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I beseech Your aid

Oh God

For my heart has become a graveyard

with withered flowers

and weeds of undesirability

I can no longer bear the weight

of the caskets carrying

the deadness of my emotions

My doom-laden pillars crumbling

at the height of my anxiety

and my tombstone

displaying engravings

of all the letters

of pain


I invoke you

Ya Allah

This desolation

has brought me to my knees

My hands raised high

to the sky

Save me, Oh God

For my mind has become

a battle field of abrupt wars

and hostile armies

Only this time

I am both the ally

and the enemy

Corpses of my thoughts

lie around like hungry fleas

sucking the life

out of me.


I beg for mercy

My Lord,

This affliction

is wrecking my soul

An air hunger seizing my lungs

amid a thunderstorm of craze

A heavy downpour of anguish

floods my entire being

while the strong winds howl

at the loss

of my sanity


I implore you

My Creator

For a miracle

When everything seems impossible

Let your


Beam through this shadow

Turn the valley of my wounds

Into river beds

Where your Mercy

Can flow through

If my soul is in the shade that pleases you

Then I ask,

O Maker of suns,

To show me how to bloom.

I pray.

I pray.

I pray.

N.B: This article is focusing on the distressed student. However, it can be helpful in all spheres of life such as at home, work places and social life. Please read through.

We all face stress in our lives. Stress can be positive sometimes, however, it can be debilitating when it is a lot. Students are usually under a lot of pressure with both their academic and personal lives. While students have found different ways to cope with the system, sometimes it can become too much and thereafter lead to distress or even depression.

Emotional distress can be explained as a state of mental anguish which may result from a certain circumstance or mental health issue. The staff of a school have the better opportunity to notice when a student is distressed and that includes the school counsellor and fellow students too. This is because, they get to interact with them throughout the day. It is crucial for all school staff members to be familiar with, and watchful for, risk factors and warning signs of suicidal behavior. The entire school staff should work to create an environment where students feel safe sharing such information. 

Sometimes, students who are distressed may be perceived as simply ‘naughty’, or ‘bad’ by teachers and peers. This perception may in turn damage their self-esteem and make them feel shunned by those around them. It is thus important that teachers and school counsellors be on the look-out for any indications of stress or depression.

There are several matters that could cause distress to a student, including (but not limited to):

• Broken relationships/family

• Loss of a family member/friend

• Illness of a loved one

• Conflict with family or a close person

• Victim of assault

• Sudden change i.e. moving to another town/school

• Traumatic experience example rape, war, accident, floods etc

• Mental health condition

When one is faced with such difficult situations, there might be some changes in the person. The following are some of the indications of a student who is struggling.

  • Unusual Behaviour:

 • Falling asleep in class frequently

• Threatening or disruptive behavior in classroom  

• Marked changes in appearance, example hygiene and weight

• Extreme mood swings or inappropriate, excessive display of emotion

• Sudden withdrawal from others or excessive sleep

• Chronic irritability, excessive anxiety or hyperactivity

• Confusion, bizarre behaviour or disorientation

· Unusual bruises or cuts on hands or body

· Sadness, tearfulness

· Extreme loss of appetite or binge eating frequently

· Dependency, i.e. the student keeps making appointments to see you

· Lack of energy and enthusiasm about various aspects of student life

• Preoccupation with death

  • Problems with Academic Performance:

• Poor academic performance or a sudden decline in performance from previous tests.

• Request for special accommodations

• Speech or test anxiety

• Not attending classes or not doing assignments

  • Harmful Statements or Behaviours:

• Uses statements of helplessness or mentions about suicidal thoughts

• Indications of prolonged unhappiness

• Extreme risk-taking behavior

• Use of drugs or alcohol

• Getting violent or aggressive with classmates or other students

In addition to the above mentioned signs, if a student is suicidal, they show other clues of their struggle:

  • Verbal cues: a student may directly or indirectly communicate their suicidal thoughts (sometimes even using jokes) or intentions by saying things like:

· “I’m going to kill myself.”

