Thought I’d share a little something to close this year😊more of a reflection really.
Sigh. But it’s a sigh of relief and coming mostly from a place of peace. And hope. And excitement. Maybe it’s because Christmas is near. Or maybe because am actually seriously looking forward to 2021. Or maybe because new beginnings make me happy, happy, happy. Or maybe because we made it. You and I, dear reader, actually made it to the end of this year. Stop. Let’s repeat that. We made it to the end of this year! Does that sink in? Does it humble you that even with the crazy death tolls this year, you’re still here? Does it shake you that the Lord took you through all the 359 days of this year, no matter how differently each day turned out?Never mind that they’re 7 days to end the year(it’s Christmas Eve in Uganda) we’re alive today.
Am not used to this kind of Uganda. I didn’t sign up for gruesome headlines of death counts and vicious injuries. I didn’t sign up for armed forces releasing fire on unarmed civilians. I didn’t sign up for being scared half to death of stray bullets. I surely didn’t sign up for the sound of teargas canisters being used just meters away. In my head, it all feels like a very bad scene from one of those war movies. Because I know I didn’t just see a car run over innocent civilians. And my heart didn’t cringe at the sight of so much blood on social media. Plus, am also very sure I don’t have to constantly call my loved ones to ask if all is well wherever they are. And yet it actually happened. This is happening.
I can literally only think of our anthem now in response to all that’s going on. Thank God it’s a prayer.
O Uganda! May God uphold thee We lay our future in thy hands United,free, for liberty Together we’ll always stand
O Uganda! The land of freedom Our love and labour we give And with neighbours all At our country’s call In peace and friendship we live
O Uganda! The land that feeds us By sun and fertile soil grown For our own dear land We’ll always stand The Pearl of Africa’s crown
Another week. I can’t begin to wrap my head around the fact that August is going. Gone. Done. Over. 2020, huh?😅 But oh well, life will go on. This week started out pretty amazing💃🏽The cold is slowly becoming a constant here in Uganda. Now and then sunshine but the rain is dominating😌I pray you’re ok from wherever you’re reading this. A small reminder to count those blessings above all else! There’s always reason to give thanks to the Almighty.
My apologies. Today is Tuesday. So this week, I’ll be sharing with you about a much more sensitive topic. Lately I’ve come to question the system of order and functionality in our country. COVID-19 threw the entire world off balance, hands down. Drastic changes here and there. Loss of jobs. Depleted financial resources. Isolation. Starvation. Restricted movement. It’s been a hard time for everyone. The mental health crisis all over the world has been and become a great concern. Depression. Anxiety. Stress. Mood disorders. There’s also been a rise in cases of violence; especially gender based violence, domestic violence, theft, murder. Suicide cases. The headlines have not been pleasant at all. I’ve actually come to dread news time. It’s tragedy after tragedy. And the first response team to all this madness? Police. To an extreme, the help of the army has been solicited. Question is: Are they ready to handle all this?
Am probably in no place to bring this forth but I’d rather questions like this are asked other than brushed under the rug. What kind of training do security forces undergo? Are they really prepared to work with human beings and the challenges they face? And in light of this current pandemic, were they mentally equipped by their administration to enforce the directives put in place? In March this year, there were numerous videos and reports of use excessive force by security forces to enforce directives to frustrate the spread of the virus in countries around the world. Their level of force and manhandling is something I’ve personally never been able to recover from. Lives have been lost because of this inhumane system of operation. Lives we’ll never get back. Because some guy felt it ok to point his gun at someone and end their life in the name of violation of orders?!😤No matter the case, violence never solved anything. Murder makes it worse.
The most gripping of these cases for me is about the late Emmanuel Tegu who was a student of Makerere University and lost his life due to police brutality. Social media was up in arms over Tegu’s case. #JusticeforTegu was a trending topic on Twitter. A lot, a lot, a lot was said on the issue. But I lately discovered an article that focused on the issue from the scope of mental health. https://mulengeranews.com/emmanuel-tegus-sad-incident-what-society-really-needs-to-know-about-mental-illness/ Do check it out. It’s very informative about what Tegu and plenty of other people with bipolar disorder face.
