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“I Am Not Crazy!” Diary Of A Bipolar Menace – Blogger SheiFunmi Shares His Mental Health Journey

BellaNaija.com

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Mental health is one of the many taboo subjects within African society. Once again, blogger SheiFunmi who has previously broken the mould by speaking up about sexual abuse is opening up about his mental health journey.
We hope this inspires someone out there to seek professional help and know that he/she is not alone.

***
“I’m a 17 year old male, turning 18 in a few weeks (here we go with more fan-mail, I thought, rolling my eyes) and I’m a short-term struggler of bipolar II disorder but haven’t had problems for a little over 8 months now, my symptoms have been severe and the stigma making things worse, leaves questions of whether or not to tell people around me what I’m dealing with. I think I’m almost at breaking point, it’s too much to bear, I don’t know how much more I can take.”

*Sigh* Worry and Confusion, coupled with my unstable state of mind, I replied immediately; “Hey! Are you ok? I just read your email and you don’t sound so good. I only know you as a dedicated fan of my blog but I’m here and I care. How are you feeling? PLEASE I am here if you ever need to talk”. I was practically on the ledge myself, but I know better than anyone how helpless this person was feeling.

Sitting in front of my laptop at 7:51am, delusional, hoping I’d eventually get some sleep before seeing my psychiatrist later that morning, he messaged back ; “I feel like sh**.., i can’t figure out my thoughts and i am not on my meds anymore”

“Why are you not on your medication? Did you stop taking them or what? have you spoken or seen someone professionally about this?” I sent back to him. It felt like hours, the urge to sleep was overtaken by the need to help, then the diary of a bipolar teen arrived as his reply.

“I decided to seek help because I was hearing voices and seeing people who were not there. Finding it difficult to distinguish what was real and what was not. I told my parents and they decided I go to church and see our Pastor,you know seek divine help, hoping I was still in shock over a nightmare. After about a week my moods became weird, this minute I am sad, depressed and the next minute I am energized, happy and doing things unconsciously. I took it upon myself to go see my GP, when I explained to her, she diagnosed and assessed me then put me on Lexapro (Anti-depressants) also she referred me to the mental health department for more therapeutic support but when I got home, I couldn’t explain to my parents because I know how paranoid they get and they are typical Africans. A week went by and I just needed to talk to someone who could share my burden or at least listen to me, so I confided in my mom. Really bad move, she flipped got my dad and made me abandon my meds mostly because they deemed it to meds for Schizophrenia. Parents, their assessment says it’s a thing of the mind, clear your head and let God do the rest.”

I was on the verge of a mood-trapeze, his emails weren’t making it any better. I was feeling his pain and shuffling the emotions within. (Bipolar Sucks By The Way!) His issues hit way too close to home for me, I’m Nigerian born, CT USA & Lagos bred. I did not start talking about my health until early this year for fear being of stigmatized, especially as I am media personality stuck under the public eye and I only identify with the disorder occasionally on twitter to create awareness about Bipolar Disorder.

According to National Institutes of Health, “Bipolar disorder is a condition in which people go back and forth between periods of a very good or irritable mood and depression. The “mood swings” between mania and depression can be very quick. Bipolar disorder affects men and women equally. It usually starts between ages 15 to 25. The exact cause is unknown”

I was first diagnosed with BP back in 2008 when I was just starting off college, after my diagnosis I fled and avoided hospitals much as I could. I couldn’t accept it, I’d heard so many stories about BP, I didn’t want to be tagged a ‘Freak’ so I told myself “Hell No! I just have mood swings, everybody has that jor!” By mid-2010 though, I was done running from the problem that was already driving me up the wall, with incessant happy/sad mood swings, being unable to concentrate on anything, memory loss, eating problems, losing interest in things I loved, loss of self-esteem, excessive drinking, no sleep, uncontrollable addiction to any substance that would make me sleep, isolation from everyone and several suicide attempts,

I knew I needed help.

I went back to my doctor and explained it all, forced myself through the assessment tests verbally and psychological assessment and just prepared myself for the truth. I suffer from Bipolar Disorder II which is hypomania (More of depression yet mild hyperactivities). Medication started for me as I was placed on Lamotrigin (Mood stabilizer), Prozac (Anti-Depressant), Zopiclone (Sleeping Pill) which I took religiously accompanied by therapy.

After a year of near-normalcy, I felt good enough to stop taking my medication,in the meantime though, I had not told my family or friends anything about my problems, they only knew I was asthmatic and I preferred to leave it at that, then I had a major relapse or crisis, I locked myself in the bathroom after downing 7 lexotan and 20 piriton tablets.

