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Like Any Other Illness – Understanding Mental Health Disorders

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It is reported that two students of UNILAG committed suicide in January. The first, Damilola Durojaiye, a computer science student hanged himself while his parents were away at the cross over service praying in the New Year. I cannot imagine what they must have thought when they arrived home to see their son stiffening from rigour mortis hanging from wherever it was that he hanged himself. I think everyone will agree with me when I say that that is not the ideal way to begin your year. The second, Seun committed suicide by ingesting an undisclosed substance. The rhetoric in Nigeria is that suicide is an uncommon cause of death in Nigeria. However this seems an inaccurate assumption to make because our statistical measures being what they are make it nearly impossible to determine who has died from what.

For example, a person exposed to large amounts of arsenic will vomit, have diarrhea, stomach cramps and hyper-active sweat glands. These symptoms resemble that of a bad stomach bug, cholera or even malaria. As the poison’s effects progress the person will suffer seizures, go into shock and die within a few hours. Autopsy rates at the Pathology University College Hospital in Ibadan have declined from an average of 19% in 1984 to 3.6% in 2003. If this trend is representative of the rest of the hospitals in Nigeria it is possible for someone to die of arsenic poisoning without anybody suspecting a thing.

While it is true that a singular shocking incident may push people to extinguish their own lives, there are several diagnosable mental health conditions that could cause suicide. These include: severe depression, schizophrenia, Bipolar disorder, Borderhreline Personality disorder, Anorexia nervosa, and generalised anxiety disorder. Nigeria as it stands today does not stand fully equipped to deal with any or all of these mental illnesses. There is roughly one psychiatrist for every million people in Nigeria.

My Grandmother has quite recently been diagnosed with cardio vascular dementia. She forgets things. If she was dressed any differently you would assume immediately that she was mad but as she is well taken care of she never appears in public looking anything but well kept. You should see the looks on people’s faces when she kneels down in front of them at the Palms shopping mall in Lekki and says, “Ekaro sir!” with eager and expectant eyes. When she eats, she uses her knife as if it were a fork. Sometimes she even believes that she is a 16 year old girl in high school. We didn’t know this until she ran out of her room in a panic and said, “What are all these wrinkles and rolls on my skin? They shouldn’t be there! I am barely 16.” We laughed and said, “Mummy, it is because you are old.” Immediately after that conversation she regained lucidity and could not recall why she had left her room in the first place. For the most part she hides it well. I see her carry conversations with people she no longer remembers all the time without them catching on. This had led me to think that the mad people roaming the streets may not actually be mad at all. Maybe they have dementia like my grandmother because I know that left to her own devices, she’d be walking quite happily along the expressway thinking that she was on her way to her fathers house. I need not tell you that her father died many years ago.

I fear that in Nigeria we misunderstand the nature of mental illnesses. A mental illness is an illness just like malaria or cholera. There is no just getting over depression or bipolarism. You cannot tell a bipolar person to stop mood swinging like a yoyo. That would be like telling a person with diarrhea to stop himself from using the toilet. You can turn to God as we do with most things but turning to God should never be the only response to someone showing symptoms of a mental illness. God made psychiatrists and professionals with an acute understanding of these things so it would be sinful to ignore His creations just because you’re waiting for a miracle from the Top Guy Himself.

Even worse than our misunderstanding of mental health issues is our traditional beliefs regarding the subject. A schizophrenic hears things that aren’t said (auditory hallucinations) and has paranoid delusions. If you saw a schizophrenic in full throe of his symptoms, you would assume that he was possessed, suffering from a spiritual attack or incurably mad. Many would not guess that with an anti-psychotic the symptoms could be greatly reduced.

A survey published in the South African journal of Psychiatry in 2010 that studied 208 participants from the University teaching Hospital in Uyo found that even though the respondents were knowledgeable about the possible role of psychosocial pressures and genetic factors in the causing of mental illness, 52% held witches responsible, 44.2% held demonic possession responsible, and a third of them believed that it could be as a result of divine punishment. Now, you must keep in mind that these are the medical professionals. If they are this bad, how bad must the rest of us be?

