Tagged! Goody!

I have been – and as a result am hugely flattered – tagged by a Good Woman thegoodwoman.blogspot.com. In return I must reveal 8 things about myself and tag another five bloggers … here goes:  

I was born a week late in the Mater hospital in Nairobi three years after Kenya got it’s Independence; mum forced to take copious amounts of cod liver oil and orange juice to prompt my arrival. I’m the eldest of three. 

I abhor snobbery. And one-upmanship. If you really, truly like what Mrs Jones is wearing/driving/

reproducing in her kitchen, by all means emulate her; if you’re doing it to keep up, or impress, it’ll show and you’ll look silly and sad. I am irked by people that wear $600 sunglasses simply because they bear the name Chanel or Versace. I could never bring myself to do same, not least because I am very clumsy and would sit on them in first week of ownership. 

I am passionate about raising awareness of mental illness; my mum has suffered from crippling episodes of clinical Depression since I was 13. My energy to get the word out is born of my infuriation at people’s responses to my explaining Mum has Depression – they look at their shoes – and the yawning disparity between ‘I’m depressed’ (Monday morning; jeans too tight; empty InBox at Outlook Express) and Depression (n.b. the capital D): a potentially fatal condition. I have written about depression in capacity of journalist in UK, Ireland, Australia, South Africa and Kenya. As a result an editor at the Daily Telegraph once commented on a CV I copied to a number of editors, ‘does this bloody woman write about anything other than depression’. Problem was he hit the Reply All button which gave me the opportunity to repond – with alacrity – that ‘yes, actually, she does’.  Needless to say, he was acutely embarrassed and I was highly entertained.  

I am frequently paralyzed by shyness which seems at odds with my uninhibited blabbing in cyberspace. I am far more comfortable with the written word – when I can consider what I’m saying, at leisure, with reference to thesaurus, dictionary or spell-check – than the spoken, when I trip over my tongue, stutter, stumble, say what I don’t mean and don’t say what I do. I am married to a man who is extraordinarily at ease in company and as a result far more sociable than I.   

A friend has described me as too black and white; I’m unable – often – to see the grey, to compromise, she says. I think she means I’m a loyal friend and an unforgiving and fairly foul enemy. I like to think of myself as principled.   And non-conformist. Whether by design or the example of my maternal grandmother, I don’t know. She was an Irish woman who – indignant at being left behind in Dublin shortly after she and my grandfather married – followed him to India across a Europe ravaged by war. She loved India and the Indians. Africa was more interesting than going ‘home’ but I don’t think it ever matched India for majesty, history, colour or culture as far as Gran was concerned. She wore chaplis (leather sandals), trousers, bold tops and beads. She smoked a hubbley bubbley pipe then long More cigarettes (which she let me bum off her). She never drove a car, instead using the bus (which in newly independent Kenya when white people had long stopped going to town by bus was frowned upon). She loved books, halva and arguments about religion in which she engaged vociferously until a stern look from Grandad shut her up. 

The worst thing that’s ever happened to me was losing my dad in a car accident when I was 19 and he 47. The best thing that’s ever happened to me? Lots. An idyllic African childhood, growing up on a farm, surrounded by family; my husband, our three children and the fact I have had the opportunity to steal back some of my own happy childhood by raising them in Africa too.   I enjoy simple things: laughing, walking, a cold beer, a good book, tea in the bush, breakfast on safari, the unique quality of light on an African evening, the scent of rain on dust. 

I’d like to know more about problemchildbride; innerminx; japingape; pinkukulele; equianos and – one for luck (because there’s lots more I’d like to more about since am very nosy) turnthepage-roberta … 

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14 Responses to “Tagged! Goody!”

  1. Equiano Says:

    Hmmm. I shall have to have a think about what to say. In the meantime, thank you for the tag.

  2. Roberta Says:

    My goodness. Thank you for tagging me. I will do my best!

    I was touched very deeply by your comments on Mental Illness. My son, I’ve mentioned before, the teacher…He started college to become a chemical engineer. Halfway through his second year he schezal/affective disorder (manic depression and schizophrenia) and was hospitalized for 16 horrifying days, then medicated for six long years. While fighting through his depression, he completed a teaching degree at a local college, met the love of his life, completed two indy films, moved out on his own, and began teaching. I am very proud of him and it looks like I’m out of room.

  3. R. Sherman Says:

    Fascinating as always.

    Those who have never dealt with Depression really cannot understand how devastating it can be. There seems to be the attitude of “Oh, snap out of it already!” Obviously, that’s not the way it works.

    Cheers.

  4. coincidentally « ironical Says:

    […] morning and visited a new blog I’m loving by a woman who lives in Africa – and here you go, she’s been tagged today, too, and she’s excited about it! I have to say it was slightly inspirational to me. So I’m […]

  5. Carolyn Says:

    Shucks, thanks for the tag! Will think hard, and write it up soon!

  6. Beaman Says:

    What you say about Depression is so very true. It annoys me that the word ‘depression’ is used for mere temporary unhappiness (Monday morning feeling) when it’s far more serious than that.

    I am very much enjoying reading about your life in Africa. 🙂

  7. The Good Woman Says:

    Wayhay! You did it. And I’m so glad you did.

    The one I most identified with was your joy in your African childhood and in being able to raise your children in Africa too. I think this is part of my issue with living in Scotland with my young daughter – I can’t share with her the magic of my childhood.

    And, oh, the smell of rain on dust… be still my beating heart!

  8. Minx Says:

    I am a reluctant memer, but you have it – on the case now…

  9. Roberta Says:

    I have complied!

  10. Carolyn Says:

    I also have complied. Hooray!

  11. problemchildbride Says:

    Thanks for the tag. I’ve done a similar one in the past here

    My mum is bipolar, badly, and as she gets older it grows worse. She had old-style ECT at 16 which, according to those who knew her back then, changed her in fundamental ways – she became more aggressive etc. I am bipolar too but not nearly as badly and I dodged ECT when my uni professor wrote a letter urging the doctor not to do it. His daughter had it for severe depression and she experienced something similar to my mother. A lot more anger and aggression.

    What’s your view on ECT?

  12. Equiano Says:

    Finally finished mine – thanks for tagging me!

  13. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    problemchildbride – I’m sorry about your Mum, I understand from all I’ve read that depression, uni or bipolar, gets progressively worse with age, so I feel sadness for both our mothers. ECT …? I’m not sure. My mother received ECT when she was first admitted to hospital, when I was 13. I remember being appalled that ‘treatment’ involved electric shocks to the brain. She says it wasn’t as bad as it sounded and she felt it jolted her to wellness, but the respite was brief. And in no way permanent. She has continued to suffer regular episodes that last upwards of three months. She said that she thinks the ECT destroyed part of memories. I think that the recent trend towards ECT again, after 20 odd years, is indication that depression confounds even the ‘experts’ so they clutch at the vaguest – and mos harrowing? – of straws?

  14. bi polar, bi polar disorder, bi polar dis orders, manic depression Says:

    bi polar dis orders

    bi polar, bi polar disorder, bi polar dis orders, manic depression

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