Ms Regina Njogu filed the suit in Montgomery County Circuit Court in Maryland after what she claimed was the refusal by the said blogger to pull down the malicious article which was meant to tarnish her reputation.
The blogger who has yet to be named penned an article at Kenyapoa a website hosted in the wordpress.com servers which stated that Ms Njogu had been suspended indefinitely from the legal practice for misconduct.
It was not possible to identify the blogger as the website seems to employ privacy features which makes it difficult to unearth the writer. A subpoena may however force the identity of the blogger to be revealed.
Ms Njogu said in her suit that the defendant had taken advantage of legal protects to make the false and malicious statements against the plaintiff by operating anonymously.
She is requesting “Subpoena Duces Tecum” (a writ ordering a person to attend a court and bring relevant documents) to be issued against the blogger.
She is seeking punitive damages for “actual malice and reckless disregard for the truth” in the amount of $100,000 (Sh10.2million) against the blogger.
However, last year, the attorney penned an article stating that she got in trouble with the Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission/Bar where she had a client register her car using her name so that she could save on insurance.
The case was heard before the bar and was concluded in October 2015. In her article, she stated that she admitted the facts of the allegations and explained that she was at the time suffering under symptoms of bipolar and it was beyond her control.
After an evaluation, a Psychologist commissioned by the Grievance Commission examined her and her medical records and concurred with her explanation.
As a result, the Attorney Grievance Commission indefinitely suspended her from the practice of law in Maryland until she was able to provide certification from a physician showing that her illness is under control.
On December 28, 2015, the Board of Immigration Appeals suspended Ms Njogu from practicing before the immigration court but gave her the option to petition it for reinstatement.
She was however not entirely suspended from practicing law in US as she is still allowed to practice in New York.
Below is the full plaint as filed in court which also serves as legal notice to the defendant:
Montgomery County Circuit Court
50 Maryland Ave, Rockville, MD 20850
Regina Wanjiru Njogu )
3600 Pear Tree Ct )
Silver Spring MD 20906 ) CASE NO: )
- ) COMPLAINT
John Doe ) )
COMPLAINT FOR DEFAMATION CONSISTING LIBEL PERSE AND INNUENDO
Comes now Plaintiff REGINA NJOGU (hereinafter “Plaintiff”) and hereby sues Defendant JOHN DOE (hereinafter “Defendant”) for libel perse, for innuendo and for making and publishing false and damaging statements and for causes of action alleges as follows:
- Plaintiff is a female individual who now is, and was at all times material to this law suit a resident of Montgomery County, Maryland.
- Plaintiff was admitted to practice law in Maryland on June 16th, 2009 and was similarly admitted to practice law in the state of New York in July 2007. Plaintiff has at all times material to this law suit enjoyed a good reputation, both generally and in respect with her law practice in Maryland and with respect to her status as an attorney licensed to practice in the State of New York. Between July 2009 and August 2015, Plaintiff maintained a small law practice in Burtonsville, Montgomery County Maryland at 3537 Spencerville Road, Ste. 4 Burtonsville MD 20866.
- On October 27th 2015, Plaintiff was indefinitely suspended from the practice of law in Maryland pursuant to Maryland Rule 1.8(a) and Maryland Rule 8.4(a), (b), and (c), following a Joint Petition by the Plaintiff and the Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission (“hereinafter “AGC”) in the Attorney Disciplinary case; AGC v. Regina Wanjiru Njogu (unreported) (Hereinafter, referred to as “The Disciplinary Case”). As laid out in the Joint Petition, Plaintiff accepted responsibility for conduct that was in violation of Rules 1.8(a) and 8.4 (a), (b), and (c) that arose from a business transaction between Plaintiff and one of her former clients.- EXHIBIT B. Plaintiff submitted information and proof to the AGC demonstrating that at the time of the rule-violating conduct, Plaintiff was suffering from Bipolar Disorder and alcoholism resulting in incapacity that largely contributed to her offensive conduct. The Plaintiff was evaluated by an AGC-appointed physician that confirmed the Plaintiff’s assertion that mental infirmity contributed to her rule-violating conduct. This finding was stipulated in the Joint Petition. (Paragraph 8 of the Joint Petition) – EXHIBIT B. In fact, as a primary condition for Plaintiff’s reinstatement to the practice of law in Maryland, she is required to provide a letter from a qualified mental health professional attesting to the fact that she has been treated for and has recovered from bipolar and alcoholism, and is fit to return to practice. The disciplinary case in Maryland notwithstanding, Plaintiff was at all times material to this complaint and is now still a member in good standing of the New York Bar. – EXHIBIT C.
