In Nigeria, mental health is something nobody is really looking at. You see a lot of personality disorder problems on the road when driving particularly, in traffic. There’s a lot of Obsessive-Compulsive/ Narcissistic behavior. You find that some people are so detached from reality-behind their steering wheels- that they wouldn’t even stop to let school children cross the road even if the car in from of theirs was about half a meter away.
Then there’s megalomania; men and women-themselves being from rich family backgrounds-who have been in government or the civil service most of their active lives-allegedly embezzling state funds to the tune of billions of dollars, which we later find to be true.
Or the upwardly mobile working lady who has done everything to find a man…and finally does; only its a boy, sorry a man she has too fulfill emotionally, financially and in bed too. On her Facebook avatar you see pictures like a young woman looking into space with a byline: Sometimes you have to be your own hero because sometimes the people you can’t live without can live without you. There in the picture lies the truth if you pay attention. She’s tired…or depressed…or both. And depression a really bad place to be.
Then there’s the young man who fifteen years ago, with the flooding of pornographic VCDs-a failure of government I must say-had his first lessons in sex education; developed unhealthy mental associations with the act; experimented his findings with the family house help at first or with a neighbor’s daughter-that’s if he didn’t do it with his sister-and generally became a menace to society. Today, he’s a sex addict. Unable to hold a stable relationship for a certain amount of time, mummy comes to the rescue. She and Ms. Upwardly Mobile’s mum do an ‘arrangee’ marriage that everybody expects to work . The wedding was grand with the best of everything -caterers, event managers, fashion designers-but it so happened that he slept with every girl on the train 3 months into married life.
Or imagine the girl abducted from her village near the Sambisa Forest and raped several times a day for six months until she has now come to associate with death as her only escape from the hell that her life has become. Now, imagine her being granted her wish-with a promise of eternal bliss-if she would just walk into a crowded place, strapped around with belt laden with explosives to chest and set it off. Don’t you think she would do it?
Finally, there’s codependency most recently brought to the fore by Sugabelly’s shocking revelations on social media. According to Wikipedia, this happens when ‘one person, often at an unconscious level, allows themselves to be constantly manipulated, maneuvered, undermined and controlled by another person. Co-dependency is an obsessive and extreme form of self-sacrifice as they do not believe they can manage alone. An individual’s self-esteem is at rock bottom and it is as if they no longer truly act under their own will.’ This must really sound familiar to many people but I guess I’ll leave this one alone.
My friend, Dr. Vivian Ikem recently wrote a book about depression and mental health titled, Shadows in The Mirror: The Many Faces of Depression and I wish there were more people like her to help push the agenda for appropriate legislation on mental health in Nigeria.
The truth-more than we’d like to admit- is that the rise in domestic violence, rape, sex addiction, depression, suicide bombing in Nigeria are all hinged on our neglect for mental health.
It’s sad to say but, many people are’t well.