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).
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.
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.