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The Inspire Series with Glory Edozien: Understanding Mental Illness with Bassey Ikpi



Oh, look! It’s Def Poetry Jam star, Bassey Ikpi on this edition of The Inspire Series. Many of our readers were introduced to Bassey when she was featured on the Move Back To Nigeria series {Click here if you missed it} Bassey is a talented spoken word artist and writer. Bassey also lives with mental health issues.  She breaks down the nitty-gritty of mental health issues, dealing with it, and living in Nigeria.

Here’s what Glory has to say about this episode:
There are many issues Nigerians prefer not to discuss. We have perfected the art of secrecy and keeping up with appearances. The problem with secrecy is it prevents healing. 10 years ago, my guest, Bassey Ikpi was diagnosed with Rapid Cycling Bipolar 2 disorder, which is a mental illness characterised by episodes of hypomania and depression. Bassey didn’t shrink into herself, give up or create an illusion to mask her illness. Instead she became a voice for those living with mental health issues. A voice which allows those with similar disorders to feel safe enough to seek help and dissolves the barriers of ignorance between those who suffer from the disorder and those who do not.

People are afraid of things they do not understand. But how can we understand if we don’t talk about and share experiences. Mental illness in Nigeria is taboo. Our understanding of it is either the description of the undressed man eating from the dustbin across the street or one where family members are hidden away from the world. Bassey is raw and unabated as she describes her journey from diagnosis to living with the disorder. She is open about her methods of coping with the illness but most importantly she talks about the shame and stigmatisation of mental health issues in Nigeria which prevents the mentally ill from seeking help. To her being mentally ill isn’t “who you are, it’s what you have. You are who you are despite the illness”.

I hope this video will go some way in changing (or at the very least challenge) the current discourse of mental illness in Nigeria and allow those with similar disorders the strength to seek for help.

Part I

Part II

We hope you enjoyed watching the video.If you’d like to read another BN feature on mental health issues click {here} . If you  find yourself down in the trenches and you need a pick me up, then you have to read THIS.


  1. Gorgeous

    July 30, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    wow, she is brave. I have experienced depression before and it is not funny at all. Na over man matter sha and society’s expectation. After that event, i decided to just live my life and not worry about anybody’s expectation or kill myself over anyone. Truth is people that treat people badly sometimes are suffering from mental illness, and if you over worry their matter, you will enter the same boat. When i came to this realization it was a new dawn for me. I thank God for everything sha and hope her path to stability never wavers. I also hope people who know something is not right can seek help and treatment.

  2. Olanne

    July 30, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    Now, that is what i call a solid television show. Thank you!

  3. Tebbie

    July 31, 2014 at 10:06 am

    This was really insightful; mental illness is definitely something we, as Africans, need to talk more about. Our idea of a person with mental illness as the naked, disheveled man walking the streets or the woman shouting at everyone, needs to change… there are so many facets of mental illness as well as varying degrees within those facets. We need to stop explaining away mental illness as something caused by drugs or punishment for something the person did. There is no reason people with mental illness can’t be as productive as people without. Just as Bassey said, the main difference is SUPPORT. If there was no stigma associated with mental illness in our society, people would be more knowledgeable about the symptoms and more willing to seek help, and above all that help they need could be readily provided to them in their own communities.
    Mental health is just as important, if not more, than our physical health and that is something we need to not only recognize, but respond to.
    We are so quick to follow western culture when it comes to other things, why not this?

  4. [email protected]

    July 31, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    Thanks for sharing Bassey. You are a brave woman.
    Great work Glory.

  5. Me

    July 31, 2014 at 6:37 pm

    A lot of people are living with mental health issues and attributing it to other things or just totally ignore it, they think going to a psychiatric hospital means you are mad., but it’s not so. There was a time in my life not to long ago I just changed from being my bubbly self, I couldn’t do anything, my clothes could get dirty I ll just pile it up and wash after two weeks I found it hard to even sweep my house people were doing everything for me I ll go out all dressed up and made up and smiling and lively and no one would guess there was anything wrong with me, until one day my mum insisted we go to a psychiatric hospital we got there and the doctor asked me questions about myself, my relationships(which was a mess) and other things and prescribed drugs for me to buy from the clinic and some to buy outside all those drugs put together did not cost us up to three thousand naira but in less than a week I was a changed person I was so active and didn’t have that unnecessary fatigue again I did my chores without being told I was back to normal, this is the same thing a lot of pastors and prophets said was witchcraft attack and spirit husband attack.

    • jaguarnana

      August 13, 2014 at 9:22 pm

      thank you for sharing your story

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