A screenshot of a section of the said article showing a picture of lawyer Regina Njogu. PHOTO I FILE
- Defendant is an anonymous internet blogger, writer, and publisher of sensational and tabloid-style articles on his/her internet blogging site https://kenyapoa.wordpress.com, (“hereinafter “blogging site”) – EXHIBIT D. Defendant’s names and identity are unknown to Plaintiff at this time who therefore sues Defendant under such fictitious name: JOHN DOE.
- Defendant uses his/her internet blogging site https://kenyapoa.wordpress.com to author and publish offensive, inflammatory, and often defamatory articles mostly against individuals or persons of Kenyan heritage residing in the US or abroad. The purpose of these articles is always to create disaffection against the individuals’ subject of Defendant’s articles published on the blogging site. Defendant is responsible for all the false and defamatory articles as well as all statements in the articles and comments published on the blogging site and Defendant is the author, writer and originator of the articles on the blogging site. Defendant is responsible for authoring and publishing the article https://kenyapoa.wordpress.com/2016/03/28/kenyan-lawyer-has-been-indefinitely-suspended-from-the-practice-of-law-for-engaging-in-professional-misconduct/ about and containing false and defamatory statements concerning Plaintiff.
VENUE AND JUSRIDICTION
- Plaintiff realleges and incorporates by reference paragraphs 1 through 5, above as though fully set forth herein
- Venue is proper in Montgomery County Maryland under MD Rule 6-103 and MD rule 6-202(3). Defendant performed tortious acts and omissions via cyber in Maryland with corresponding injury occurring in Maryland and Defendant’s businesses are extensive in and directed to people in Maryland. The injury occurred and continues to occur in Maryland.
- This Court enjoys personal jurisdiction over Defendant because the false and defamatory statements made and published by Defendants were published in Maryland, and Plaintiff, the target of the defamatory statements was and remains a resident of the Maryland.
- This Court enjoys subject matter jurisdiction over this action because the amount of damages exceeds $75,000
- Plaintiff realleges and incorporates by reference paragraphs 1 through 9 above as though fully set forth herein
- Plaintiff requests Discovery in this case pursuant to MD Rule 2-510 and pursuant to Independent Newspapers Inc. v. Zeblon Brodie (Court of Appeal Maryland, February, 27, 2009 No. 63)
REQUEST FOR DISCLOSURE
- Plaintiff realleges and incorporates by reference paragraphs 1 to 11 above as though fully set forth herein
- Pursuant to Maryland Rule 2-510 and Independent Newspapers Inc. v. Zeblon Brodie (Court of Appeal Maryland, February, 27, 2009 No. 63), Plaintiff requests Subpoena Duces Tecum directed at AUTOMATTIC INC. a corporation organized and existing under the laws of Delaware with its principal place of business located at 132 Hawthorne Street, San Francisco, CA 94107, San Francisco City, San Francisco County California. AUTOMATTIC INC was at all times material to this suit and is now still the Web Host, IP Provider, and Registrant of Defendant’s blogging site https://kenyapoa.wordpress.com. – EXHIBIT D
- Plaintiff also requests Subpoena Duces Tecum directed at MARK MONITOR INC. Mark Monitor Inc. a corporation organized and existing under the laws of Delaware with its principal place of business located at 50 California Street Ste. 200 San Francisco CA 94111, San Francisco City, San Francisco County California. MARK MONITOR INC. was at all times material to this suit and is now the Registrar and Domain Provider of the Defendant’s blogging site https://kenyapoa.wordpress.com. – EXHIBIT D
- At all material times relevant to this law suit and presently AUTOMATTIC INC. AND MARK MONITOR INC. respectively and separately maintained the account protocol of Defendant and control of Defendants blogging site https://kenyapoa.wordpress.com. Plaintiff requests two separate Subpoena Duces Tecum to compel disclosure within thirty (30)DAYS of service of the request for disclosure via subpoena by both AUTOMATTIC INC. and MARK MONITOR INC. respectively of Defendant’s Internet Protocol and account information that is in each of their respective custody and/or possession,. Plaintiff has made extensive and exhaustive efforts to locate the identity and location the of Defendant as follows;
- Plaintiff TWICE posted messages and NOTICE on the comments section of the article https://kenyapoa.wordpress.com/2016/03/28/kenyan-lawyer-has-been-indefinitely-suspended-from-the-practice-of-law-for-engaging-in-professional-misconduct/ requesting Defendant to bring down the defamatory article and also provided notice of filing of this law suit but Defendant did not and has not responded as at the time of filing of this law suit. EXHIBIT A & K
- Plaintiff searched for the Defendant on social media platforms including facebook, twitter, linkedin and use of google search engine and pursued possible leads and trails but has been unsuccessful. Plaintiff also contacted individuals that might have known Defendant’s identity. EXHIBIT I & K
