Aisha had an appointment with her good friend at 2:00pm, but owing to certain circumstances she could not make it at the slated time. “Could she have refused to show up in good time because she does not want to be friends with me anymore?”, one of the many thoughts Aisha had. That delay made Aisha see her friend in a different way, giving her a feeling of self-doubt and inferiority complex. This impulsive action and feeling displayed by Aisha can be linked to character traits of individuals living with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).
Between the people involved in making sure that I get the adequate support before returning to University in September and having a meltdown, I think it is safe to say I have not had the greatest start to the year.
After watching a motivational video from one of my favourite spoken word artists, Nego True, honestly, I am not sure how I feel. Not that I am even supposed to feel anything, but putting the issue of success to one side for one moment I found that this video tapped into my biggest insecurity – self-worth. I will hold my hands up and admit I do not believe I am worthy of anything; love, affection, gifts, you name it! In my head, I do not deserve it. However, I strive to make sure everyone around me knows that they are worth everything the world has to offer and if you ever start to believe otherwise, I will be the first to shower you with praises and reassure you that you are destined for greatness.
Self-talk is the endless stream of unspoken thoughts that run through your head. These automatic thoughts can be positive or negative. It is often skewed towards negativity, and sometimes it is just plain wrong. Negative self-talk can lower your self-esteem, self-confidence, happiness, and keep you from accomplishing your goals.
It is one of the most common issues a person struggles in search of solutions; which could be to get rid of it, reduce it, or be fully in control of it. If you are one of those people who constantly looks for ways to effectively get rid of negative self-talk, take note of the following tips:
How people acquire a mental illness still remains a mystery.
Is it communicable? Is it spiritual? Is it a curse? Is it hereditary? Or does it have to do with an imbalance in our neuro-chemicals? With so many different theories out there, it is hard to know which one is widely accepted.
I will not claim to have the answers to these burdening questions, but I will shed some light based on my experience working in mental health institutions. Therefore, the contents of this article are strictly my opinion.
The world keeps developing and our ways of thinking keep changing due to exposure to different developments around us. Although the way the society thinks of mental illness has changed, it has not changed as much as it ought to.
One of the major problems that mentally ill patients face, especially in collectivistic societies, is being termed as violent people. Many people still hold on to that misconception that every mentally ill patient is a violent person. The reverse is the case really; being mentally ill does not automatically make one violent. Even those that exhibit violent tendencies act that way not because they want to hurt others, but because it is a form of coping mechanism. Violent behaviours amongst mentally ill people is an externalized expression of symptoms and a way of dealing with conflict, fear, and goal-blockage.
Living with depression and anxiety is one thing, but add a disability to it and you have what some would call a recipe for disaster. This is my life as it stands! Before you ask, nothing happened. I was born with the inability to walk, and you know the crazy thing? I love it! Yes, I have my days, but overall I would not have it any other way. I am growing to be the opinionated, big spirited and unapologetically smart-mouthed tomboy I was born to be. After two suicide attempts, a long history of self-harm, and struggling to live according to everyone’s standards and expectations of me, I have had no choice but to be me.
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.
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.
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.
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.