Why police brutality?
The men and women in uniform that swore to serve and protect the people are also human beings. Mental health crises know no one. They too suffer psychological torture. Whatever training they receive to do their jobs with efficiency and upmost intelligence must include psychologicalsupport to avoid painful headlines but more importantly, to preserve human life and rekindle humanity’s trust in them, for everyone’s sake. Until actual action to ensure this initiative is put in place, this vicious cycle with broken families and more mental illnesses as its product will become a never ending system of life with hashtags as the only effort to put an end to it. Humanity has cried enough. We need action.
As always, do share your thoughts in the comment section. I’d love to hear from you.
Welcome to part 2 of mental health awareness😊thank you for taking the time to read about this. Am excited to share with you about today’s topic. I pray you’re ok though and that you’re taking each day as it comes. The rain is sort of back in Uganda 🤭this girl’s happy.
About today. Children. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, a child is a young person especially between infancy and puberty. Different countries define children in different ways. In Uganda, a child is a human being below 18 years of age.
A lot happens to children as they grow up, it’s true. I can only imagine what the children of today go through at school, home, with their peers especially. We live in crazy times and sadly, children have become marginalised. Yes, they’ve always been a vulnerable category of human population but it’s surely gotten worse over the years. Well, today I’ll be focusing particularly on the lockdown experience for children.
There’ve been countless tips on social media, several media power houses and radio stations local and international alike on how to keep adults occupied and productive whilst staying at home to control the spread of COVID-19 but my heart goes out to the children. 15 million children are at home in Uganda because schools were closed. Schools, day care centers, sports clubs, church are some of the many places that have offered children all kinds of support and potential safe spaces for them in their day to day life. Public gatherings are still banned here in Uganda meaning children cannot access these places or their peers as easily as they used to. COVID-19 has catalysed challenges faced by children like child labour, early marriages, sexual abuse, access to harmful content, teenage pregnancies, insecurity in homes and poverty and hunger to mention but a few and recently, information overload that’s difficult for children to understand about COVID-19 plus an increase in mental health challenges. Let’s not forget that besides the average stay-at-home child, there are street children, children with disabilities and children in refugee camps. They have their own set of issues coupled with the above, a true recipe for disaster.
Because of the severity of these challenges, psychological distress is and has been a common occurrence among them. Different age groups of children respond uniquely to crises because of psychological distress. The following are some tell-tale signs of psycho-social distress in children.
0-3 years: change in sleep and behaviour patterns, excessive crying, irritability, change in play activity, hyper sensitivity to other people’s reactions
4-6 years: clinging to care givers, regress to young behaviour, withdrawal in talking and play activity, sleep disturbances like nightmares, difficulty in concentration
7-12years: change in levels of activity, confused feelings and behaviour, repetitive talk about the crisis event, reluctance in education activities, expression in fear and anxiety, low concentration levels, aggression & restlessness, feeling of self blame, concern for affected people
13-18 years: high levels of self consciousness, intense grief, feelings of hopelessness about the future and present, relying on peers for socialisation, changes in interpersonal relations, increase in maladaptive coping behaviour like drug and substance abuse, defiant behaviour
The Joining Forces,a global alliance of international child rights organisations comprised of ChildFund Alliance, Plan International, Save the Children, SOS Children’s village International, Terre des hommes, World Vision, held a children’s conference to discuss these issues in Uganda as well as released a report in May this year with recommendations for solutions to these problems, among them being that government steps up efforts to recognise the need for children to receive Mental Health and Psycho-social Support(MHPPS) in this crisis.
They’re a vulnerable population. They need to be seen and heard before the issues that trouble them become hindrances in proper child growth, before life throws at them rude and shocking reminders of childhood issues that were never resolved. COVID-19 effects are going to be long term for the human species but step by step intervention to help people especially children cope in ways void of maladaptive tendencies and to eradicate the escalated challenges that have already been there will ensure proper mental health. Psychological intervention starts with us paying attention to them and their needs.