There is also the problem of shame. I have a friend who is dealing with depression. This friend has no reason to be depressed. He has never wanted for anything including parental love. He has been to the best schools and is himself remarkably clever but this time last year he was scarily close to killing himself. When I asked him why he felt so low, he said that he felt inadequate and inferior and that he felt undeserving of everything that he had received from both God and man. This struck me as bizarre for here was a guy that even on his worst day would blitz me in any exam. He had always been of a melancholic disposition. When we were younger he would get down for no apparent reason and stay down for weeks. As we grew older he got better at hiding it. I always thought that the way he was. I’m sure that he thought that too.

It didn’t occur to me or his family that he was depressed and had been for a while. You’ll be happy to hear that he’s doing a lot better now. He’s on a course of antidepressants and a tight routine that he scarcely ever deviates from. A routine is important for him because the symptoms of depression include a change in eating habits (usually a decrease in appetite) and a change in sleeping patterns (in his case he was always tired). He says that the hardest thing, was admitting it to his friends and family that even when he was diagnosed with it and knew it to be an illness he thought it was an admittance of weakness. He thought it the pinnacle of self-indulgence and I can see where he’s coming from. If you were depressed, could you admit it to anyone?

As I hinted previously, people expect the cure for mental illness to come from God. Most of you have probably seen a mad man brought up to the altar for healing. In my opinion this is the wrong way to go about it. Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child when speaking about her battle with depression said, “We’re taught, `Just go to church and pray about it. The Lord is going to heal you.’ Well, in the meantime, I believe God-gifted people, physicians, doctors, therapists – that’s your healing. Take advantage of it. Go see a professional so that they can assess you. It’s OK if you’re going through something. Depression is not OK, but it is OK to go get help.”

So what should you do if a member of your family or a close friend starts acting a little odd? You know? Talking to himself and seeing things, or avoiding human interaction for no apparent reason at all. Or if you notice that your teenage daughter has well placed half healed scars on her arms, or if you find her eating habits abnormal. Or if you have a particularly forgetful and perpetually confused aging relative, or if one of your friends names herself Sandra and acts differently, then calls herself Bob and acts differently, and then reverts back to who she was. Get them to professionals (particularly a trained psychiatrist and a general practitioner of medicine. Leave your pastor or your witch doctor out of it). Ignore all thoughts of demon possession, witches or curses, reserve judgment and talk to them. Mental illnesses are not contagious. Make it okay for them to tell you how they are coping with it all. Never assume that a mental illness is a phase that will pass with time, apart from if you are happy with the chance that it may be the sufferers last phase.

Photo Credit: essence.com

46 Comments

  1. vanese

    March 1, 2013 at 9:40 am

    educational article .people still do not understand the many facets of mental illness i hope this article educates the ignorant.

  2. Been there

    March 1, 2013 at 10:45 am

    Thank you so much Afam for this.

    I myself have and still struggle with depression. But this most difficult part is the unwillingness of people to understand it in this part of the world. or the assumption that praying about it will make it disappear.
    No doubt, my belief in God makes it easier to handle.
    Sometime in 2010 i visited Omotayo hospital at a very low point, in fact i was almost suicidal….the GP told me that i should go and pray. with disbelief i asked: is it till i kill myself or walk naked on the streets before you know its serious? He said i must have thought about killing myself at least 9 times before i could be referred to a psychiatrist. secondly, i would have to come back on a tuesday when the psychiatrist was on duty. What struck me was his complacency. On the other hand, there’s my mother who tries to tell me i’m imagining being depressed. Some of it is hereditary infact as i have started to investigate. I have quit good job, lied to my family about that, had a nervous breakdown when preparing for my finals (but thank God i made it through), etc.

