7

No Shame

It hasn’t always been easy to accept my condition; its perks and limitations. It wasn’t always easy to accept that I am different. I didn’t always have the courage to start a mental health conversation.

Coming out of the mental illness closet is as scary for me as it for anyone else. People begin to doubt you. They question your judgment. They discount your opinion. And begin to use your condition as a tool against you. All of which are NOT OKAY.

I know what depression feels like. I know what it’s like to have thoughts so wild in your head that they feel like individual voices. I know what it feels like to cry ceaselessly for days for no reason whatsoever. And I know what it is to be suicidal. read more

8

Mental Health Matters: Let’s Break The Silence Africa

As part of the run up to World Mental Health Day, Aware Africa, a Nigerian owned mental health awareness platform, ran a social media campaign – #MentalHealthMatters #LetsBreakTheSilenceAfrica – calling all mental health enthusiasts to lend a voice to mental health in Africa. Our founder took to our Instagram page to lend her voice.

Here’s what she had to say –

My name is Hauwa and I believe #MentalHealthMatters. #LetsBreakTheSilenceAfrica.

I choose to speak because I know firsthand what it means to live with a mental disorder. I know what it means to be misunderstood. I can relate to anyone who is in denial or confused with the voices they hear and things they see. I know what #psychosis, #delusions and #paranoia feel like. I have had my fair share of #panicattacks and extreme #mood cycles. #Suicidal? You’re not alone. read more

5

Let’s Just Be Who We Really Are

Shola is hearing voices and having bloody hallucinations. Her parents have completely made her feel like she is overreacting. ‘Just strengthen your relationship with God and stop listening to your body so much’, they say. Since everyone else seems to make light of the situation, she now thinks that she may actually be overreacting. So Shola keeps her problems to herself and decides to ‘pull it together’.

Nnenna can’t make sense of the fact that she wakes up every night crying hysterically. Of course, she has to stomach that unexplained pain weighing on her and ensure that Mama doesn’t hear her sobbing in the dark. You see, Nnenna keeps having nightmares and flashbacks of the nights Uncle Chudi hurriedly entered her room. With one hand raised and one finger on his mouth, Nnenna knew there was no escape. He had been providing for Mama, herself and her younger ones ever since papa died. Mama let out a heavy sigh the day Nnenna told her of Uncle’s escapades. And that was it. read more

6

I Am Suicidal, But I’m Not A Coward

I never really understood what it meant to be suicidal or have suicidal thoughts. Why and how would anyone try to end their life? It just didn’t add up. Life cannot be that bad.  Well, that’s one way to look at things. Frankly speaking, that is the way many of us have been conditioned to look at suicide in relation with mental health.

Maybe that was why I panicked when I started hearing voices in me telling me that perhaps dying was the best solution. Just before you try judging me, know this. Why would I panic if I was the one simply telling myself? It should be no news for me then. read more

Can Mental Illness Ever Be Stigma Free?

Growing up, the picture I had of a mentally ill person was the man at the waste dump area dressed shabbily and picking items from the trash. That was what ‘mad’ meant. We were conditioned to believe that he had been condemned to such a life due to his own wickedness and iniquities. I am not the only one with that picture. Though statistics may not come to my aid on this one, I strongly believe that more than 70% of Nigerians (the most populous country in Africa) fall in line with my assertion. Which begs the question; can mental illness truly be stigma free? read more