I’ve been to rehab twice.
The first time to heal post traumatic stress that caused a drinking battle and the second time to heal the PTS caused by a sequence of events that literally showed me I still hadn’t healed all the PTS I’d been through.
Rehab is a part of my life that I haven’t really talked about.
Not that I am ashamed, no. I just didn’t think it was necessary to give attention to something I regarded as “mine.”
When something is mine, I guard it with a fierce good type of jealousy. And that’s what I have done.
Because the experiences at both rehabs were actually the best experiences I have ever had.
You’re probably wondering who has a good experience at rehab neh?
Especially if you are Kenyan. All the stories told of rehabs isn’t a painting worth buying.
Mathare Mental Hospital is the Public Rehabilitaion Center and everybody knows mad crazy people are locked up there right? They are beaten and kept in a drug induced haze fit for controlling.
Mathare operates like a USA 1950’s asylum. Largely because the health care system in this country is over run with corruption, we don’t have enough psychologists or psychiatrists in the public departments. Then again they don’t really look at the “why”. They find the “what” and prescribe medication like its going out of fashion.
Let’s slow down a bit…
Mental health in Kenya is struggling. Negative emotions have been supressed under a plethora of religious bigotry and a colonial mindset that was beaten into the older generation.
I don’t think I’m explaining anything.
So… I’ll explain from my experiences.
The first time I tried to tell an adult about the deep sadness I was feeling I was told that I should be happy. That God had blessed me and I shouldn’t mope around.
The first time I tried to talk to an adult about the PTS I had because of DV (Domestic Violence), I was told such things should not be discussed.
When I went to church and again tried to tell an adult there about my feelings and PTS, prayer was the answer and in Jesus mighty name I was healed immediately.
To be honest the only two adults at that time that actually said anything that helped me was my high school geography teacher and head mistress. (May Allah (swt) bless and grant you all your prayers)
Little did I know that the suppression of my PTS would lead to 4 long years of hardcore drinking. Drinking that was meant to suppress the depression and give me a sense of normalcy.
Because in that state of mind I honestly couldn’t function.
It was expected that I should be this happy, vibrant, successful girl. That negative emotions were never ever to be seen or heard of. And if by jove they came, take it to God he shall heal you and if he doesn’t it means you are sinning and being punished.
I remember once the phrase “The devil is in you” was thrown my way.
I did some horrible stuff in my drunken haze. Who wouldn’t. Said horrible stuff. Who wouldn’t. Little did I know that I wasn’t exactly hiding the depression. I was bringing it out. Just that the alcohol lied and told me that I was fine and I could pretend to be normal just for that day.
Yet, I was screaming inside.
And so I went to rehab.
And this is where I had a two fold experience.
The first experience was a freedom to share how I really felt. I talked out what I needed to talk out. The second experience was that the operations of the rehab was to produce sober members, not healed members.
I discovered that talking to the psychiatrists about the past really wasn’t what they wanted. They wanted to deal with the alcoholic part of me ONLY.
Not the WHY, but the WHAT.
So in my own way, I shut down. Gave them what they wanted to hear and worked on the WHY with my fellow crazies. Exchanging stories and talking to them was honestly more therapeutic than the 12 steps.
(If any of you are reading this I hope it hits you where it needs to. Because we really need to change how we address issues of alcoholism and drug abuse in this country.)
So yeah. I had a great time at the first rehab once I realized their agenda. I got to healing a bit of my PTS.
Actually I thought I had healed 88%.
3 years later I landed in rehab again.
This time because I was suicidal (which I have talked about) and also because the word Bi-Polar was being thrown around not understanding that I was depressed and that my brain had been classified as ADHD.
You see as a woman with an ADHD brain depression isn’t uncommon. We fall into these moments of low, like low low. It’s more than sadness. We are way more sensitive than most people and we see our faults more than our achievements.
We see our faults more because our brains aren’t “normal or average” which makes our behaviour “un-normal” .
I read a study once (when I was getting my papers for counseling) describing how an “average or normal” school child should behave and if they don’t fall under that criteria then they definitely have behavioural problems and need a fix.
There is no normal or average. If you believe that Allah (swt) created us the same way, with the same brain function then you do not understand diversity.
So in I went into my second rehab. A broken woman. And again the same issue arose. No one really wanted to hear WHY. They just wanted the quick fix to the WHAT.
So what did I do?
Yep. Round table discussions with the crazies again.
I healed. This time I actually got to a level where I could cry the entire night. It was such a painful process. Crying out the hurt and pain and discomforts.
They put me on drugs. Yuck.
In the 2 months that I was on those drugs I honestly felt like the Walking Dead. 😄
Every other night I was crying and hitting my head against the wall wondering what was wrong with me. If you’ve been following my blog you’ve seen the posts.
I got off them. I just couldn’t.
I knew that what the drugs were doing was suppressing. And I already learnt that wasn’t a good thing at all.
Again I had to battle my low self.
This time around I had to get comfortable with my low self. I had to release or run the risk of landing in rehab in a very short time.
I’m still healing. It’s not a one day job. Or a two rehab visit stint.
The biggest lesson I learnt about healing from anything is that you MUST BE GIVEN THE SPACE!
The biggest problem I discovered that we as Kenyans have is that we don’t give that much needed space.
We don’t let people RELEASE. We tell them to hold it in and CONTROL it. Then when the dam breaks we blame the victim and shove all sorts of destructive solutions at them, still not giving them a chance to RELEASE.
Tears are not a bad thing.
Feeling sad is allowed. Being angry is a given.
A friend once told me that the problem was that the over zealous religious people and those with a colonial mindset i.e. my way or the highway, viewed negative emotions as a sin.
That’s a dangerous and destructive path.
It only leads to a rise in societal problems leaving the youth at a disadvantage, because it’s us that suffers and not the silencers.
The whole shebang on mental health and drug addiction needs to be re-written and discussed.
Issues such as DV, Rape and Child Abuse e.t.c (on the higher PTS spectrum), hijackings,bullying,conformity,isolation e. t.c (on the lower PTS spectrum) need to be discussed. It doesn’t matter if you feel uncomfortable; the person suffering from post traumatic stress needs to RELEASE.
It’s not up to you to decide if they can release. It’s up to them.
We need to look at the WHY and stop focusing on quick fixes for the WHAT.
Otherwise my crazies and I will end up rotating rehabs every 3 years.
P. S. We actually call normal society crazy and we are the normal ones 😄😄😄