I heard her sing as I walked into the supermarket. Hers was a clear and bold voice, the kind that’s hard to miss. It was a first for me. It’s not everyday that I get to hear cashier sing😊 I lingered in the supermarket to keep hearing her voice. I promise; had I known the song, I’d have joined in🤭 I watched as she put a few commodities near her in order and went about other duties around her work station with glee. I wonder if she knew how good she sounded. And that’s not even the best part. She greeted me with a smile and asked how I was doing. Our chit chat was lovely. She checked the commodities I bought and wished me a great rest of the day😌Short goodbyes but boy did I want to stay!😭 For a conversation, a cup of tea, anything to keep around her! She blessed my day. Those 5 minutes or so stayed with me as I got on a motorcycle (yeah, I wasn’t the rider😂) and later on a taxi back home. Even as I went about my chores today my mind kept going back to it.
To share a laugh, an idea or even just talking about the weather with someone I don’t know gets me quite excited and often gives me a reality check that we have different opinions and perspectives of different aspects of life. My fondest memory of this was a ride on a motorcycle (called bodaboda and often shortened to boda here in Uganda) to see a friend. I use them for transport more often than I should😂but they help a lot in cutting traffic and get you to your destination faster. No wonder I was very distraught when our president put a ban on their movement😩 and you could only imagine the elation when they were brought back💃🏽I digress🤦🏾♀️So yes, this particular ride with this boda guy was fun. We talked small small about University hustles, the newly installed traffic lights at a road junction, the package he was carrying and even threw in something about food. He gave me a discount as I was paying(I like to think it was because of our good conversation 😂)
I’ve had my fair share of rough encounters with strangers as well but am always grateful for the good times with them. Strangers can be pretty amazing people. We’re strangers to other people. Let’s strive to be a blessing to those we don’t know. You just never know how greatly your small acts of kindness could be what someone needed😊
Have you been blessed by a stranger? I’d love to hear from you.
Happy new month to you, dear reader🤗Last quarter of the year💃🏽Does that also shock you? My head’s been singing, “🎶Goodbye 2020, goodbye 2020🎶” over and over again😂But God has been good even in the midst of these dark times. Let’s count those blessings!
So in the spirit of mental health awareness, I decided to do a series of writings on mental health covering just about as much as I can do. This was originally going to be a one time thing. Today’s topic was going to be a solo venture but the more I thought about it, the more ideas came to mind. A whole cocktail of emotions is brewing inside😅but a step at a time with a humongous dose of Godfidence should be enough to kickstart this project. By the grace of God, am going to be publishing content on mental health every Monday (small small pledge) I give liberty to you, dear reader, to hold me accountable to this pledge😊
Right. Today. OCD which in full is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It’s one of the commonest (this word sounds wrong😂) types of mental disorders that is categorised as an anxiety disorder. Crucial to note is that anxiety is normal. Natural alarms go off in our minds and bodies when danger lurks by. Anxiety crosses to abnormal and becomes a major characteristic of a disorder 1. when it is experienced in the absence of danger 2. when it is out of proportion to the seriousness of the situation 3. when it causes great distress that impairs functioning or 4. when it persists even when the danger is past.
OCD is comprised of the obsession which is an involuntary, recurring or persistent thought/image that invades consciousness and causes great distress and the compulsion which is a persistent, irresistible and irrational urge to perform an act repeatedly. Usually, a person can suffer from one of the 2 but common OCD patients suffer from both. When they occur together, the compulsion is used to combat the anxiety caused by the obsession.
Types of OCD There is an inexhaustible list of types of OCD because different individuals suffer from anxiety about different things. The more common manifestations of OCD, however, include:
Checking to dispel fear of harming self and others
Ruminations- undirected & unproductive thoughts often indulged in, mainly on science and life.
Intrusive thoughts- unpleasant & repetitive thoughts without control
Mental contamination- feeling dirty on the inside.
Contamination- fear of germs and dirt that could harm loved ones and self.
Symmetry & orderliness- things being in precise and perfect order
Causes There’s a vast number of causes for OCD but it is usually narrowed down to the biological and psychodynamic perspectives.
Biological perspective being that genetic factors, structural abnormalities in the brain & biochemical imbalances have a play in the manifestation of OCD. Crucial to note here is that people don’t inherit genetic disorders. They inherit a predisposition toward the disorder which may or may not become apparent depending on the nature of conditions of their lives.
