Following the recent challenges we have faced as a nation, there is a need for us to become aware of how recent tragedies affect our wellbeing. This marks the beginning of a SERIES of 5-minute reads to address some of the most common mental health issues that affect most of us.

I believe a better understanding of these conditions will prepare us to prevent them and to better deal with them when they occur.quote1

From my work with children, adolescents and young adults, I have seen the value of knowing when to let family, friends, and professionals walk with us through the challenges.

First in the series will be a focus on understanding:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Loss and grief
  • Eating disorders

As we develop a better understanding of the need for mental health and well-being, I have decided to embark on this journey of psycho-education. May you use what you learn here to educate another person or two.

For ideas, comments, questions and suggestions, contact me through: agollamayah@gmail.com

Telephone: 0710263329



This is the last blog post of the year. Not that there is nothing left to say, but I take the last two weeks of the year to look back on how much I have done and to plan on what I intend to accomplish in the coming year.

My 26th year of life is coming to an end.

2018 has been by far the greatest year of my life. All that has happened since January has brought me closer to achieving my goals. I have become wiser, more patient

At the beginning of the year, I set New Year resolutions. I am proud to say I accomplished way more than I hoped for.


  • Began teaching at the university
  • Writing for Esteem Psychology Magazine
  • Had the most amazing practicum experience for 6 months at Lea Toto COGRI-USAID program in Kariobangi South. Get to know children with so many hopes and dreams. I would say this drove me towards a project I will share with you guys in the coming year.
  • ICAP Training for addiction professionals
With Dr. Lahija (left) and Cindy Biding of Colombo Plan
  • Did my first conference presentation at Adventist University of Africa on the use of expressive art therapy techniques with pre- and primary school teachers
  • Attending the recent conference and training by NACADA & ISSUP on drug demand reduction. Met the most amazing people.
With Susan Gitau of Elewa Ulevi


  • I still don’t know how to ride a bike. Attempts by my friends Gladwell and Ruth to teach me…not quite successful
  • I am yet to learn how to drive…I know {working on my fear of Nairobi roads}

2019 PLAN

  • Learn to drive
  • The bike thing
  • More exercise and healthy eating (if you know me you know sugar and snacks are a major problem)
  • Saving up for a car
  • More social work projects
  • Travel and relax more


Jon…another year with you and I still can’t get enough. The very air I breathe. The reason I want to be better every single day. To many more my precious (in Gollum’s voice).

Dr. Margaret Kagwe- an amazing psychologist. Thank you for making me see the value of psychology in people’s lives. The Esteem Magazine…a true testament of your dreams materializing

Diana Walegwa an amazing soul; how you manage to live such a spiritual life without trying to impose it on anyone else is beyond me…I love it. And for keeping me smiling all year long with INSANE memes. You have taught me so much.

Faith- my little sister. Thanks for being the grown up all year long. For reminding me of the reason for my struggles every single day. For dragging me out of my sad phases and tears through the year. For religiously sharing every post update just to make sure all my mental messages reach as many people as possible. I don’t know what I would do without you.

Keziah Kamau- debriefing sessions with you…the best. We need one soon.

Josephine Akisa- nyaminwa from the very beginning. Another great year with a great friend. You have made the academic struggle manageable.

Gladwell Pamba, Ruth Ndeto, Linda Nyathiwa- I still think y’all are way too upbeat and loud. Exactly what my quiet life needs. We should do something fun soon. I even promise to not be too uptight haha. Couple of dance moves I wanna unveil…

My Students at Nazarene- y’all make me feel like I have accomplished a lot. I may be the teacher but I have learnt a great deal from you.

Dr. Olubusayo Akinola you are a ray of sunshine; proof that a woman with dreams is unstoppable. Susan Gitau, Dr. Lahija and Cindy Biding…learnt a lot from these three ladies.

PS/ Susan Gitau was awarded the very first award for ISSUP Services to Drug Demand Reduction 2018.

The Award
Susan Gitau of Elewa Ulevi

I know this is a list of my accomplishments…but if my mentor is honored….it is a great reminder that I am getting inspired by the right people in my field. So, I am celebrating like it was my own award.


