Elizabeth Ombati

Elizabeth Ombati

21 July 2017 » Elizabeth Ombati

When I saw the news that matatus (public service vehicles) will give free rides to persons with physical disabilities and the elderly during the elections period, I was tempted to say “that’s a good gesture”. I even shared the information with colleagues in the disability movement. But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that actually, this was not right. Do not get me wrong, I wouldn’t castigate something that is done “in the best interest of someone” which is where the problem...

22 December 2016 » Elizabeth Ombati

(In the next few posts I shall be sharing thoughts on disability. This is motivated by my interaction with not only persons with psychosocial disabilities but all other disabilities as well. It is crucial that persons with disabilities fully and effectively participate in society on an equal basis with others. And I feel that the awareness of this fact is really key.)     Do you have a disability? Maybe you know someone who does? What comes to your mind when you think of ‘a person with a...

21 December 2016 » Elizabeth Ombati

When the news broke out that patients were fleeing from Mathari Hospital, Kenya’s main psychiatric hospital, I knew my heart would be broken just as it had been every time such news was broadcast.  It would be broken because I know for someone to flee from a place where they are supposed to find help; then it means one of two things. Either they are not getting the help that is needed; or secondly they are actually facing torture in a place that is supposed to give them solace. This is not new...

04 October 2016 » Elizabeth Ombati

Having a mental illness is not a crime. Having criminal tendencies does not equate to having a mental illness. It is hurting and it is scaring that even media personalities have stated that the man who posted on his Facebook page of having sex with a minor has a mental illness. Editors have permitted comments on this story to insinuate that the man has a mental illness. Do you know what this means? It means that if I have a mental illness I will be scared. Afraid. Afraid to share because people...

02 March 2016 » Elizabeth Ombati

This post has been inspired by an event on Twitter. A user, who undoubtedly was in a crisis posted a number of Tweets seeking help. Not many people are brave enough to seek help on social media especially when they feel suicidal. At Hazina Towers where the Users and Survivors of Psychiatry offices (USPKenya) are located, a number of days back a young man jumped to his death from the 15th floor. I heard some say that he went straight to hell. I told them no one knows about that. What I know for...

18 February 2016 » Elizabeth Ombati

The first time I sat face to face with a psychologist, I remember tears rolling down my cheeks as I narrated how anxiety was ruining my life. A decade may have passed since that day, but I still see the helpless person I had been reduced to on that day. I was almost through with College by then and I recall how the unexplainable crippling fear had reduced me to a somewhat invisible person in day to day school activities. I would have wanted to be the star in the drama club. I would have wanted...

18 January 2016 » Elizabeth Ombati

How is it like for women with psychosocial disabilities in marriages; as lovers, wives, mothers… This weekend during our support group meeting we caught a glimpse into the lives of a few who were gracious enough to share. We shall not use their real names. However, all are welcome for these support group meetings where we get to not only share our small and big victories but also talk about our challenges. It takes a lot of courage to share/ and our support group has taught us exactly that: the...

18 August 2014 » Elizabeth Ombati

I had a somewhat embarassing episode the first time I used an escalator. This almost became a reason for me never to use it again. Fear. I remember reading the story of a cat that sat on hot coal by accident. It managed to escape and swore to never sit on hot coal again. But then the problem was, the cat would never even sit on cold coal after that! Fear. Of escalators. Of so many other things. I remember when I told Mike and Kanyi and friends from the Users and Survivors of Psychiatry support...

26 March 2014 » Elizabeth Ombati

A time has to come when the strong have to stand up for the weak! I was diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder in the year 2009. Of course this was after major interruptions in my life as a result of unexplained fears. The counseling I went through helped me so much that slowly by slowly I started living a life I could say was a lot better than before. I have mentioned this before in my blog posts. I say it here again because, according to the Kenya Marriage Bill, 2013, probably I am not...

03 March 2014 » Elizabeth Ombati

She is passionate about women empowerment. She is passionate about mental health. She is a strong woman; a strength borne out of an adversity so grave it could have killed her. But she rose above it; and as every strong woman, lived another day. She is Sitawa Wafula; a poet and mental health ambassador. I met Sitawa during a campaign to raise mental health awareness in Kenya dubbed One Mind Lend Your Voice. It was many of us, students from local universities in Kenya. Many of us had had...

04 November 2013 » Elizabeth Ombati

The baboon attack was not entirely unexpected. Our tour guide had warned us of the particular spot in the Park where we had to be extra cautious. ‘Do not leave the doors open. DO NOT eat outside your car–the baboons are very aggressive.’ We said Yes, but I, for one, was not very keen on the particular instructions. I thought it was the normal that happens in the Park; the ‘user beware’ type. We passed the forested area onto the Savanna which is the bulk area of the Nairobi National Park. A...

30 August 2013 » Elizabeth Ombati

My attention is drawn to The Daily Nation’s editorial cartoon (30th August 2013). The cartoon implies that Parliament actually should be a mental institution and since funds were to be increased to mental institutions, it (Parliament) should also be considered! I am a member of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry in Kenya (USPKenya) – a membership organization whose major objective is to promote and advocate for the rights of persons with mental health conditions.  Continuously we have seen how...

09 August 2013 » Elizabeth Ombati

I have lived long enough with her; long enough to claim that I know her; that I understand her. I was with the girl all the time. For a long time I knew she battled with the person that she was. Many a time she came to me crying; for she thought she should have been a different self. Better than she. Beautiful than she. Lovely than she. Assured than she. I listened to her. I was with her; just as her shadow/always. I had questions of my own. Why would someone like her want to be someone else?...

19 April 2013 » Elizabeth Ombati

Maybe the worst thing that happens to us is to think we touch no life; to think that we matter not; that we can never succeed in changing who we are and by extension our world. Then we stop acting. Maybe the worst thing that happens to us is to think that our lives are our own; and that if we succeed we succeed as individuals and that if we fail; we have failed the world. And we join the rat race. I do not know what is in your heart; but because I am human; probably what is in my heart is in...

07 February 2013 » Elizabeth Ombati

It’s been a while since I read Viktor Frankl’s Man Search for Meaning about his experiences in a concentration camp. Frankl is the founder of logotherapy and however much I may not explain it in very technical terms; I got the whole idea that finding meaning in life is something very important for each human being. I am writing this piece because lately I have been kinda lost. So I’ve been reminding myself of all the stuff of taking personal responsibility; do not be lost in the past; do not be...

01 February 2013 » Elizabeth Ombati

It was not easy to admit we had failed. It was not easy to admit many other things. We looked, within and without of ourselves. We were determined to find answers. It was not easy to admit that we lost. We walked, with our heads held high, we wanted to fly with angels, we even wanted to swim with the sharks and dance with the dolphins; we were determined; but we lost. It is not easy to admit but we lost. We made many friends; we smiled at strangers in the alleyways; we threw a coin or two to...

16 January 2013 » Elizabeth Ombati

I am a runner, I run from everything; even from myself And I also run to everything… I am always running; From reality to illusion; and back again From love to hate; and the other way round From lust to ecstasy; and to something called love I am a runner I was born this way I run from East to West. North to South.   The other day, I stopped at a crossroad. I wanted to stop running. But then … but then my legs itched Because I could not stop I had to keep running   And now here I am Running from...

Elizabeth Ombati

» Elizabeth Ombati

OMG