I began cutting my right hand with a blade and had it not been for a split-second of sanity,I may never have lived to recount this tale. I managed to call for help and NHS Direct came to my aid, calming me down enough to await the ambulance. I got into the A&E, was stabilized by the mental health team and after two days of treatment and observation, I was out of there with my medication back in the game.

The only person I could talk to was my close friend Bassey, who is a bipolar patient as well. She said to me; “Can you connect me with the friend of yours that is very understanding?” (given that she is in the US and I had moved to the UK about a year ago, to study) “I want to be able to see how you are but I don’t want you to feel the need to update me or anyone if you’re not up to it”, she added.

Bassey went further telling me “Use this time to take care of you. When I was first hospitalized, my dad came to visit me and he said, ‘Nyono, promise me you will try.” So I’m asking the same of you. Do what you need to do, stay as long as you need in order to feel better. You are amazing, I was googling you to see if there was anyway to reach you online and I saw all that you’ve accomplished in barely 20 years. I want you to know how loved you are, You may not be able to claim it for yourself or understand it now in the fog but just allow yourself to in the morning. Feel everything you need to so you can find closure and be strong. I adore you and I am here for you at any time. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you need to and even when you don’t.”

That kept me going and I was determined to stay healthy regardless whether or not I had people there to support me or be there for me.

While trying to recover fully from the crisis, I began to wonder what had happened to the bubbling, interesting, funny, happy SheiFunmi? It takes a while for your meds to kick in if you go off it for a longtime, I was still having severe mood episodes but I decided to tell my mom.

The poor woman went into a fit, going to meet doctors to learn more about the illness and worrying herself to death. Oh her research on the disorder only made it worse, she came up with the conclusion that I had become mentally retarded, bless her (no, I am not smiling) I had to ignore her for the sake of my sanity, if nothing else. She messaged me to stop using my medication and seek divine intervention and honestly I did give the divine help thing a shot until I relapsed, of course.

The rollercoaster started for me again at this point, I’d had enough and I just had to go back to my GP, who advised I resume my meds with a lower dosage, so I did. Apparently my medications were not working for me anymore,causing me to lose sleep totally, leaving me awake for days on end and even if I did get a wink it’d last 10-15mins leaving me energized, moody and unable to eat, all at once.

I engaged in a twitter tirade this a.m. after I got the email from the 17year old because I was already dealing with people’s ignorance about the illness plus I needed to vent, I was having an off-day myself with my moods going haywire .

I took to Instagram, posted a picture of my mood/present state with the bipolar awareness sign sealed across my mouth as I poured out my thoughts “I’m so tired all the time.. yet when I try to sleep, I just can’t … Food doesn’t look good anymore, I can’t eat, everyone tells me I look drained,I feel awful, I am happy! I’m sad, I’m spending without a purpose, I’m sad again, I can’t concentrate, I never go out, I love to be alone? I don’t fit in, I am funny, I smile, what is the point, I used to have hobbies but now I just can’t enjoy anything, I feel so blah and I wish sleep would visit me 🙁 ” Being bipolar is an emotional ROLLERCOASTER! Up and down, it never stops! You can describe the weather as being bipolar but the weather does NOT have bipolar disorder (it may sound funny but it’s no joke). Please choose your words carefully. Be aware of the people around you, their moods, behaviour. #BipolarII #MentalHealth”

It is nice being drug free… well other than asthma inhaler, anti-depressants, sleeping pills and mood stabilizers,one can’t really distinguish me from a junkie, I’m popping meds and so’s the junkie *sigh*
Not everyone is able to express themselves or tell you what they are going through, try to reach out to people, watch people around you and if you feel something is not right try to help. If you have friends that are Bipolar, be careful what you say, check on them and pull them out of the shell that BP forces them into, remind them to use their meds because when we feel better, it’s easy to forget, even read about the illness and see how you can help those around you the little way you can.

“You see that person in the office that comes across standoffish or cold? The bitch in human resources who will f* anything that moves? The asshole in accounting? You have no idea what people live with or what they struggle to manage.

Yes, some folks are just fucked up but most often than not, these people are trying to figure out their mental healths’. Sometimes, unbeknownst to themselves. I’ve been lucky enough to try and contain these explosions so they don’t affect other people and it’s constant work. I’m always checking in with friends to make sure I didn’t do or say something to upset them. I’m constantly apologizing and checking to see if my speech is racing or my thoughts wavering and uncentered. Until you realize how lucky you are to be able to think normally without having to cross check you apparently normal thoughts…you won’t know how hard this is.

