Collaborators and Collaborations for the Mentally ill.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017 0 Comments A+ a-



Concluding February with the Social Media Week in Lagos, wraps up the significance of this month for my blog - I DARE TO BLOSSOM - which started in February 2014. I still can’t stop thinking, of how nice it would be to have: ‘How Technology and Social Media engagement can change the narrative of Mental Health in Africa’, included in the Social Media Week Lagos 2018. I think it would be a great way to reach a larger audience of the African society who are not mentally aware and provide mental health organizations in Nigeria, with an opportunity to collaborate.


Prior to when I started blogging about my personal journey as a Mental Health Survivor and a Bipolar Warrior, discussions on mental health always triggered a mixture of sadness and anger in my heart. Sadness, because, of the lack of awareness on the subject, anger, because, when I was diagnosed in 2003 with Bipolar Disorder, there were not many people who were willing to share their mental health recovery stories.

With time, this mixture of sadness and anger became a burden to see that more people become aware of what it meant to be mentally ill, and that persons managing bipolar disorder in Nigeria would be able to access my experience and recovery journey.
This is why the response of MANI to my thought on having ‘How Technology and Social Media engagement can change the narrative of Mental Health in Africa’ included in the Social Media Week Lagos, gladdens my heart.

“It’s a very much realizable dream and we might not even need SMW to organize such an event. Proper and long term planning will be key though” - MANI

The more Collaborations we have on creating awareness for mental health matters in Nigeria, the better the reception of the subject would be. And hopefully, with time, the stigma around mental health in Nigeria will end.
Really, if the rest of the world would recognise what the challenges of being mentally ill in Africa are, and what the challenges of managing a mental health diagnoses are, it would not only help in creating an opportunity for them to collaborate and invest in the mental health system of Nigeria, it would also help to give mental health a voice by creating a picture of the mental health system we want the rest of the world to see.

As at 2014, it was still difficult to get accurate data and statistics on bipolar disorder in Nigeria. I don’t know if that has changed now, but as little as it seems, it has a huge way of projecting how much corporate attention, is being given to mental health in Nigeria.

Still, in the face of little or no corporate mental health attention, a good number of initiatives are bridging the gap, by enlightening the society on mental health issues. In the long run, this would not only support the mentally ill but would also provide support for friends and family who are a reliable and strong source of encouragement for the mentally ill.

One source of positive wellbeing for me is, knowing that I have family and friends who are committed to my mental health progress. So even though my blog started in February 2014, by March, the following month, I was admitted into the hospital and advised to go on a bed rest to ensure the safe delivery of my son. Still, the three months bed rest did not affect my blog because my husband and my  mother and other family members  understood how precious it was to me, and asked my sister to help me post while I wrote. (Sometimes, I dictated to her, while she typed) This is why, I am a firm believer of the thoughts that say:

Collaborations are important and family and friends should be carried along in the mental health recovery process.

Support from friends and family are the strongest and most reliable source of encouragement for the mentally ill. Without it, Psychological counselling and Psychiatry medication will do little for the positive well-being of the mentally ill.

My name is precious, I was bipolar and I live a full life

Note: MANI is an acronym for Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative.
SMW is an acronym for Social Media Week.


WORLD DAY OF SOCIAL JUSTICE: Can Disclosing Your Mental Health Status Prevent You From Getting A Decent Job?

Tuesday, February 21, 2017 0 Comments A+ a-

February 20th, is the Day celebrated as World Day of Social Justice. As I read through un.org and scanned through social media, I kept asking myself, what does a day like this mean to persons managing their mental health? What difference does it make to them?

The theme for this year’s World Day of Social Justice is "Preventing conflict and sustaining peace through decent work”.
It is my firm believe that for the mentally ill to effectively manage their mental health in Nigeria and be given an equal opportunity to thrive in the society, there must be mutual platforms for them to access decent work opportunities that support them without the fear of the stigma or prejudice that is currently associated with mental health issues in Nigeria.

Whether we like to admit it or not, the truth is, every day, a portion of the population is consumed by the prevailing economic distress. Some are coping well, others are trying to forge ahead with what is available to them, yet another set is falling into depression and have to seek medical attention. Even before this phase of economic distress, people still fall mentally ill as a result of poorly managed stress or issues rising from their genetic heritage. So there is a reasonable amount of people admitted into the few Neuro-Psychiatry hospitals available in Nigeria.