- Plaintiff contacted AUTOMATTIC INC. and MARK MONITOR INC. respectively by phone and email requesting them to bring down the article and requested Defendant’s account information and received a response from AUTOMATTIC INC. indicating that Defendant has installed privacy features on his/her account and for that reason, AUTOMATTIC INC would not provide Plaintiff with Defendant’s account information except and unless by subpoena from Court. EXHIBIT E & H
- c) With Defendant having installed privacy features on his/her account, without a Subpoena, it is virtually impossible to discover his/her identity. Defendant HAS TAKEN ADVANTAGE advantage of legal protections to make false, unsubstantiated, and defamatory statements against Plaintiff by operating anonymously and by protecting his/her information from discovery. The offensive and defamatory statements made by Defendant are not protected under the First Amendment.
- Plaintiff has met all the five requirements that a plaintiff is required to meet in an internet defamation case in order to obtain a subpoena to compel an internet Webhost to disclose the identity of a defendant, as set by the Maryland Court of Appeals in Independent Newspapers, Inc. v. Zeblon Brodie (supra).
CAUSES OF ACTION
DEFENDANT FALSELY ACCUSES PLAINTIFF OF MISMANAGEMENT OF CLIENT’S FUNDS AND INSURANCE FRAUD IN AN INTERNET BLOG
- Plaintiff realleges and incorporates by reference paragraphs 1 to 15 above as though fully set forth herein
- Defendant negligently and maliciously published false defamatory statements of fact about Plaintiff, as an attorney and as a private individual. The false statements include, but are not limited to:
- On or about March 28th 2016, Defendant authored and published an article on his/her internet blog https://kenyapoa.wordpress.com titled and styled as follows; https://kenyapoa.wordpress.com/2016/03/28/kenyan-lawyer-has-been-indefinitely-suspended-from-the-practice-of-law-for-engaging-in-professional-misconduct/ (hereinafter “the article” EXHIBIT A. In the first paragraph of the article, Defendant writes; “Kenyan Lawyer with strong ties to the Kenyan media and Kenya’s leading news paper (the daily Nation) has been indefinitely suspended from the practice of law in the State of Maryland for engaging in professional misconduct including mismanagement of clients (sic) money”. This statement is false on its face and is patently malicious. Plaintiff was not indefinitely suspended from the practice of law in Maryland for mismanagement of client’s funds or money as stated in the article. The Disciplinary Case proceedings, the Joint Petition, the Order of Indefinite Suspension and any and all other information related to Plaintiff’s Disciplinary Case does not contain any information indicating any complaints, allegations and/or accusations against the Plaintiff for misappropriation or mismanagement of clients’ funds and the finding of the court in AGC v. Regina W. Njogu contains no finding of misappropriation or mismanagement of client’s funds against Plaintiff. In fact, the Plaintiff has never during all her years of practice in Maryland held a client escrow account and the complaint by Plaintiff’s former client did not allege mismanagement or misappropriation of clients’ funds. EXHIBIT A & B
- In Paragraph 7 of the article, Defendant repeats and republishes the same false claim that the Plaintiff was indefinitely suspended from the practice of law in Maryland for mismanagement of client’s funds. The relevant paragraph 7 of the article reads “ Regina Wanjiru Njogu is not the first lawyer to misbehave this way. Many lawyers all over the world are known to mismanage client funds and commit other sorts of misconduct and fraud”
- In paragraph 3 of the Article, Defendant claims that the Plaintiff committed insurance fraud when he/she writes “Other violations connected to the insurance fraud include causing the client to add the vehicle to the client’s insurance policy, for the negative impact on the client’s vehicle registration due to accidents and traffic citations incurred by Ms. Regina, which were attributed to the client. There were other violations as well”. The assertion in this paragraph by Defendant is completely false because the misconduct for which the Plaintiff was disciplined by the AGC did not rise to the level of insurance fraud, and there is no where in the disciplinary proceedings, the client complaint or any and all other information related to the Disciplinary Case was the Plaintiff ever accused of or found responsible for committing insurance fraud. Furthermore, when Defendant writes “There were other violations as well”., it means that in addition to those violations stated or disclosed in the article, there were other multiple violations not mentioned in the article, leaving it to the reader’s imagination and speculation what these other violations could be. The nature and seriousness of the undisclosed violations can reasonably be inferred to be related to and equivalent to those violations known or disclosed in the article.
