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Lucy Jilly Akinyi

The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four people is suffering from a mental illness. Look at your 3 best friends. If they are okay then it’s you.

Rita Mae Brown

I don’t know how true this is you be the judge.

Making a difference doesn’t require you to be loaded like Bill Gates or famous. You make do with what you have.In this interview find out what psychology student lucy Jilly Akinyi is doing to change the mental health narrative in this country

Tell us about your background

I am the second born with two amazing sisters. I was born early in the morning, hence the name Akinyi. My parents are my number one idol. I schooled in different schools across Nyanza, Western and Nairobi county. I always aspired to be a Doctor but ended up studying Medical Psychology in Moi University.

Can you pin point a moment in your life when you realized that I want to be a psychologist
Being a Medical Psychologist wasn’t my first plan in life. However, my training in that field began early, as I was a peer counselor from form 1-4, handling many and different issues. I first become interested in the field of mental health when it hit close to home. I noticed how several times people suffered in silence because of a mental condition and even contemplated suicide.

What is the craziest thing that happened to your while you were studying clinical psychology

It occurred when I was in my second year…we were having rotation in the mental unit. It was my first rotation in that unit since in first year we major in medical wards practicing nursing skills. After our rotations with the tutor, a female patient took my hand and started to pull me away , I was a little scared but maintained my calm until the psychiatric nurse came to intervene. It was scary but with time you eventually know how to handle yourself in such situations

What is the biggest barrier to mental health in Kenya?
Inadequate knowledge on mental illness and the disorders thereof. This results into stigma and discrimination of people living with or affected with mental illness. When we lack the proper knowledge, we often have a formed negative perception of mental illness and the mentally ill. In addition to that in the traditional African setting people attribute it to witchcraft or sorcery.

Suicide according to WHO is the 2nd leading cause of death among 15 – 29 year olds globally accounting for 1.4% of all deaths worldwide. There also indicators that out of each adult that dies 20 others were attempting suicide. While we may never know or understand why someone would commit suicide there are signs to watch out for. What are they?
An organization known as SAVE indicted the following warning sign to suicide:
Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself;
Looking for a way to kill oneself;
Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose;
Talking about feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain;
Talking about being a burden to others;
Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs;
Acting anxious, agitated, or reckless;
Sleeping too little or too much;
Withdrawing or feeling isolated;
Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge; and
Displaying extreme mood swings.

Thoughts of Suicide often creeps in with depression , suicide is always a symptom of a particular mental disorder. It can be a mood disorder (depression /bipolar), Eating disorder (Anorexia/ Bulimia), PTSD, Anxiety Disorders, Sleep disorders…the list is endless..Early treatment and management is thus important to prevent suicide.

We cannot speak about suicide and fail to mention depression. WHO also determined that 300 million people globally suffer from it with many cases going unnoticed. I suppose this is because people do not understand what it is. What do you think are the common myths about depression and help us debunk them
I hear many people say the word, ‘I am depressed,’ and they really don’t know what they are talking about. But what they really mean is that they are stressed. Depression can last for weeks to months with catastrophic symptoms such sleep disturbance, anhedonia, pervasive fatigue / loss of energy, difficulty concentrating, recurrent thoughts of death.

The myth that depression and stress are the same is wrong, as stress can go away upon the absence of a stressor while depression won’t. That is the only myth am currently aware of.

There is a lot of stigma surrounding mental health not only in Kenya but also globally. What can we do to change the mental health narrative so that people may get help without fear of being shunned or labelled
There is a lot going round to change the narrative, such as mental illness drive in the communities, for instance the one I organized in Langas, Eldoret to educate community members on different disorders. However, more needs to be done by all of us. We need to openly talk about mental illness in our groups, write about it, listen to your friend when they talk about issues in their lives , refer someone to a mental health professional. The more we advocate for mental health, the narrative changes hence the slogan, ‘Their is no health without mental health.’

Correct me if I’m wrong. Isn’t it stressful to help other people deal with their problems. How do you deal with it?
It is stressful at times like any other job. I know I can’t help someone if am not mentally up to the task, so I unwind by turning to my hobbies to keep me mentally healthy. I love playing basketball, hanging out with my friends and writing contemporary works.

Books give a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. Plato. Who is your favourite author or favourite book
Love the quote by Plato. My favorite author and book depends on the genre. But my all time favorite is Paulo Coelho. His book: Aleph.