When I’m feeling particularly unstable, I disappear. I stay hidden and silent until I feel grounded again.
There will always be a disconnect. I can only get so close to people. I need to protect them from my whimsical behavior, quirky emotive flips and bone crushing sadnesses. I lose people that way but I also know who is really in my corner if I can return and they welcome me back.

Like so many physical diseases and disorders, getting it under control is the key. Taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health. I wish people could understand that. I wish they could see that my mental disorder is not necessarily who I am. It doesn’t define me anymore than having diabetes or black hair does” – Bassey Ikpi

“Bipolar disorder can be a great teacher. It’s a challenge, but it can set you up to be able to do almost anything else in your life” – Carrie Fisher
AIDS and poverty aren’t the only things that bring misery and need attention. Save a life, Bi-Polar Disorder patients need to know you care! and i hope my transparency can help in it’s own little way by letting someone else come to terms with what they have.
To people whose “weird” actions are just plain reactions to their disorders. If more of us talk about it, we won’t spend so much time feeling disconnected and alone
This journey is a constant fight, i want to stay alive so i have no choice than to take on the fight and always win.

36 Comments

  1. sweetie

    April 11, 2012 at 9:29 am

    wow, that was amazing of you reaching out to the writer of the email…. he does report signs of schizophrenia so he /she could be shizoaffective and not just pure Bipolar, i really hope he gets help ASAP, i wish him well and you too sheifunmi, God bless you both

  2. LPS

    April 11, 2012 at 9:32 am

    Well written!Am glad you wrote this.
    http://personalstuvs.blogspot.com

  3. 1960chick

    April 11, 2012 at 9:35 am

    Shei is such a brave young man, i commend him for speaking out about a subject that is tabboo in our society, yet clearly a lot of people are suffering from it.
    I know a few people who suffer from depression, so I would like to think I am somewhat sensitive to it, it’s a very lonely illness to deal with because most people do not understand, it’s not as easy as just snapping out of it.
    I think therapy is key, prayer, positive thinking an surrounding oneself with understanding people also helps.
    A lot more people in our society are battling depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and other mental health issues. In the last year I know of 2 people who have committed suicide, young, vibrant, successful and attractive people in their 20s, looking at them you would think they had it all but they were obviously battling with something so strong that they felt the only option was to end their lives.
    People need to educate themselves and be more understanding about mental health.

    http://www.that1960chick.com

    Bravo Sheifunmi, I pray you and other sufferers find healing.

  4. shanneil

    April 11, 2012 at 9:37 am

    Wow dis is an eye opener,d lord is ur strength and I pray for Gods grace to help u deal with this challenge ure faced with, it is well my dear.

  5. Sunshine

    April 11, 2012 at 9:41 am

    I don’t know you and never heard of this bipolar(mental disoder) but am inspired and touched by your writeup.All i want to do knw is jt show love to everyone arnd me cos can’t really tell who has bipolar,i think more awarness shld be made.i so wish i can help

  6. S

    April 11, 2012 at 9:42 am

    You are NEVER alone… That is not coming from a cliche vantage point. It’s coming from the depth of my soul. Reading this, did not stir up pity, it shed light on a truth and that is that no one on the surface of this earth EVER wants to be alone much less feel alone. It is the worst emotion i feel there is that humans can experience. Jesus Christ on the cross yelled out to God at His lowest point “My God my God, why have you forsaken me”. Check out the devil as well who is constantly fighting for souls to spend eternity with. He will go as far as instilling in someone lonliness to drive them to commit suicide and relieve him of his lonliness which is insatiable. From the fatherless, to the widows, widowers, motherless (these partners are sometimes not even dead but that is the feeling). I can go on for days. I can’t tel you much but I’ll tell you this, take your meds (both physical and spiritual) they work hand in hand, God made them both, keep up the faith and fight your battle knowing you have the winner on your side. YOU ARE NEVER ALONE, I love you but you know who loves you more 😉 God bless you

  7. Moses

    April 11, 2012 at 9:48 am

    Wow….
    My prayers r with you!!!

  8. whalley_Richboy

    April 11, 2012 at 10:00 am

    well written piece, takes a whole lot of guts to admit suffering from such an illness that comes with a lot of stigma. God bless you!
    http://www.goodlife.com.ng

  9. kem

    April 11, 2012 at 10:07 am

    yeah i quite agree with you, sometimes most people have an inner fight, confusion but not sure if the other can listen or understand………the world needs LOVE, it doesnt cause a candle anything if it light up another….