- Defendant further falsely states the following in paragraph 2 of the article; “ Regina Wanjiru Njogu who represented Uhuru Kenyatta in matters political in Washington DC forums and other activities while at the same time dancing and wining with CORD activists to benefit from both sides was found to have engaged in professional misconduct as a lawyer”. Uhuru Kenyatta was at all times material to this lawsuit and still is at the present the President of the Republic of Kenya. CORD was at all times material to this law suit and still is at present the main opposition entity/coalition in Kenya. CORD’s leader is Raila Odinga who was at all times material to this complaint and still is Kenya’s leading opposition figure. There was at all times material to this complaint and continues to be, an acerbic and highly contested relationship between President Uhuru Kenyatta and CORD’s and Opposition Leader Raila Odinga respectively. The Kenyan public was at all times material to this complaint and continues to be sharply divided in its support for each President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga respectively. When Defendant states “Ms. Regina Wanjiru Njogu who represented Uhuru Kenyatta in matters political in Washington DC forums and other activities while at the same time dancing and wining with CORD activists to benefit from both sides was found to have engaged in professional misconduct as a lawyer”., the plain and obvious meaning of Defendant’s statement is that Plaintiff played both sides, is an opportunist, acted in bad faith and was involved in underhandedness. At no time has Plaintiff ever represented the President of Kenya on anything or anywhere in public or in private, and at no time has she ever associated herself with individuals of Kenyan origin on the basis of their political opinion or political alignment.
- Defendant also writes the following in paragraph 7 “Ms. Regina Wanjiru Njogu is not the first lawyer to misbehave this way. Many lawyers all over the world are known to mismanage client funds and commit other sorts of misconduct and fraud”. This statement by Defendant is widely cast but defamatory all the same. It places Plaintiff in the same basket of lawyers that mismanage clients’ funds. It also opens the door to speculation in regard to all sorts of misconduct Plaintiff and members of her profession commit.
- In paragraph 5, Defendant wrote the following “When Regina was reached out for comment she came up with a different explanation and posted her answer in the blogs. Stating that she has had bipolar disorder and blaming everything for it. Although known to drink heavily, Regina is known to be boisterous to people who know her and she appears to have met her match this time around. We hope she will continue to take her medicine if it’s true she is sincerely sick”. Defendant’s claim that the Plaintiff was reached in regard to the claims in the article is completely false. In fact, Plaintiff does not know the identity of Defendant as pleaded in paragraph 4. Additionally, when Defendant states that Plaintiff came up with a different explanation, he/she accuses Plaintiff of being iffy or questionable in her assertion that Bipolar contributed to her failure of judgment and professional misconduct. This statement also defamatory as it falsely suggests that the Plaintiff has a history of misconduct, but in this particular case, she was caught.
ACTUAL MALICE AND RECKLESS DISREGARD FOR THE TRUTH
- Plaintiff realleges and incorporates by reference paragraphs 1 through 23 above as though fully set forth herein
- All statements in the article as alleged in paragraph 1 through 23 are made, authored and published by Defendant with actual malice in tone, intent, and conjecture, and with ill-will, spite, and in total disregard for the truth.
- Defendant authored and published false information concerning Plaintiff knowing it to be false and did so recklessly with disregard for the truth. In fact defendant fabricated allegations and claims and presented them as the finding of the AGC and the Court and published them in the article for the public to read.
