BOOK REVIEW; I’m Telling The Truth But I’m Lying, Essays by Bassey Ikpi

DEPRESISON AND ANXIETY 3/4

‘It’s not always a storm. Sometimes it is a mist that descends from the sky, coating my body with faint wisps of despair. Or its like walking out of my house and into a spiderweb that winds itself around my head, so that I spend the rest of the day swatting at my face and arms trying to brush off this phantom creeping. Sometimes it is an uncomfortable itch in that space between bone and flesh that makes me want to remove my skin and hand it off to someone else, makes me want to peel my fingertips and expose blood. Anything to make this hushed suffering louder because when it is quiet, it doesn’t feel real.’

 ~ Bassey Ikpi,

I’m Telling The Truth But I’m Lying, Essays

********

Hey there.

Thank you for making the time to read this series and pass by the blog.

My apologies, I took a sabbatical for a bit but I’m back.

I hadn’t realized the toll the series would have on my emotional and mental state when I set forth to interview, research and read about depression and anxiety and so, I had to take a break off the whole topic. I’ve sort of found my balance and I’d like to complete the series.

I also won’t be having any more stories and interviews from survivors of depression and anxiety because the ones I’d reached out to felt triggered, which is understandable. The intensity of having to walk your story again as you narrate it to an audience, needs a lot of courage and so, I settled to review this book and have two more guests before the end of the series. I hope the series has helped you do some introspection by asking yourself some key questions –

  • Am I okay? Really really, okay?
  • Why do I always have a lump in my throat?
  • Why does my heart skip when I receive a call or a text?
  • Why do I avoid social interaction?
  • Why do I always have trouble sleeping?

These are not exhaustive but can help you realize a gap and seek professional help or talk to someone about these feelings that may seem to engulf you into a dark hole.

Anxiety is its own creature. Anxiety asks me to focus on the terrible things I’ve done. The people I’ve hurt. The promises I’ve broken. Anxiety tells me to make a list. Mistakes. Regrets. Lies. A litany of shortcomings, a coil tightened, ready to spring. Even when the best things occur, when the sun is angled just enough to offer light or there is beauty somewhere shining in the distance, the voice says – this will not last. You don’t deserve peace. Remember that.’

~ Bassey Ikpi

*******

I read this book on a recommendation of a friend, when I started the series because it is a narration of the courageous Bassey’s fight with depression and anxiety for a decade of sorts and I read it in two sittings. Resonating with her childhood experience and the constant strive to be normal through out her growing up was on a deeper level.

All her life, Bassey struggled with figuring out what was wrong with her and why she couldn’t seem to relate and internalize things like normal people. She didn’t understand why she always had a lump in her throat, why she had trouble sleeping and why she always seemed like she was to blame for the world’s problems and what was happening to people, which ultimately made her cave into her own world that eventually ate at her until she was weightless and totally lifeless. It was at this point that she was admitted into an asylum.

For the longest time, Bassey says she thought of herself as broken, unfixable and caged.

She mentioned this problem to her parents when she was younger, and being African parents, they dismissed her feelings saying she had to watch less movies and cartoons that ‘put ideas in her head’. This was the beginning of her Armageddon. He parents failing to treat this from the onset and being dismissive of her constant headaches or drop in grades at school. This birthed her fear of speaking and expressing herself because she always thought that people would think she was lying.

‘Lying is how I survive this. Parceling the truth is the way I avoid a descent into stronger and more damaging darkness. It is why I can still walk through this world vacillating between existing and not existing… by far the lie I tell the most is “I’m Okay”. ‘

Her story is a painful unfolding and exposure of the triviality that African parents, let alone the African culture, attaches to mental illness.

It is saddening that people see these struggles as a sign of weakness and pretense or laziness sometimes. It cost her the most part of her growing up, teenage and youth to discover that it was an actual illness that she was struggling and fighting with that had eaten at her. She mentions the first doctor she visited for diagnosis, in her thirties, diagnosed her with Bipolar II and told her that she would have to swallow pills for the rest of her life because there was no cure to what she was suffering.

The beauty about it all, is that she courageously dealt with this, despite the detention at the mental illness facility, despite her attempts at taking her own life and despite the voices in her head that told her she was a disappointment. She found the courage within herself to live for something greater. To find joy and beauty in the small things in life and she reassured herself that from that moment on, she would allow herself morning. Which became the basis of her healing journey.

‘Allow yourself morning. I tell them that this means that today may have been a rolling ball of anxiety and trembling, a face wet and slick with tears, but if you can get to morning, if you can allow yourself a new day to encourage a change, then you can get through it. Allow yourself morning.’

~ Bassey Ikpi.

She mentions that it is still a long way to get to the full and complete healing and she sometimes cringes her body on the floor and weeps when her son isn’t watching, but she is on the road to fully and completely healing.

*****

I loved her vulnerability, her writing, her courage through out her story and narration is very admirable.

I think and recommend that you allow yourself to feel and walk with Bassey through her journey of realization and dealing with her depressive bouts and anxiety as you read this book and I believe that it will give you hope to know that for starters,

  • You are not alone in this
  • You will get through this
  • You don’t have to always be the strong one
  • There’s a light at the end of the tunnel

If you’ve read it, I’d be glad if you’d share some of your thoughts on the comment section and if you haven’t, let me know what you think once you do.

PS: Jesus loves you. John 15 says that we should remain in the vine and be rooted in God the Father. Try laying you aches, hurts, pain and fears on the altar and see the great change and difference in the assurance of being hidden under the wing of our Heavenly father. He is definitely interested in how you feel and what you are going through.

‘Never allow the lying words of the enemy take root and poison the wine God wants to produce in your life. In those moments, when everything falls apart, when you don’t know how you can go on or even if you will go on, please remember this message, your crushing isn’t the end! Its only the beginning.’

~ Excerpt from Crushing, God turns pressure into power

By T.D Jakes

I’d also recommend reading that as well !!!!

*****

Bassey Ikpi is a Nigerian American writer, ex-poet, constant mental health advocate, underachieving overachiever and memoir procrastinator.

Cheers.

6 comments

  1. Awwwww sorry about your story contributors. I thank God that I have reached a point where sharing my story strengthens me more, I too have other triggers but I chose my story to be an advocate of hope out there to the voiceless.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve read this book and I like the way she tells her story in all honesty. Her style of writing really shows you that mental illness is closer to us than we think and very serious than the attention it is actually given.
    I like that there is hope. She tells us about her experience but the good thing is that she gets help and I think that is what helps – that is what matters.
    It is always the beginning of our journey to healing. Thank you Daniella.

    Liked by 1 person

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