· “Everyone would be better off without me.”

· “I just can’t take it any longer.”

· “I wish I were dead.”

“I am tired of this life.”

  • Behavioral Clues: a student may do something that may reveal self-destructive intentions, like:

· A previous suicide attempt, especially if recent

· Giving away valued possessions

· Procuring means: asking for sedatives or buying a gun

· Composing a suicide note

·  Resigning from social groups, extracurricular activities,  

· Crying spells without external triggers

· Visiting a physician for unexplained or vague symptoms

· Substance abuse

Youth who feel suicidal are not likely to seek help directly; however, parents, school staff, and peers can recognize the warning signs and take immediate action to ensure the student’s safety. According to Worthington (1982), the most crucial step in assisting another person, is make them believe that you understand them. This can be achieved by asking the right questions, listening attentively to their concerns and evaluating the person’s needs. When a youth gives signs that they may be considering suicide, the following actions should be taken:

• Remain calm: To be of greater assistance and to reduce the student’s agitation one needs to stay calm.

• Provide a quiet, private place (if possible) for the student to rest in the mean time

• Talk to the student clearly and in a straight forward way on whether they feel suicidal or are considering committing it.

• Listen to them and do not judge! Be kind and empathetic.

• Reassure them that there is help and they will not feel like this forever.

• Do not leave them alone

• Make arrangements for appropriate aid from other experts

• Remove means for self-harm.

Get help: No one should ever agree to keep a youth’s suicidal thoughts a secret and instead should tell an appropriate caregiving adult, such as a parent, teacher, or school psychologist/counsellor. Parents should seek help from school or community mental health resources as soon as possible. School staff should take the student to a school-employed mental health professional or administrator.

As for the students themselves, it is also important to be on the look out for any weird or unusual behaviour in yourself, your mates and friends. A lot of times nowadays, youth use social media as a way to seek help. DO NOT ASSUME THAT THEY ARE SIMPLY SEEKING ATTENTION. Don’t gamble with that. So whenever you see any posts with suicidal ideation or posts of self-harm like cutting oneself or jokes on suicide (especially when done more than once) reach out! This could be their cry for help and you could be all they need to stay alive (Okay perhaps not ALL they need but you could play an important role in preventing them from taking their life and that should count for something).

According to the National Association of School Psychologists, once a child or adolescent is considered at risk, schools, families, and friends should work to build these factors in and around the youth. These include:

  • Family support and cohesion, including good communication.
  • Peer support and close social networks.
  • School and community connectedness.
  • Cultural or religious beliefs that discourage suicide and promote healthy living.
  • Adaptive coping and problem-solving skills, including conflict-resolution.
  • General life satisfaction, good self-esteem, sense of purpose.
  • Easy access to effective medical and mental health resources.

To get assistance, here are some counselling offices that you can reach out to, not just when feeling suicidal, but whenever in distress.

  1. Taalluful Quloob: 0780 222 205/0111 222 205
  2. Noor Counselling Centre: 0739 724 234
  3. Amani Counselling Centre: 0735 744 389


Benton, S.A. & Benton, S.L, (2006). College student mental health: Effective services and strategies across campus. National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, Inc.

DeRosier, M. & Lloyd, S. (2010) The Impact of Children’s Social Adjustment on Academic Outcomes, Reading & Writing Quarterly, 27:1-2 DOI: 10.1080/10573569.2011.532710

Grothaus, T. (n.d.) School Counselors Serving Students with Disruptive Behavior Disorders. asca | Professional School Counseling, 16(4).

Worthington, E.L.. (1982). When someone asks for help: A practical guide for counseling. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press

National Association of School Psychologists: https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources-and-podcasts/school-climate-safety-and-crisis/mental-health-resources/preventing-youth-suicide/preventing-youth-suicide-tips-for-parents-and-educators

Submission for the https://timbu.com/ creative writing contest

Having anxiety and being adventurous at the same time, is an extreme sport. It is like your DNA is on a constant battle on which personality should possess over your body. A forever tag of war. But whenever things go unexpectedly, anxiety ALWAYS wins.