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- In paragraph 5 the Defendant states “Regina is known to be boisterous to people who know her and she appears to have met her match this time around. We hope she will continue to take her medicine if it’s true she is sincerely sick”. This statement contains malicious intent, undertones, and resentment towards Plaintiff. It falsely suggests that the Plaintiff has a history of misconduct, but in this particular case, she was caught. In the short ending statement of paragraph 5 that reads “We hope she will continue to take her medicine if it’s true she is sincerely sick” Defendant falsely suggests that Plaintiff is not believable in her claim to be ill and that there are doubts whether Plaintiff is in fact afflicted with Bipolar.
- Likewise, in paragraph 7, Defendant writes “Ms. Regina Wanjiru Njogu is not the first lawyer to misbehave this way. Many lawyers all over the world are known to mismanage client funds and commit other sorts of misconduct and fraud.” Further in the same paragraph the Defendant writes “Lawyers must understand that, citizens of the world deserve better and with good lawyers, the world would be a better place than it is today”. These statements by Defendant’s capture the acrimony Defendant has towards Plaintiff and members of her profession and his/her motive to get even.
- At the conclusion of the article, Defendant does not attach the source of information in the article. He/she only attaches a link to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) Order of Indefinite Suspension EXHIBIT J, and the list of attorneys disciplined in Maryland in year 2016 EXHIBIT G . Defendant’s failure to attach the source of the information contained in the article is intentional, deliberate, and intended to allow him/her to fabricate and peddle falsehoods without being accountable for the truth. Failure to attach the source of the information in the article is also intended to hide any information that is favorable to the plaintiff such as the fact that Plaintiff is still a member in good standing of the New York Bar and that she is subject to reinstatement into Maryland Bar upon fulfillment of certain conditions. –Defendant particularly attached the Order of Suspension by the Board of Immigration Appeals because plaintiff’s main line of practice was immigration law. Failure to attach all information pertaining to the discipline of the Plaintiff by the AGC is intended to present ‘half the story’ portray Plaintiff in false light and/or show that the Plaintiff’s character is severely wanting. Failure to attach some of his/her sources is intentional and malicious.
- The article published in Defendant’s blog https://kenyapoa.wordpress.com is accompanied by two different photographs of the Plaintiff and referred to the Plaintiff by name throughout, was made of, and concerning Plaintiff, and was so understood by those who read the article online through google search and other search engines as it appeared in the worldwide web.
- The articlehttps://kenyapoa.wordpress.com/2016/03/28/kenyan-lawyer-has-been-indefinitely-suspended-from-the-practice-of-law-for-engaging-in-professional-misconduct/ concerns Plaintiff and has been widely read. In fact the article is the first search result that appears when someone searches the plaintiff using Plaintiff’s name on the google search engine. EXHIBIT F.
INTENTIONAL INFLICTION OF EMOTIONAL DISTRESS
- Plaintiff realleges and incorporates by reference paragraphs 1 to 30 above as though fully set forth herein
- Plaintiff continues to suffer severe emotional distress because of the Defendant’s extreme and outrageous conduct. Defendant’s intentionally or recklessly made false statements that created a high degree of risk of harm, and he/she also deliberately proceeded to act in conscious disregard or indifference to the risk. Specifically, Defendant intentionally made false statements of fact in a blogging site viewed over the worldwide web that is accessible to virtuously any person with access to the internet anywhere in the world. Examples of Defendant’s outrageous statements include but are not limited to;
- Falsely accusing Plaintiff of mismanagement of client’s funds in her capacity as an attorney licensed to practice law in Maryland
- Falsely accusing Plaintiff of committing insurance fraud in her capacity as an attorney licensed to practice law in Maryland
- Falsely accusing Plaintiff of being an opportunist, a shyster and constar
- Falsely accusing Plaintiff of feigning illness and giving false and lame excuses
- Falsely accusing Plaintiff of having committed ‘other’ and all manner of misconduct
- As a proximate result of the above-described publication, Plaintiff has suffered and continues to suffer shame, mental pain, mortification, and injury to her feelings, to her career and to her employment prospects. Plaintiff continues to suffer emotional distress intentionally inflicted by the Defendant.
- The above-described publication was at all material times to this lawsuit and is now not privileged because Plaintiff is not a public figure and in any event, it was published by Defendant with actual malice, ill will, hatred, and in reckless disregard for the truth in that Defendant vindictively expressed a motive to “get” the Plaintiff. Because of Defendant’s malice in publishing, Plaintiff seeks punitive damages and presumed damages.