You are also a blogger and together with your friend run a medical psychology website. Tell us about it.
I saw the need, felt it, and ran it. I knew we needed a platform where every new student admitted to our course can access learning materials, know about their lecturers, interact with Alumni, with no effort…hence together with a friend we created and launched the Mpy website that still runs up to now:
I blog because it give me space to share my thoughts

Let’s talk basketball.
So you played in high school and also in your first and second year at uni. Did you ever think of playing professionally and which is your favourite team or player?
I actually thought of playing professionally for a club at one point, but then I realized I may not have the time and my career goals were different.

NBA it’s Stephen Curry, team Golden State Warriors. WNBA it’s Candace Parker, team: LA sparks

Five possessions that you can’t leave without
Bible ,Family ,Notebook ,Pen ,DSM IV manual(Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental disorders)

If a kid walked up to you asking for your advice and you only had a few minutes to give them your best advice what would it be?
Where there is a will, there’s a way

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2am: the truth about depression


Heart beating fast

A feeling of dread fills your stomach

Panicked breaths and clammy hands

You try to catch your breath

You feel anxious and afraid

Its like you are trapped in a prison

The question however is how long have you been an inmate?

How long have you been withering dying and decaying?

How long have things been falling apart?

How long have you been drowning in fear dying quivering in defeat?

Being swallowed into the abyss stressed out trying to please people you don’t even like.

Loosing yourself into the abyss called ‘normal’ conforming to the standards of society shrinking your dreams to fit into reality simply loosing yourself into nothingness.

Tears crawling down your cheeks.

A feeling of unfeeling emptiness numbness hangs around you like a shadow stalking you like a faceless death eater from Azkaban.

During the day you smile, laugh tell jokes pretending to be fine.

Everyone thinks you have it all that you are so lucky so happy.

Its true you are lucky I mean compared to a person living in a refugee camp or trapped in a war torn country you are quite lucky.

All suffering is personal not comparable to another’s magnitude.

At 2 am as you lay in bed on a tear socked pillow only you feel the burden on your shoulders weighing you down anchoring you into a bottomless sea of sadness.

Mirror mirror on the wall who is the fairest of them all.

The silver surface looks blankly back at you.

A pair of dull brown eyes or obsidian coals stare at you

Eye bags hanging mockingly reminding you of all the countless 2ams and 3ams

You face seems hollow eyes devoid of hope emotionless cold and terrifying

You try to smile seems even your facial muscles are against you refusing to cooperate

You look at your body noticing how the jeans that fit you a few months now hung loosely – weight lose screaming at you

In anger you fling a shoe at the mirror watching as it shatters and the pieces lay broken and scattered just like your heart lays beaten and battered in your ribcage.

A problem shared is a problem half solved they say.

You fish out your phone and look at you contact list.

You flick through searching from A to Z but you can’t choose a person to call because your gut is telling you that none of then seeing your name will answer.

If you are struggling and your people are just sitting there watching you struggle ….they are not your people,” said Steve Maraboli.

“I should have listen to my gut,” you think to yourself

“Yes you should have,” answers your gut

“I’m so sorry ,” you whisper violent sobs wrecking your body as you slide down the wall onto the cold tiled floor. You can’t help but feel that the sliding is synonymous with the feeling of your life slowly slipping out of your hands.

“I will never leave you,” your gut whispers, ” We have each other because I am you.”

You have to be enough for yourself. You have to be enough for yourself because that’s all you have yourself. People say they will stay they never do. Everyone leaves so at the end of the day all you have is yourself and that has to be good enough.

Wiping your tears you lift yourself from the cold floor like every other 2am and 3 am, turn off the lights and crawl into bed falling into a dreamless sleep.

The birds chirping

The sun streaming into your curtains

Its morning again. You get up as usual

Get ready breakfast going through your routine like a zombie.

You pick pieces of the mirror just like you will slowly pick pieces of your broken life and heart.

Making a mental note to buy another mirror you walk out the door meeting your ‘ so called friends’ who immediately starts telling you about some random gossip not noticing the bags underneath your eyes or simply pretending not to notice.

You smile occasionally pretending as usual nodding fake laughs fake smiles masks all the time damn you deserve an Oscar.

This is you daily routine rinse and repeat.

Night the dreaded nights

Its night again.

2am to be exact

Tears again. Big fat salty tears.

Only this time you cry for the person you have lost, the shell and shadow that you have become, the people you have lost and the people who were never there to begin with.

This has been going for a very long time

A progressive erosion

Like a persistent cancer of the soul.

