An Interesting Experience in the Psychiatric Ward

During my last 3 week stay in the inpatient mental health ward, I had a very interesting experience.  It was terrifying in the beginning and heart warming by the end.  I was terrified and then I laughed hysterically. And no that wasn’t a part of my mood disorder 🙂

I was walking with my cane at the time, when I came across another patient. A Jamaican woman in her 60s, Miss P.  She was a calm and helpful person from what I’d seen but my cane seemed to trigger her.  I won’t write everything that she said because some of it was foul, but the gist was “move your **** from me! Nuh come back here or I will take your blood**** cane and smash you head in, and splatter your brain pon di blood**** walls.”

I was like what the heck? People usually like me!  I couldn’t understand why this woman had such a strong hatred for me and we’d never met.  I told the staff because I was convinced I would be murdered in my sleep!! I think the staff thought I was paranoid and delusional. They never witnessed the behaviour I described.  They simply said “she’s harmless, she’s never hurt anyone.” Ummmmm that’s not helping me very much.  You could have at least tried to seem concerned.

This kept happening so I would always lower my eyes to the floor so I wouldn’t be making eye contact with her when she started to rant.  I didn’t want her to think I was confronting her.  I would always turn and move in a different direction.  This was very scary for me because I honestly believed she would attack me if she had the chance.

Then one day the same woman, Miss P, came right up to me with a big warm smile on her face apologizing to me for threatening me.  She said she has a daughter who looks like me and has a cane like me.  At the time she was threatening me she believed that I was her daughter and she thought I was there trying to break her out of the “prison” (the psychiatric ward).  She said those things to me because she was trying to scare me (her daughter) away so she wouldn’t  get in trouble for trying to break her mother out of the hospital. She apologized profusely every time she saw me and then we would just laugh! Wow, what a turn of events.

The icing on the cake.  Miss P came to me and said her daughter was there and I had to meet her.  I met her son and daughter and we both basically said “she is real!!”. Like the Christmas M&M’s commercial when the see Santa Clause and realized he is real. Up until then, neither one of us knew if the other existed.  We were about the same height, same age, both had similar hair and both had canes!  We laughed so hard as Miss P said “I told you so” and she was beaming.

Miss P had so much respect from the staff and patients.  She would give me extra desserts and juice.  She would offer to let me go to the front of the line for food.  We built a nice friendship and we had some wonderful conversations.  I was even able to de-escalte a situation between her and the staff which stopped them from calling security on her and forcibly giving her an injection. Even though I was unwell I was easily able to recall my training. She was a mother figure to me during my stay.  Warm, loving, caring and funny.  Just imagine how the relationship began.

Inside of every person with mental illness there is a person in there. They are a person first.  I always make sure I remember that.  That’s why I’ve had so much success working in mental health.  I believe they are the same as me.  Not because my mental illness, but because we are all human.

Peace Love and Understanding,

Maïsha

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Happy New Year

Well it’s the last day of the year! Tomorrow is a time for new beginnings! I’m a fan of starting things on the first of the week, month etc. So being able to put some new things in place (and continue some old things) on the first of the year is big to me.

I’m definitely focussing a lot on positivity this year. Making sure that I keep a positive mindset and that I surround myself with positive, warm, loving, encouraging and supportive people. Making sure I remain positive is key because that affects how I see the world and operate in it. It affects how I experience things and the decisions that I make.

Since the beginning of 2017 I recognized that the first chapter of my life was ending and a new one was beginning. One where I would not be struggling with the same kind of pain as in the past. That has totally proven to be true. I have a new relationship with God and I have never truly put Him at the centre of my life as I am now. That has led to a lot of positive and even miraculous changes in my life. Some of which I will speak more about in the future 🙂

More reading, watching informative videos and soaking up knowledge are some things I want to focus on. Exercising consistently and paying better attention to my diet. One of my goals is to not drink any pop for all of 2018. For those of you who know me, you know that this is an addiction of mine so it will take a lot of determination and focus. Making time each morning (very early each morning!) to have time with God in prayer has definitely proven to be a very positive and powerful thing in my life and I plan to continue doing that. Also just to continue to love and give freely. That is a huge part of who I am, but a part that I’ve often felt I needed to hold back on because of the state of the world.. being taken advantage of etc. Someone told me that in that area we really need to rely on God to direct us.  I will do that.

