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TALES OF COURAGE: My battle with bulimia and depression

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Nyaguthii Kioi has battled bulimia for two years of her life, and spent the last 10 years coping with depression.

This period has seen her attempt suicide twice. The 25-year old, a trained lawyer, has since dedicated her life to aiding survivors of sexual and gender based violence through activism.

On this World Suicide Prevention Day, she shares her story with Anita Murage.

“I grew up in a really posh neighbourhood. I didn’t realise it then but looking back, I had a really amazing childhood.

I was still too young to pick up on the passive aggressive way my father treated my mother, or to notice that he never provided for us.

She covered well for him. My father worked for an international company and always bought us such beautiful dresses from countries he would visit.

Then suddenly, he wasn’t coming home on time or helping me with my homework. We found out that he got fired because he would go to work drunk.

He ventured into the alcohol industry and opened a depot. Then my mother could no longer hide his real self from us anymore.

We saw him for the alcoholic he was. All his business ventures failed and he eventually resulted to running his father’s business; a bar. They eventually separated in a terrible way.

FIRST ENCOUNTER WITH MENTAL ILLNESS

My first encounter with mental illness was when I developed an eating disorder. I was bulimic for about two years. In high school, I was wayward, getting into trouble especially because I did not settle very well in school. I was suspended and would only be allowed back into the school with a letter from a psychiatrist. This is what saved me because the psychiatrist diagnosed me with clinical depression.

I got into a depressive state in Form Three and was put on anti-depressants. I was 16 at the time. My father did not understand and I remember him asking me “What do you have to be depressed about?”

Nyaguthii had her son in 2014 while still in high school and went back to continue her studies in 2015. PHOTO| COURTESY

My mother, however, was my rock and got me all the help we could get. After I finished that round of medication, I was okay.

I attempted suicide in Form 4 during the holidays. My sister called my mother and she rushed home made me throw up all the pills I had taken.

We talked and I went back to school okay.

I got involved with a lot of alcohol, drugs and sex and got pregnant right before my 19th birthday. I was severely depressed throughout my pregnancy but never told anyone.

I had the baby in 2014 and went back to school in 2015. In 2016, I was sexually abused by the man I was seeing at the time and I was too scarred to open up to anyone about it. I would think about it constantly.

In 2017, while driving home at night, I was ambushed by robbers at our gate. I followed their instructions and they went on to get into the house and robbed us of most of our belongings.

I handled it well and was strong for the family as my mother was not around. However, I started getting terrible panic attacks and developed anxiety. I was taken to hospital and given anti-anxiety medication and sleeping pills.

I don’t remember much about the night I attempted suicide, aside from the fact that I was absolutely tired of everything I had gone through in my life. It all came and weighed me down at once. I took all my pills.

The next memory I had was waking up in hospital a few days later. I was so angry at my mother for saving my life. I wanted to die.

I was in hospital for quite a while, incapable of taking care of myself. I was bathed, fed and tended to.

My psychiatrist at the time felt that I was in the worst state of my depression and the only thing that could save me was electro-convulsive therapy, where they shock your brain as a kind of jumpstart. I had eight sessions spread over a period of two weeks.

Nyaguthii graduated with a Bachelor of Laws in 2018. She poses here with her mother and stepfather. PHOTO| COURTESY

I suffered terribly from the side effects of the procedures such as loss of memory, inability to control any of my muscles and not being able to walk on my own.

After I was discharged, I stayed on medication for a number of months until I felt like I couldn’t go on with them because they were over powering me. I was always groggy. I couldn’t function and my doctor wouldn’t hear me when I requested for a lower dosage or change of medication.

Eventually I just quit cold turkey. In April 2018, I suffered another bout of depression and my mother took me to hospital and I was assigned a new psychiatrist. I also started seeing a psychologist for cognitive behavioural therapy.

I can honestly say my new psychiatrist, Dr Nelly Kitazi, saved my life. We tried different types of antidepressants and antipsychotics until we found what works best for me.

She listened to me whenever I had a complaint about one of the medications, and would change the dose or the medicine altogether. I have been on medication since then.

I managed to go back to school and graduate with a Bachelor of Laws in 2018. I am currently working for a community based organisation that helps survivors of sexual violence called She Matters Tribe.