To all who have subscribed and continue following my writings, Thank you. From the bottom of my heart…THANK YOU

May the new year bring you immense joy. May it bring you closer to your life’s dreams and goals.



Parents of students who did their KCPE and will soon get their results. Parents of KCSE students who will get theirs before the year ends. Before Christmas.

Courtesy: Topsimages

Now, while I know a significant portion of your children will excel, I am concerned about those who won’t. Will you let the results set the tone for the festive season? When you get your son’s or daughter’s results and they are disappointing. Will you:

  • Shout and scream about how they are not good enough?
  • Say you knew they would fail?
  • Remain silent in your disappointment?
  • Compare them to a neighbor or friend’s child who did better?
  • Say something that will not only break their hearts but also stay with them for the rest of their lives?


Courtesy: Dreamstime

None of these are options to consider. We have been down this road before. Imagine the anxiety the children have now. Worrying if they will do well enough to make it to their dream school. If they will score enough to make you and the multitude of relatives patiently waiting for the results proud. If they will score enough to impress their friends. If they will score enough to surpass goals they have set for themselves.

Let us not forget last year’s case of a student who resorted to jumping into a well after receiving her results. I hate to bring up a case such as this but I need us to understand the magnitude of the risk in the coming weeks.

Search yourself as a parent, as a guardian. If you didn’t do well in your own exam years back, then you are in a good position to guide and support the children in accepting their results and working on the next step in moving towards their goals. If you excelled in your own exam, you must come to terms with the fact that you and your child are two separate beings; with different abilities, dreams and coping mechanisms.

To the parents of those who excel, celebrate and acknowledge their effort. Instill in them a desire to do more to achieve their goals. To the parents of those who did not do well;

  • Be a source of strength in this trying time for your child
  • Be aware of your own expectations; the child is not a channel for you to realize dreams you failed to achieve
  • Make it easy for the child to share with you his goals, hopes and dreams
  • Motivate and encourage them to remain focused on their goals
  • Work with the child in finding solutions and engaging the child in activities allowing him/her to find strengths, talents and abilities

As you and I know, achieving success in life is a complex journey. Academic performance is just but one part of it. Self-worth and believing in one’s own abilities and competence is of significant value to long-term success.

Do not break your child’s spirit with your words and actions. There are greater challenges ahead of them. They need all the support they can get from you.


Its graduation season!!!

Congratulations to all the graduates from AFRICA NAZARENE UNIVERSITY’S ceremony yesterday

It was a truly memorable day. Let the Nazarene flag fly high as you go out into the world. Seeing the evidence of years of effort and struggle is a truly amazing thing.

But,… beyond the graduation day, what is next?

I know we take the time to send congratulatory messages, gifts, and through parties in honor of the achievements of the graduates. In a few days, all that will be gone, leaving the person with a new problem.

I am no longer a student.

Will I be able to get a good job?

Will I be able to get a well-paying job?

I have heard stories of people ‘tarmacking’ for years and finally resorting to other means of having an income.

Am I ready to fend for myself?

These are all concerns that if not adequately addressed could push the young adult into an unhealthy state. I never wanted to go for my Bachelor’s graduation ceremony back in 2015. Not that I wasn’t happy with my accomplishment, but as it is in my habit, I was already looking ahead and worrying about whether I would get a well-paying job and take care of myself. I didn’t want to go back home. Two days after the graduation, I sent out 20 applications; none got a reply. Without reassurance from my cousin Mitchelle Bunde, I wouldn’t have had the strength to keep sending out applications.


I will not lie to you, it will be difficult for some, not all. This is not an excuse for you to give up and put all the blame on the government for the unemployment crisis; you get up and you do what you can for yourself. I have had many students come up to me at the end of classes and ask;

Maryanne do you know anyone looking for accountants, HR assistants, counselors….? (You get the point) If I could, I would get jobs for every student that comes my way.

