New Life? New website- I have a new website!

Hello, hello ❤

This is an OFFICIAL notice to let you all know that you can find me at

I probably should have made it official a while ago, but LIFE.

At my new crib, I focus on art as well as my mental health advocacy. You’ll get to see all my artwork and get to know how I’m going through the motions of learning that I am a recovering alcoholic amongst other diagnoses. With the help of one of my best friends Lynne Huysamen, I have gained control over a part of my life that brought much pain. Check her out too, btw. She’s a recovering drug addict and alcoholic. And so much MORE!

Go to my site and see what I’ve been up to.

You’re going to be so surprised.

For real.

New Life New Website blogpost

Guest Blog: Lola Bipola

Lola Bipola’s story…

Our Lived Experience

Tēnā koutou, Sanibonani, Hello, Howzit ek sê

Greetings from the Land of the Long White Cloud, Aotearoa/New Zealand. I’m an ex-pat South African originally hailing from (I’m sure my greetings may have tipped you off) KwaZulu-Natal, living in New Zealand for the past 6 years. I was honoured to receive a request from blahpolar to write a guest blog post here at Our Lived Experience.

My name is (not) Lola Bipola. As Blah pointed out to me the other day, I’m quite lucky to have been given a name that coincidentally rhymed with my disorder. That was some serious psychic foresight on my parent’s part. But it all seriousness, I have chosen to remain anonymous because I’m studying to become a psychologist. You would think that wouldn’t be any reason to hide one’s identity, but sadly, (research has shown) the truth of it is, mental health professionals are the worst…

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#FeatureFriday: Ashleigh Davids on #mentalhealth

Our Lived Experience

Our next submission comes from another dear friend of ours, miss Ashleigh Davids.

I was a depressed teen and adolescent. As a result, I had a few mediocre years according to my own standard. Most people  thought I was doing fine, great even. Besides the harrowing pain and anguish, I managed to pursue fragments of myself which were enough to get me ahead in some respects, but not enough to make me whole and well.

I’m sorry if this blog post makes surviving and thriving with mental illness seem easy or simple. It is complex, intricate and difficult to do. It means different things to all of us. But lately, as I caught a glimpse of tell-tale signs hinting at another bout of depression over the horizon, I realized that I am proud of myself and thankful for the forces which have collided so far  to bring a peace the…

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Ouch! Hernias and brain lesions

*Singing* This cut hurts like a motherf$%^&. AH HA AH HA

This was adapted from my favourite song right now, “This Summer’s Gonna Hurt” by Maroon 5. The explicit version has a real kick to it.

I underwent surgery last week Friday for my hernia, and I tell you it’s been rough. Not that I’m some sort of wimp. Puh-lease. I’ve had three c-sections. But stitches in your navel?! So, so uncomfortable to live with.

Two days ago, I woke up sweating due to the immense pain I was experiencing all over my abdomen. I ran to the toilet, because I felt like I had to “go”. It was 3am, I sat there and couldn’t figure out if we should call the hospital or not. I wanted to cry: poor, vulnerable, sore me just wanted to weep like a baby.

So we call the hospital and their message was like, “take more pain meds biatch.” They said it in a nice way. Oh yes and that I should call my surgeon or my doctor later the morning if I really need to. I do just that as instructed because I went to the toilet and saw blood! I immediately call the surgeon and he said my symptoms are nothing to do with the surgery and I have to see the GP.

At this point, I thought my stomach was going to collapse and that fixing this hernia was the worst mistake ever. Thankfully we get an appointment with my GP and she does an examination of my stomach. Turns out the meds I was given in hospital was overstimulating my insides and I might have another hernia.


And when I’m “well” we’ll do a gastroscopy to check.


“When I’m well” ?

Why didn’t we do this when I first complained about all my symptoms?

I was too sore to be furious. I didn’t want to upset my colon or any other intestine anyway.

The GP added a new tablet to calm things down and I stayed away from the duphalac. *shiver*

The past day or so has been much better! It’s still helluva (blerrie) sore when I want to do simple things like water the garden or make the bed. I have to drive today to my shrink’s office, so I’m a little nervous it’s going to hurt like a motherf%^&* (singing again).

Regarding the lesions on my brain (on the right temporal lobe), the GP read the report from the scans I went for at the psychiatric clinic and arranged for me to see a neurosurgeon next year January (when we can afford it). Sigh.

Hello medical aid, it’s me again.

Here to claim

for my good health,

eroding your wealth

and mine.

Eating at my daily savings.

Hanging onto your emptiness-

your promises in cheap brochures.

Only one thing rings true,

that you’re just a scheme.

You’re just one of those schemes.


Look after yourselves,


I have to take my pills now…

“I used to be so embarrassed when my mom shouted after me when I left the house. “Ilze!! Did you remember your pills!!?” I am not anymore, that is love. Complete love and care and support.”

This too used to be embarrassing to me when my husband would ask me if I took my tablets. I had become dependent on someone else: my worst nightmare. But I learnt over a long time that it wasn’t about him having power over me, or being stronger than me, but rather that he was helping me be the best version of Yvette there is. A stable Yvette with hopes and dreams.