“This has to stop,” you say

” I have to purge myself,” you continue:


I will no longer let you consume me I will rise like the Phoenix from the ashes.

You think you are Goliath and let me tell you I am David and I will fight.

Pain sorrow misery.

I will not let you consume me I will fight like the Amazon warrior that I am

Like a lioness on the African plains stalking her prey I will hunt you and the devour you. The hunter will become the hunted.

As I lay on this cold bed where dark thoughts consume me and time stands still, I will not give up it isn’t in my blood.

I am running into the fire

Tonight this war is easily lost

Because I can cut into this wire

And sparks turn into the fire

Michael Schulte

For the first time in long time you smile

A genuine smile that reaches your eyes .

You know that you will be fine.

No more 2ams.

No more 3ams.

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How to spring clean your life

Is it dangerous that I feel tired? Not physically, emotionally. I feel like my soul is exhausted like I need to recharge.
I wonder how long I have been tired?
I have always found ways to escape something to occupy mind. An activity to distract me from living.
I wonder how long I have been a zombie a shell a mere shadow of myself.
Or maybe I have never actually lived maybe the mask is finally falling off and I can’t continue being this person that I have always been
What if I`m terrified of the prospect of reinventing myself of evolving and being phenomenal?
What if that is the reason why I revert back to old habits? That in all honesty no longer satisfy me they just make me feel bad about myself.
Maybe it’s a form of self-sabotage.
Why don’t I just stop this sabotage you may ask?
I don’t know. I simply don’t have a clue.
I feel like I need to get away (this is my escape mentality talking) but honestly I just can`t
Its time I cleared the skeletons in my life closet

Today marks the day I return home to myself.
That I begin the long journey that will be learning
To trust in my own power again – to engage life, to
Be light and stand confidently in my own skin.
And when I arrive, I will move gently through each dark,
Narrow room. And proudly draw back the curtains.

Beau Taplin….

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Do we fall in love or do we love the whole idea of being in a relationship going out on dates, sharing a meal or two, going to concerts together, kissing under starry nights or cuddling with each other?

Do we fall in love with the person or do we fall in love with the idea of who we think the person is? What happens then when this perception meets reality? The disappointment that follows. Mostly people aren’t mad at the other they are just disappointed that you turned out to be everything they thought you weren’t.
Of course the disappointment brings with it feelings of heartbreak pain and a whole lot of regret.
Funny thing is that you will dive into the next relationship with open arms as we are often told don’t let the world take your smile away. Sometimes it’s worth it actually you don’t get broken however other times you are shattered forced to pick the pieces again and again. Should you give up considering the fact that it seems like a vicious circle where you meet, go out, tell yourself its different this time then they break you and you pick yourself up again rinse repeat? I don’t know it’s your life your heart you decide.
What about those TV friends who are exactly like you, who won’t hurt you who will attend every function that you host drop everything to be where you even their responsibilities? Let’s be real your friends are going to hurt you unintentionally of course unless you are hanging out with Voldemort. Forgive them whether they apologize or not. As they say (whoever they are) to err is human divine is to forgive.

The quality of a friendship should be made on the strength of the bond and the abundance of love between you, not the number of times you catch up over coffee or go out drinking. We have different needs, schedules and responsibilities. What’s important is that you are there when it matters

Beau Taplin.

Forgiving people doesn’t mean that you keep them around if someone is hurting you too much leave. Unlike in werewolf tales your soul is not chained to another’s. You are free.

She is free in her wilderness she is a wanderess a drop of free water. She knows nothing of borders and cares nothing for rules or customs. Time for her isn’t something to fight against. Her life flows clean with passion like fresh water.

Roman Payne

Then there is the picture perfect guy who ‘everyone’ loves who doesn’t exist in real life. Perfect is just an illusion an endless pursuit to nothingness. Everyone in flawed some worse than others but this is what makes us human. Human in the sense that we make mistakes, we require redemption, we learn, love we hate, we hold grudges, we feel anger, we judge, we are jealous too. This is unlike the fictional character who forgives every single person harbors no hard feelings loves everyone. Even though you might not hate anyone (because hate is a pretty strong emotion) there is that person whose presence just irks you or has habits that make you want to crawl of your skin.

Being human also entails having control of your emotions and desires otherwise there would be no difference between us and the beasts that roam the earth. We have to find our yin and yang the perfect balance between our darkness and light.

