Good morning beautiful people!
So, it’s clear to me that given the “performative Christianity” thread that got so much attention on Whatsapp, that you all really want to know about how I know so much about mental health issues and you’d like to harness the power of my shared knowledge to improve on your own lives and relationships, especially with God and your family.
I’m going to tell you my true story now: please don’t judge, seek to offend or mock me. Just respect that this is a safe space and I’ve realized that I do NEED to share this story with you.
Just listen (read) me. Please, just read along.
If you’ve read this story, you probably thought I was a strong person because of what I’ve been through. Um, that’s not even the full story. The full story might make you cry and weep for me.
I’ve been dealing with anxiety and depression for 15 years. 15. YEARS! And it kept on accumulating. The problems kept on coming from everywhere. Visual stimulation overload, auditory overload, some hediots and shediots in my life mocking me, my eating habits, my weight, my eyes. Basically any and every thing about me. I do not encourage that here. EVER.
One of the very worst things you can do to a person who has identified her two major love languages as Acts of Service and Words of Affirmation is calling me or chatting me up to say stupid stuff, or coming by my house, my room, my space and spewing hateful words. Sometimes, you know “Lifing/Existing” basically was a struggle for me.
I could tell when I’d uncovered a new level of my pain. Like 1 year’s worth. Poof. Gone with the wind. But when I prayed to God to make this the best year of my life, I could feel him smiling. Just smiling. And I knew that I was in serious “trouble”.
Because God was reaching deep into my heart and uncovering pain that I’d left covered. Forgotten about even. Because I believed that I was healed. ENOUGH. I believe that God had restored me. ENOUGH. I had just gotten ENOUGH of my laughter and peace of mind back so I could truly fall asleep. I could fall asleep without a knife underneath my pillow because I felt safe ENOUGH.
But it didn’t mean that I was restored fully. God wanted to restore me fully and I was like, “Do we truly have to do this today/this week/this year Lord?”. Sincerely speaking, I feel fine. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t feeling so close to my cousins sometimes because I thought I could aggressively love them ENOUGH so that it wouldn’t matter that my heart and mind didn’t feel close to them, I was obeying your words Lord, what would you rather I do?”
#NigeriaDecides2019 changed all that for me. I began to have anxiety on another scale, on another level and I knew that ENOUGH was not now Enough- for- me. The bad thoughts were returning full force and I constantly found myself losing appetite. Unable to eat. Unable to speak. I wasn’t completely healed in my heart yet. There were parts of the story that I still hadn’t told, parts of the terrors I felt that still had to come out. But I could choose how it came out this time, I could choose to regress to the level I was at in December 2016, making little, bite sized compromises toward a full on healing or I could choose to just let all my secrets go. All at once. All in one go.
And yes, another level of pain was unlocked but almost immediately I felt true, the truest peace. And that is what God is offering you today. Do you only want bite-sized pieces of peace? Or to feel an overwhelming flood of peace and finally, finally seek not to do it on your own anymore but recognize that there is somebody bigger and greater than you, whose strength you can rely on?
Before we start this post, I want to categorically state that I’m not looking for pity, there will not be a Gofundme link, a PiggyBank link or any other bank link, I have been richly blessed and I’m still expecting more blessings to come and I have very much to look forward to in my life.
I am also not looking to assign any blame. Unless you know how emotionally draining it is to make and maintain a friendship with someone with mental health issues; the fear, the worry, the terror, you don’t get to cast any stones.
This thread will not automatically attach the term, “victim” to my name. I am a conqueror. I am NOT a victim. And there is nothing wrong with me.
(Hello Google, please play me I’m no Victim by Kristene DiMarco.)
Without further ado;
I didn’t originally have 2 siblings. I had 4. My elder brother was born; Chike (March 10) then my elder sister Tochukwu, (April 28) then Obianuju, my name was originally supposed to be Ebelechukwu but I thank God my grandmother hijacked the name. 🙏🏽 Do I look like an Ebelechukwu to you? (October 7), then Nebolisa (November 15) and Chukwunonso (June 8).
Clearly my parents were very, very busy creating babies, making use of Valentine’s day even. 😍
Tochukwu however didn’t make it to her second birthday. She died of malaria. Rest in peace Tochi.
And then there were 3. Nonso wasn’t born at this time. Nebolisa didn’t make it to his 13th birthday. He died on the 9th of December, 2007. Rest in peace BohBoh. Rest in power, both of you.
Now, Tochukwu, Obianuju and Nebolisa all suffer(ed) from sickle cell anaemia. Chukwunwike and Chukwunonso do not. For which I’m grateful. I remember contesting in @TheNakedConvos’ The Writer contest and the first week, they said we should write about our mothers.
Mine was a non-fiction piece. Rookie mistake but I regret nothing. My parents are strong, forget. With what they’ve had to deal with? To remain strong, hospitable and kind?
Nebolisa became very sick when he was 8 years old. We were all supposed to take a trip by air on Sosoliso Airlines to Enugu (that name was so rhythmic and funny). It was to be an afternoon flight and my big brother was assigned to watch over us. He started running a fever, he had malaria etc so my parents didn’t let him come with us.