So here we are, at 2 a.m. at the middle of nowhere, bushes everywhere and smoke emerging from our car. There is a deep moment of silence.

‘Hapa ni kubaya,’ (this is a bad area) Farouq says, holding the door handle hesitantly.

‘Ehh lazma tukae chonjo,’ Mullah says, looking at the other two men at the front seats; my brother Saeed and his friend Farouq. Seconds tick away as the men still contemplate what step to take.

‘What is happening?’ I ask from the back seat.

It is obvious. The car has broken down. Heavy smoke is still rising from the front bonnet of the car. My mind is already imagining a group of shaggy looking men with blood-shot eyes emerging from the bushes with pangas and rungus. ‘Ni kubaya’ keeps ringing in my head. Is this how we die? Be attacked by some idle, ruthless, heartless humanbeings and be slashed to be unrecognizable pieces of meat?

‘I can check the smoke while the two of you look out for the animals,’ Farouq says.

‘We have a panga here,’ my brother Saeed says.

‘Wait, what animals?’ I ask.

‘We have lions here…and all types of wild animals roaming around the forest,’ Mullah says.

Wait what?! So now we won’t be victims of a ruthless, idol gang but of wild animals who would carry our helpless bodies to the bushes for a feast.

My elder sister is calmly seated next to me, focused on what the men are discussing.

‘This panga is small,’ Mullah says, ‘and rusted.’

‘Why do you drive around with a panga under your seat anyway?’ I ask my brother.

‘For emergencies. Like these.’

Seems wild. I wouldn’t be able to carry a panga with me around without thinking that it is exactly what will be used to slash my head when I run into bad people. You can’t blame me for thinking like that anyway. Have you watched the news lately?

‘We need water,’ someone says. We pass the only gallon of water left with us.

The three men step out of the car. Mullah is hanging on the doorway with his phone torch looking towards the forest. All doors have been left open, you know, in case an animal emerges out of nowhere and they have to jump back in. But what if the animals decide they are the ones to jump in huh?!

Farouq is pouring the water into the car while dubbing it with a piece of cloth. My brother Saeed is in between watching the other side of the forest and helping Farouq. All the water is eventually used up. They all rush back into the car, close the door, shut the windows and put off all the lights.

‘We just have to wait for the car to relax,’ Farouq says, as we all burst out laughing. ‘It is true. We just have to give it time to relax then we will be good to go.’

‘By the way do you know that a lion won’t attack you if you don’t provoke it?’

‘Who said?’ Someone asks.

‘I know so. Hyenas are the worst. And I hear they are common here.’

‘This is a bad area to stop,’ Farouq repeats.

I am surprised how everyone is staying calm. We are about 10-15 kilometres away from Mtito Andei. All cars passing by are moving at a super speed. The engine won’t start. The smoke in our car won’t stop. My sister is chatting away something while laughing. My mind is distracted. I can point out a hundred things that can go wrong right now.

‘Lubnah,’ my brother calls out my name, ‘you wanted a road trip huh? Here it is. The real road trip,’ he says while laughing.

I laugh nervously. I had just completed my final semester exams the evening before and upon reaching home, my brother suggested I accompany them for their road trip to Nairobi. What better way to treat yourself after a hard paper?! I had been too excited; rushed through the entire packing process because I could not risk being told last minute that they changed their mind or there is no longer space for me. I didn’t want to waste a minute in the house anymore. Road trip huh?!

It is almost half an hour later and there doesn’t seem to be any progress. The men step out once again and this time, Farouq tries to stop the lorries with his flashlight. One lorry seems about to stop but decides it is not wise to stop by a forest at past 2 a.m. Another lorry stops but the driver doesn’t have a rope to pull us to Mtito. Mullah is holding a panga like he is ready for a fist fight with anything coming his way. He is skinny and kinda short. Would he really manage? I admire his confidence though. If he dies, at least he dies a hero.