Nyaguthii graduated with a Bachelor of Laws in 2018. She’s currently working for a community-based organisation that helps survivors of sexual violence called She Matters Tribe. PHOTO| COURTESY

I am supported fully by my entire family. My circle of friends has also fiercely had my back and shown up for me on my darkest days. I think it is really important to have a solid and understanding support system.

To anyone struggling with depression; the first step is acceptance. Accept your condition and do not feel ashamed about it. It is just a disease, like any other physical one and I wish society could stop stereotyping mental illnesses.

For people struggling with suicidal thoughts, I get it. Depression can be so bad that you get to that point of nothingness, when you feel so empty and the only thing that would give you comfort would be to not exist anymore. However, life is worth fighting for and with the right help, support, therapy and medication, one can live a normal life.”

By nation.co.ke

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PHOTO: Kenyan teacher makes heads turn as he meets Donald Trump in The Oval Office

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BY JILL KAUF

WASHINGTON DC -A Kenyan teacher who has won the hearts of many with his humility met President Donald Trump in The Oval Office at the White House on Monday.

Peter Tabichi, the educator from Nakuru County who won Sh100 million after clinching the 2019 Global Teacher Prize, is in the US for a number of engagements, including addressing the 2019 United Nations General Assembly in New York.

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham tweeted that Tabichi’s  dedication, hard work, and belief in his student’s talent has led his poorly resourced school in Kenya to emerge victorious after taking on the country’s best schools in national science competitions.

“Peter, you inspire us all! Thank you for your commitment to your students,” she tweeted.

She wrote: This morning, President met with Peter Tabichi, the recipient of the 2019 Global Teacher Prize! Peter is a science teacher who gives away 80% of his monthly income to help the poor in his home country of Kenya.

Teacher Peter Tabichi shakes hands with Kenyan-born US based journalist BMJ Muriithi when they met in Washington DC Monday. FILE PHOTO

While being hosted in the Oval Office is generally considered a great honor, not everyone thought that President Trump deserved to be in the presence of Teacher Tabichi.

Heatherdb13 tweeted: “Congratulations Mr Tabichi! I’m sure you deserve this incredible honour! I wish it could have been bestowed upon you by someone with integrity, morals and a soul.”

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Rare zebra excites visitors in the Mara

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A photographer at a camp in the Maasai Mara Game Reserve was in for a surprise when he came across an incredibly rare, “blacker” newly born Zebra.

Mr Antony Tira – A renowned tour guide-cum photographer – at Matira bush camp, spotted and photographed the black dotted foul and posted it on the camp’s Facebook page attracting a lot of social media attention.

“At first I thought it was a zebra that had been captured and painted or marked for purposes of migration. I was confused when I first saw it,” Mr Tira told the Nation.

He said on closer examination, he realised that what he was seeing was actually a zebra with melanin disorder. It was hardly a week old, it appeared weak and very different from the others for it has not stripes and was stuck close to a female adult zebra, probably its mother.

The discovery caused stampede in the reserve with tour drivers and photographers, hurriedly taking tourists to the lookout area in the game reserve near the Mara River for the rare find that has remained the top story in the Mara for the last three days.

The tourists have been taking extra clips of this rare holiday experience.

Hundreds of tour vans surrounded the already scared foul, and, according to Mr Felix Migoya the Mara tour guides and drivers association secretary, it created “an additional wonder” for international tourists who are in the reserve to for the last moments of the wildebeest migration.

The zebra has a rather amazing dark colour due to a genetic abnormality linked to the amount of melanin, affecting the pigmentation of the fur.

According to a wildlife specialist at Matira Camp Parmale Lemein, there has never been any recorded case in the Mara of such a rare zebra.

But he was quick to point out that none of the Zebras with such condition in other parks in Africa, according to research, has survived for more than six months after birth.

Due to other abnormalities of this nature, some scientists claim that zebra stripes are formed from the inhibition of melanin and that the “default” colour of a zebra is black. In other words, a zebra is black with white stripes.

Zebras stripes, according to researchers, work to ward off hordes of biting flies that the animals come in contact with on a daily basis and without the protection, such Zebras may be vulnerable.

Animals with albinism have been documented in a variety of other species including giraffes, penguins, orangutans and mice.