Worried students looking for a job
Courtesy: iStock


  1. Create a comprehensive LinkedIn profile; this is a great way to interact with professionals in your field and potential employers
  2. Network with former school mates
  3. Go for workshops and trainings (both free and paid) whenever you can. Most of these are organized by leaders in the respective fields. Be interactive and share your views; a chance for you to be noticed by potential employers. Do not be afraid to walk up to them and ask for advice.
  4. Give back to the community; volunteer and charity work add significant value to your CV especially for helping professions like social work and counseling.
  5. Do not be afraid to look beyond your profession; many people today work in fields they did not initially train for. Teachers working in banks etc. do not limit yourself. If you are open-minded and willing to learn, you will be able to thrive in more than one area.
  6. Be careful with comments and views shared on social media. As part of the recruitment process, potential employers may try to know the kind of person you are through your social media platforms. Do not let vulgar, intolerant and inappropriate views on social media cost you the career opportunity of a lifetime.
  7. Start a business. With so many market places on Facebook and other platforms, you can start an online business and make deliveries to your clients. A good way to earn money as you continue looking for employment.
  8. Do not compare yourself to others; it may seem unfair that you struggle to get work even when others seem to have it easy. Focus on your goals…each of us has a different path.
  9. Do not give up easily.


  • Teach them the job search experience is different for everyone; some already have jobs waiting for them while others have to put in more effort
  • Teach them how to write CVs.

A lot of CVs and cover letters sent to me have had grammatical and formatting errors. While this may be something many overlook, it says a lot about you as a professional.

  • Teach them the value of volunteer work and taking opportunities that build experience and soft skills
  • Help them create side hustles with their talents and business ideas
  • Teach them that in some situations, one may have to take a less-paying job even as they continue in the search for their dream job
  • Invest in their ideas
  • Teach them financial management skills and the value of budgeting and saving no matter how much they earn.

Worried about job prospects and growth in your career, don’t be afraid to reach out. Let’s have a chat.

You know a recent graduate? SHARE THIS WITH THEM.





To all the ladies out there, you have about ten more days of this amazing month. I am hoping you have already taken advantage of the free breast exam and subsidized costs in related checkups countrywide.

Courtesy: Tracktone

Cancer is a disease most of us do not focus on enough. Sadly enough we never imagine it can affect us until it happens. So, with the remaining days, take responsibility for your health. Drop by a hospital offering the services.

And considering the how strained we have been in this economy, this is the month we can have these services cheap.  Already did mine at MP Shah; amazing staff…and they take time to carefully teach you how to do your own breast exams especially during your ‘periods’.

For their services, check the pic below.

breast cancer

Anyway, have an amazing night friends.

Share this with the ladies in your lives.


We have been taught all about accepting yourself as you are, flaws and all. I know about believing in one’s inner beauty. I am not saying all of that does not help people, all I am saying is that it does not make your imperfections go away. I am Alexis, my psychologist and my parents think I have Body Dysmorphic Disorder…whatever that means. I think it is just their way of trying to dictate how I should feel about myself. They know nothing. They are not in my body. They do not know what it is like to be trapped in this imperfect being. I am 19 years old now. Been in college a year and things just seem to be getting worse.

My body started changing in Form 2. I thought I would end up with perfect curves like some of the figure-8 celebrities. Every time I look in the mirror, I see my excessively wide hips and big ass. They are not firm. They jiggle when I walk. I hate that. My boobs are way too small. I mean why would fate give me excessive fat in my hip area and tiny boobs? Just between me and you mirror, if I could, I would transfer the fat to my boobs, make them bigger…people would like that. My tummy is another problem. Whenever I have to go out, I wear those waist-trainer things. My stomach looks a bit smaller in them, but man it is uncomfortable (I guess beauty comes at a price…I am glad to endure)

Courtesy: rebloggy.com 

My face has spots. Acne has been my companion as long as I can remember. Every time I walk past a mirror or widow, I check. I check to see if the spots are too visible. I hate it when people look at my face. They probably counting how many new spots there are. There is one upside to this whole thing though. My friend Dorris…she taught me how to use makeup. I am getting better at covering up the flaws. The days when I can’t completely cover them up, I opt to remain in the hostel. Dorris signs the class attendance for me and brings the notes to the hostel. I would very much rather stay indoors, away from their judging eyes.