My question is, when they are discharged, and are stable, ready to contribute their quota to the society, will they be able to access decent work? Will the working conditions be conducive for their mental well-being? Will they be discriminated, labelled and disregarded?


I am one of the few persons, who fell mentally ill, was admitted in a Neuro-Psychiatry hospital, spent about 7 months in recovery, went back to the University, got a degree, and…. Got a job! Yes, I got a job. I was excited, even though it seemed stressful to me at that time and I was so afraid to disclose my mental health status to my employer. By the time I got my third job, somehow, I summoned courage to disclose to my employer, and I was amazed at the support I received. I was not regarded as weak or unstable, I was rather given more tasks and told, I was a strong person who was resilient and tenacious. I executed my assigned task with enthusiasm, asked questions when I needed to, and took a ‘no’, as an opportunity to learn and grow.
Persons managing mental health issues deserve a reliable source of livelihood from decent work, especially in a country like Nigeria, where there are no bills passed or laws actively executed to protect the rights of the mentally ill. As employees, mental health survivors are effective, creative and committed at their work. They cherish the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to society knowing that, life is offering them another chance to repurpose themselves.
Dear mental health survivor, if the world fails to recognise your value or fail to create opportunities for you to access decent work in your environment, understand that, you can create decent work for yourself. Try to volunteer your services, be a solution to a problem in your community, develop yourself in handcrafts, read books, and listen to the news with a mind full of optimism not pessimism.
Start with that positive thing you can do without necessarily incurring any debt. It may look small, but if you nurture it, it can blossom into a reliable source of livelihood for you and others who would come to identify with you.

My name is Precious, I was Bipolar and I live a full life.


 

 

Reference: http://www.un.org/en/events/socialjusticeday/

My Mother's love for her children is golden!

Saturday, February 18, 2017 2 Comments A+ a-


Today is my mummy’s birthday. It feels good to still be able to call her, ‘mummy’, and for this, I am grateful to God for persevering her for us.

My mum is a unique person. Aside from her natural and pure beauty, she has a beautiful heart of Gold.





Mum, Happy Birthday.

Thank you for everything. We love and appreciate you!





For carrying me for 9 months in your womb and nurturing me till date, despite life's test and trials. Thank you.

For the seven different times your carried each of us (siblings) in your womb. Thank you.
 
For your prayers and love. Thank you.
For your strength in the face of adversity.Thank you.
For the tenacity and resilience with which you go about life. Thank you.
For constantly checking on us, even as adults. Thank you.
For your quiet yet powerful disposition to life. Thank you.

For your kindness. Thank you.
For all the things you had to go through because of motherhood. Thank you.
For always checking on me to be sure I am okay. Thank you.
Chief OgheneKaro of Udu Kingdom, Delta State.
 
For your Value systems. Thank you.
Most importantly,
For showing me how to love God at a tender age. Thank you.
We love you Beautiful Mama.


Traditional outfit for Chieftaincy Coronation


3 VALUES THAT CAN HELP YOU NURTURE YOURSELF INTO LOVE

Tuesday, February 14, 2017 0 Comments A+ a-

 

All over the world, people identify with February 14th as Valentine’s Day is celebrated. I am not going to go into the story of how Valentine’s Day came to be, that you can Google. I want to talk about ‘you’. Yes, you, reading this now. How are you? And how are you faring?

When it comes to celebrating Valentine, I have come to recognise that celebrating Valentine’s Day is not the only way to know that you are loved and valued. Sometimes, your Special person may forget to say, 'I love you', (that’s assuming there is one) or even act in a way that will make you doubt his or her commitment to you. Sometimes, it is all the other issues that take your attention and leaves you drained! I want to encourage you to not feel bad or disappointed in any one who does not meet your expectation of what today means to you.

Learn to celebrate yourself. We often forget our needs and crave ways to reach out to others while we are dying for attention. If you love Yourself, you will attract the right kind of love from others.
Love yourself. I know there are so many things you would like to see improve about your life, but please love yourself. Take yourself out on a trip. Reward yourself with a good book or anything you like and can afford.

