THE POLITICS OF MENTAL HEALTH

< how we may all be mentally challenged, and why you should check yourself >

Just three stories. And my point.

1. Growing up in the Ogoja area of Cross River, I once witnessed a young man – in the neighborhood of the thirties – leave his sister with multiple and really deep cuts. He was just a second away from stabbing her to death when her survival instinct kicked in. The knife was blazing sharp. The cuts were really deep. And no one in the future would believe her blood brother did that to her. Now, the young man in question was a really great guy, but he literally goes ‘mad’ whenever his anger button was pushed. Another day it was a gun against someone who’d insulted him. Yet another day it was a duel with a policeman. And on a normal day he’s a perfect gentleman.

I tell you most solemnly, it’s only a matter of politics that he wasn’t labelled ‘mad.’

2. Sometime in 2015, I learnt of a certain Mia. True life story. Beautiful lady. Terrific chorister; the type with whom the average guy would wish to spend the rest of his life being alive. Asked why he didn’t follow through on his plan to marry her, her erstwhile fiancé retorted that he simply had to pick between dying in her arms and staying alive. He confessed that she literally turns into a monster in the “other room.” She comes at him like only a tiger would, and never seems to get enough of it. For the record, it’s not just the question of high libido here; it’s about being a sex maniac. And if you never get to make it to the “other room” with her, then you’d never know she’s capable of riding a man to an early grave.

3. Recently, I went visiting some friends, and there met a young man who was described to me moments later as “weird to an uncommon degree.” Everything seems to be wrong with him all at once. And as they narrated more of their experiences with him, I just knew it was it. Everything perfectly fit into the bipolar box. But they’d taught he was merely being frustrated by the happenstances around him; little did they know he was simply being his bipolar self.

******

Following the suicide saga, they’ve been loads and lots of conversations around mental health. Some informed. Others uninformed. And some others half-truths. I’m not here to further that conversation but to draw our attention to the fact that it’s only a matter of politics that the people featured in the above stories are thought to be normal – and not forced to seek urgent help. We must change the way we view madness, our impressions about psychotherapy and psychiatry; we should embrace them as fitting remedies for diseases of the mind, which we all have been inflicted with albeit in varying degrees.

And so, if we all look into ourselves, we may as well find that we could all be mentally challenged in some respect – and should as much go sourcing for help.

My point: Instead of busying ourselves in search of those who need mental health support, we should also look inwards to see how we may be in dare need of it ourselves.

Your No.1 fan,
Cornel

PS. The second story is rated 18. If you’re less than 18 and you’ve already read it, now go back and unread it.

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