The three men rush back into the car. A moment of silence. My sister and I are saying all sorts of prayers now from a book we had with us. But my mind is too distracted I tell my sister I will recite whatever I know off head. You should know, anxious people have some six common ways to deal (more like reacting) with situations, ‘panic, cry uncontrollably, over-eat, not eat entirely, over-sleep or have insomnia.’ I can’t panic. I see it in movies all the time. Anxious people tend to make a situation worse 100% by panicking. I can’t panic. I shouldn’t panic. Because now we are stuck just beside a forest with wild animals roaming freely, waiting for free meat. I can’t be the free meat that calls for the animals’ attention. I try to breathe in deeply. And next, I decide to stress-eat the mabuyu we had carried.

People are telling dark jokes now. Coping mechanism I believe. When there is nothing to do, you can try to make it funny. At least if we are dying, we die laughing right? My sister and brother tease my quite silent and tense self. They know what is going on in my head.

It is already 3 a.m. Mullah decides to light a fire just beside the road to scare away the animals and hopefully, make some driver stop and help us. Farouq goes back to waving his flashlight towards the passing cars.

‘This fire is risky. There is so much wind and this is a big forest. It could start a huge fire that we can’t control,’ my brother Saeed says.

‘No it will be fine. This is what will keep the animals away. They can’t come near the fire,’ Said says.

We stay like that for a while and the fire seems to get bigger. My brother decides to push the car behind because it is a petrol car and we don’t really need another tragedy right now.

The fire is making me nervous. What if it decides to spread its wings and conquer the land of the wild? Mullah is guarding it closely but I can’t help but imagine it really spreading, our car catching fire and exploding, turning each one of us into fresh kebabs for breakfast for the animals. The imagination is vivid. I can imagine the headlines in the morning, ‘A huge fire burnt down a big part of the forest and has killed five people beyond recognition.’

I shake my head in an attempt to throw out the thoughts. I can’t tell them to anyone else because anxious people tend to make situations worse remember? Everyone else is trying to stay calm and still making dry, dark jokes. I should adjust like everyone else.

‘Tell him to put it off,’ I suggest. Saeed had already suggested that previously but Mullah was insistent on keeping it burning.

A lorry finally stops several steps ahead of us. All three men rush to it. And finally, they come with a rope. Our hope has now been reignited. Mullah puts out the fire with his feet. Don’t ask me how. He just did it.

We watch keenly as we start being pulled towards Mtito. We say our grace to God. (The driver later tells us that he saw a rhino nearby when he was pulling over to help us. He almost didn’t stop. True Story)

We get to Mtito minutes to 5 a.m. We have our very early breakfast, perform our prayers and get back to our packed car and sleep. Short, restless naps. We can hear people moving in and out of the restaurant. We had two options; either leave one of us with the car while the rest take up another car/bus to Nairobi or wait for another car from Mombasa to take us back home. We weigh our options. We have to go back home.

Saeed and Farouq escort Mullah to the roadside and get him a ride to Nairobi. The four of us are now left. When you have several free hours at hand, is when you take notice of every minute passing by. We chit-chat a bit, eat, eat more, sleep again, laugh at whatsapp videos and memes, eat again. I am busy eating half the time. The overwhelm has to be taken care of somehow. So food it is. I pretend to be a youtuber for a minute and take images of the very aesthetic blue and grey clouds. I am searching for the silver lining I say.

