For persons with disabilities (including me), sleeping can be real shitty

So, I haz a question: Why can people be so judgey about if and when you sleep? I keep encountering this over and over again in my everyday life (and yes, I judged people too. I am not exempt from the circle of judgmental-ness)

judgey oprah.gif

Day people (who sleep at night) can be very judgey of night people (who sleep well in the day). To lesser extent, night people judge day people. BUT, for the most part the world revolves around people who are active in the day. People are also judgey if you sleep too much or at the “wrong times” (whatever the hell the wrong time is)

But then what people judgey about sleep got to do with me? Well,  as a person with bipolar disorder, I have sleep issues y’all and I still gotta live, work and play around other human beings – so yeah. For me, my sleep issues go a bit deeper than just not getting sleep and feeling crappy the next morning. For me, lack of good sleep or sleep at all over an extended period of time is a major trigger for a depressive or manic episode. Let me ent sleep for ah two weeks, nah. There will be a very high probability of  that I end up in psychiatric hospital. So all I need to do is go to sleep, right?

Well the problem is that I have issues going to sleep at night. It is  a struggle every night to do what most people take for granted – hop into bed and drift-off to La-La land. A lot of times Mr. Sandman can be a hater towards me y’all. The Sleep Fairy be giving me that nasty sideye!

sleep-fairy

I do have a bag of tricks to help me sleep. These tricks include playing soft music, put some drops of lavender oil on my pillow, bathing with a lavender body wash at night, reading a nice book, drinking chamomile tea and doing a nice online sleep mediation exercise and failing that take a sedative ( last resort). BUT, I can do any or all of these and still not fall asleep.

If I forget to take my nighttime dosage of medicine on time, no sleep. I have acid reflux issues as well. If my belly is kicking up a storm, no sleep. The acid reflux issues causes sinus issues, if I get sinus blockage and don’t relieve it, no sleep. If I am under extreme stress during the day and I get wired up, no sleep. However, I have a lot less problems falling asleep in the day. I said less- not none. So here it is y’all, I love to sleep but sleep does not always love me back.

It means that my schedule can be wonky and it can affect my work flow, which can be frustrating at times. For me lack of sleep means that  yes, I feel crappy. It also makes me somewhat more irritable. During those times, I am conscious that my tolerance levels are low and try to adjust accordingly – (which means ignoring people when they do stupid stuff that annoys me or choosing to speak up at a later date) Depending on how much sleep I was able to get in, I can push it and function. It just means that I crash when I can. When I crash, it may not be at the “right time” for other people  – hence why I talked about people’s judgmental attitudes earlier. Thank God now I work at Me, Inc. and I have an understanding husband. When I was out there working for the man it wasn’t easy and I had to have extreme discipline to go to work. However, it was doable.

This is not just a personal struggle, though. Persons with bipolar disorder generally have struggles and issues with sleep. It is one of the physical symptoms of this particular disability. However, what I did not know until recently is how much persons with other disabilities struggle with sleep issues. I only began to realize that when I began to hang with a couple of Moms of autistic children (shout out to you all, ladies) who told me about their issues with staying up with their kids. However, after I began to do some more research the list of other disabilities where sleep problems are part of the disability is long : blindness, ADHD, Down’s syndrome, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, muscular sclerosis, post-traumatic stress syndrome, anxiety disorders, spina bifida, –  whew that list is long!

So, as I finish writing this at almost 1 a.m., for the non-disabled just know that many times having a disability means no sleep or impaired sleep and be a bit more understanding. For persons with disabilities out there, can you share about your experiences with sleep? Are there any disabilities that I have missed out? Talk to me, people.

Signed,

Sleep Troubled PWD in Trinidad

#VacationMode

So, I am writing this on my cell phone while in a hotel. As per habit, I usually save most, if not all of my trip pics and details till after the trip. Safety, y’all!

This one was close. My packing looked like:

Yep! Like until 20 minutes before the car came to take us to the airport, I was like that!

My heroic efforts to shut down and shut off continued in the car and  in the airport, when I was still dealing with texts and emails for business. My husband was already in chill mode and I was not winding down. However, once I got on the plane, that was it! I was out, biotches.Like literally. I feel asleep on the plane.

