Something Extra

According to WHO, Nigeria currently has one of the worst healthcare systems in the world (187th out of 190 countries), despite having a large GDP and abundant mineral resources. Countries that are poorer are doing better with their health care system. We train doctors, but about 60% of them go abroad to work. Who can blame them? With the high workload and the small pay, doctors always want to seek better opportunities. What results is an even higher workload, for those doctors who have not yet had the opportunity to leave. 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. 

Happy International Youth day

We have attained Bachelor and Masters Degrees. We have applied for jobs we are overqualified for. We have been harassed by gatemen of large corporations as we shamelessly attempt to drop our unsolicited CVs. We have fallen prey to fraudsters who promised us jobs if we pay an exorbitant sum of money. We do not want to look at our parents’ faces because we do not want to see the disappointment they try to hide. They have spent so much on our education, you see? Continue reading

Housemaid saga: Questions for Madam

In Nigeria, there is a form of child labour that is quite common and accepted, and that is employing children to be housemaids. This situation stems from poverty. For several socio-cultural or economic reasons, many parents do not plan their families and end up having too many children to take care of. This causes them to give out their children to work for others as housemaids. This is also what gives rise to child beggars and child hawkers. But that is a story for another day.

Anyway, in this case, females are mostly the victims and get to live under some pretty harsh conditions. So in light of this, I have just a few questions for Madam. Yes, you who own underage housemaids. Continue reading

Heat confessions (Heat and my health)

I am so glad the rain has come and the heat has been washed away. Because the season was too hot.

If there was constant electricity, I wouldn’t have had cause to complain much, because then, being indoors wouldn’t be a problem. But this season, being indoors and outdoors were equally frustrating.

Now that it’s gone, I just have to rant about the good and bad ways the heat affected my health. Continue reading

Something will do us

Dear Nigerians,

I am sure by now, everyone has heard of the terrible ordeal Ese went through. The story goes that, at 13 years old, Ese, a girl from Bayelsa state was kidnapped by a northerner, taken to Kano and forced to be a muslim and was wedded to him. After a period of time, it was brought to the attention of the media and there was a media frenzy. She has now returned home but alas, that is not the end of the tragic story. Ese is now pregnant, at 14. Continue reading

If You Do Not, Who Will?

Dear Nigerians,

Before I wrote this post, I stared at the blank MS Word page on my laptop screen for hours searching for the perfect words to write. Those magic words that will inspire and motivate you to see your health as a priority. Words that will make you adopt a healthy lifestyle. And I must confess, I could think of nothing. After a few hours of thinking and writing and deleting, I decided to write why adopting a healthy lifestyle is important to me.

I guess the most obvious reason is that, I do not want to be sick. I hate being sick. I hate that feeling of weakness and helplessness, of pain and weariness. I hate that I have to depend on someone to take care of me and I hate that my caretaker will have to be inconvenienced. Oh, and I hate pills and injections. Need I say more? Continue reading