Our vacation took 3 months, we met up with a cousin of ours and we enjoyed life in the way you can only do when reality has not yet burst your bubble.
Reality burst all our bubbles when we came back. My brother would be healthy one day, sick the next 3 days, my brother would have convulsions, he would have to be rushed to the hospital in the middle of the night. My parents spent more time at the hospital than they did in the house. Once again I say;
Then the worst happened, my brother had a stroke. It rendered him speechless and immobile. This went on for 3 and a half years. He literally couldn’t do anything for himself. He couldn’t move. He couldn’t talk. He could only smile and groan.
During that period we had about 15 people living with us in the house but come afternoon time, you’d hardly see a one.
And then the Bogeyman came. If I were narrating my life; I’d say watch out, bad man ahead. Super story; I thought to myself many times that my life was a candidate for that show. He was my lesson teacher. And a massive fucktard, a super dickwad. I think about him and I want to commit murder. But I won’t. That’s how you get sent up for felonies, because you didn’t keep your mouth shut when you should have.
It was super easy to get lost in the shuffle of my family in that period. I genuinely thought no one ever needed me until Nonso was crying or fussy. 10/11. I was in Junior Secondary school at that time. And I’d had pneumonia twice already. I was in that ultra emotional zone where I needed to talk with someone, anyone regularly about everything, including my diagnosis, my brother’s health issues, even my family being overcrowded.Too overcrowded for me sometimes, I felt.
But something I’ve noticed in life, it is very difficult to find people to talk to when you actually need to talk. No. What you’d get instead are lots of people who want to have sex with your underaged ass, who’d try to take advantage of your parents using you. I was a quiet child. An introvert. But I was a happy introvert. But after the “events” , I was a mostly silent, morose introvert. Very. big. difference.
At the time Nebo stopped talking, he was my closest friend. I very badly needed a replacement friend. I had friends, don’t mistake me. But it’s one thing to laugh and cry with a friend about Bingo who just died and quite another thing to lay on someone the kind of baggage I was dealing with constantly. Imagine, I thought about my everyday life as baggage. I knew, even then that I’d have a lot to deal with in the future.
But the stuff I was currently dealing with, I trusted someone with some of the pain at this point and the person spent the rest of that year avoiding me. I learned my Lesson. Deal with your shit yourself. I trusted a Minister at church with only a little bit of the issue, none of the assault and the advice I got was not good enough. I trusted another person at church, one of my teachers and when I got home, I could tell my mother already knew what I’d said and was waiting for a “good time to discuss it”
I learned another lesson. Unless you go to a different church, then either your mom or your dad, but mostly your mom will know every part of your matter before the end of that day.
I left that church when I was 19, and since then I’ve never felt the need to be in a church no matter what every Sunday morning.
And I’ve had everybody from my parents generation who found out about it, froth at the mouth because of it.
Auntie/Uncle, izzit your soul? Is it your soul that I am using? No, then ignore me. I want to sleep very deeply today.
I learned to hide. To keep secrets. I kept so many secrets, it scares me now how I could have gotten away with all of it.
It started with a kiss. This man, 20something years and me, 10/11 years old. I pretended I didn’t notice him trying to kiss me and continued with maths.
He did it again. I slapped him. Then he tried to hold me down, and forcibly kiss me. I slapped him again. And ran into Nebo’s room. Tom and Jerry. I remember, he used to justify himself, saying he wanted to marry me. Nigga, I was 12, 13, 14. Dafuq? What the hell is wrong with you? And even if I had been older, I would never, EVER in my life, get married to you. And on and on the merry go round till I was 16, in the University and caught this man watching me sleep for the 3rd time inside my room. That summer.
I called a cousin to get rid of him, I called another cousin when the first cousin wasn’t doing much that I could see, imagine he had the temerity to tell me that the man merely just liked me. He just LIKED me. 🙆🏽😾. Fuck you Nwachi!
Enough was finally enough.
He had done it a couple of times before. What could have happened to me? My parents had absolute trust in this fucktard. What about me? My parents noticed that I was not so excited to see Uncle “Asshole” anymore. Why didn’t they ask me?
My mom read my diary, completely sidelined the entry about the sexual assault and harassment, to be fair to her, it was written in a sort of code and chose instead to focus on my harmless crush on a guy in my grade and on my relationship with her.
This is the genuine reason I hate people knowing my business. Because when they know your business, and when you know that they know your business, you have to act/pretend on their behalf. And I don’t like acting or pretending. I want to be my most authentic self possible.
And then proceeded to humiliate me in front of some distant family members, and some of her “new” church members (I used to have nightmares about that church, and I won’t mention the name) all constituting the peanut gallery.
What about me? Why didn’t they take the time to ask me anything? I was literally drowning and there was no one I could safely process my feelings around. Everyone was busy, everyone had work to do, everyone was escaping the house. I used to seek refuge in my neighbor’s house, I used to tell Uncle Asshole to teach me outside where everybody could see us. I couldn’t get away with any of it.