    I struggle in my relationships, as it is a secret i have to keep away, i’m afraid if i admit i suffer depression it will scare him away. In my last relationship, my boyfriend was understanding and would try to manage the situation when i hit my lows. But i knew he was bewildered by it. of course i would pretend and avoid him at some of those difficult times. I recently started dating an amazing guy whom i love and i just don’t know how to tell him….So help me God

    • IfeD

      March 1, 2013 at 2:02 pm

      Dear Been there, pls find a friend who you can talk to. Also makesure u are on medication and see a therapist. Confide in the man soon enough if he decides not to stay remember you are loved by many especially GOD. do not waste your time explaining to people who want to believe prayers and stop thinking negative will help you. I have 3 cousins who went through this, 1st family was in denial until she was Institutionalized in Canada, by the 2nd and 3rd sister they had started taking them to Yaba Physiatric hospital where they are treated as out patients….Its not your fault, its a disease like asthma, cancer etc….never forget that!! i’ll pray for you, remember you are loved all the time!!

    • jose

      August 11, 2014 at 8:47 am

      Halo. I hope u’ve started d medications. Take ur time, n be sure u want to tell him. Then u have to keep a gd social support.

  3. Dimz

    March 1, 2013 at 10:53 am

    Nice one BN….very very insightful

  4. STRESSOR

    March 1, 2013 at 11:14 am

    i feel you @ been there. Am still struggling with mine. recently i hv been talking alone. am presently under pressure from the office, school and home. my hubby is not romantic and hardly ask to find out how my day was. so i makeup by talking alone. mood swings is very regular. i talk too much inother to hide these problem. what do i do? i hv tired sef. sometimes i even imagin being in a coffin o. pls help!!!!

  5. Ouinni

    March 1, 2013 at 11:18 am

    This is a very nice post.but would have loved it more if there were names of hospitals we could reach out to here..

  6. Dotun

    March 1, 2013 at 11:22 am

    As you have rightly said, turning to God should never be the only response to someone showing symptoms of a mental illness. I also believe that we can all work proactively to coping with such illness by consulting trained professionals skilled in such issues who themselves where created by God. Inasmuch as I agree with you on these, the last paragraph where you advised to leave your Pastor… out of it is not something that you should have added. Different people have different ways of coping with mental disorders or other terminal or life threatening illnesses. Pastors are also educated people and the support they provide spiritually to sick (be it with mental disorders or other illness) people goes a long way in helping too. Pastors, Imams, and other spiritual leaders provide a support system for the people who believe in what they stand for. So, as you consult your psychiatrist , feel free to speak with any other person who can be of help to you both physically and spiritually. Health is the well being of the combination of both the body and the spirit. when one takes care of both then the healing process is more encompassing. A lot of people around the whole have been known to cope with illnesses with unorthodox methods that has been seen to work for them. So my advise is that anyone should be free to choose whatever methods he/she feels will bring the most relief while also not neglecting to see a trained professional.

  7. Jen

    March 1, 2013 at 11:26 am

    Very educating. My mum is schizophrenic (25years), so i can relate to this article. You would totally fall in love with her when in good health. It’s so sad this society has no understanding of people with these ailments. Nice post again…

  8. lilz

    March 1, 2013 at 11:34 am

    Nice but there,s absolutely nothing wrong with praying and believing God for a miracle. i have had my fair share of mood swings and depression and all that is HISTORY. I didn’t go to any specialist whatsoever. It was just God. So if you are not strong enough to believe and you rely on the doctors its fine but do not discourage people who believe that they can get absolute healing from God. I have loads of personal testimonies and believing and having faith in God is the ULTIMATE solution.

    • NK'S PASSIONS

      March 1, 2013 at 6:53 pm

      And not seeking for proffetional care??? Really? … U people will never stop!!!

    • Sugar

      March 2, 2013 at 2:38 am

      NK,S PASSIONS pls learn to read and assimilate before u speak cos dats how u ple fail exams.very important advice for free……she said she does not see anything wrong with putting God first but she never said do not seek for professional help…….

  9. lets talk

    March 1, 2013 at 11:57 am

    @Benn there and stressor i have also been batlling mine for abt 15 yrs and have been hoping that God will just come down and heal me, buh nothing has changed, actually its now even worse off, i think we should come together as a group and help each other out. Two heads are better than one, who is with me hear

    • Tincan

      March 1, 2013 at 5:29 pm

      I am here.

