Outspoken

A Young Woman’s Memoir Of ‘Madness’

   

sad-black-woman-hair

The reason I am writing this is to help someone who is in the same situation where I found myself eighteen years ago when I discovered that my depression wasn’t clinical but manic depression, so they can benefit from my own funny, unique, sometimes hurtful, painful, uncomfortable and even humiliating personal experience.

I have lived with this debilitating, mysterious and deadly disease my whole life. I have struggled to overcome the stigma attached to this disease by people who are intimidated by things they don’t have any control over. It is a psychiatric illness also known as bipolar  disorder.

This is my story.

I was brought up in a liberal household by parents who believed that love, happiness and peace where greater aspirations than prestige, position and status. I am part of only a lucky few. I was taught not to bear grudges. I was told when someone hurt my feelings to ignore him or her and see him or her for who they truly were. I was taught to be forgiving and understanding and that there wasn’t any difference between the rich and the poor children at the schools I went to. I was taught that the noblest profession in the world was being a teacher.  My father is a community leader and my mother is a teacher, My parents taught by example re-enforcing values and excellence, as well as enriching wonderfully young lives filled with so much hope and promise.

I had no idea I was sick for a long time, even though there has been a history of mental illness on my father’s side including alcoholism, depression and suicide. In the early stages of my sickness, it defined who I was. My whole life revolved around hiding my disease. It was cerebral. There was no scarring, no wound, no stitches and sutures required. Sometimes it was easy to hide and sometimes it wasn’t.

The signs and symptoms of a hypomanic episode are as follows. You behave wild and free, have depressive slumps, spiraling depression. You don’t sleep. You don’t nap. You are the focus – the centre of the universe. You are beautiful, smart, determined but the reflection that everybody else sees is militant, horribly annoying and irritating. You feel humiliated in later introspection while others felt uncomfortable in your presence. You were Dr. Jekyll incognito and Mr. Hyde in the flesh.

Depression is a devastating illness that affects millions of people worldwide and unless a forum or a platform can be raised to break the silence, annihilates in one blow the stigma of mental illness and of prejudice, people who suffer from mental illness will keep thinking that they are a burden to society. The stigmatization of mental illness is never-ending.

Mental health seems not to be a moot point for people in government but to all the people that are still suffering in silence, I say, break the silence; add a visible, outspoken voice.

There are more of us out there than you realize!

Keep on fighting. I did. I do every day and as I take my first breathe for the day, I thank God I am alive. It’s not brave when you’re not scared and sometimes I am have both good days and bad.

There is one thing that I have learned during the past eighteen years. The future is still in my power, even though the past cannot be changed. Mental illness is not a human stain.

Currently I am working on an anthology of my poetry, a collection of short stories and I am beginning work on a novel co-authored with my father called ‘From Hell To Eternity: A Memoir Of Madness’.

Earlier this year I also received a grant from the National Arts Council which not only encouraged me to begin to write again – this time with both my survival and my experience in mind – but to put together some of my earlier poetry in a collection entitled ‘Africa, Where Art Thou?’

Yes, my life has turned out rather unconventionally from who, what, where I’d envisaged myself being but not a day goes by now that I am not thankful for. I do not question why I am here or what my divine purpose is. I am not driven by fear and uncertainties anymore or if I behave self-consciously. Although there is still a sorrow here I cannot reform, that yields stillness in quiet moments of reflection or contemplation, every event in my life composes furious life anew.

Through all the infinite wisdom of my mistakes that came before, the love of my family still remains. It is both a reminder of what came before and what lies ahead in my future.

Writer – Abigail is a young woman that has been suffering from bipolar disorder for eighteen years but has learnt to live triumphantly against all odds.

 

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14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. beautyay@yahoo.com'

    Beauty Fabulous.

    May 17, 2010 at 7:54 am

    Hm mm..your courage to keep fighting is commendable. God will not leave neither will He forsake you.
    Hold on for your miracle is closer than you think.
    Will always remember you in my prayers.
    God bless You with His Peace…
    Shalom.

