Growing up, the people with mental health issues were the ones locked up in Yaba left, the people who wore rags and danced on the streets looking dirty and malnourished. It wasn’t the dad who was happy for one minute, just to pounce on his wife and children for no reason the next; no, he loved them and was only made angry. It wasn’t the child with a short attention span and hyperactivity; no, that was just a troublesome boy. It wasn’t the woman who seemed to have it all and couldn’t pinpoint the reason she was sad all the time; no, she was just an ungrateful woman. And it certainly wasn’t the girl who froze, going completely blank and fidgeting during examinations; no, that one just did not ‘know book’.
It was unthinkable that the father might be bipolar, that the boy suffered from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, otherwise known as ADHD, that the woman was depressed and that the girl was having anxiety attacks. Statistically, chances are there’s someone around you battling with their mental health. And no, it’s not a thing of today. People have always battled with mental illnesses but these illnesses had no names then, they only labeled the victims.
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However, it is an easy task to conclude that you have a mental health issue when you don’t have one. The cliché that still holds water is to not google your symptoms. The downward spiral that will be the result of fear is not worth it. I find it confusing when I see people on the internet showing off their mental health challenges like a Pokemon card collection. Isn’t it something we’re sad about? Is showing off some sort of coping mechanism to deal with it? Or is it that the people showing off don’t understand what those health issues mean for the carriers?
I guess I’ll never be in the place to answer those questions because I haven’t experienced any of these challenges for myself. It’s like a man talking to you about feminism or a Nigerian in the diaspora writing about the state of the country. You get the gist.
I am mentally stable, or at least I think I am.
I don’t know, maybe I’ll google my symptoms and get back to you.