    • Mummy

      March 2, 2013 at 2:42 am

      Lets talk if Ur prayers are yet to be answered that doesn’t mean others are not getting there’s answered or prayer only doesn’t work……..have faith and keep asking alongside Ur medications…….pray u are healed IJN

  10. zahrae

    March 1, 2013 at 11:59 am

    lovely post……my sister acts weird at times which is giving my Dad a lot of concern but the problem now is that we dnt know a good psychiatrist in lagos to take her to. she is very brilliant but she finds it very hard to concentrate or remember things that do not relate to her academics. please help us with the contact of a good psychiatrist for her…….thanks Bella Naija!

  11. Simpleme

    March 1, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    I recently gave birth and I am a single mum. The father refused to be responsible for the child. I have a good job which pays well for both our upkeep. When I gave birth to my daughter I was quite happy but also wished it was in a normal situation with both parents available for her. I was depressed and cried alot. Before I gave birth though I was told that new mothers usually pass through this phase. In the US where I gave birth it is normal practice to talk to patients about their mental state. I was asked to fill some questionnaire to ascertain my mental state and I always lied in my response because I felt it would pass and I would be strong again. But it didnt, My daughter is 8mths now and sometimes I wish for death so my pain goes away. I feel i dont deserve kindness from people because i cant reciprocate, I feel I have don something terribly wrong that I should not be forgiven. My priest tells me that there is nothing God cannot forgive but I dont believe he will ever forgive my sins. I just feel my exit will do more good for everyone in my life. On the outside I am happy and jovial but on the inside I feel empty. For how long can I keep up this front. I love my daughter dearly and I dont want her to be alone in this world. At times i feel she also will grow to hate me. As I write this piece I am in tears and I just wish this horrible burden will go.

    • ayomidamope

      March 1, 2013 at 2:01 pm

      My heart goes out to you and I pray that the Lord God will help lift your burdens,i had to stop and mention you to my God to reach you wherever you are and minister to your soul and fill your soul with is refreshing Grace.He will see you through,you are a conqueror IJN.You and your daughter will be called blessed and no evil shall before you.Keep strong and hold on,you will see the goodness of the Lord this week and He will wipe away your tears.You can reach me by mail [email protected] and i will be glad to talk you.You are blessed my sister.

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      March 1, 2013 at 2:52 pm

      Darling Simpleme, God doesn’t hate you or want to forsake you without forgiveness. That is a lie of the devil and imagine your beautiful daughter ever causing you any upset. Would you stay angry forever? Would you not forgive her because you remember the joy she brings into your life just by being there? That’s absolutely the same way that God feels about you and please don’t let a lie of the devil make you believe you can’t ever reach out to a Father who is constantly reaching out to you. And I mean constantly! You sound so pleased to have your little girl and I envy you the joy of having a child… I’ve been thinking about children lately, it gets hard to be alone without a family and sometimes I wonder if I shouldn’t go and just adopt a little baby just so I have someone to pour my love out to. I dont care how your daughter came into your life – you better believe she was a gift with purpose. No child is a mistake and you should please continue to just pour out your love to her, do that and leave God to do something amazing in your own life and in your own future.

      My thoughts and prayers are with you, luv. Just keep holding on and please get counselling as soon as you can.

    • Mama

      March 2, 2013 at 2:55 am

      Simple s it’s true some women go thru post natal depression and this sometimes go awAy after some months…..from Ur comment Ur case is someone who is still living in guilt and hurt from the circumstances of Ur baby,s birth……u have to get over urself and understand that you have disappointed no one….Ur parents maybe but nobody determines Ur future….go to God and confess Ur sins….take out time, pray speak Ur confession to him and believe he has forgiven you.. He will remember Ur sins no more….enjoy Ur precious baby and move on….no physchiatrist can truly give u the peace that God will give…yes they can talk to u, give u drugs and make u feel better physically but in Ur case I just think u need to forgive urself because God love you…having a child outside marriage is no sin that can deny u eternal life…..lastly forgive Ur baby daddy, let God deal with him in his own way so Ur mind can be free to embrace and love again…your baby needs u please…..

