With the Founder, She Writes Woman Foundation
The popular Nigerian belief when you mention mental health is a picture of an individual who has lost the ability to coordinate the mind. Words like, ‘kolo’, ‘mental’, ‘crazy’, ‘mental case’, ‘kolo mental’ and many others are commonly used to describe a mentally ill person who is experiencing psychosis. My experience in managing my mental health as a Nigerian, gives me all the motivation I need to keep talking about mental health issues with the hope that my contribution will in the long run, change the narrative of mental health in Nigeria. I look forward to the day, when persons who has been diagnosed with mental health conditions, would talk freely about their mental health journey without the fear of stigma or rejection. This is the reason why She Writes Woman in collaboration with the Wiki Loves Women initiative presented the two-day creative workshop, Mental Health in Nigerian Women: Taking back the Narrative.
Doing a research on a topic
Taking back the narrative of mental health in Nigeria requires the collaborative efforts of every member of the society; it is not something we can leave to chance or to governmental policies.  Wikipedia, the web-based encyclopaedia, played her part in Lagos this week by creating an opportunity for members of the society to research on mental health and upload accurate information about mental health in Nigerian women. The founder of She Writes woman, Hauwa Ojeifo is playing her part, by creating a safe place for women managing mental health conditions in Nigeria. I am doing my part by writing this piece and committing to sharing my mental health journey with the world. You are playing a part by reading this and possibly sharing with the people around you! So you see, changing the narrative of mental health in Nigeria is not a ‘one man thing’. We need each other’s’ voice. Together, we are stronger.

Still on collaborative efforts, can you recall how different organisations and individuals in Nigeria stood up against the stigma of the HIV/AIDS virus in the early 90s? Presently, I believe that Nigeria records fewer stigma cases around people living with the virus because of the mass media education about the virus that is being circulated.

Tobiloba Ajayi, the Nigerian, female Lawyer, Author and Disability advocate I met at the event further buttressed the need to speak up and own our stories. In her words, “If we don’t, other people will take our stories and tell it the way they want”.
The strength of a story is in its pain. The strongest stories come from the toughest pain.

The strength of a story is in its journey.  Own your story and write it well by living beyond the pain, and deliberately choosing to see the brighter side of your situation. You need staying power to do this. May God’s grace be lavishly unleashed on us to tell our stories with boldness, accuracy and impact.
Till the next post, always remember that your story is unique and you bring something to the table by sharing and positively impacting others with it.
My name is Precious, I was Bipolar and I live a full Life.

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