  10. Pd

    April 11, 2012 at 10:26 am

    Thank you for this piece…….thank u so much……….

  11. Suuisaidl

    April 11, 2012 at 10:33 am

    My name says it all…

    • Ndidi

      April 11, 2012 at 3:34 pm

      I hope you are okay. If your name is what I think you mean, please seek help. You are not alone and will be missed if anything should happen to you. I hope this helps.

    • spicy

      April 12, 2012 at 10:17 am

      Don’t do it,fight it with every power in ur body and pls talk to sum1 my dear..jst open up to sum1,any1,you’ll be surprised by how much you’re loved..May God help u

  12. Toinlicious

    April 11, 2012 at 10:38 am

    “You see that person in the office that comes across standoffish or cold? The bitch in human resources who will f* anything that moves? The asshole in accounting? You have no idea what people live with or what they struggle to manage” nailed it for me. Thanks a lot for sharing. You have no idea how awesome reading this post has been. You have opened a lot of eyes. I hope we can all do the best we can to be there for each other *hugs*

  13. juliet igboekwe

    April 11, 2012 at 11:00 am

    In our society we tend to be ignorant of alot of things and just believe that once we hear a big name in the name of a disease that God will take care of it. Am not saying he won’t but parents should learn to conduct extensive research(because the world has gone GLOBAL) when anything is wrong with our kids instead of condeming them.
    Thank you so much SheiFummi for this write up and also creating awareness.

  14. ayomide adebayo

    April 11, 2012 at 11:16 am

    as a mother i really feel touched by this biopolar diaorder. how i wish people will understand someone around them that has this disorder, this is an eye opner God in His inifinite mercy will give u and other in this condition divine healing. I have a loved sister (nurse) who is going thru this too, but she is coping with her love ones around her especially her hubby. but ‘am sure we all never knew it is not madness. this post really helped , THANKS in millions.

  15. tj

    April 11, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    although i had come across a similiar article on this blog on depression.that was when i realised i got to do something.i didnt knw ow it started .being a student abroad,lonely and so on .i found myself in this situation.during that time i found out i was always crying and sad about everything.anytime my mum calls all i can do is cry.at last i tried to confide in a friend ,she just shoved it off like u will be fine.this even made me more sad and depressed d more.till one day i realised I AM THE ONLY ONE THAT CAN HELP MYSELF,started reading online about it .i started reading my bible and quoting some of these scriptures anytime i feel those negative thoughts.uptill now i am still thinking of going to a psychologist cause i read online about how these drugs wont really help and can cause some side effects.BUT this experience had thought me alot about life.definately true no one knws what you mite be passing through even if you atleast managed to put a smile on your face .i pray anyone going through this will definately see the light soon .JOHN 14.27.PEACE I LEAVE WITH YOU,MY PEACE I GIVE UNTO YOU,NOT AS THE WORLD GIVETH,GIVE I UNTO YOU,LET NOT YOUR HEART BE TROUBLED,NEITHER LET IT BE AFRAID and also HE also said in his word COME UNTO ME ALL YE THAT ARE BROKENHEARTED AND HEAVY BURDENED FOR I WILL GIVE YOU REST.i listen to more of joyce meyer preachings too.

  16. busola

    April 11, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    I learnt of bipolar disorder at uni and since then, I try to reach out to those affected. It is a horrible condition and although its cause is not clear, but there is a complex mix of genetic and social factors involved. Shei gave out some useful points, we never know what someone is going through… Be kind to all… If your words are not going to build a person, do not say them.. Shei

    • busola

      April 11, 2012 at 1:24 pm

      Shei, may God be with you through your struggles. You are not alone..

  17. cindy

    April 11, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    Wow sounds like my friend in Nollywood Reinvented, hope she has read this pls babes get help fast

  18. modupe

    April 11, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    thank you very much for this. pls does anyone know where i can find a pshycologist in abj?

  19. Tiki

    April 11, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    The closest I’ve been to mental health disorders is an up-close-and-personal encounter with serious depression, but the one thing you mentioned which I can imagine is not being able to trust your own mind, and having to second-guess yourself. I’m gonna have to research BPD.
    My thoughts and prayers are with you. Keep fighting.

  20. H.A.W

    April 11, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Aww.. Bless you for this… Keep up the battle and don’t lose hope..

  21. Tammy

    April 11, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    I’ve tried 2 put a name 2 it all dese yrs bt I knew it wasn’t schezoprenia..I feel so guilty 4 ever thinkin sme tots cos of evrithn..n I nevr undrstood y he stopd usin his meds so many times! It affctd us so much esp mom…so much runnin thru my mind…I knw betr now,tanx 2 Shei! N dis is a charge 2 b kindr 2 ppl cos u nevr knw wot demons dey re fightin! I’ll alwys pray 4 u!

