Breast cancer, “Jog for life”, religion and I

On Saturday, 8th of October 2016, the Breast Cancer Association of Nigeria (BRECAN) organized an activity to create awareness about  breast cancer in Ibadan. And I was a part of it. I always love such activities, by the way.  We wore customized t-shirts with “Jog for life” boldly written on it and jogged for 5 km. We jogged/walked behind a truck with speakers that played some nice and really loud music.   Continue reading

Accepting reality and mental health

I had a discussion with someone a few months ago about a man who was reported to commit suicide. I remember talking about how the man was probably depressed and how this may have led to his suicide. And I remember clearly that my friend laughed and said “But, Nigerians do not get depressed”. This is a typical opinion among many of us. We do not believe in mental illnesses. And if we do not believe it exists, how do we even begin to understand it?

Nigeria is in denial about mental illness.

It is never schizophrenia, it is possession by the devil. And so we isolate them and pray and pray. We deprive them of love and care and understanding. And sometimes food and basic personal hygiene. And when prayer fails, we abandon them and leave them to wander about in the streets, barefoot, in tattered clothes, vulnerable to hunger and abuse and diseases.

It is never depression, it is prolonged sadness or weakness or laziness. And we wonder why that person cannot get over whatever is wrong and get on with life. “We are Nigerians after all. We are supposed to be tenacious and resilient and religious. What the hell is this depression nonsense?”

It is never suicidal thoughts. It is selfishness and a joke. And we laugh about it. It becomes material for comedians. We tell them to go ahead and kill themselves. I mean “if they really wanted to die, why didn’t they just go and kill themselves already, why announce it to the whole world? It’s because they are seeking for attention”.

It is never panic attacks or anxiety disorders. It is being a drama queen. “What? Eating disorder? Hahaha. It is because she has enough food. That is why she is wasting it”. It is never post-traumatic stress disorder. It is just an exaggeration of a minor traumatic experience. “I mean, Hassana went through a worse experience and she got over it. So what’s the big deal?”

No, it is never a mental illness. Because Nigerians do not get depressed.

Well, we need to stop. We need to stop denying that there is a problem. One in Six Africans are suffering from a form of mental illness. And this statistic is just a tip of the iceberg. We need to learn not to blame or mock. We need to learn not to be so quick to brush it aside or discriminate. We need to learn to stop feeding the stigma. We need to learn to accept and show support and love. So that we do not make those suffering from a mental illness retreat into themselves and refuse to seek help or remain in denial.

Mental illness is not a joke or a myth. It is not someone’s fault or under someone’s control. And it can be treated or managed. Let’s stop living in denial. Let’s start recognizing the truth. Because our mental health matters. We all matter.

Happy World mental health day, everyone.

PS: Just in case you need help or you know someone who does, refer to the phone number in the image posted below. Its courtesy Playback Nigeria. 

Ageism: Let’s respect our elders

On Saturday, Oct 1st 2016, the world marked the international day for older persons. This year, the focus was on saying no to ageism.

Ageism is discrimination based on age. All around the world, older people are viewed as a group of people with nothing to offer. We forget that they have lived long lives and hence, have acquired a wealth of knowledge, wisdom and experience along the way that they can share. We forget that they are human beings too, who have rights. Rights to whatever we have rights to.

As Nigerians, we respect the elderly and care for them. It is an integral part of our culture. We greet them. We cannot sit down if they are standing, hence we vacate our chairs so they can sit. We obey them. We do not call them by their names. If they are holding something, we collect it from them, because we do not want them to carry anything that’s heavy. And so much more. How nice. Continue reading

Sunshine blogger award

For a long while, I have been off blogosphere. I have had things I wanted to write about, but the words were nowhere to be found. I went around asking people to give me topics to write about. I wanted to see if anything would immediately kick start that blogging part of my brain that was asleep.

Today, I can’t say what is making me write again. Maybe it’s the fact that I realized I had lost discipline in every aspect of my life and I knew it was high time I brought some order back.

So, the good news is, I was nominated for the Sunshine blogger award by lemonslemonade.com. Yayyyyyy. My first ever blogging award.  And that just made my day. You know when a family member or friend compliments your work, you’ll say “Thank you” with a huge smile. But when someone you hardly know does the same, you”ll say “Wow. Wow. Thannnnnk yoooou”. And then you’ll smile for a long time. That was me that day. Continue reading