A few years ago at the Serengeti a zebra with blonde, rather than black stripes, was spotted and photographed. It was said to have much less melanin than typical zebras.

Until now, very few blonde zebras have been seen in the wild, although there are a few dozen living on a private reserve in Mount Kenya National Park.

Interestingly, the blonde male zebras at this private reserve behave like “stallions with harems”, according to Ren Larison, a biologist at the University of California.

However, while mating is not an issue for zebras with partial albinism, they could face other challenges.

A recent study suggested that zebras evolved black and white stripes to ward off biting flies, and without this colouring, blonde zebras could be susceptible.

by nation.co.ke

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Retailers’ big dilemma as D-Day for old generation Sh1,000 banknote nears

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Supermarkets and entities that receive large volumes of cash everyday are in a Catch-22 situation on how to deal with sales on the last day of trading with the old Sh1,000 note.

Two weeks to the deadline, retailers now want the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) to give them the way forward on how to deal with the ongoing demonetisation of the old-generation Sh1,000 note, which will cease to be legal tender on September 30.

WORTHLESS CASH

They say they may be forced to reject the old currency days before the deadline so that they are not caught up with large volumes of cash that will become worthless overnight.

Naivas chief executive officer Willy Kimani told the Nation in an interview that, besides fake cash, the biggest concern for retailers is how to deal with the old notes they will collect on the last day given that supermarkets receive a lot of cash.

“The biggest concern for us is deadline day. We may be forced to stop accepting old notes earlier,” Mr Kimani said, adding that retailers have invested heavily in training their staff on differentiating fake from genuine cash.

Mr Kimani said only one of his stores was hit by the fake-currency syndicate in the initial days of rolling out the new-generation notes but it was immediately reported. He said cashiers have been trained and it is their responsibility to ensure that they do not get conned.

CBK did not respond to our inquiries on what supermarkets are expected to do. It has however put up a mobile-based SMS campaign reminding consumers to ensure they return the old Sh1,000 notes before the deadline.

FAKE CASH

Nakumatt Holdings’ administrator Peter Kahi says the retailer has trained its employees to detect fake currency and has not received any fake-cash incident in any of its branches.

To deal with the last-day nightmare, Kahi says he plans to bank all the cash collected on September 30 so that the retailer is not left with valueless money the following day.

This comes at a time when fake new-generation banknotes have hit the financial market weeks to the September 30 deadline as imitators rush to beat the Central Bank at its own game. Investigations by the Nation revealed that the counterfeiters are getting better with every revision.

The fake money syndicate, which began in Murang’a, has spread its tentacles into Nairobi and Kiambu counties, taking advantage of traders’ naivety.

It was hoped that the introduction of new notes would disrupt the multibillion currency counterfeits business and the fraudsters’ agility at imitating the new notes in a short span of time is bound to be a big blow to efforts to rid the country of dirty and fake money.

Small traders and those running M-Pesa shops have been the easy targets of the counterfeiters, who have now come up with fake versions of the new Sh100, Sh500 and the Sh1,000 notes.

CONNED

In July, police in Kandara, Murang’a County, arrested two men and a woman who were found with fake money in two separate incidents.

In one incident, a man and a woman were nabbed making rounds in Kandara, conning mobile money transfer agents with fake new-generation currency.

Kandara OCPD Paul Wambugu said the two had conned an agent at Naaro shopping centre where they deposited Sh7,000 and later at Kaburugi where they tried to deposit Sh10,000 only for the attendant to realise that the money was fake.

Almost every week, the DCI through its Twitter handle, reports one incident or the other of fake-money arrests, but the most counterfeited are Kenya shillings and US dollars.

Last week, detectives seized over Sh2.7 million in fake currency in Ngurubani, Mwea East from a bonnet of a Mazda Demio driven by 33-year-old Job Arwa Omondi. Detectives also confiscated assorted bottles of chemicals believed to be used in processing the fake old Sh1,000 notes.

On the same day, over Sh200 million in fake US Dollars, Euros and Pounds was confiscated in Kileleshwa by officers acting on a tip-off. One suspect, 27-year-old Bobby Kariuki Kimani, was arrested.

Another fake currency syndicate was busted in Bungoma last week involving DCI officers, showing how deep the syndicate is, after a senior police officer was arrested with Sh4.3 million in fake foreign currency.

By Nation.co.ke

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