We therefore have to reconcile the fact that we are all works in progress with the thought that there is that perfect friend or significant other or even the perfect life.

We are all inherently flawed and that’s what makes us perfectly human.

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12 things that will make your relationships better.

    • When you begin to question whether you should trust someone it means you probably don’t anymore. Because trust really is fragile like glass it shatters to a million shards
    • You can’t save people from their problems or change them they only can change themselves you have to drop the ‘messianic mentality’ There is only one Jesus. In the same vein no one can change you. Its your life you are responsible for it
    • You are gonna loose friends or your significant other either because of distance, change of priorities, fights, lies,unanimous agreement or they could be the fake people. Cry it out. Have a pity party. Pick yourself up. Learn from it. Keep the wonderful memories then for God’s sake move on.
    • Know your worth and don’t you dare give people discounts. When people are treating you like trash walk. Walk my friend because you are worth more than rubies
    • Be kind to others and to yourself as well. Life is tough be the reason someone smiled today You have to be your biggest cheerleader
    • Being kind doesn’t equate to being a doormat. Know the difference.
    • It is entirely possible to be a kind and loving person who refuses to tolerate crap. In fact it is not only possible its absolutely necessary. Naner Hoffman

    • Be careful of the people you hangout with make sure that you can trust them, that they force you to level up, that they value you, that they love you just as you are and accept you.
    • In the same vein don’t be the fake friend who isn’t trustworthy, who gossips about their friends and who constantly puts them down. Treat others as you want to be treated
    • Don’t ever try to fit in just be yourself stand out and be the standard
    • Breaking pieces of yourself to fit into places will not help you belong it will only make you bleed .
      Nikita gill

      Accept other people too. That is the whole idea of freedom allowing other people to be just as you are being who you are different from them. Unless someone’s habits are endangering your life or just annoying like those who insist on eating with their mouths open please let people be.

    • Then there will be those people who will forever make you feel small and unworthy. You know these people the dream snatchers and the naysayers. Don’t tone it down in fact shine brighter because : there is nothing enlightened about shrinking so other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are born to manifest the glory within us. (Marianne Williamson)
    • Be yourself and embrace all that you are fully
    • You carry both lightning and thunder in that space between your bones and soul.
      Become the storm that you are hiding from a hurricane does not run from the rain.
      Nikita Gill

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    And today I was born

    How legendary is it to be born on the day of a woman?

    To be the daughter of a legend who has taught me: to be kind, to be strong, to be responsible and most of all to be myself.

    How awesome is it to have a sister who is worth more than rubies and she has taught me the power of faith, to smile, to be thankful for all the beauty in life and to live life to the fullest.

    Lest I forget my father who has taught me integrity, kindness the value of education and family. I am grateful for his unending support. He is a true legend.

    Of course I am grateful for other members of my family. You are all gems and words can not describe how grateful I am for all the experiences that we have had together good and bad because friendship is the fabric that holds life together.

    Today I celebrate all the women in my life both living and dead fictional and real those who I have met and those whose lives have impacted mine through their biographies and autobiographies. You have made immense contributions in the way I as well many others view ourselves and the world as a whole. Thank you.

    And in the words of Maya Angelou

    I am a feminist

    I’ve been female for a long time now

    It’d be stupid not to be on my own side

    Happy international women’s day

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    This is a guest post

    I know I’m smiling but don’t take it for what it seems
    ‘Cause the only time I’m happy is when I’m in my dreams
    ‘Cause my life is that of a lonely kid cast out in the shadows.

    Full of tears, and many lost battles
    Down in a black hole trying to escape depression
    But you can’t run away from what will always be your reflection
    And as you run away reality is getting nearer
    And instead of changing you, you try to change the mirror
    But what do you do when the mirror falls down?
    Breaking apart as it hits the ground

    And now you have nothing to hide behind
    And now you need the courage you have yet to find
    Because fear and sorrow are just emotions that play tricks on your mind
    Trying to prevent you from making your life and dreams intertwine
    But instead of giving in you try to break out
    Rebuilding the happiness that fear and sorrow took out

    Because the obstacles you have aren’t important its about how you handle it
    Because fear can only be as bad as you imagine it
    And sorrow comes with tears just as gray clouds come with rain
    And then it will pass quicker than it came
    So just be proud you didn’t cut yourself with the mirror’s glass
    And just know the worst already passed
    But if you look in a mirror again, look with open eyes
    So if you don’t like the out, you can take a look inside


    Glen Washington