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Hard Gal Fi Dead-Finding the Strength Within and Without, Hope for the Fight for Mental Health.

Hard Gal fi Dead is a memoir told in a unique format. Tameka @tamitsansai Coley takes us through her mental health struggles, mainly with depression, through a series of poems, journal entries, and self-affirming musings. The poems take us through various experiences that might have contributed to bouts of depression; verbal abuse, death of loved ones, murky sexual encounters, and dysfunctional relationships. Favourites include "Single", "Full Cup of Wombman", "Letters to Dead Men", "The Rising", and "Phoenix Flight".

Journal entries are from time spent in the psychiatric ward and how therapy helped her to find some light at the end of the tunnel. The daily affirmations are notes to herself that remind her of all she has been through, and that she has made it through storm after storm. These writings are of a soul finally facing conditions that have played a part in crippling the way she moved through and interacted with others, how it affected her relationship not just with herself, but with every one who passed through her life. We enjoyed her meeting 'The Guru', who became more than a therapist and left such an indelible mark on her life, in the way he understood her, the way they bonded over similarities and how much he helped her help herself.

One line that stood out was a nurse at the hospital saying to her: "'re way too pretty to be in a place like this, or to be depressed all the time." This shows some of the ridiculous stereotypes that are attributed to mental health(even by those who should know better), as if one has to be 'ugly', or 'uneducated' or 'other', in order to experience mental health issues. This memoir is an important avenue in opening up the mental health conversation in Jamaica, as information is sorely lacking on the topic, and stereotypes regarding mental health are seen as truth. Existing in a society that is rather dismissive of persons with mental health issues is, to say the least, difficult. But having a voice like Tami's, connecting the dots, sharing of herself and what she went through, speaks to a hope for more being done in tackling the misconceptions, the prejudice and working towards fair treatment for all.

Though these writings are a way for @tamitsansai to come to terms with her past, exist as she is in her present and work towards her future, it is also a way for her to share her pilgrimage in accepting her depression, the ups and downs of treatment, facing loss, and emerging on the other side ready to find and fight for her purpose and worth.

We are here for Tami walking in her purpose and cannot wait for what is to come.


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