Been Quiet

Yes, I realize that I have been so quiet over here.  I have been really busy trying to sort out all the other nuts and bolts that go into relocating and ensuring that you have everything necessary to begin classes.  Getting into the school of your choice is  one thing but there is often a long list of other things that also needs to be done before the first week of class. Like, finding the paper work for all your vaccinations or getting titters done  – very expensive by the way, finding accommodation which is a job on its own, and so many other things.  I am happy to report that I am almost done with everything that needs to be sent in.

Now, I have been told that I should choose my research area so that I can be connected to a professor that has the same research interest.  But, there are so many things that I am interested in.  Public Health is so broad.  I have to ensure that whatever I choose to focus on beyond being something that I am passionate about, it also has to be an issue that will need to be worked on globally for many years.  I don’t want to work where answers have been found already.

But,  yes, I am super excited about this opportunity and this journey.  I am not scared.  New York can make you walk in strength and not in fear.  If you’ve lived in New York, you can literally live anywhere….



Challenging Mental Health In Africa: Where hyenas are used to treat mental illness

Somalia has one of the highest rates of mental illness in the world and with a healthcare system devastated by years of war, most sufferers receive no medical help. Many are chained up – to trees or at home. Some are even locked in cages with hyenas. But one man is trying to change all that.

Dr Hab’s advert runs up to three times a day on Mogadishu’s radio stations.

“He’s gone crazy! He’s running away!” screams the actor. “Chain him down!”

The scenario is familiar in Somalia. A man has become possessed by spirits and the only option for his family is to restrain him and call the sheikh. But as the young man protests, a voice that challenges Somali tradition booms out.

“Stop with the chains!” the voiceover orders. “Take him to Dr Hab’s hospital! If he’s having mental problems, take him to Dr Hab. He won’t chain him, he’ll help him.”

Dr Hab is not actually a real psychiatrist. Rather it’s the persona of Abdirahman Ali Awale, a nurse who after three months of specialist training from the World Health Organization (WHO), has made it his mission to rescue Somalia’s mentally ill. He claims he is able to treat everything from post-natal depression to schizophrenia.

But the alternative to a trip to Hab could be a visit to one of Somalia’s popular herbalists or sheikhs who still advocate traditional – and sometimes barbaric – cures.


“There is a belief in my country that hyenas can see everything including the evil spirits people think cause mental illness,” says Hab. “So in Mogadishu, you will find hyenas that have been brought from the bush and families will pay £350 ($560) to have their loved one locked in the room overnight with the animal.”


My big fat revenge is a reality show in the United States where people who were overweight, lose some weight and then come back to taunt those who were mean to them or called them fat when they were overweight.  Obviously, this is a show built on pettiness and a show that will appeal to only those who have a psychological need to fight for the underdog. After watching several episodes in which women came back fighting back because a partner, friend, family member, lover had called them fat when they were obviously fat, I had to start asking myself some questions.

Obesity and being overweight is a global issue.  In the past, these were terms associated with the rich or high income countries.  It was associated with having surplus food that was affordable to the rich.   But,  being overweight or obese has gone beyond being a symbol of the rich and upwardly mobile to being a disease that affects all regardless of their socioeconomic state.   In fact, some have argued that  in present day society the reverse has occurred which is that as people move up the social ladder economically, they have mounting pressure to lose weight and remain slim.  To do this, they pay particular attention to their food and eat healthier.  This is not the case in many low or middle income communities and countries  where people are more concerned about getting something to eat rather than paying attention to issues of nutrition and portion control.  Interestingly, being overweight or being obese is a form of malnutrition.  How do we classify obesity or being overweight?   This is classified as having your body mass index (BMI) greater than 25.  Being overweight and obese has been directly correlated with the likelihood of getting diabetes, heart disease, cancer, osteoarthritis and the list goes on.

Now, the United States has two methods that are clearly used in working with those that are overweight or obese.  One is of total acceptance in which people go beyond the size and accept people for who they are on the inside. Communities are formed in which self-esteem is built and the accepted concept of beauty is challenged.  The second method that we see is fat shaming.  This is a method in which loved ones and members of society go out of their way to make those that are overweight or obese, seem less than in an effort to challenge them to create change.  Fat shaming was obviously the method that was used, that made these ladies call out for revenge.  These two methods are problematic because in the former, yes, the person has high self-esteem, sees themselves as beautiful but they are slowly walking towards their death because they are living an unhealthy life.  The second method creates a person who might lose weight but might be psychologically scarred for life.  A study needs to be published on if those who go through fat shaming, go ahead to have eating disorders.  I will not be surprised if there is a high correlation between fat shaming and eating disorders.  Now, how does this tie to my big fat revenge?

Beyond the fact that I feel that this show is petty.  There isn’t  any follow-up associated with the show. Yes, you lose the weight and you make the ‘enemy’ feel like a cad.  Then what next?  Secondly, the show doesn’t stress the importance of living a healthy life and how losing that weight might have saved their lives.  It is all about getting back at that person who dared to call them fat even though they were obviously fat.  Another issue I have with the show is that it does not stress the importance of lifestyle change and the importance of food. They do not go out of their way to tell us the story of what led to this person eating so much that they became obese or overweight.  There are reasons.  We do not see these people, go to meet any  counselor for help.  This show could be a good show to raise public health awareness about being overweight/obese, the detriment of living a sedentary life  and the psychological implication of this revenge.   But it is media, and often times, media chooses to stick to what sells  and entertains rather than what can inform.