  12. Been there

    March 1, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    @ Dotun and Lilz: like i said there’s nothing wrong in turning to God. i’m as staunch a christian as i need to be.
    But if you are a medically trained practitioner, you should act like one. Everyone knows the way to religious houses.
    In these days, where you have every tom dick and harry being a pastor, people ought to watch out.

    The essence of this article is that mental health disorders are illnesses just like your malaria and diabetes and should be taken seriously. Even with your religious piety you still take your meds or agbo when you have a fever, so save the preaching for those who need it.

  13. oluchy

    March 1, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    An informative writeup, l learnt from it. Pple just needs 2 b knowledgeable in some areas. Thanks,BN.

  14. dp

    March 1, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    This article is very very fantastic, i so love bella naija, it is really opening my eyes to a lot of things

  15. Ouinni

    March 1, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    @zahrae,I can relate to whatever your sister is going through,cuz I’m in that same stand right now. My ex bf is a doctor,who recently came bak 4rm abroad,he worked in d psychiatric hospital,Yaba for a while. He knows I av dis bad depression problem &he told me about a way to get help..plz add me on bbm_28D60D15

  16. DocDeola

    March 1, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    I am proud of this article, mental illnesses are a terrible burden, and may God help us find better drugs and a cure amen. Now for BN to do weekly info on different types of mental illness with a naija centric focus. Keep it up!

  17. Funke2

    March 1, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    @simpleme My heart goes out to you and even though I have never experienced such I empathize with you, there are many experiences that we go through that makes us question the essence of life and existence but I assure you that there are answers. I wish you Lord’s Goodness and Strength.

  18. Many thots..

    March 1, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    @ simple me, I understand how u feel cos I feel the same way, I do not have a child, but am a single lady, I have an ok job, but sometimes I feel as if am not sufficient, and I do not deserve love and kindness cos I can’t reciprocate. I also feel like if pple are kind to u then they must want something in return, I have a very strong burden on the inside, and most times I imagine my family without my existence, am a very beautiful lady, pple always admire me but most times i feel very empty and invisible, funny enuf, am the “go to girl” for encouragement pple always open up to me and some how I always make them feel better..there’s so much I want to say and do but it’s as if something is holding me back. I always imagine myself talking to a therapist..to help me figure out all this..and I feel I can’t move forward without figuring all this stuff out.
    Am a born again Christian n I believe in the finished work of Christ Jesus, but I feel like I need professional help.

    • Mam

      March 2, 2013 at 3:20 am

      What professional help do u need? Drugs, pls don’t complicate Ur life….every person goes thru bouts of depression just that for some its more serious than others….at least you r still living Your normal life And have a job so don’t think it’s Nothing u can’t overcome…a lot of this medication for depression are very addictive and have serious side effects…..so if Ur case is not borderline madness (dont mean that derogatorily but the kind that goes out naked, scream n threaten others) pls no need

  19. Is dementia a mental illness? Wrong definition here

    March 1, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    Great article, but is dementia classified as a mental illness? I think it is the wrong definition and category here. I went through a depression phase during my final year exams too but i came through after I seeing a counsellor int he UK. A support group in naija will at least be a step in the right direction. Doctors, counsellors & therapist are instruments of God too. Would you go to a pastor if you have diarrhoea for prayers? rather, you will go to a pharmacist and get some panadaol.. Same way for any mental or cognitive illnesses.

  20. realkemotina

    March 1, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    Afam, that was really well said. You just reminded me of the fact that as technology in aspect of telecommunication and internet erodes our country, we still allow ourselves to wallow in poverty of knowledge concerning the everyday phenomenons around us.
    Lets be aware that Psychotherapy and psychiatric treatments go a long way in this situations.

