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So I went to Port Reitz the other week and visited the mental unit. The place was so quiet and calm, with a neat, green compound. You can imagine my disappointment of not finding a lunatic running around with a doctor following him with a huge needle in his hand. That’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear of Port Reitz right? Well sorry to burst your bubble. Apparently the only time the place is as you picture it is when a maniac or violent patient is coming in for assessment for the first time. So yeah, as much as mental illness is often equated to madness, that’s just NOT the whole picture. Mental illness is depression and anxiety and OCD and all these other things we go through and brush away because well, who wants to admit they are mentally ill?

It is also at Port Reitz that I got to know that by a range of just 150/= to 300/= you could get to see a therapist. But because we’ve stereotyped mental illness and this place so much, we’d rather not even think about going to this place.

By now we already know that therapy is as expensive as it gets. So if only we kept aside our insecurities and decided to seek the desperate help we need, we would have made good use of these very affordable charges. Anyway, getting to my point now, do you realize that for you to get any better you need to get help?

It is rather sad that we would go to see a doctor for the smallest of physical aches yet choose to continuously ignore the pain within our souls. Each one of us is carrying a baggage, a painful story, things they’d rather not talk about because it is easier ignored than faced. But the reality is that, time is not necessarily going to heal you as the theory goes. We are very different human beings and we cope very differently to the challenges we face. For example, you could meet two victims who were involved in the West Gate attack and perhaps underwent the same scenario but you’d find that one was resilient enough after the attack was over. They quit the job they didn’t like, spent more time with family and started pursuing things they are passionate about. The other one however, was probably stuck in that messy moment for an entire month and still having nightmares about it. That’s just how different we are and it is OKAY to feel whichever way you feel.

To ensure that you remain sane and not entirely lose control of your being, here are a few steps to help you cope.

  1. Admit to yourself that you have a challenge that is pulling you down: You have to be honest to yourself without feeling any guilt or shame. You have to accept that this is how you feel right now and there shouldn’t be anyone or anything to make you less of a human being for feeling the way you do. Remember that your illness does not define you. Your strength and courage does…and if you want this nightmare to end, this step is very crucial.
  2. Talk to a confidant: Go talk to a person you trust and who will listen to you without judgements or with less regard as to how you feel. Be open and be yourself. Letting it out is an efficient way to feel better.
  3. Keep a journal: Writing down what you feel is proven to be really helpful for anyone undergoing stress or any other mental illness. You can be angry, emotional, detesting or whichever feeling you’ll be experiencing and you don’t have to worry about what your journal thinks about all that you are talking about. It gives you the chance to be free and yourself. Furthermore, it will be more helpful if you also have a gratitude journal whereby you write down what you are grateful for by the end of the day or maybe weekly.
  4. Pray: While experiencing very stressful situations, praying can be the hardest thing to do. You have so many questions for God and you are almost giving up. You lack the enthusiasm for life and you are just in this dark phase whereby you don’t know what to do. However difficult it is for you, pray. Because if there’s any time where you have to prove your faith in God, this is the period. This is your test and this is the time to trust blindly. Yes, blindly. You may not see the light ahead and you may not understand a thing but pray still. Trust His plan for you. Pray to Him. Cry to Him. Talk to Him. Tell Him about all these things only you and Him know about. Tell Him about your pain, your confusion, your anguish and struggle. He is listening. He is always listening.
  5. Seek help: This is an important step when things get overwhelming for you. Do not worry about what others will think about you or label you. Do not worry about what will happen next or how the therapist will judge you. Close your eyes and take the step. Seeking help doesn’t make you mad or crazy or weak. It makes you brave. It makes you strong and courageous. So go for it. Seek help while you still can. Seek help because you deserve a peaceful mind and a grateful soul. So go for it!

That said, here is good news for my dear ‘strokes of my pen’ family. To make it easier for all of you to seek help, Strokes of my pen and Taaluful Quloob have joined hands to assist you to access therapies at a special price.

Taaluful Quloob is a registered community based organization in Mombasa with a mission to proactively address family issues through a collaborative care, offering comprehensive package embodied with assorted services to help replenish homes. They offer services such as general guidance and counselling, Islamic marital counselling (pre-marital, marital and post marital) and match-making (Interesting huh?!). They also train community counsellors and organize workshops and seminars.

Coming back to the special price, Taaluful Quloob will be charging a small fee of 300/= plus a one-time registration fee of 100/= only, for general counselling for anyone who uses the code: Strokes of my pen. Please take note that this offer is only for the general counselling matters and not for marital counselling.

You can book your appointment via their number: 0708 964 809 or you can email them for further inquiries via: taallufulquloob@gmail.com

It is my hope that you will make use of this great offer and seek help. Please do while you can. Please be kind to your soul and allow it to heal.

P.S The offer is valid until December in shaa Allah.

One of the great therapists I know repeats this like it is the most important statement to live with: Mental Illness is NOT a choice but your RECOVERY is. I believe she is right.

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A freelance writer, journalist, poet and blogger venturing mainly in social and community issues, study and analysis of behaviour and life, and the plight of the under-dogs in the society. 'I feed on human stories.'

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