So I hope whoever is reading this has a wonderful 2018! That you make some positive changes and keep that forward momentum going. That you forgive yourself for the goals you may not have attained in 2017. I hope you have learned some lessons throughout the year. I hope your year is filled with love, hope, faith, happiness, joy, good health and fun. Be kind to one another. Love one another. You never know what load someone else might be carrying and how much a kind word or warm smile might greatly impact them. Smiles cost you nothing.

All the best in 2018!!

Maïsha 🙂

Hold Hope

I do a lot of things to stay balanced and well. So I place a lot of importance on my inner circle. These are close family members and friends. I believe that friends are the family we choose, so everyone in my inner circle I consider family, even if we are not biologically related. Everyone in my inner circle has proven to be incredibly loyal and they’ve stuck by me through the good and the bad. The highs and the lows. Seeing as I have bipolar disorder, there have definitely been a lot of highs and lows.

One thing that has been amazing and moving from my inner circle, was from 3 very special ladies. My mum (aka my best friend) and her two sisters. I while ago I heard this concept of people holding hope for other people, until hey could hold it themselves. There was a time when I was severely unwell with bipolar disorder. I couldn’t function, was almost non-verbal (which is shocking if you know me), I was unable to work, go to school or do much of anything. I felt horrible about my inability to function and participate in the world. I didn’t think I would ever work, be a contributing member of society, or be independent again. These 3 ladies gave me very consistent messaging to the contrary. Each of them told me repeatedly, in their own way, that I’m not well right now and I’m recovering… But once I’m well I will be successful and there would be no stoping me. I didn’t believe them at the time, but at the same time I respected the fact that they were all very intelligent women and maybe they knew something that I didn’t. Maybe they could see something in me that I couldn’t. They turned out to be absolutely right.

Do you have people in your life that hold hope for you when you can’t hold it yourself? People that believe in you even when you don’t believe in yourself? Hold onto those people. I recently held a thank you dinner for those 3 lovely ladies to thank them for all of their love, encouragement and support. They were so very appreciative. So many times we think lovely things about people but we don’t tell them. I’ve been making an effort to tell people how I feel about them.

Hold hope for someone.

Peace & Blessings,

Maïsha

maiLIFE Launch

I have finally launched my business, maiLIFE. I’m so proud that this idea that I came up with has actually become a tangible thing! maiLIFE is a word that I came up with when I was unwell from bipolar disorder. I was severely manic (long story) but it stuck. It’s a full circle moment to turn insanity into sanity.. Into reality. It’s so rewarding to share my experiences in a way that I can help people and impact their lives. It means my pain was not for nothing.

I’m a Self-empowerment & Mental Health Advocacy Speaker. Some people assume I’m completely comfortable on stage because of the way I present myself. They assume stage fright is not an issue for me. The reality is I have terrible performance anxiety.  Why do I continue to do public speaking?

In the beginning, my goal was to help one person. I thought, if my experiences could help just one person, it will all be worth it. Part way into my first year of  sharing my story, the social worker I worked for pulled me aside after speaking to a high school audience. She told me that there was a 17 year old girl that left part way through my speech in tears. I felt awful to think that maybe something I said might have triggered her. The social worker stopped me and explained it was not what I thought. It turns out that that 17 year old girl, after leaving the auditorium, went straight into the guidance office. She said “Maisha’s story is my story”. She told them that she had been suicidal since the age of 12, and that she had planned to attempt suicide later that week.  She had a suicide note in her locker. From there her family was informed. She had never disclosed this to anyone in her life. She was admitted to the hospital and got help.

So there it was, I’d helped one person. I was so proud of myself. But that’s not the end of the story. About a year later I asked the social worker what ever happened to the 17 year old girl. She said she wasn’t sure. I was a little disappointed until she said she wasn’t sure which person I was referring to! She told me there were many teenagers who came up and disclosed things related to mental health after I spoke.

