Growing up, mental health was not something that was talked about in my family. We would say that anxiety was a myth, depression was a myth and praying was the answer to all the problems. So, when I couldn’t eat or sleep from anxiety, I didn’t know how to explain how I felt. Growing up, we wouldn't bring up feelings of discomfort or depression because the answer from my dad and mum was always the same: pray about it. Pray the depression away. I was conditioned to believe when it came to my mental health issues. I was always told to be strong and to never show weakness even when you are experiencing hardships. My first panic attack was in polytechnic. I was in my first year and preparing for final week of examination. I tried to talk to our school counsellor about what I was feeling, but those feelings were brushed over many times. I was under serious pressure. After several nights of studying for my math final, I broke down crying on my dorm room floor. The stress and anxiety had culminated to a point that I didn't understand what I was feeling or why I felt it. I felt like I could not continue, and that I was a disappointment. My anxiety attacks would come soon after and my depression would also get worse. I was scared to open up and talk to my friends and family about what was happening to me. Eventually, through my roommate, I spoke to one of the therapists at Emotional Development Academy. I went through a long session that lasted for some months. I talked about my childhood trauma of losing my mom at a young age. We talked about a lot of different issues that I was scared to open up about, but I knew that it was a safe place to be vulnerable. Seeking help for my mental health at has helped me so much.
I Was Afraid To Talk About My Mental Health
I grew up from a dysfunctional family where I didn’t enjoy a harmonies relationship with my entire family. Throughout my childhood and adolescent years, I fought against my father’s verbal and physical abuse, neglect and rejection. I struggled for acceptance with my family. Perhaps, these factors were largely responsible for my irresponsible and antisocial behaviors growing up. As I grew up into adulthood, the feeling of rejection, hurt, anger, frustration and insecurity led me into drug use and cultism. While a teenager, I ran away from home and unknown to me, I was only heading to greater troubles and problems. Without parental guidance, I ended up on the streets. A lifestyle of drugs eventually resulted in my suffering from schizophrenia induced by long years of drug use. I underwent psychiatric treatment and rehabilitation. Following my discharge, I quit using drugs and started living responsibly. A few years later, I joined Mental Health Foundation as a volunteer in 2011. Since then, my life has moved from strength to strength. Over the years, I have served as the school outreach coordinator for the foundation and speaking in various secondary schools in Lagos State. The foundation has also supported and empowered me to attend various capacity building trainings. I’m always thankful that God gave me the second chance to start my life afresh and the opportunity to serve as a volunteer with Mental Health Foundation.
Thank God for Mental Health Foundation
In 2017, I was happy when my abroad fiancé Chinomso and I concluded our wedding plans. We agreed that our wedding will be something small and would take place in Owerri. Little did i know that the plan will turn out to be the greatest shock of my life. A shock I do not wish for any sincere person to experience. Indeed, Chinomso came to Nigeria and got married, but not to me. He didn't marry me. He married someone else. He left me at Owerri and went to Abba to marry a girl he had all along be planning to marry. The experience left me in anger, resentment, shame and depression for years. I didn't know how to return to Lagos. When I finally came back to Lagos, my suicidal episodes started. I attempted suicide twice and was rescued. At the second attempt, my neighbour suggested and urged me to contact Mental Health Foundation (MHF). I didn't want to have anything to do with MHF for some reasons which include: First, the name sounded like an organization responsible for taking care of mad people and I was not mad. Second, I didn't even have the financial capacity to afford their service. So, I had good enough reasons to stay away from MHF. Today, I thank God that MHF found a place for me when I needed them the most, even though I didn't know I needed them. I was assigned a therapist for more than a year. Medications were provided. I was even sheltered for that period. Thank God, today, I have returned to my normal life. Though I haven't forgotten the experience but I remember it with no anger, shame or resentment. I now have a deeper understanding of what it means to be a human. My name is Chikodi.
My Experience left me in Anger, Shame and Depression
My 16-year-old daughter Anuoluwa threatened to commit suicide. I wasn't bothered. I thought it was a joke. I didn’t know she had a plan. The day my husband saw a bottle of sniper in her room was the worse day of my life. Right before my very eyes, my world was going to collapse. That same night I contacted MHF, I knew Anuoluwa needed help but until I got to MHF, I didnt know I needed the most help. The following morning, we were at MHF and because it was a suicide case, we had therapy sessions immediately. At first, it was painful that my daughter had things she couldn't tell me, but prefer to say to her therapist, somebody she just met. I thank God that Anuoluwa and I are now best friends again. She tells me everything now and I don't even have to ask her. All I am doing is to apply what I have learnt in MHF. Thank you MHF.
My 16-year-old daughter Anuoluwa threatened to commit suicide.