Courtesy: HerBody mDhil

Dorris tries to convince me to get out often. She says I am beautiful. But, that’s just her trying to be a good friend. I see my body everyday in the mirror, the person I see looking back at me…is definitely not a sign of beauty by any standards.

I do not have a desire to be perfect. It is just that there are a few things that could be better looking. I mean, imagine everyday meeting other girls in college with their perfect body shapes, their flawless skin, perfectly sized lips, eyes, noses, waists. And then you look at yourself in the mirror and realize….oh well, I am quite the Plain Jane.

Mom keeps going on and on about everybody being made in His image. Then why are we all so different. I mean, I know there are people who are probably uglier than me, but still, way more people are prettier than me. Part of me is glad I am not as bad-looking as the dumpy girls I see around, but I also wish I was as pretty as the perfect ones.

I know people have more serious problems out there. I know I should be glad to be alive and healthy because many people out there are sick, hungry, dying or having more difficult situations to deal with. But, that does not concern me. So go ahead and judge me for being shallow or self-absorbed.

Does this sound like you? Reach out.


I had been unable to poop for some days. My stomach hurt, but every time I went to the bathroom, nothing came out. I wanted my stomach to stop hurting, so I decided to try again. That time, I tried harder.

I went and pushed with all my strength. Finally, it came out.

It hurt.

It really hurt.

Courtesy: 123RF

I cried, I did not want to feel that pain again. So I decided…I would not poop again.

Over the next few days, I did everything I could to avoid going to the bathroom. I tried to eat less food. Whenever I felt like pooping, I got scared.

I remembered the pain. I tried to hold he poop in. I sat down till the feeling was gone. I squeezed my buttocks to keep it in, but it only got worse.

Why was this happening to me?

When going for a short call, I saw a brown stain on my panties. It was poop and it smelled bad. Everybody would smell it and know. I did not want them to. So I removed and threw my panties in the trash.

Later that day, the others started telling me I smell bad.

They called me doodoo head.

I told them it was not me who smelled bad.

They forced me to stand up. They laughed and pointed at the poop stain on my uniform. They reported me to Teacher Diana.*

I thought she would shout at me for messing my uniform, she did not. She took me to the bathroom and helped me get cleaned. She was nice.

So I told her why I could not go to the bathroom. I told her it would hurt like the last time. I told her I did not mean to poop my pants. I told her I tried my best to hold it in. She did not get mad at me.

She told me she knew someone who could help us.

She talked to mom and dad so they wouldn’t get mad at me either.

They brought me to the doctor with the white coat.

They said they would also take me to a different kind of doctor.

One that would talk to me and help me not feel bad anymore about the accidents I have been having.

One that would help me stop being afraid of going to the bathroom.

I just want everything to go back to the way it used to be.



They think I hate people. Being around them overwhelms me. Getting picked to answer questions in class. Standing in front of a crowd. Being asked to introduce myself. Being the center of attention. Even waiting for my turn to read a paragraph in English class is a problem, as the others take turns and it gets closer to me, my heart beats faster, I sweat, my hands shake, I feel like suddenly going to the bathroom.

social 1
Courtesy: STAR Institute

I have always been quiet. I like it. I prefer being invisible. I prefer being alone with my drawings and books. My two older sisters are different; they are loud and friendly. The neighbors, relatives and people at school love them. Everyone loves them. Me…they think I am a weird child.

I have heard relatives ask mom what is wrong with me. Why I do not behave like a normal child. One time, an aunt insisted on mom explaining if she took ‘something’ when pregnant with me. She said, “Nilisoma mahali ati kuna madawa au chemical flani zikikufikia ukiwa mja mzito unaezazaa mtoto haeleweki kabisa. Sisemi ana shida, nasema tu itabidi ajifunze kuongea na watu.” [I read somewhere that there are drugs or chemicals that can make you give birth to an odd child. I am not saying she has a problem, but she will have to learn how to speak to people]

Mom doesn’t like my silence. At first, I thought she didn’t like me. I thought it was the disappointment of me not being more like my sisters. Now I think the silence just makes her uncomfortable.