Plaintiff demands judgment against the Defendant as follows;
- Grant a preliminary and permanent injunction preventing Defendant from making any further defamatory and false statements concerning Plaintiff
- Require Defendant to bring down the article containing the false and defamatory statements concerning Plaintiff
- Require Defendant to make public retraction of the false statements concerning Plaintiff to be posted on his/her blog and other popular blogs accessible to the audience of his blog. These blogs include Mwakilishi.com, Diasporamessenger.com, Kenya Satellite News Network (ksnmedia.com), Kenyamoja.com and The Daily Nation Newspaper
- Award presumed damages for libel perse as the court may determine appropriate.
- Award punitive damages for actual malice and reckless disregard for the truth in the amount of 100,000.00
- Interest as allowed by law;
- Costs of suit; and
- Such other and further relief as this court may deem just and proper.
DATED: ____________________ _________________________
I, Regina Wanjiru Njogu, am a Plaintiff in the above-entitled action. I have read the foregoing and know the contents thereof. The same is true of my own knowledge, except as to those matters which are therein alleged on information and belief, and as to those matters, I believe it to be true.
I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct and that this declaration was executed at ________________________
DATED: _________________ ___________________________________
Sworn to me this _____ day of ____________________2017.
CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE
I hereby certify that a true and correct copy of the forgoing Complaint for Defamation was furnished by United States Mail, postage prepaid, this ___________day of _____________________to:
Executed on this _______________ day of ___________________2017
Regina W. Njogu
- Article on the blog https://kenyapoa.wordpress.com/2016/03/28/kenyan-lawyer-has-been-indefinitely-suspended-from-the-practice-of-law-for-engaging-in-professional-misconduct/
- Joint Petition for Indefinite Suspension in AGC v. Regina Wanjiru Njogu(Unreported)
- Proof of Plaintiff’s membership with the New York Bar
- Copy of Defendants front page of his/her blogging site https://kenyapoa.wordpress.com
- Internet computer print-out indicating that Automattic Inc. is the Registrant, Webhost and IP provider for https://kenyapoa.wordpress.com and that Mark Monitor Inc. is the Domain Provider and Registrar of https://kenyapoa.wordpress.com
- Order of Indefinite Suspension in AGC v. Regina Wanjiru Njogu(Unreported)
- List of Maryland attorneys that were subject to disciplinary action in Maryland in 2016.
REGINA PENNED THE FOLLOWING STORY
A few years ago, I burst into the scene with energy, brio, and a conquering spirit. Around late 2011 to 2012 and part of 2013, I had everything going for me. I was healthy fortunate, and my law practice was doing quite well. In fact, I was doing so well especially because of ingenious advertising, that I became a household name among Kenyans in the US Diaspora.
As time progressed and the pressure from my work and family circumstances mounted, unbeknownst to me, things started bursting at the seams. I slowly began getting sloppy, reckless, and indulging in excesses. Odd things were happening to me but they were the least of my concerns. When people close to me pointed them out, I insisted that everything was fine. I was still incredibly productive but I was increasingly seeking relief from the pressures of life by indulging in alcohol.
I had my first DUI in 2011 after 15 years of being in the US. Before that, I did not have even a parking ticket!. In 2013, I got another DUI. It did not bother me any bit. I felt as if I was riding high and I did not care. My moods were becoming more and more erratic to the point that I did not feel my essence though I did not have the mind to decipher that things were ‘off’. I began by seeking treatment for anxiety and depression for which I was put undermedication. I also increasingly used alcohol to self medicate, My mood swings did not improve with medication and instead got worse.
Those who met me around 2012 and 2013 could tell that I was out of line or that I was acting weird. Sometimes I would be bubbly, over excited and my speech would be fast and loud. When drunk, I tended to be argumentative and to start a conflict. Oh, and I did not mention that I quit going to church in early 2011, yet before then I had been a committed and faithful member of a local church.
I also had this feeling of invincibility, always insisting on driving when I was too drunk to drive, which led to DUIs and other undesirable consequences. I was impulsive and turbulent. My driving when sober was dangerous. I would hit curbsides or drive off the road and think it was fine. My parking was ridiculous. I rarely parked within a parking space. Weirdly, I did not notice all this. They were always pointed out to me by others and I did not acknowledge them.
In 2013, my mood and behavior became so erratic that almost everyone in my life especially those that knew me before told me that there was something wrong with me. In response, I reluctantly visited a psychiatrist and told him what was happening. He out rightly told me that it sounded like I had Bipolar. I did not know what having bipolar meant or what it really was.
