don't want to turn. I think of my girl. I can't.
She leans back. I can turn now. I look at her beautiful brown eyes. I can't. I shouldn't.
She leans forward. Our eyes are a few inches from each other, foreheads are touching.
"I love you"
"No..." I say feebly.
"I love you"
"I love you too, but not like that..." I taper off, " a sister"
"But we're not related"
"This is wrong..."
Her lips pout, she leans in with her eyes closed, I turn my head to avoid what's coming. Her lips brush against the side of my mouth and end up on my cheek. So soft.
"You should be with me," the words come like a breeze in my ear.
"I have a girl"
"She not here"
"It doesn't's still wrong..."
"Feels right to me"
"I have a girl"
"I don't care..."
As I turn, her lips are waiting. So soft. Tastes minty. No alarm bells.

A few days later I'm on the sofa watching a movie, my girlfriend's head on my lap. The phone rings. I look at it then press ignore.
"Who is it, babe?"
"Nobody. Just this annoying client. They don't know boundaries. It's a weekend for Christ's sake!" I say.
"Oh. OK", she turns her head back towards the TV.
I look at my phone. I feel horrible about myself. I type a quick text:"My girlfriend's here" then put my phone back down.
"I love you." The words escape my lips.
"Love you too, babe"
We go back to watching the movie.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Adventures in depression( Affirmation )

It has been over 6 months since I posted any original content here. I think I lost my flare for writing. I pray it ain't so. Though it may also be that I had been depressed for a while since sometime near the end of last year, teetering over the edge waiting for that one last tiny thing that would push me completely over.

See the thing about bipolar disorder and depression is that you can't really treat a depressed bipolar person with the normal antidepressants. Treatment usually involves a lot of anti-anxiety medication and other serotonin uptake inhibitors, and in my case, a little electro convulsive therapy to move it faster.

I have been depressed before but never had it been serious enough to require hospitalization. It was voluntary(hospitalization), according to what I'm told by my shrink, and friends. I was away for weeks and I had only informed one or two people where I was. Anyway, lets discuss depression.

A little over two years ago I'd discussed mental illness on this blog where I covered several forms of mental illnesses, mostly what I have - bipolar disorder. Although nowadays I am conditioning myself to stop looking at it like a disease. It's more of an example of how God gives with one hand and takes with the other. Contrary to what that statement implies, I'm not really mad at God for that because over time I've come to accept what I have and actually realized it gives me that je ne sais quoi quality.

For the most part, that I'm bipolar doesn't really interfere with who I am and has never defined me, how I behave and what I stand for. It just gives me extra energy sometimes, and acts as a buzz-kill other times. While it has obviously influenced how I behave in a small way, I like to believe that I'm a result of my choices, and the path I take in life is one I choose for myself as I go along.

I believe the question of how much mental conditions influence our decisions is tied in intimately with the question of free will in all humans. Is it freewill if I suddenly behave differently and do something stupid because the chemicals in my brain have become imbalanced? Am I responsible for everything I do while depressed or on a high? If I killed myself because I'm depressed, is it my fault? Did I have the option to decide that death is not the answer?

Actually the answer is really simple, when you are depressed, freewill is one of the luxuries you're denied. That's why I chose to forsake my freedom for the sake of everything I believe in, and got hospitalized for specialized treatment. Truth be told, while I have accepted that my death is inevitable in the long run, I don't want it to be by my own hand or as a result of something I could have foreseen and changed.

Depression is one of the most fucked up diseases around, it isn't really treatable unless the person going through it is willing to have it treated, and by virtue of you being depressed you lack the ability to realize that you are the one who matters most if you're to get better. Does that make sense?

I'll use myself as an example, again. When I got depressed it took me more than 6 months to realize I was in deep shit. And even after falling over the edge into chronic depression it took another 3 days to realize I was the only one who could get help for me by accepting that I was in shit and it was all going down in my mind. and to say the truth I am one of the lucky ones. The ones who are at the edge, where you have decided suicide is the answer and all that's left is how to do it as painlessly as possible, but decide to give life one last go. 

The amount of pain is not usually one of the considerations (because you're already dead inside and that is the greatest pain a person, who has ever known happiness, can feel and continues to feel). The biggest consideration is ease. That's why some people see a rafter, a stool and a scarf. Others see sleep medication and painkillers, others see guns. You have to understand that the only consideration once you've decided to kill yourself, is what is the most easily accessible tool to do it and what requires the least effort on your part.

For a depressed person there is no heaven or hell to look forward to, there is no God to wrap you in His warmth, there is nothing to look forward to except ending the emptiness, pain and hopelessness that has become your life. If nothing can make you happy why bother with going through the motions? Why bother making the effort to hang out with people who make no difference in your life? What is the purpose of family and lovers if they can't make you feel loved any more? What is the need for friends if they can't make you feel alive? What is the need of a job if all it does is make you get out of bed in the morning to go do something you don't give a shit about? All it did is wake you up from the sweet oblivion of sleep.

This is why I get bothered and angry whenever I hear insensitive statements about people who've committed suicide. People need to realize that depression is a real illness, it is a cancer of the mind. It is hard to detect,  but it's important to realize that no sane well balanced person wants to die, least of all by killing themselves. When a person suddenly becomes introverted and wants nothing to do with normal day to day activities for extended periods, they are probably depressed or heading there. When a person chooses to end his/her life, you have to believe it's not their fault in most circumstances. And here we're not talking of terrorists or criminals. 

Depressed people are rarely a danger to others, just to themselves.

I have covered depression form a personal perspective rather than a medical one to hope that maybe it would resonate with other (normal) people. It is important to know your friends and family well enough to notice it when something is just not right with them. It's hard sometimes because depression progresses very slowly over months or years. But once you suspect it, in yourself or someone else, try to find a way to introduce the topic.

Most depressed people will disagree they're depressed which is the largest hurdle to beginning treatment. Just don't shove the fact that they're depressed down their throats, you have to introduce it in such a way that they form the conclusion themselves. In the process you may have just saved the life of someone close to your heart.

Also check out this post by Allie Brosh who also had a run in with depression. I mirrored the title here from that post.

In case you need to contact a psychologist call (+254) 720 291 232

Take care of your whole self: mind, body and soul.


~ Ben

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Love story

'You know I love you and would do anything for you'
'Oui, ma chérie'
'Good, I just wanted you to know that'
'I'll love you forever, my love'
'By the way what are we having for supper?'
'I don't feel like cooking today. I'm craving pizza. Please go pick one up'
'I thought you said you're watching your weight?'
'Did you just call me fat?'
'No! I er...which type of pizza did you say?'
'Ok. But it's raining outside'
'You said "anything" for me!'
'Yeah, but I didn't mean going into a freakin hurricane!'
'I don't think this will work out'
'You said pepperoni, any extra toppings or thicker crust?'
'Nah, it's better without. And don't forget we're also out of soda'

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Grass Will Grow

If you should take my child Lord
Give my hands strength to dig his grave
cover him with earth
Lord send a little rain
For grass will grow

If my house should burn down
So that the ashes sting the nostrils
Making the eyes weep
Then Lord send a little rain
For grass will grow

But Lord do not send me
I ask for tears
Do not send me moon hard madness
To lodge snug in my skull
I would you sent me hordes of horses
But do not break
The yolk of the moon on me.

- by Jonathan Kariara (1935 – 1993)

This has been my prayer since I was a child. Thought I should share it