It is only 4 p.m. when help finally arrives from Mombasa. We are extremely tired, sweaty, smelly and sleepy. We get a mechanic nearby who fixes a metal between the two cars so we are pulled back home. You think that is the end of the journey? You are mistaken. The journey has just begun…

To read part 2 click on the following link: https://lubnah.me.ke/31-hours-part-2/

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Fun Fact: I have this addictive habit of watching extremely thrilling/horror movies then spending the entire night scaring myself and going to the washroom every hour because my bladder can’t hold all the fear within. Why I torture myself? Beats me. But I convince myself that that is how I face my fears. Hero much? You bet. 2018 was a horror movie. I was at my very worst. Hit rock bottom and was scared of my own self more than anything else in this life. Being your own enemy is one thing but knowing you are your own enemy is something else. The fight between your self and mind is endless. If 2018 was a movie, it would be ‘Bird Box’ for me. That was 2018’s best thriller and horror movie. 2018 was MY bird box. I was blindly stumbling my way through the days for survival, trying to not look directly into the eyes of my monster; my own self-sabotaging being. I just wanted to get to the end of it. But you know what? I love thrill. I am a total thrill freak. So when I say it was the roughest year for me, I also mean it was the most intense, challenging year. Trying to see the silver lining here y’all 😀

Being an extremely anxious person makes me very impatient in everything. I don’t give myself adequate time for anything. Not for healing, not for love, not for my dreams either. I have this clock that keeps tik-toking in my head; always reminding me how I’m running out of time. For what you ask? I have no idea. This is where the Marshmallow test comes in.

The Marshmallow study is a famous social-science test among educators and psychologists because it is something we learn about. The study itself is about delayed gratification done in the 1960’s by a Stanford professor. So the experiment was that a child is taken into a room that has a marshmallow on the table. The experimenter then tells the child that they are leaving the room and that if they wait until the experimenter comes back without eating the marshmallow, then they will get another one. So the choice was simple: one marshmallow right now or two marshmallows later.

The experimenters believed that the study was a measure of future success of the children participants. So the child is then left in the room alone with the marshmallow. Now the hardest part is that there is no distraction. Its just the child staring at the marshmallow. Obviously some kids ate it right way, some hesitated right away before giving in to the temptation and others were patient enough to wait for the other one so they get two. The experimenters followed up on the progress of the children even decades later and found that the children who were willing to delay gratification and waited to receive the second marshmallow ended up successful in every aspect of life. In short, the study proved that the ability to delay gratification was critical for success in life. Mind-blowing right?(You can google more on the Marshmallow study)

So how does this relate to my 2018?

One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do as a person struggling with anxiety, is to trust the process; believe in the power of delayed gratification. I took up a job that you only see the fruits of your hard work more than six months later and I failed at different writing opportunities I looked forward to among other things. My writing journey has been long with slow baby steps. And don’t get me wrong, I appreciate my baby steps. I really do. In fact I do treat myself whenever I achieve one of tiny goals. But then there’s the self-sabotaging anxious self that wants you to see how you’ll never make it to across the river (Y’all should watch ‘Bird Box’ if you haven’t. Oh! and the memes are so lit! 😀 Memes are the best part of anything yo). So 2018 is the year my patience was tested the most. But I keep reminding myself of the greater reward. Of the best to come. Of the two Marshmallows at the end of the day. I keep reminding myself that my baby steps will someday add up to something. I believe it will in shaa Allah but for now, it is an endless war with my mind that wants the easy, shortcut and immediate reward of one Marshmallow. But you know what? I want two Marshmallows. Hell I want a hundred of them. So I’ll wait. I’ll wait to see what’s on the other side of the river. I’ll wait because I have faith that Allah (S.W.) is with me. If I don’t make it to other side, I know I’ll have died trying and that counts. It means a lot.

Don’t get me wrong. 2018 was not entirely a black cloud on my head. I have my family with me and I realize that’s a big blessing every.single.day. alhamdulilah. My anxious self traveled on a plane for the first time in my life (a very panicky story for another day 😀 ) Good things did happen alhamdulilah but above all, it was a challenging year. And I hope I can learn from it.

Hey where are my anxious fellow humans? Let’s wait for the basket full of Marshmallows okay? We got this. I know we can. I know we do 🙂

Better days to come. Ameen.

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“You have to give a speech.”

First of all, I have anxiety.