Wow! If that was a sign that I was moving in the right direction I don’t know what is. There have also been family members of people with mental illness who have told me that seeing me do well gives them hope that their loved one will thrive. So any performance anxiety that I have to deal with is irrelevant. It’s not about me!

Have a wonderful day.

Peace & Blessings,

Maïsha

Path to My Destiny

I know I’m on my path. That path that aligns with my destiny. How do I know I’m on my path? Synchronicity. Everything is just clicking into place. I’m meeting the people I need to propel me further along on my journey. So many “coincidences” keep happening… and I don’t believe there are coincidences. Someone will recommend a book that really resonates with.  I’ll be in search for something.. like a photographer, and my friend will start talking about a great photographer she knows out of the blue. I was talking about different definitions of success with my friend. I go home, check Facebook, and there’s a quote that encapsulates exactly what we were speaking about… things like that. 

I’m also being reminded about the importance of maintaining my energy. I find I’m being exposed to people and situations that could potentially drain my energy. I have to be mindful of this and make sure I’m taking time for myself to replenish my energy. Which is ok, I just have to make sure I recognize this. 

There are so many people around me that already have successful businesses that have been sharing their knowledge with me. Such useful information. Mistakes I don’t have to make. 

This process has been incredibly humbling and illuminating. There’s so much more I have to learn but this does not overwhelm me. It excites me. 

I have a feeling where I end up with my business will look much different from how I started out. And that’s ok. 

One way I have been able to recognize when I am on my path.. there’s a certain amount of resistance. Road blocks that could potentially deter me. The success is so much sweeter when it doesn’t come easily. When you’ve had to overcome obstacles to get there. 

A friend of mine said “take the first step. Only then will the second step appear”.  I really believe that to be true. Sometimes Im stuck on wanting to see all of the steps in the puzzle, but you have to have faith that it will all come together in the end. It’s all about that one step at a time. That’s all you can do. Even if you know the next 20 steps, you still have to take them one at a time. 

I hope you will pursue your dreams and reach for your destiny. Go ahead. Take a step!

Peace Love & Dreams Actualized

Maïsha

http://www.mailife.ca

Peer 

So I’ve finally arrived. I’m finally here. “Where is here” you ask? I’m in a place where I no longer feel shame about my mental illness. I’m not discouraged or oppressed by the stigma surrounding it and I am proud to speak about my experiences with people. I’m thriving in spite of it.  This is a gigantic step forward for me. Very important in my work as a Peer Support Specialist and for my business (MaiLIFE) as a public speaker. 

A “peer” is someone who identifies as having a mental illness. It’s in my job title! Everyone in my agency knows that I have a mental illness, because of my title. The thought of that terrified me for a long time. I wouldn’t have even applied for the position this time last year. I feared that if people knew I had a mental challenges, I would be judged harshly and viewed differently. Now I wear the title proudly. I’m getting valuable practice disclosing to people as I introduce myself to 90 new clients and explain that I am a peer, and what that means. 

Years ago, while in hospital, a social worker said to me “Wow! You have a mental illness and you finished university?! You’re SO high functioning!” (Ever since I heard the words “high functioning,”  in that context, I’ve hated them). This was someone who worked in the mental health field and was shocked at the fact that I’d completed a post secondary degree?! What a sad state of affairs. I quickly understood that some people did not expect much of people with mental challenges. More than ten years later I still get that reaction from some people. Some of whom work in the mental health field.  The reality is there are many peers like me out here. We live among you! We’re living well. We have completed or are completing post secondary studies. We have healthy relationships and are productive members of our communities. We love. We feel pain. We have accomplished amazing things.  We are living “normal” lives. 

I want to make that known to people. So yes, it’s on my business cards. Yes, it’s in my job title. Yes, I will continue to be open and share  my experiences with people if I think it will be helpful and if they want to listen. I’m proud of every part of who I am. Mental illness is not who I am, it’s what I have. I’m living well, enjoying life, I’m successful, healthy and genuinely happy.  It is possible!

Peace,

Maïsha