I have three ideas on how you can deliberately love yourself:

1)    Speak the right words. Self-talk has a therapeutic effect if it is centered on positive words and thoughts. Everything in life speaks! It is your perspective and state of mind that determines what you take in as counsel from what you observe from life. Life Speaks. It speaks in all that unfolds around us daily. Speak kind words to yourself. Listen to soul lifting music and write kind words about yourself

2)    Build your life around right values. What are your values? Life is a trade of values. It is either you are building on your values by investing in the growth process that enhances your life or you are emulating other peoples’ values. Be sure what your values are. Values guide our lives. Integrity is a good value, a good character is priceless, and sincerity endears us to others. Do a list of your values and see where you need to improve.

3)    Invest in yourself. When was the last time you went to a workshop, read a book, or saw a movie that helped shape your perspective in the right direction?  Even though there are a lot of online courses and free and paid events that can contribute positively to your life, you still need to make up your mind to invest in yourself.

The summery of what I am saying today, is;

Love yourself. No one apart from Jesus has the capacity to love you the way you desire. Why? Man naturally seeks his own good. It is called self-preservation. This is what leads to Selfishness or self-centeredness.

So, would you promise me that you would love yourself and put the right value on yourself?

Happy Valentine’s Day. I wish I can say I love you more than myself, but it would be a lie. Only Jesus loves that way. Do you know Him? Read John 15:13 (NIV)

My name is Precious, I was Bipolar and I live a full life.

Speak Out, Seek Help, in Mental Health, Silence isn’t Golden!

Friday, February 10, 2017 0 Comments A+ a-

Education can make a positive difference in the way mentally ill persons are perceived.


Recently, I came across a tweet that read,
“Dear Twitter Nigeria, stop making mentally ill people feel like influencers. Ignore stupid tweets. Jump over rubbish.”

My response was,
 
Sometimes, there’s a remarkable gap between how a mentally ill person thinks & how they are perceived. Why not address them in a DM?
 
I am passionate when it comes to mental Health issues because I know that there is a dearth of information on the subject especially in Nigeria, where I am from.  Many people would not understand how it feels like to wake up in the morning with an overwhelming feeling of exhaustion from just trying to think about how your day would unfold. Sometimes, it is the side effects of the medication you have to deal with.
 
Many would not understand that your unplanned naps during the day are as a result of a new medication which your body is still adjusting to. Sometimes, the mood swing comes without any prior notice and you snap at the closet person to you without truly understanding why!
 
These are some extreme scenarios of having to live with a bipolar diagnosis.   My option is that, we must speak up. We must keep speaking. Silence isn’t golden when it comes to mental health issues because like physical health, everyone has a mental health and mental health issues do not show on the forehead. They reflect in the quality of  our decisions, actions and comportment. They are perceived from how we manage our feelings in tough times and also, in the times when things seem to be going fine. 

So speaking up about Mental Health is not about becoming an influencer or someone important.  It is about 'taking back the narrative' as Hauwa Ojeifo, founder of SHE WRITES WOMAN  would say.

Speaking up about Mental Health is about making a positive difference in the way mentally ill persons are perceived and providing an enabling atmosphere where everyone who have been diagnosed with a mental health illness, been through a mental health recovery process or is still undergoing one, can blossom and grow into the best version of themselves.
It is about eradicating the stigma around mental health in Nigeria. We have been silent for too long. Way too long and the effect of this silence is reflecting in everything. In the choice of schools we permit mentally ill persons to attend, in who they can or cannot marry, in the kinds of jobs they find, in the relationships they keep, in the low self-esteem they nurture, in the timidity and a lack of confidence they display – Society seem to have boxed mentally ill persons and stamped a label on it - STIGMA, DON’T COME CLOSE, NOT MENTALLY STABLE.

All because society fails to recognise the value that a mentally ill person can add if professional treatment, love and counselling is made available to them. After all, each one of us came from the creator’s manufacturing studio with a measure of value.  I view the whole mental health thing from the eyes of one who has experienced the process. This is why I decided to share my bipolar story in the first place. It is my own way of educating Nigerians and contributing globally to ending the stigma around mental health. What can you do to eradicate the stigma of mental health in your corner of the world?

My name is precious, I was Bipolar and I live a full life.