And you know people think anxiety is a joke. This thing is real. I mean how do you explain how I poured myself hot water instead of tea for breakfast, how I almost served my brother with hot chilli instead of stew, how I made my entire family search for my lost cash that was just in my wallet even though I had rechecked almost ten times for the same money. Miscalculations, don’t blame me. Anxiety makes me forget passwords. On this day, somehow my watch was even one hour ahead which had me up and in town one hour earlier. I call two friends, my best friend tells me, ‘Woman relax. It’s not yet time.’ and another says,’Are you the one putting up the tents?’ All that for just a speech. Thank God I wasn’t born in a war-torn zone. We all know how that would have gone down.

For me, giving a speech is like making me in-charge of setting out a drone. It is pushing me off the cliff. It is asking me to confront a terrorist which in this case would be my anxiety. My best friend says I have to get out of my comfort zone. So I did give the speech after all. It was hilarious; okay maybe not exactly but I ashamed myself by breaking down in front of the tired crowd who had just returned from the ‘world Polio Day’ walk. I could hear them clapping for me perhaps pitying this small human in front of them or perhaps some could understand what it means to have your book published. I didn’t invite anyone because I wasn’t sure how friendly my anxiety would be that day. So y’all please save me the blame 🙂

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Nine years ago, at the age of fourteen when I started writing my first small book, I never thought this day would come. It has been a very long journey of repeated failure on my writing career. It was filled with criticisms and ‘not good enough’ statements over and over again. So when Nafisa (God bless her soul for this) trusted my ability and allowed me to write her story, I was moved. Of course it wasn’t the first book I expected to publish and perhaps its not my best work yet, it is a milestone for me alhamdulilah. And I keep sharing bits of my story on failure and triumph so that no one could ever think that achieving goals was ever going to be easy. Sometimes you’ll be pushed out of your comfort zone and you somehow have to learn how to do it well enough.

I wouldn’t be here hadn’t it been for God’s grace, for my own persistence, for the tremendous support from my family especially, from my close friends, for mama two; my mentor (may Allah rest her soul in peace), those who helped me a lot editing the pieces and all the readers who give me a reason to write every other day. This is me admitting that I am not yet where I want to be and that I won’t stop here. That i’ll keep pushing myself to face my fears and tackle them. Better things to come in shaa Allah.

I’ll also like to thank Mayfair Bank for sponsoring the publishing of the book.

To reserve your copy kindly contact me at: 0704 731 560. The book goes at 700. For those who want to know what the book is about, kindly search here in the blog for Unbroken Wings; the first three chapters are available. I will also appreciate any opinions and positive criticisms on the book once you’ve had your copy.

God bless you.

I present to you: Unbroken Wings

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Photo Courtesy: pinterest.com

My friends and I talk about anxiety in hushed tones,
in desperate volumes,
in late night texts of hopelessness,
“You too?”
she asks as if we are a team,
like we are a bandwagon,
a secret group full of emotion jargon
like we are some sort of cult,
clutched in the hands of our feelings
that we can’t bring to a halt.
“I’m overthinking,” he says
“I’m overthinking about my overthinking,
about my edginess,
my restlessness,
my helplessness,
my breathlessness.
“Shhh!!” she says
they shouldn’t know
you should just lay low.
They shouldn’t notice any more
lest they call you weak
they’ll call you sensitive
an attention seeker
or perhaps an emotional speaker!
Conceal, don’t feel
Don’t let your joy seem so real
or show your over-flowing tears in the name of ‘I want to heal’
They don’t understand how you can laugh so whole-heartedly about a silly pun that’s not even fun,
or how you passionately cry about a video you watched on whatsapp.
They’ll say, ‘You’re too much’
like too much of anything is really poisonous.
They speak as if they know the itchiness beneath your skin
like insects having a party within.
As if they know of the noise in your head,
of the demons you carry on your back,
of the weight of the world you carry on you like you just became a truck!
No. They have no idea,
They have not a single bit of an idea of how it feels to have a super-power of feeling,
of feeling things unfelt, untouched, unseen.
They have no idea,
that’s why I keep feeling.

***Dear, you are never alone…