That finally flipped the switch and now I am here, reflecting and journalling by the pool outside my hotel room. This year has definitely taught me the need to be strict about rest and relaxation in order to refuel. And so, without further ado, bye!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I believe that whenever you are privileged to have more – whether wealth,education, power, status – then that privelege rests an onus upon you to be humbly empathetic to those are less privileged than you. You are obligated to humbly learn about their lives and use your privilege in the best way possible to make their lives better. In turn, using that privilege makes you better.” – Nicole Cowie

Ladies in Disability…..The sisterhood

So, this I ended up in a meeting with two of the scholars in the emerging field of Caribbean disability theory. For those of you that don’t know, disability studies is an academic field in and of itself. It is an emerging field but it is more established in the UK and the USA. In the Caribbean, it just about being born.These ladies who are pioneers are Dr. Jacqueline Huggins from Trinidad and Dr. Annicia Gayle-Geddes from Jamaica. So imagine, these two heavyweights and lil ole B.Sc. me.

You would think that the discussion would be disability heavy (and it was). You would think we would talk about  disability- policy and laws, programmes and international agencies. And you think that the talk would be technical and boring with plenty big words.

You could not be more right and yet more wrong. Yes, we talked shop but it was relaxed and casual. It started with hugs all around and ended with hugs. In between, we talked about our ups and downs and our lives. We were all just sisters in that room who were passionate about what we do and supporting each other.

It has struck me as I have started as an activist that I have been lucky to find a spot where I have found sisters, sister-friends, friends and one auntie within this  disability struggle for rights. Some who I talk to everyday, some who I see maybe monthly (like Dr. Huggins) and some like Dr. Gayle-Geddes, who I see online and when she is in the country. Some who I talk to for a particular project or event. Some who taught me at undergrad and some who I serve with on committees.Some who share my interest especially in psycho-social disabilities. All of these ladies have nurtured and supported me in my life as person with a psycho-social disability, as an activist, hell just as a woman.

So when I hear discussion about female mentors, I guess I am lucky(?). I don’t know what it is to not have female mentors, peers and colleagues.

So this post is to lift up these ladies …….I owe you all a debt of gratitude and cheesecake!!!

How I got to see an Uncle Ellis look-alike wining….

So, it’s Sunday night and the huzzie and I are feeling a little idle. Normally, on alternate Sundays of the month, there is Latin Dancing at the neighbourhood bar a block away from our home. Thinking that tonight was the night for Latin, we decided to go.

On our way to the bar, we pass the neighbourhood panyard (yep, where we live is kinda lit) Tonight, there was a small crowd of youths there, dressed scantily and DJ playing loudly. We just thought it was the beginnings of a Sunday night dance and went on our merry way to the bar. When we got there however, it turned out that we had the wrong Sunday night. Bar is dead. Dang! So we buy a couple drinks. Then somehow we came up with the brilliant idea to go check out the party we passed on the way to the bar.

So, drinks in hand, we went to said party……Except it wasn’t a party. We sat in the bleachers to scope things out – only to realize that we weren’t at a real party. We were at a fake one! Lemme explain – apparently we had happened upon a soca video shoot for the soca artiste Sekon Sta. The song, IMHO, was alright. What made the shoot though was this dude we saw on the bleachers.

My boy was this grey-haired, kinda scruffy dude who could have been Uncle Ellis’s brother. And he was lit all by himself. Just play the music and my boy was gyrating, jumping and dancing like if it was 1999. He was actually more lit than the extras in the party scene. He was enjoying himself so much that the director actually called him off the bleachers into the video to act as hype man to the rather unhyped extras. And – it worked! The extras loosened up and  they got a good shot. After the shot was done, the director said, “Thanks for the vybes, pops.”

So, I hope  the Uncle Ellis look-alike’s shots don’t get cut. Maybe we have discovered Uncle Ellis 2.0. Either way, it was a half-way decent random ass lime.

 

 

 

 

 

Why Activist Chronicles?

So, you wanna know why my blog is called Activist Chronicles? Well, for one, I am a mental health/disability activist living in the country of Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean. I actually started writing under the hashtag #activistchronicles on my personal Facebook page to discuss the issues of mental health and disability. One particular post, a post I made on Independence Day in my country where I described my release from psychiatric hospital struck a chord. So I made the decision in the aftermath to transfer #activistchronicles from Facebook to an actual blog.

The tagline, “Life. Activism. Mental Health. Disability” is reflective of what I want to talk about.The words in the tag line are separated by full-stops – but -there is no huge separation between them in my everyday life. And so, as you read you will find my everyday life is often the inspiration and jumping off point for an Activist Chronicle. Sometimes, it will be the other way around – mental health and disability issues may be the jumping off point for a particular post. So, in a nutshell, Activist Chronicles just takes you through my journey as an activist, as a person with bipolar disorder, as a wife, as a human being living on God’s green earth. Punto finale.