She gets angry with me whenever she has guests. I often try to slip away and stay in my room until they are all gone. During last month’s chama meeting at our house, she came shouting about how disrespectful I was for not going to greet the women in the living room. She held me by the ear and dragged me to the living room. My siblings in tow, laughing their heads off.

I felt a pain in my chest, I couldn’t breath, I couldn’t hold back the tears. She made me greet them one by one. They looked at me. Was that pity?

They were probably judging me for being weird.

They probably enjoyed the embarrassment mom was subjecting me to.

Mama Joy laughed. She probably thinks I am pathetic.social2

I know time has passed but every time I see any of them on the streets, I go back to that moment.

I hate myself. I want to be like the others. They have no issues expressing themselves. They have no issues standing in front of people. I do not know how to do it. When I try, I only embarrass myself and wish I was invisible.

People at school think I am a snob. They think nina madharau because my dad is wealthy.

No one understands how hard it is

I wish I could stay in my room forever

I wish there was no school

The teachers would not shout at me for being unable to answer questions without stuttering

The other kids would not make fun of me for sitting along during lunch break

They would not mimic how I stand with my shoulders drooping and eyes to the floor

I would be safe in my room away from all these judgmental people who don’t get me



“I walk out of my house once again. Lock the door, look at myself in the window reflection and once again wear a smile…big enough to cover the emptiness I feel inside.  Shove the pain deep down. People say they know what a depressed person looks like. I have been depressed for as long as I can remember. But if you met me, my loud, fun and bubbly attitude would leave you wishing you were as happy as I am.

I am sad. I have been for so long. Most days I struggle to get out of bed. It takes me almost an hour to literally find the one thing in that day that will give me the reason to get up.

Courtesy: ClipartXtras

Trapped in this body.

It is dark in here. It is empty…its cold…its lonely.

I am 29 years old now. I have a fairly good life by typical standards.

I have a well-paying job.

I am beautiful (should lose a few kilos, but otherwise still cute)

A good-looking partner who is stable and hardworking.

I live in a decent neighborhood.

I eat good food.

I hoped by now I would be married with at least a child. I pictured myself dropping off my kid at the daycare before driving my little vitz to work. Having my husband call in at lunchtime to check on me and remind me how much he loves me. To know that at the end of the day I would be heading home to cook with him, talk about the day, put our little one to bed and hit replay the next day.

But…my life has no meaning. It has no purpose.

I am stuck.

I live alone. Because of work, he always travels; I only see him once or twice a month. He rarely calls or texts unless I do it. I have waited five years for him to bring up the marriage issue. Finally, I had to bring it up myself. His response, “I am not yet ready.”

I look at the people we grew up with. The people we went to school with. They have families. Promotion after promotion. They always posting about how God has blessed their lives. And I sit here wondering where my blessing went.

Most nights I lie there wondering about how many ladies he has been with in his many trips. I know this because I once found a pack with one unused cd in his traveling suitcase. I never even asked about it.

I keep alcohol in the house. Most nights are easier drinking. I would cheat, but I do not have the power to drag another person into this darkness.

I once confided in a friend. She looked at me and scolded me about how ungrateful I was. Her words “There are so many women stuck in relationships where they are cheated on, beaten, not given the freedom you have, and not even supported financially. You have a good job, a man who doesn’t beat you and you are here complaining because you think he cheats? Listen girl, all men cheat.  Just get you one that cheats using condoms but still treats you well na utulie. And from the looks of things, you already have him, so I do not understand why you are bitching.”

So here I am, loyal to an underserving man, stuck in a job I hate, having all the materials things I could want but still empty inside.

So next time you think you gon see a depressed person walking around with a sad look on her face and drooping shoulders, think twice.

I could be the friend next to you always smiling.

I could be the bubbly workmate always cracking jokes.

I could be the wife or husband lying next to you every night.

The only way I will reach out of my darkness and beg you to save me is if I feel safe enough to let you glance into my darkness.

Depression has many faces.

This is but one.”