  21. Classic

    March 1, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    Timely article. Mental illness is so serious. Depression is a predisposing factor to mental illness and previously it seemed to affect mostly females but now more cases involving males are becoming common. Just now as I was typing this comment , a friend called to tell me how a friend of hers, was found yesterday hanging from the ceiling in his office. He left behind a wife and two young kids. I mean he had a good job, a lovely family, not so rich but quite comfortable. No one knows what happened. I have discovered that a lot more stuff goes on on the inside of us than on the outside. I decided sometime ago to check in on my thoughts constantly. I have discovered so many things about myself and why I react in some ways. I have been memorizing specific Bible verses and repeating them constantly, inwardly and when I am alone or feel down. That has been a great mood-lifter for me. For the record, I’m not so churchy. I don’t even remember exactly where the bible verses are in the Bible, but I figure that it’s what they say that’s more important than where they are. I keep talking constantly to my sister about whatever thoughts that makes my heart beat irregularly. Together we fashion out a solution which could be directly confronting the problem, meeting a higher person for help or a simple prayer. If I need her to follow me for moral support, I ask. I do same too, for her. It is important you have someone to talk to who can listen without being judgemental or preachy. What happens when two of us are both down? We give it time and then I bring up something that interests us like watching a classic movie or taking a walk or baking, or eating ice cream ( I think the sugar helps), anything to bring lighter mood. When we feel better we talk. A psychiatrist is good but I discovered that my health is mine not his. But you need to be proactive about your health of mind, body and soul.We can only heal, as much as we allow ourselves to.

    • Baba

      March 2, 2013 at 3:30 am

      There is nothing wrong in being churchy, u make it sound like u have to apologies for that.God should be the first person to reach out To in all situations, after that u take practical steps to help Ur situation…..you do not only pray and neglect practical solutions neither should ple apologies for putting God first…..he can sometimes give wisdom to find solutions that might not even be taking drugs like u are doing….ple should just be wise, cos sometimes some of this cases might be past incidences, medical, unforgiveness and yes demonic….that is where wisdom comes in so the key thing here is balance….go to church and also visit the hospital…..

  22. Mz Socially Awkward...

    March 1, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    I believe the Spirit is bringing something to the forefront with this particular article being posted in the light of recent events (yes, I’m Christian and endeavour to see whether God is speaking in any situation).
    Just this morning within the group I pray with, we came together to pray against suicides. Yesterday a man in the city I live in just parked his car, locked it and walked to the nearest bridge and jumped, taking his life. On the very same evening, I also got a message that a friend’s husband had also ended his own life.
    So I thank God for the writer of this post who has now given many who have been silently suffering to speak out here. Simpleme, lets talk, Been There, among others. I also count myself in that group as I know the anguish of depression. I’m absolutely grateful to God for the help that I got through prayers, speaking heart-to-heart with my Pastor, visiting a Counsellor and generally just God’s Grace. No matter how bad things get now, when I look back at what I came from, I understand the devil is just attempting to steal my joy and I’m adamant I’ll never go back to that state.

    However, none of us should ever think we stand by our own strenght just because none of this has ever happened to you or maybe it happened in the past and you now perceive yourself as being stronger. The mind is a very delicate thing and don’t imagine you have control over it by your own power. Guard your mind, with DILIGENCE! The stories of suicide we’re starting to get more reports about these days only began from an attack on the victims minds. Lord, into your hands I commit this generation and the coming ones, may darkness not overwhelm us due to the forces of this age. Amen.

  23. Eteobongfred

    March 1, 2013 at 4:17 pm

    This is a very insightful piece. I wish Nigerians can get enlighten and stop pointing accusing fingers to witches,wizards and demons when it comes to mental illness. I also want to buttress your point with regards to public stigmatization which has made victims to decline diagnose and therapy. My wife is a typical example, she swings from one mood to the other, lacks consistencies, i mean double personalty. Though she is a medical practitioner where she treats patients, yet she doesn’t believe she should sort for professional intervention. We live in God’s own country with a very good medical facility, yet she declines. In fact our pastor is a Psychiatrist , he offered free session in his clinic, yet she declines. Therefore, this symptoms of treatment rejection is as result of public stigmatization. I tell you folks, it threatens my marriage, and this is where i turn to God. It’s a tough situation for folks and family with mental health challenge.