Uncle Asshole would tell my mom some bullshit story and I’d be right back to putting pins in his chair and holding a small knife from the kitchen in my skirt. But I wouldn’t talk. No. We knew and played our assigned roles very very well. Me and the fucktard, the fucking twat. I will never play those roles, do that shit AGAIN in my life. God forbid!
I tried to get better at Maths. In SS 2, I worked harder than I ever did to not need Uncle Asshole any more. But unfortunately for me, Chike had problems with Further Maths. It be like that sometimes.
Then Chike had to go for A Levels in another state, so I was more alone than ever with this depraved pervert.
I graduated from Secondary school. But this man came around ostensibly to teach Nonso. And to brush me up pending university admission. My parents thought he was super kind to be doing this. I have to laugh.
Kind like a fox in the henhouse.
Kind like a vulture circling, providing shade before it snatches a dead baby. Kind like that. Sure. Why not. Dickwad. Stupid Bastard!
About 6 months after Nebolisa had the stroke, my dad was posted by his bank to the South East. I’m not very close to my mom but I am close to my dad. The previous metaphor is misleading AF. Foxes and vultures do need to eat after all. I could tell of no reason why Uncle Asshole had to do this.
So, my dad. I’m pretty sure if he had asked me around the time Uncle Sunday got wandering lips and hands, what was wrong, I’d have told him. But he’d been transferred and I had to deal. It took him a year and some months, the help of some friends and family members to work his redeployment back to Lagos.
By then, I was a master, a veritable sensei in the art form of pretense. “Obianuju is everything okay with you?” I’m fine, mummy. “U-U, whats up with you?” Nothing Daddy.
Also, it was around this period that my mom would come into my room in the night to be poking my belly and squeezing it to make sure that I wasn’t carrying a baby in my uterus.
Uncle Asshole: when Nebo died, he came, grieved with us, kept right on sexually harassing me. When my grandmother died, he hopped on a bus with my cousin to Anambra, my home state to come watch the proceedings, tried to grab a seat beside me, hold my hands. Gbesere oh. Are you mad, are you fucking insane?
But my closest in age cousin from my paternal side was there, so I blatantly ignored him. Uncle Asshole was not even an isolated incident.
I can remember at least 7 people who felt the need to follow me literally. Like, they’d make a crude comment, I’d ignore, avert my eyes and they’d start walking behind me laughing or posturing. One guy trapped me and forcibly grabbed and groped me. I hate markets so much. I fucking detest markets. So so much.
7 times. Tejuosho. Balogun. Yaba. Anambra. I fucking hate markets. I detest them with every fiber of my being. I hear @MarketMarch did something and they know now that touching you (in)appropriately and following you is not ideal. But I still detest markets. And more isolated incidents.
I didn’t feel the need to detail all those experiences on the blog, I thought I came through it okay. And I was ultra determined, it wasn’t going to destroy me. I would not be broken by stupidity.
I am never a victim unless I choose to be one. And I do NOT choose to BE one.
In my final year in the University, by this time, “Uncle Asshole” was a bad memory (he had attempted to scam my parents). I was still being tough geh, tough geh but I was moving on with my life. Then I had a stroke.I had a “little” mental breakdown. Just a tiny bit of what was coming.
Nevertheless, I managed to graduate on time with my set. 💃🏽💃🏽💃🏽. So I dodged that emotional bullet.
But in law school, the bullet was literally running after me. It was chasing me. I would swerve, it would swerve with me. I would bend down, it would whizz close to my ear. I’d had insomnia for years but it was manageable and I was getting by. But in that period, when I finally slept, I would literally feel myself fighting to wake up. Not sleep paralysis. I’ve had that before.
Literally. Fighting. To. Wake. Up.
The only times I wouldn’t fight was if I slept in the afternoons. See how the devil works? The devil is a liar.
Still, I was handling it. Then third term came and exam preparations started in earnest. 3 weeks to my exam, I started running a massive fever. My temperature spiked and I was very very sick.
My mom had to swing by Law school to pick me up. I think it was a weekend or a Friday. I stayed home for a full week. The family doctor later told me that this was the illness that scared him most. The devil is a liar.
Now, I was aiming to get a 1st class in Law school to make up for the first class I didn’t get in the University. When I came back to school, I picked up my textbook and I couldn’t recall absolutely anything. I had worked. I had read at home. I had drafted, I had done most of our group’s homework, I had coached people.
But, I couldn’t, literally couldn’t remember a damn thing. I tried not to panic. I really did. I was taking it slowly, pacing myself. Drink your medicine, take a walk, come back. Read. It was coming back to me, slowly. But I was fine. It was fine. I had coached people. I had done the homework. But I couldn’t, literally couldn’t remember a damn thing. I tried not to panic. I really did.
And then I went to Worship Wednesdays at Joshuaville and spent the entire service screaming at my reflection in the bathroom.
But it was still fine. Just because I was facing a problem I didn’t mention anything to my family and friends about. Just because I had no experience with having massive waves of panic attacks didn’t mean that I wouldn’t magically get it together right before exams. It was fine. Shit happens. I was dealing with it.