THE MANY FACES OF   is a new series based on the experiences of people I have interacted with and clients (with permission) who believe their life stories may help others understand that mental illness is different in every individual’s experience. It is my hope that this will help us move from the rigid view of what we think mental illnesses should look like.

This knowledge will help us reach out and save many more and reduce the rising cases of suicide in our nation.

You have a story to share? Reach out.


To all the ladies out there. What would you life be like without pads (sanitary towels)? I want you to stop and imagine what those 3-6 days in every month would be like.

Unable to go to work.

Unable to go to school.

Afraid to sit down.

Afraid to be around people, just in case you stain yourself.

Would you use old clothes to absorb the blood?

Would you constantly clean them after every use?

huffington post
Courtesy: Huffington Post

For many of us, it may seem impossible to think of a time when we lived without pads.

For thousands of girls in our nation, this is their reality. Every month is a constant worry about when the periods will come.

“Silently praying it doesn’t come accidentally like it did last time. When I was in class. All the boys laughing and pointing at my stained uniform. The girls embarrassed but not coming to my aid. Next month I will be ready. Since I know mother still won’t have the money for the pads I need, I will calculate. I will try to skip school a day or two before the periods begin. At home, no one will laugh at me. I will lie and tell the teachers I was ill and resume school the week after. I don’t know for how long …how long will they believe my lie?”

Without access to a regular supply of sanitary towels, many of our girls are forced to skip school to avoid shame and embarrassment. Those that manage to get pads try to make them last as long as possible.

“Since the people who donate pads came and gave us two packets each, I do not know when other kind ones will come. So, when it is time, I wear one for the whole day. We were taught it is wrong to do that but if I don’t, I will not have any left.”

Many are forced to wear the pads for long hours. They complain about the smell that makes friends avoid them during that time. They are unaware of the health complications associated with the unhygienic practice. It can lead to skin rashes, vaginal infections, odours, and urinary tract infections. Even if some may be aware, they do not have much choice.

So, while we teach our girls to wear pads for 4 to 6 hours depending on the flow, we should do our best to ensure they have access to these resources.

dreams time
Courtesy: Dreamstime

There have been recent efforts by some counties in our nation to create pad distribution initiatives. It is amazing to see the change.

While the girls in those areas benefit from this vital program, we have to know that many more still struggle with the same problem.

Join me in the effort towards ensuring access to sanitary towels. Become part of the change you want to see in the world. If you want to be part of the program, reach out and see the role you can play in;

  • Healthcare promotion
  • Psychological support
  • Motivation and so much more

We are a group dedicated towards setting aside at least one pack of sanitary towels every month we go shopping for our own. We come together and visit children’s homes and schools in areas where families experience socioeconomic challenges. Join us today. Call or email me for more details.


Today I read a news article about a woman appealing to the court to release her husband after he was charged with defiling her 10-year-old daughter.

There is no nice or polite way to say this. I am sick and tired of reading one story after another and it’s all the same bullshit. Grown men and women taking advantage of children and blaming it on the devil and some other ridiculous thing.

You have a child to take care of? TAKE RESPONSIBILITY

Know what you can do to put a stop to all this.

Knowing is the first step towards the elimination and prevention of sexual abuse directed at our children.

What should you know as a parent, sibling, teacher, or caregiver?

What constitutes sexual abuse?

The sexual abuse acts directed at children can include:

  • Touching the child’s private parts for sexual pleasure, whether clothed or notsexual abuse 1
  • Engaging in any kind of sexual activity in the child’s presence
  • Forcing the child to undress
  • Encouraging the child to perform sexual acts
  • Failing to protect the child from witnessing sexual activity
  • Penetrative sex

Both girls and boys are vulnerable to sexual abuse. The abusers target the children in various areas. The level of risk is increased if the child:

  • Lives in a family that does not provide adequate care and attention
  • Is disabled physically or mentally
  • Has unlimited access to the internet and social media sites

People that can commit sexual abuse

Do not be fooled, most incidences of sexual abuse against children are done by close family members and people they know. Statistics show that 9 out of 10 children know or are related to the abuser.

Use the information, make your child and all children around you safe from the perpetrators of sexual violence.


EMAIL 116@childlinekenya.co.ke