Psychodynamic perspective as originally introduced by the father of pyschology, Sigmund Freud, being that OCD is as a result of unresolved, unconscious conflict often sexual or aggressive in nature from childhood experiences.
Symptoms The symptoms are told from the forms of OCD. Only when the recurring thought and the urge to combat the anxiety caused by it gives a person extreme distress, takes up a lot of time and hinders daily activities can we say that a person has OCD. Otherwise, cleaning, checking and organisation and the like are normal😊
Treatment Medication as prescribed by a psychiatrist (mental health specialist who uses medicine to treat mental illnesses and disorders) as well as therapy done by a clinical psychologist (mental health specialist who uses talk therapy to treat mental illnesses and disorders) are used to treat OCD. In some cases, the patient may need both.
Why OCD? OCD has often been misunderstood and even shrugged off as just another way of life that people formulate to get by. To an extreme, people with OCD are made fun of. Fact is, it’s a serious issue especially to the people that suffer from it and those around them. The best the rest of the population that doesn’t suffer from it can do is be supportive and encourage them throughout treatment if the affected persons seek to get it. Also, therapy isn’t a White man’s tradition/doesn’t mean the person doing it is weak. It only shows how strong they are for taking that bold step to get to a healthy place.
What’s your experience withOCD? I’d love to hear from you😊
The meaning of patience is usually derived from a place of personal lessons and experiences as well as others’. It’s much easier and makes the topic much more relatable. Times of having to wait, listen and stop in order to be able to then achieve or understand something with a personal touch just make sense.
I mean it’s all around us. The growth of a child or plant. Waiting in line for a show(it’s been a while). A situationship (one of the 2 people is always on standby for when the other person comes clean about how they feel😂) Exam results. Water on the stove for tea. Traffic. All these require patience. Now am not a very patient person. I used to think I was but there’s enough proof that am not. Am a work in progress. Lockdown was, is and has been the best time to exercise this virtue😊
But that’s not the point. The ability to do all these things could be that some life lessons were drummed into our heads at a tender age. Or that we’ve somehow learnt these things from Sunday school. The fruit of the Holy Spirit?(Galatians 5:22-23)We had a cute song and all😅 Or maybe we learnt these things along the way and ‘that’s just the way life is supposed to be.’ You can’t be seen throwing a fit for being in the waiting area of a hospital for 1 hour and a half yet you got there first and everybody else that came after already went before you. And no, you can’t be that one person in the long line at a supermarket counter who’s constantly checking their watch and ‘requesting’ the guy to hurry up.
Yes, we must be seen to have etiquette or manners or just be human. Societal dictations of conduct, true, have a part to play in ensuring patience. But I believe the ability to be patient comes from a higher power. Somethings we just wouldn’t be able to accomplish if it wasn’t the hand of God in our lives and His power at work within us. We boast in our ability to exercise patience and brag of great upbringing yet in actual sense had it not been for God, we’d be ranting and raving at everything that takes a bit longer than we’d anticipated. Again, I quote 2 Corinthians 3:5.
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The Q & A
What is the best and worst purchase you’ve ever made? The best would be my crocs. The best footwear ever. Worst😩a beautiful pair of pumps that got torn after the 4th time I wore them.
If you had to change your name, what would your new name be, and why would you choose that name? I’d officially become Sparkle for the reasons it was given to me🤭
Who is the latest amazing author you have discovered? Stephen Mansfield. Currently reading his “Mansfield’s Book for Manly Men” Why didn’t I get Christian literature a long time ago?😅
What are somethings that sound like compliments but are actually insults? None crossed my mind per say.
What’s your favorite thing about reading? Books are a whole other world that readers get to explore and be part of through the pages. That’s beautiful.
What was the last book you purchased? Oh dear😅2017 I guess. eBooks have become a favorite of late. I do miss paperbacks though.
All of the phone numbers have fallen out of your address book,whose number do you look for first and why? Luckily, my emergency contacts are off head but it definitely has to be Mummy. Hands down. Why? Because she’s Mummy😊