Slightly Overweight. Attacking The Sedentary Lifestyle.  Quite Aware That I Am An Emotional Eater.




What Are You Scared Of?

When I was younger and I had to move, one of the things that I was really scared of was that I will not make any friends.  At that time, the thought of spending Saturdays at home, watching TV or a movie and not being out with others at either a function (concerts) or hanging out with a very good friend of mine was what nightmares were made of.

But, as I grew older and I moved from one place to the other, I found out that my fears took other forms.  Making or not making friends was no longer on my fear list rather my fears took more solid forms.

So do I have any fears about my move to Texas even though I am no longer in New York but rather in the Southern part of U.S.A?  Yes, most definitely.  Some of my fears are the following:

a) The roaches:  I’ve heard so much about the roaches in Texas and how the roaches are in control . Supposedly, these roaches have no problem leaping from a great distance to get to your eyes.  I hate spiders but after reading up on these leaping and flying roaches, I believe I hate those more.  I’ve not lived in a house with roaches in ages.  I’ve been fortunate that most of the houses i’ve lived in had no issues with pest control, apart from a spider or two from time to time.  I really do not know how I will deal with a state in which roaches have made their communal home.

b)apartment living: I’ve never lived in what one considers an apartment.  I’ve always lived in  a house that was converted.  Living in an apartment and dealing with all those personalities a.k.a nosy neighbours is frightening.

c)Having roommates:  The only time I had a ‘house mate’  after undergrad was a horror experience.  It was with a woman from Guyana who clearly had issues and had ‘friends of questionable repute’.  I promised myself after that experience that I will never have a roommate for as long as I can get away with it and I have kept that promise…..but, it looks as if I might need a roommate who knows the ropes for a couple of months. That’s frightening.

d) Crime:  In my search for apartments, I’ve been reading a lot about cars getting jacked, people being mugged and a lot of safety issues. Since, I will be a single woman in Texas who might have night classes, this is very frightening.

e) Another New York:  I mentioned earlier that one of the reasons that I moved out of New York was in search of  a slower pace of life.  Houston is the fourth largest city in the U.S.A. I do not want to find myself in another fast paced New York or I will mentally scream.

That’s it for now……..

I know that despite these fears, I will be in Texas because I have something to do and it is better late than never

**  I just remembered I had another housemate when I lived upstate and she was okay even though, she tended to get depressed from time to time.

I just learnt that today is National Coming Out Day.  Yipee!!  There are many who ask if there is a need for such a day – after all, we do not have days to support our heterosexuality. People, do not go around saying, ‘hey, I need your support, I am coming out as a heterosexual”.   But, we have to remember that heterosexuality is normative, a.k.a, socially acceptable and homosexuality is still unacceptable in many quarters.  In some parts of the world homosexuality is  considered as being a mental health disease.  There is still a lot of work that still needs to be done in terms of psychology and the gay community.

But, what I do know for sure is that coming out as being different or having a different sexual orientation in today’s heteronormative world is extremely difficult and many like these need some form of support as they step out globally to claim or reclaim who they are.

Honestly, I believe that each person’s sexuality is their personal business and people should not be punished for where they lie on the sexual scale.

For those who will be coming out today:  Be You!

For those who choose to remain in the closet for whatever reason: Well, that’s a choice.

To the world at large:  I hope we learn to just accept people as they are without trying to fit them into our own view of what the world is or what is ‘believed’ to be right.

Happy Coming Out Day!!

From This Very Happy But Extremely Supportive Heterosexual,


When Service Delivery Goes Wrong

“MEXICO CITY (AP) — An indigenous woman squats in pain after giving birth, her newborn still bound by the umbilical cord and lying on the ground. It’s a photograph that horrified Mexicans because of where it took place: the lawn outside a medical clinic where the woman had been denied help, and it struck a nerve in a country where inequity is still pervasive.”

Continue Reading:   Service Delivery Goes Wrong Because Of Social Inequities, Over Worked Clinical Employees, UnderStaffing,  Staffing Shortages Which Led To  Low Numbers Of Clinicians Available To Provide Care And Not Having Enough Rural Clinics Available.

My Blurb On Mental Health…….

Yesterday was Mental Health day and a day that we remember and support those who are living with one mental health disease or the other.  It is amazing that many don’t know how widespread this  is because they assume that those  who are dealing with this issue cannot be working members of the community and for them to have a mental health condition that they have to be walking the street buck naked.

The later idea is one that is common amongst many Africans.  But, mental health issues goes beyond schizophrenia or bipolar disease or even dementia /alzheimer  but it can also be depression (short term or long term).  I will end this paragraph by saying, before you judge – learn and know and also, ensure that the person that might be acting crazy isn’t behaving this way as a result of those that he/she has around them.   LOOOOL!!!  There is always a need to look at your circle critically and purge those who might be bringing more stress than they are worth because friends /families can bring about stress and stress has been linked to dementia.