    • Babe

      March 2, 2013 at 3:41 am

      If u think witches, wizards and demons do not have a hand in mental illness then u are wrong……the key here is balance like someone said…they do not all the time cause it so some people can and have gotten help from taking medication…..when u make comments don’t talk like Ur point of view is the final cos the other side exist……my uncle in the village had a land case with another relative…the relative threatened him that he will use his hands to kill himself….my uncle became I’ll shortly after, and 7 days before he died he kept crying and told his family that his time was near and he knew the ple involved would visit him soon….truly he hung himself in the backyard where he was discovered by his teenage daughter…..true story, but I can’t assume that all mental illness are caused by jazz. But for anyone to say some of them do not have diabolical roots that is a big fat lie…..that is where prayers give the balance, God can sometimes reveal the root cause..at the same time going to church doesn’t mean u don’t go to hospital.

  24. tj

    March 1, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    been there ,passed through there .,the worst experience ever .i almost killed myself but thanks to GOD.FOR ME I BELIEVE there should be a professional help(local herbs and green tea)
    .i also believe that GOD is the only one that fill that emptiness in you and with HIS words you can suppress the negative thoughts in you.for me i had no hope but HE gave me that hope while i battle with it.He said he will never give us too much to bear .for anyone going through this ,i pray that you receive that strength you need.THIS WILL DEFINATELY PASS.

  25. tj

    March 1, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    i mean might local herbs and green tea might help depending

  26. Justme

    March 1, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    @Simple me..Sweetheart ur exit wont do any good to your family and friends especially ur daughter. She needs u. I lost my mum at 18 and even though I’m a lot older and have my own kids I miss her a lot. Please don’t believe d lie of d devil. Jesus died for ur sins. God bless u. Please stay strong for ur daughter

  27. Tincan

    March 1, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    Amen at your prayers Miss Socially Awk. This is such an important topic. A close family member, although not clinically diagnosed, presents some of the symptoms described in this article – including hallucinations – and as a family we have been at loss as to how to handle the issue. It actually hit me when I was reading the symptoms that as much as his case seems to be very much borderline, this is the best time for him to seek help. It’s really hard because he shuts us all out and this article and some of the comments have made me realise that perhaps it’s our (as a family) attitudes that need to change. For instance, I realise we have swept the possibility that he may have some sort of emotional/mental challenges and instead labelled him as ‘obstinate and difficult’. I really believe that in the last year God has been leading me to focus less on when and how his change will come but instead to learn to be there for him without judging or condemning him.

    @ Stressor: I’d advise you to speak out. Find somebody that you trust or visit a counsellor. Sometimes, I think just being able to offload helps to recalibrate our minds and lessen the load.

    At manythots and other Christians struggling mentallly, I’d say find a Christian counsellor/psychiatrist. I know there are quite a few in the UK, not sure how it works in the States. Otherwise, find a mature female Christian to support you. I think we get into trouble when we bottle it (I am guilty too) and put on the ‘it is well’ facade. If it’s not, please get help. It’s amazing what a healthy support group can do for your mind. It’s amazing what Bible passages can do for your mind. It’s amazing what a full understanding of God’s grace can do for your mind – I am on that journey myself. If you are not sure where to start, get some of Joseph Prince’s resources. He focuses on the message of grace and it has gone some way towards alleviating my lack of confidence about my right standing with Christ.

    And my last point, if you happen to be Christian, God is our healer and medical practitioners may be the instruments he uses. They are not mutually exclusive. Always remember that not one sick person who came to Jesus went away sick. This means God wants to heal you. He is willing, go to Him and utilize the support system He has given you. Dont suffer in silence and dont lie to yourself. His grace is sufficient for you.

    Going back to the topic, it would be good, BN, if you guys are able to give details of mental health services and charities in Nigeria. I know, as most of you do, that in Naija, people with mental health issues are stigmatised and dehumanised. It’s such a shame because mostly these illnesses can be at least managed.

