If you’re from around here, you don’t need anyone to tell you that crazy things are happening on a daily basis. Cringe-worthy news constantly assault your sensibilities in a clime that has become the theatre of the absurd. You try to suppress your emotions but they keep bursting like fountains. It also doesn’t help that we live in a society that is culturally repugnant to mental health, it’s seen in certain circles as a sign of weirdness, some outrightly equate it to madness.
Personally, October was a very dark month for me, not just for the collective trauma we suffered and had to relive but a cocktail of other incidents just conspired to push me to the limit. What ordinarily was a birthday month, turned into a battle to keep my sanity. For a writer that churns out between three thousand to five thousand words daily, I could barely conjure up to ten thousand words the whole month. A friend of mine told me his poor heart couldn’t take living here anymore and true to his word, a few days later he was over at Justin’s – running through The Six. When life keeps throwing curve balls at you, it’s easy to assume you have always got your gloves fitted but you have to pause and examine your head-space to be sure you’re still on top of your game.
Talk About It
One of the ways to deal with any challenge is to expose it to a person or community that can walk with you through it. Especially for men, it’s instructive to know that you’re not always going to be Superman, a high-flying hero with the cape and all. Most of your life will be like Clark Kent, doing normal things and dealing with challenges just as any other person. You don’t get any extra points for acting all macho, your healing is in your honesty. I have friends that I share my challenges with when I hit the rocks and they always come through for me in more ways than one.
But you have to be careful, some people don’t care about you, they are just curious. They just want all the deets so they can share your business with their gossip partners. You don’t want to share your vulnerable moments with people who will put your story out there on the blogs for the world to feast on. You don’t just need comrades, you need confidants. I recommend organizations like Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative (MANI), She Writes Woman (SWW) and other organizations out there doing the Lord’s work on a steady.
Take a Break
The battlefield is in the mind, if it is in the wrong place – there’s little you can do productively. Your reverie can be anything from taking a vacation, a break from news content or even from work. Read books on mental health especially from those who have first-hand experiences or are very knowledgeable on the subject of mental health. Dust To Dew by Betty Irabor, The Magic of Emotional Intelligence by Abiola ‘Champ’ Salami and Deep Expression by Dr. Maymunah Yusuf Kadiri easily come to mind. Drawing strength from the victories of others reinforces your belief and drive to come out of that funk of depression. Your experience may be unique to you but in the larger context of humanity, there is nothing new under the sun. Know in your heart that there are people who have been there and done that. Your experience won’t be an exception.
Double Down on Your Body
Scientifically, there has been proven to be a nexus between your physical health and your mental health. Exercise regularly, eat well, get enough rest and in Aproko Doctor’s voice: “make sure say you dey drink plenty water o!” Begin to see your body as a vehicle for achieving your purpose on earth and you must learn to put a premium on it. There are fitness clubs, gyms, online programmes and even coaches who can help you with simple workouts that can boost your mental strength. Your motivation for working out shouldn’t primarily be owing to the vitriol from body shamers, it should first be for you. Haters will always hate and potatoes will always potate; there’s little you can do to control their venom. Embrace yourself and double down on body positivity.
Check In For Therapy
Coaching and therapy for me are like two sides of the same coin. Coaching is forward-looking while therapy is looking-back and trying to connect the dots. You need a professional who knows the tools of the trade, especially neuro linguistic programming. A lot of us are suffering post-traumatic stress disorders on so many levels, and these wounds go way back and run deep. Instead of indulging in substance abuse which will ultimately make things worse, you are better off engaging a consultant or asking for professional help. There are a lot of experts like Oyinkansola Alabi of Emotion City who are skilled in identifying those pain points and repurposing your harrowing experiences for good. “Yaba left” and other such medical facilities are not places for mad people, don’t be shamed into suffering in silence.
Do What You Love
Writing for me isn’t just a hobby, an art or a skill, it’s something that I use to deal with the vagaries of life because it has a cathartic value. This is why it is important to do what you love because stressors are mostly things that drain you of positive emotions. Anything or anyone that robs you of your peace and quiet, is too expensive. This might be a tough call especially in the light of our economic reality but you need to know when to let go of people, jobs, things or whatever is feeding your phobia, paranoia or dysfunction – it’s a small price to pay for salvation. My emotions are on a budget right now, I have resolved to jump and pass from anything or anyone that is not moving correctly. It’s not about beefing people but choosing to love them from afar. I don’t wanna reason bad things no more, make nobody stress me. As you see me so, na only clients wey go give me joy I dey find now.
The conversation about mental health should be an ongoing one. Whether as individuals or as a collective, we should continually interrogate the triggers of trauma and deal with them decisively. Also, going forward, we must make very educated decisions about people in all spheres of our life that fuel dysfunction around us because this is not the content we signed up for. We should also be more humane and empathetic to those who are going through stuff instead of further tearing them down. Normally, all of us dey mess up but around here, na who dem catch na him be thief. So when next there is vawulence ear and dear on the timeline, resist the urge to be savage.
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