I was put on a regimen of medication which was slow to kick in. Then I had to deal with the consequences of my reckless conduct and error of judgment that I had accrued while I labored under the symptoms of my illness. I also started googling to understand what Bipolar is. The googling helped me understand my past conduct and disposition. I was also shocked to learn that some of the symptoms of bipolar if not all would be considered character defects. These are behaviors that would ordinarily attract judgment and condemnation of family members and society. Society would not consider them beyond the control of an individual but which are in fact beyond the control of a bipolar sufferer.
Basically, I learned that bipolar is a mood disorder consisting mainly of mood swings ranging from mania to depression. During the manic phase of the disease a person with bipolar exhibits symptoms that include; increased energy, activity, and restlessness excessively “high,” overly good, euphoric mood, extreme irritability, poor judgment, racing thoughts, talking loud and very fast, jumping from one idea to another, distractibility, lack of concentration, needing little sleep, abuse of drugs, particularly cocaine, alcohol, and sleeping medications, beingprovocative, intrusive, or aggressive and denial that anything is wrong – See more at: http://ibpf.org/about-bipolar-disorder#sthash.88p92a5d.dpuf
The depressive phase of bipolar co0nsists of symptoms such as poor appetite or eating too much, trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, nervousness and worry, loss of interest in and withdrawal from usual activities, feelings of sadness that don’t go away, irritability or restlessness, lack of energy, feelings of sadness, worthlessness or guilt, inability to think or concentrate, repeated thoughts of death or suicide, chronic pain or other physical problems that don’t respond to treatment, increased risk-taking behavior, including reckless driving or substance abuse – See more at:http://ibpf.org/about-bipolar-disorder#sthash.88p92a5d.dpuf
By the time I was diagnosed with the illness, I had done quite a bit of damage through recklessness and poor judgment. For example, I got in trouble with the Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission/Bar for a case in which I got involved in a business deal with a client by getting her to register my car in her name so that I could save money on insurance.
The case was concluded last October. I admitted the facts of the allegations, explaining that what happened was during a time when I was suffering under symptoms of bipolar and was beyond my control. A Psychologist commissioned by the Grievance Commission examined me and my medical records and concurred with my explanation. As a result, The Attorney Grievance Commission with my consent, agreed to have me indefinitely suspended from the practice of law in Maryland until I am able to provide certification from a physician showing that my illness is under control.
The suspension could be two weeks, two months, or two years or more….. The New York Bar has not made a similar decision despite having the same facts. I have been on medication for over fifteen months. My illness is under control and I am now just managing it. I do not drink and I am not letting bipolar be my waterloo. No one should, there is hope. If anything look at it like this: bipolar is a condition like any other – like diabetes. People can live with it as long as they are on medication when they need to be.
Bipolar requires long term treatment and self-awareness. It can strike anyone at any age. There are many successful, productive, and working people that live with it. For many psychiatrists, bipolar is the ‘best mental illness’ to have because it is highly treatable and those that suffer from it can lead normal lives with treatment. According to some psychiatrists everyone has bipolar – it is only the degree that differs.
On a serious note, if you suspect that you might have bipolar, talk to your doctor before it gets out of hand like it did for me. Treatment is easy and recovery starts early although it could last long. Also, no one is going to deny youemployment because you have bipolar. There are thousands of people – doctors, business luminaries, engineers and the like that have bipolar and work productively. Do not worry about stigma and judgment from people. Those who stigmatize or judge people because of mental illness are ignorant bigots who are living in the 18th century. Do what is best for you; people will judge you either way.
If you want to reach out to me for moral support, email me atn firstname.lastname@example.org. I welcome correspondence with those that have any other form of mental illness.
Lastly, to the community at large, please do not be quick to judge nor stigmatize those suffering from this or other mental illness – you never know if it will affect you or your family member(s). If you choose to celebrate because your adversary is suffering a particular illness, that is between you and God.
In my case, some people went into public records and got part of the information on my Maryland Bar case and sent it to The Daily Nation and other newspapers in an attempt to make my personal misfortunes and tribulations news. And if anyone chooses to use them to malign me, please give out complete information. But I highly doubt that any newspaper would consider my issues newsworthy.
By Regina Wanjiru Njogu | Nungaripaul@yahoo.com