31 Oct #MENTALHYGIENE: GRIEF AND DEPRESSION
Laid back on his bed, wearing a slightly rumpled orange shirt and shorts, on my laptop screen Ore Alasadura looked extremely relaxed as we started our FaceTime call. Easy-going and full of good humor pretty much sum up who Ore is. On any other day I would be completely fine with this, but given the nature of the interview I am about to hold, I am afraid that given what he is going through, he might use those qualities as a façade to cover his current situation.
Ore has been admitted to the hospital after a long night, a night that saw the release of months of bottled up emotions and pain. Struggling to reconcile the life he had with his mother and his new one without her, Ore had found himself battling depression.
Me: Earlier this year you got admitted into a Psychiatric ward, what led you to that?
OA: At first it was self-inflicted. I was smoking weed at the time, and I started acting up, this led me to the hospital, and then the psychiatric ward. When I got there I was tested for weed, a urine test, and shockingly it wasn’t found in my pee. (He pauses). Anyways I got there and all of a sudden it wasn’t about the marijuana, it was about my mom – the death of my mother. Am I to tell you the whole story?
Me: Yes. Tell me the whole thing.
OA: So yeah it was about the death of my mother. Basically, the doctors asked me the same question over and over again, and so I had the chance to tell people my story. Basically, if you’re in the hospital you’re ‘mad’, but I knew I wasn’t mad, I was just going through a phase. I had other patients in there with me, some had suicidal thoughts, some wanted to kill their parents, some overdosed on drugs. I myself I was diagnosed with ADHD. I went to some therapy sessions. To be honest inside the psychiatric ward, it’s like f*****g hell, the hospital was good and all, but was like you’re in a prison and you just want to get out. I couldn’t go to the cafeteria, they brought me my food, so I couldn’t choose what I eat, the TV stations were messed up, had no cable so I couldn’t watch football matches, I had to be in my room, I had a curfew. Most of the time when I didn’t feel sleepy and it was past curfew, I was just in a dark room and thinking. I would think for like 2 hours before I slept, I was literally thinking myself to sleep. Other times I took pills to sleep. Anyways, I figured out that most of the things I was doing in the psychiatric hospital always related to my mother. I was grieving her, but I wasn’t grieving properly.
If you lose someone that you really cared about, that you really loved, the truth is that you can never ever get over that person.
Me: Normally when bad things happen to you how do you grieve?
OA: At first when my mother died, I was f*****g hopeless. I thought it was all over. My soul was in a small box. I was fucking trapped. My mom was like the pillar of the family, and so I thought my life was f****d. Before my mom’s death, there was like a process. I could actually see her death coming, I didn’t know it was real. I used to go to the balcony of the house and smoke at midnight, I’d look at the moon and stars and start thinking what if my mom dies today? All of a sudden a week came where my uncle’s daughter’s grandma died, she had never seen her grandma, but she was crying so bad, like so f*****g bad. I had never seen someone cry so bad. The way she was crying was so funny to me cause I had never seen someone cry that bad before. All of a sudden, in the same week my mom died. So it was like a process, I could see it but I wasn’t sure. F**k. It’s a sad f*****g story.
Me: Do you feel like you had to box up the pain you were going through? Like from when it happened to when you went to the institute. Do you feel like you couldn’t express it?
OA: Right now I’m still boxing it up, to be honest. I don’t tell people about it. Right now I’m just thinking about the future. I am always thinking about the future of me, my brother and my sister. Nobody knows my plans. I’m still boxing it up. But right now what I am about to do is to write notes and sign roses to her. Hopefully, she gets it.
Me: Do you think that as a guy, you’re not meant to grieve openly and that in itself led to you feeling depressed. Cause there is this expectation of you to be a ‘man’ when you grief. Could that have led to you going to the institute?
OA: Definitely. I have never been depressed in my life. At first, when she died I was so f*****g depressed. I was a mess. Like I just laid there on my bed – everywhere was dark. I was depressed, man.
Me: Do you think going to the institute helped you? In terms of dealing with grief, did it help you? Did it help you deal with it? Or do you still feel that struggle to deal with the grief and depression?
OA: Nothing really changed with me, I just met new people. Nothing really changed.
Me: Having met these people and heard their stories, how did that change your outlook on Mental Hygiene(health)?
OA: Meeting those people I was so shocked by their stories. For me, I wasn’t mad, cause if I was mad, they were crazy. Every patient in there was labeled as mad or crazy, so there were like freak stories, and no one was surprised by them, but I was shocked. This was my first time coming to realize, and actually, see that there were people who in the world actually wanted to kill themselves. There was a story of this girl who had two friends who drowned, they went to the beach and drowned, her first friend was drowning and the second one was trying to save her, and they both drowned. Imagine how she must have felt – Oh f**k, mehn, I really don’t want to think about it.
In Nigeria, we are known for being bright minds, everybody is seen as being joyful, but deep in the country, there is depression.
Me: Okay. Do you feel like in Nigeria there is sensitivity and awareness towards depression and grief?
OA: In Nigeria, we dey jogodo for that Nigeria side. I don’t think they do.
Me: There is this general perception in Nigeria that ‘oh a Nigerian cannot get depressed’, so going through what you went through how did that make you feel about the general norm about Mental Hygiene?
OA: To be honest, in Nigeria, I think there are so many depressed people, but they aren’t taking care of, so nobody notices it. Nobody gives a shit about them. Once you’re depressed you’re on your own. No one is trying to help you. So we don’t really see depression. In Nigeria, we are known for being bright minds, everybody is seen as being joyful, but deep in the country, there is depression.
Depression is a really f****d up thing, so reach out to people to help you, so you can help yourself, and by chance, you might help the world.
Me: What do you feel needs to be done to increase the awareness for identifying depression and dealing with it?
OA: It has to start with the bloody government. The government has to do some shit. The country itself doesn’t have goals. To be honest, since the ‘change’ there has been no targets, no goals. Also, the rich people, the self-made millionaires, and billionaires should also invest in the country, create facilities to help people. I think they should do that, we shouldn’t always depend on the government to help us out, we should help ourselves out.
Me: Alright. So as you know on Lucid Lemons we are running a theme: #MentalHygiene month, do have any additional words on the topic?
OA: If you lose someone that you really cared about, that you really loved, the truth is that you can never ever get over that person. I think I messed up. My mom showed me so much love, but I didn’t show her the same love. I didn’t have the chance. I always thought I was going to show her the same love in the future. But there was no future for both of us. So I think if someone is showing you love right now, you need to show them back the same love, appreciate them more. If you’re suffering depression, or grief, or anything, reach out to people to help you, cause if you leave it to yourself, there’s a possibility you might commit suicide. My dad was going through the same thing, he was depressed as f**k, he has diabetes and is was always on meds and s**t and he has high BP. He told me at this point in time he was on his bed and wasn’t taking his drugs for like a week, his blood pressure was rising as fuck. If he hadn’t said something during that week he was probably going to die the next week. Depression is a really f****d up thing, so reach out to people to help you, so you can help yourself, and by chance, you might help the world.
Me: Thank you so much for your time.
My mom showed me so much love, but I didn’t show her the same love. I didn’t have the chance. I always thought I was going to show her the same love in the future. But there was no future for both of us. So I think if someone is showing you love right now, you need to show them back the same love, appreciate them more.