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DO YOU HAVE AN IRON WILL?
We were at my grandfather’s house for the meeting; I and my immediate two siblings were allowed to attend. The air in the room was gloomy ; Granddad had a stare on his face that suggested a mixed feeling within him, my mom looked tired, confused, but relived at the same time, Dad had a fixed resolution on his face, one that suggested he was about to do what was best for everyone present in the room.
The rites began and in a few minutes the twenty year old marriage between my parents was traditionally dissolved, the bride price returned to my Grand dad, just like that!
I was nineteen, going on twenty when this happened, and I quickly realized that I now had the responsibility of caring for my six siblings being the first of the seven children the marriage had produced. This responsibility fell on me because dad insisted on the full custody of the children.
Well, I worked tirelessly to ensure that my siblings had the best; from going to the market three times a week, cooking their three square meals, assisting with their home works, washing and pressing their clothes, and even attending P.T.A meetings (Parents / Teachers Association).
I also ensured that my siblings were carried along, being that our mom had given us that foundation in Christianity while she was in the marriage.
Nonetheless, like Chinua Achebe’s book title ‘Things Fall Apart’, the centre could no longer hold…
I had been attending a church program for over a week. I was in one of such programs, when the congregation noticed I was acting funny – singing loudly and crying uncontrollably. They took me to the pastor’s office and prayed for me. With not much difference to my present state, they had no option but to take me home. To summarize the long story, I eventually found myself a in a psychiatric hospital.
The doctors diagnosed Bipolar disorder. Yes, you can imagine the shock on my parent’s faces. Why? How? The doctor’s said that I had been chewing more than I could swallow. I know you would be wondering; what would a 20 year old be dealing with that could lead to this? That’s a story for another day.
The recovery process was rough. First I had to come to terms with the bipolar diagnosis and how it was going to affect my life way forward. For starters, I was advised not to continue with my Law pursuits as it would require I read long hours which in the Doctor’s opinion was not advisable for me, so I switched to study Theatre Arts.
Even with the Theatre Arts, the first semester was a disaster *smile* I could hardly write legibly or reason fast as a result of some of the side effects of the drugs prescribed for me then. While I was in recovery. I observed that I had lost memory of things I used to do effortlessly, things like: cooking, recalling past events, the ability and confidence to relate with my peers. I had a very low self-esteem, in fact one day, I told my Dad that I felt like dying, that there was no point in living (funny, just imagine that!).
I am not recalling this story to elicit pity from you, no I am not. But I want you to know that there is hope for every Bi-polar patient out there, I know that the Nigerian environment may not be very conducive for many Bi-polar patients to blossom, but we (you reading, and I). Can begin today to create an enabling environment for bipolar patients, by:
- Understanding the illness: Research about the illness so you can have informed opinion when you relate or come in contact with Bi-polar patients.
- Do not let your actions/decisions towards them be characterized by stigma. If a bipolar individual qualifies for the job, hire them. If they possess the innate skills and abilities that your business needs to get to the next level, get them on board. One thing I know about Bi-polar patients is that they are very creative, deep thinkers and sometimes very energetic, all these traits if channelled positively can yield great results in the work environment.
- Do not shelter them too much: Most parents, friends and loved ones in their bid to see that the Bi- polar patient is comfortable and happy, have deliberately shielded them from many life circumstances ignorantly. They accompany them to everywhere, make decisions for them, monitor who they talk with, or about, they pamper them to a fault. I am not saying you can’t do the above for them, just apply moderation in all you do, give them some space to be themselves, if they fall, be there to pick them up, that way they will have their own experiences on how not to indulge next time and develop confidence and self-esteem daily.
- Do not limit them to what you think they can or cannot do. Ask them soul searching questions. E.g.
What is your life plan?
What can you do presently to achieve it?
What are your natural strengths and weaknesses?
That way they feel loved and accepted and rise up to the challenges these questions may pose to them.
My Bipolar story has taught me that no excuse in life is good enough to make me fail. I have learnt that if I have a victim mentality, then I will live like a victim. What has your Bipolar story taught you?
Father, your Grace is sufficient for me, when I am weak , then I am strong because I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me, In Jesus name, amen. Philippians 1:13.
· That you have to take your medication(s) as prescribed by the doctors.
· That you don’t have to avoid your appointments with your physician.
· That you have to rest well, eat healthy, exercise safely, and avoid stress.
· That you can pray over your medications that; they will work perfectly for you without side effects.
· That you can pray to God to perfect all that concerns your mental health.
My name is Precious, I was Bi-polar, and I live a full life
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