  22. konnie

    April 11, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    Shei, thanks for your honesty. Although i spent 10 years working in the human health industry and thought I was educated on the subject, this piece has been humbling and quite educative. I appreciate you for that and I thank you. may god bless u and I hope u remember that we love you even though we are quite crude with our expressions developed out of ignorance. I will try to be more sensitive to my neighbors. thank you for your sharing this with us and may God bless you. Don’t give up on HIM (God) he hasn’t given up on you. it might seem so but He hasn’t.

    As for [email protected]:58pm go get some professional help. At least it should help you sort out your feelings and decipher whether it is loneliness, or something more serious. Either way, you will get the necessary help you require. GET some HELP!!! Stay blessed

  23. Horpey

    April 11, 2012 at 9:46 pm

    Well written article, result of a good research. You obviously don’t suffer from this ailment and the age you profess certainly is not your true age! Come of this and be true to yourself dude. Good point is that your research has brought to light symptoms of this disorder which most definitely will help parents and guardians spot early traces in their children and wards. Try writing scripts for screenplays, you’ll profit from it!

    • pamela

      April 18, 2012 at 12:57 pm

      Hug a transformer. what a wanker!

  24. Isys Drain

    April 11, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    It takes courage to open up like this, no one can fully understand the pain you feel except those who share your burden, at the end of it all though, you are a winner, a suvivor and the Lord is your strength. In other news though, I am here for you always and for anyone who just needs someone to talk to. It wouldn’t hurt to spread a little love, we all need it

  25. chi-ez

    April 11, 2012 at 11:27 pm

    OK so I’m a little confused. I was told that the mood swings had to be over longer periods like many weeks to months and yes extreme to be considered bipolar disorder. so you might be misdiagnosed it might be depression.well, so me am crazy cause as much as people believe in medication I believe in natural teas for everything.I think first step to healing is speaking(don’t ask me how many times i actually do that) but life is an ever draining process which just seems to get worse if you ask me.ok having a bad day excuse me. but speaking out,music, and tea helps me sometimes.see a doctor though whatever it takes.

  26. ije

    April 12, 2012 at 6:13 am

    My dear, just to let you know that you are not alone in this fight. I have a close relation with a similar case and she usually go for her medical check-ups from time to time and equally tries to take her medications as well. I’ve also gone with her to the hospital some couples of times during her monthly check-up just to encourage her and show her love. I’ll advice you to always take your medications and pray. Read this piece with tears, I love you! The lord is your strength, amen!

  27. Pingback: PERSONAL SHEI: “I Am Not Crazy!” Diary Of A Bipolar Menace | Celebrity Gossip, News & Interviews "iGossip Who Mad???"

  28. Vitalwoman

    April 16, 2012 at 11:01 am

    You are brave and you are blessed! the LORD strengthen, uplift and grant you total healing. Medical professionals are a part of God´s blessing to us and I pray that God grant the medical professionals surrounding you the wisdom necessary to help administer effective medical help to you. I pray also for God´s healing virtue upon you in the mighty name of Jesus Christ! May the blood of Jesus Christ cry out and make intercession for you and others, Amen.
    Remember always this scripture – commit it to memory and meditate upon it always ; Colossians 1 verse 27 … “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
    (Personalise it and say – Christ in me, the hope of glory).
    God is with you always, He loves you more than you can imagine or comprehend!
    God bless you always and forever, in the precious name of Jesus Christ!

  29. pamela

    April 18, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    More power to you and all those who share. This is a beacon, a guiding light to those who feel alone and confused and those who love them and wish the best for them. It may seem like heaping responsibilty on someone trying to take care of themselves to guide others but I pray it will strengthens rather than drains you. Sheifunmi, bassey, yall rock.

  30. Pingback: Dare to Care: Becoming Part of the Solution for Mental Illness | Global Health Africa

  31. Depression Relief Guide

    December 16, 2013 at 6:56 am

    Stumbled across this over a yr and a half later, and I was really happy to see it. Like someone stated above, sometimes it can be mistakenly diagnosed as depression because of the highs and lows!
    Mental health is serious because if your mental health is poor, it affects your physical health. If you arent compliant on your meds, and you have other physical conditions, those too arent treated.
    Its stigmatized not just in Nigeria or Africa, but in the US and other Western world.

    I offer some tips on depression and overall mental health on my website.

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