How Mental Health Problems Affected Her Life

It has more or less had a negative impact on me. People misinterpret mental health. I started suffering from depression at the age 10. I went through it for 7 years. What caused my depression was that I was born HIV positive. I never met my dad and he died of HIV. I was an only child. At the time people weren’t that informed on the disease. My father didn’t take ARV drugs and I was not on ARV drugs either. I lacked a sense of identification. I was taken to a hospital in Ibadan and several tests were carried out on me. From the day I found out I was HIV positive my life changed completely. My mom remarried when I was 8. I grew up with a terrible step father. My mom had to move me in with my grandmother. I was still not using drugs because I never liked it. I developed ulcer at the age of 10. I was enrolled into a secondary school. And at age 16 I had a class mate who I was close to. We had our issues as friends do. She sent me a message saying “I am not the one with HIV, I am not the one that’s going to die soon”.e.t.c. I wondered how she got to know, until I realised that everybody in my school knew i had HIV, even my teachers. At the time, I already was suffering from self stigma. I stayed with my Aunty at a time, she beat me for no reason. If I ate it was a problem, how I stood, looked, spoke was a problem. At some point she fed me with a big pot of ROTTEN BEANS. She made me eat everything. After eating it I developed stomach ache. I went to school vomiting all day. I felt like dying. I had to tell her that I wanted to go back to my grand mom’s. At age 17 I got an admission into the university. Originally I wanted to study theatre arts but I was granted Philosophy, which made me quite unhappy because I have always had passion for acting and philosophy had a lot to do with reading books all the time. At a time, I fell sick. My cousins rushed me to the clinic and they discovered I had Hepatitis B. I was placed on Efavirenz drugs after enough persuasion from everybody. I finally took the drugs and I started HALLUCINATING. Before then, I was nominated as one of the YOUNG PEOPLE LIVING WITH HIV in Nigeria and I was to attend the conference in the Netherlands. The first time I took it I walked past my mom who was sitting right across my bed, went to where a knife was and pointed it at mom. I felt like pepper and spirit was poured on my body. I talked to myself a lot, talked to the air.. My mom was so careless. Unfortunately for me, I could not make it to the Netherlands for the conference. Then it added to my worries. So, I went into a Coma and woke up in a Psychiatric ward. And was placed on Epilim. People called me mad, possessed and under attack by the devil. The Doctor advised my mom and Step dad to change my environment. Then I was taken to a herbalist. An old man bathed me. They said “Anjonú" was troubling me. Meaning “possessed by an evil spirit”. A ritualist came took leaves, burnt it, covered me under a cloak and asked me to inhale the smoke. So I developed Asthma. They had me wear a ring. I held unto the truth. My grand mom washed her hands off it. The rite was called “Ooja" meaning “doing rite on an incarnate". I was also taken to “Mother Mary" who performed another magic, took me to a shrine beside the river and was beaten and bathed. A goat and a chicken were slaughtered on my behalf. Afterwards, I came back to Abuja, I slept on the road for days in Abuja, people attempted rape on me but were not successful. Around Dunamis auditorium in Monkey village.

I visited the psychiatric hospital so many times and even though people stigmatised me, I feel it was because of ignorance. They did not know any better.

At the moment, my own cousins do not speak to me anymore and I have a lot of them.

Asked on how Gede has supported her, she said, “Gede sponsored my schooling at MacDonald International school(Primary school). And also for the Mental Health Project GEDE has been funding and Awareness Programmes.”

Her final advice was, “parents should have a good relationship with their children. People should respect one another's decision on anything and not be forced to do anything. “your pain is not my pain”. Try to understand each other. Awareness Programmes as well. Stop blaming people. Stop comparing your child to someone else”

Transcribed by Joy Onugha for TTCG and Gede Foundation.