  2. priy2g@yahoo.com'

    priscilla

    May 17, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    wow! I am so touched by the young womans story, impressed by her courage and intelligence, i am even more impressed because i have a sister who is schizophrenic (another mental illness) as a child i was very embarrased to be around her whenever she did not take her medication but when she does she is such a sweet person she could give u one of her to eyes if u were blind so to say. We all need to play a part in the awareness that mental illness is a sickness and its not the fault of the patient, one in six adults have a type of mental illness and it is time to stop the denying and start helping especially in countries like where i come from Nigeria , we really need to create awareness and educate people. I pray for Gods blessings on the young woman and i cant wait until God’s kingdom comes when “no resident will say i am sick” Isaiah 33:24

  3. efomois@yahoo.com'

    Efomo

    May 17, 2010 at 6:33 pm

    This is an amazing story, God will continue to give you the grace to push forward, you are blessed

  4. cnwagbo@aol.com'

    Cordelia

    May 17, 2010 at 8:43 pm

    Yes it is an energy consuming illness but it can be controled. Many executives in this country are suffering from bipolar. good medication combination will help. it is a sruggle but you have done well. keep up the good work. God will continue to keep you.

  5. Bj4shortus@yahoo.com'

    OGUNTIMEHIN OMOBOLAJI

    May 18, 2010 at 3:21 am

    u are a very courageous person. keep up the good work

  6. tnasiru2002@yahoo.com'

    miss nas

    May 18, 2010 at 3:45 am

    Waoh! I am deeply impressed by the kind of courage you have forging ahead and even writing about this illness. I cant imagine how difficult it must have been but u have conquered it. I am proud of you.
    This indeed is something everyone should be aware of. I am going to show this to a friend who has epilepsy. Life deals on us blows that we cannot even begin to fathom how to conquer or deal with them. you have ur plan, life turns out with its own plans.

    May God continue to strengthen u to reach the zenith of ur purpose – in spite of the illness.

    Proud to associate with u

  7. bomi@jollynotes.com'

    Bomi Jolly - JollyNotes.com

    May 18, 2010 at 6:13 am

    Thank you very much for taking the time to share your story! Thankful for you, and I am wishing you all the very best in your Novels, Poetry, Writing and all…. Thanks for sharing!

  8. akay112@yahoo.com'

    akunna

    May 18, 2010 at 6:47 am

    Am impressed by the courage that you have to push on…..GOb bless you and give you the grace and strenght to puch on..

  9. chiliz722@yahoo.ca'

    Liz

    May 19, 2010 at 3:52 am

    People with mental illness are stigmatised in our African society chiefly because of lack of education on what mental illness really is.
    First, it is generally believed that the mentally ill are only those who walk our streets naked or in shabby clothes and stink badly. Peolpe have to be made aware that there are many types of mental illness and that mental illness are quite prevalent. In fact some who lead normal lives and whom we may consider healthy do suffer from one form or another of mental illness.
    I am glad Abigail mustered the courage to write about this poorly known condition. If more people would be open about this issue and be willing to discuss it without taboo, it will go a long way in sensitizing about mental illnesses.
    True, as a sufferer, you might be pretty far out on a limb when you decide to go public with your condition, but thing about the far-reaching contribution you’ll be making to society in the long run.

  10. tolu_cutie85@yahoo.com'

    abosede

    May 19, 2010 at 9:05 am

    am highly impressed.God will be with u , strenghten and comfort u at all times.

  11. yetundesese@yahoo.com'

    yetty

    May 19, 2010 at 11:26 am

    I am a psychologist, so I’d say I know a little more about bipolar disorder. This is good. Abigail, you r brave so I ask you to continue to fight for what you love most, your sanity. Nigeria still has a long way to go in solving psychological and psychiatric issues. All I can say is , God be with you.

  12. ursula.quinlan@yahoo.co.uk'

    Ursula

    May 19, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    How beautifully and dignified you tell your story – More Power to you 🙂 – Looking forward to your poetry x

  13. nneky_sifo@yahoo.com'

    Nneka

    June 3, 2010 at 10:55 am

    As my BIL would say “Almost everyone in the US has a mental condition AND they live absolutely normal lives”.

    You are a great example.

  14. Pingback: She Said She Was Mentally Sick, We Told Her To Snap Out Of It – Woman.NG

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