Power to you Ilze. x

Our Lived Experience

Antidepressants. Mood stabilizers. Epillum, Cerelift, Serdep, Seroquel, Lithium, Epitec, Fluoxetine… And so you can add and add and add. Isn’t it amazing how our eyes light up when we hear others are on the same meds that we are? Our meds. We start to own it after a while. Or does it really own us?

In the beginning of this ten year journey, it owned me. I was confused and when my first psychiatrist implied that I will die without the meds (using the metaphor of a diabetic needing insulin), I thought this was surely a death sentence. I am forever different. I have been labelled as weaker than others because my brain plays tricks on me. I have to be checked on and asked about my pill intake for the rest of my life. I have to report back on all my moods and give a full account of…

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Coming Back to Life (Part 1)

This post is full of raw, gut wrenching emotion. And all because it comes from the heart.

A mother struggles with her emotions and inner turmoil as she finds herself having thoughts of wanting to hurt her own children.

Our Lived Experience

Today’s post is a particularly heart-rending one. The subject is absolutely not specific to parenthood where there’s mental illness involved, and it’s very much about motherhood universally. It’s brutally honest yet beautifully written. It’s also incredibly brave – by being so open with us, the author has made herself vulnerable, it’s a big risk to take emotionally. Usually we’d welcome debate in our comments; this time, if there’s any trolling, I will delete the comment/s as swiftly as possible. That said, I’m hoping for lots of comments. (blahpolar) 

Coming back to life

The road from Saldanha Bay to the Northern suburbs of Cape Town was a long one. For someone going through their fourth onset of depression this year, it was even longer. My husband and I were en route to a clinic I hadn’t  been to before, but was promised the support I needed. We stood outside the entrance of the clinic for…

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Community with a purpose

South Africa Mental Health NEWS:
Bipolar symposium at Valkenberg Hospital Friday 23rd October 2015 at 9:30am.

Topics that will be covered:
Discussions will include meds yay or nay,
nutrition and diet,
support etc.

Thanks Ilze 🙂

Our Lived Experience

What makes us different? It is not just our diagnosis, it is how we share it with the world and how we relate to each other because of it.

Quotes by South Africans
It feels as though I am suddenly surrounded by unique individuals whom I have never physically met. Nevertheless there are things that they understand about my daily life because they experience it as well. I guess – thank you internet!

So today thanks to the radio, I heard about a bipolar symposium,  that’s happening in my hood and it is free! I simply HAD to contact the person in charge! Well i basically became the usual stalker person and google the event. My heart blossomed! I’ve been dreaming of going to such an event for years!


Braaipolar on Facebook

The man responsible sounds like such an inspiration, not just because of the event but also because he attempted a Guinness World…

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Ward 13

Haunting images of Ward 13, a psych ward in a state hospital in South Africa.

Blahpolar highlights the lack of resources but also shows the lengths some dedicated staff are willing to go to.

She calls them heroes, and rightly so!

Our Lived Experience


[…] there are only 1,12 psychiatrists, 1,28 psychologists and 1,6 social workers per 400,000 people in South Africa. And, of the 23 mental hospitals in the country, only 18 (mental health) beds are allocated per 100,000 people. To say that this is a national crisis would be an understatement. (source)

Ward 13 is the psych ward of a state hospital an hour’s drive away. I’m an outpatient there, I get roughly half of my meds there, blood tests too, and a CT scan (amazingly enough, they managed to locate a brain). I’ll be taking my treatment resistant bipolar self there for ECT as an inpatient when there’s availability for me to do so. I’ve had nothing but excellent care there and the staff have all been incredibly efficient and friendly. Considering the psychiatric department runs at between a quarter and a half of the staff quota, they’re heroes to me…

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Afrikaans Gedigte oor Sielsiekte en Institusionele Ervaring

Afrikaans poetry about mental illness and experiences in psychiatric facilities.

Karen Kuhn’s poem, My Adres is one of my favourites.

My Adres

Terug onder kliniese lakens,
tussendeur saalgeluide
en verdoofde denke
is ek mal
om letters te skok en te doseer:
myself te sertifiseer

Our Lived Experience

(En twee Engelse vertaalings.)


Ingrid Jonker (oor die dood van haar ma)


Uit hierdie Valkenburg het ek ontvlug
en dink my nou in Gordonsbaai terug:

Ek speel met paddavisse in ’n stroom
en kerf swastikas in ’n rookransboom

Ek is die hond wat op die strande draf
en dom-allenig teen die aandwind blaf

Ek is die seevoël wat verhongerd dwaal
en dooie nagte opdig as ’n maal

Die god wat jou geskep het uit die wind
sodat my smart in jou volmaaktheid vind:

My lyk lê uitgespoel in wier en gras
op al die plekke waar ons eenmaal was

Escape (vertaal deur Antjie Krog en André Brink)

From this Valkenburg have I run away
and in my thoughts return to Gordon’s Bay:

I play with tadpoles swimming free
carve swastikas in a red-krantz tree

I am the dog that slinks from beach to beach
barks dumb-alone against the evening…

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