  28. Anonymous

    March 1, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    Thank you Afam for this. Thank you 🙂

  29. Anonymous

    March 2, 2013 at 1:55 am

    I’m really happy BN has decided to shed some light on the mental illness as there is still a lot of stigma surrounding mental health in Nigeria. I am a mental health professional and i’ll like to point people to some facilities we have available for people with mental health problems: if in Lagos, the Federal neuropsychiatric hospital is the best bet, there’s the neuropsychiatric hospital in Abeokuta (one of the countries best). In Abuja, there’s a really good but expensive private mental health clinic called synapse services run by British professionals. These are the ones with the most decent facilities, but there’s also the federal neuropsychiatric hospital in Benin, substandard but it’s better than nothing

    • Anonymous

      March 2, 2013 at 2:04 am

      *country’s*

  30. Simpleme

    March 4, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    I am overwhelmed and in tears by the encouragement I have received from you all. I guess opening up on this forum has also broken a dam inside me because as i read and write I am crying. I never cried like this before. :). @ayomidamope, thanks for putting me in prayers, I have your email. @Mz Socially Awkward, I know God doesn’t hate me but I feel I have to hide from him and I am not worthy of his love. I believe the main issue is forgiving myself. Its so difficult to forgive me that I have to mentally beat myself when I make mistakes. As I dig deeper into my past i think the problem stems from my mother’s insistence on perfection and when we(her kids) fail, we get the beating of our lives. I used to cry in my sleep when i was a child. In her anger, my mum would tell me that I would be no good. At times I think she was right. I don’t want to repeat my mother’s mistakes with my daughter. She is the one great joy in my life. I believe Children are gifts from God no matter the circumstance surrounding their birth. I wonder where I would be without my baby today. she gives me a reason to hang on. @ Mama, I have told myself that forgiveness is the key, I am learning to forgive her father, I understand he is not solely to blame for this episode in my life but at times bitterness for him wells up unexpectedly. @ Many Thots, I feel the same way about your feelings and experiences. I don’t exactly like talking to people about my feelings cos when I do I feel very ashamed and wonder if i revealed too much. @ Classic, I agree with you completely when you say that a lot more stuff goes on on the inside of us than on the outside because seeing me you would never believe i have all these going on inside. However keeping up the facade is a monumental task. It gradually wears one down. I need strength from within because no matter what people say I need to feel it myself. Your encouragements keep me strong and lets me know I am not alone.

  31. AD

    March 15, 2013 at 10:29 pm

    This is an awesome article , it brings up the issue of mental illness from a very accessible perspective . thank you for that . a few of us psychologists are trying very hard to provide some help for people living with mental illness. The job is not easy cos there are so few mental health professionals, very few psychotherapists especially , also people just don’t know where to go for help while some are ashamed to seek help. Just because u use the word “mental” in a sentence everyone assumes its “ madness”. Also, what is the deal with that ?shouldn’t we show empathy for the people we refer to as mad ?? Since they are actually suffering from a real health condition .this mental health thing is so devastating when u think about it . And the scariest thing is that , mental illness knows no boundaries. it could happen to anyone.
    the most effective treatments have been holistic ones, that is ,those that incorporate medical interventions and psychosocial interventions such as – medication and psychotherapies. in fact some mental health issues do not require psycho-pharmacological interventions , just psychotherapy can work for them . In the UK , they have been able to improve their mental health services by offering different types of treatments. Currently, talking therapies (psychotherapy) are very popular and are effective and as such many individuals have been able to receive help through this form of treatment. so , i believe we could improve our own services by supporting psychotherapists, psychologists and other psychosocial intervention providers. The psychiatrists can provide the medication and the psychotherapists can provide the psychotherapy. That way, the burden is reduced on the psychiatrists. And the psychotherapists can start teaching people with mental illness how to cope and live functional lives

  32. Ajibike Akinlose

    April 30, 2013 at 9:45 am

    Beautifully written. I am so glad there are lots of people that think like me. I would like to network with anyone interested in mental health. Reach me on facebook or twitter @MHANigeria.

  33. Depression Relief Guide

    December 16, 2013 at 7:00 am

    I am a mental health doctor in the US, and the stigma knows no borders, as it is seen here in the US. Mental health is real, and given the high rates of suicides and mass shootings climbing up, many are realizing that it is time to own it and do something!

    I discuss tips on depression relief on my website, feel free to check it out.

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