MY RECOVERY JOURNEY

It all started in 2006 in Nigeria when I had my first ever manic episode, at that time, no one knew what it was and to make matters worse the hospital I was taken to had no clue of a mental illness. My uncle and the neighbours were able to pin me down when I wanted to run onto oncoming vehicle, fortunately I was given an injection that made me sleep off for a day or two.

After I recovered from that episode, life continued as usual, although my father had an un-diagnosed mental health problem which his elder brother takes him to one church to another. I never bothered to question his illness because I was not close to my father because he denied being responsible for impregnating my mother according to nature vs nurture, our mental health could be a product of our inherited characteristics / genetics or our experience (Bandura et al., 1961). Unfortunately for me I had another manic episode in 2008 and again my uncle was there to stop me from taking my life, this is when my uncle decided to get my father’s family involved in my care because at this time he was beginning to fear for me and he did not want me to die in his house.

However, my father’s family did not know what to do and where to start looking for solutions to I and my father’s mental health problems, nevertheless, I got better again and this time I was able to complete my university education in university of Calabar Cross River state Nigeria where I graduated as an educational administrator. After that, I met my now wife who came to Nigeria for holidays, I was courageous to tell her my story and that of my father’s, that was when she suggested that I might have inherited a mental illness from my father. Despite my plight, my now wife agreed to marry me in Nigeria and after the wedding I came here in UK to join her.

Furthermore, on arriving here, I started doing all sorts of odd jobs to meet ends means and to support my wife in paying the house bills, then it struck me again in 2014 just after my second child’s birthday in December, this third manic episode happened and I jumped out of our bathroom window (Thank God) we lived on the ground floor of the building. My wife, knowing my history called 999 immediately and the police responded with an ambulance, I ran away from my street, climbed up a building and ready to take my life, but somehow I was holding my phone in my hand and on the screen is the pictures of my two children with their smiles on their faces.

That was how I made up my mind to come down of the building and handed myself to the police who were at this point driving round the neighbourhood in search of me. Remember this was in December and I can vividly remember that my feet were so numb because I jumped out of the window without my slippers on, in all this dilemma going through my head, and what I have been through in life, I decided to succumb and followed the police to the hospital where I was admitted. That was when I was officially diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder. Indeed, coming out of the hospital after spending two months there and reflecting carefully about my life and that of my young family, I made a decision to enrol in the university to study mental health nursing so to educate myself and also give back to the society.

My experience as a service user here in the UK made me so ambitious that I had to leave the security guard job and started looking for a job in a mental health hospital where I can learn more about mental illness and at the same time manage my own illness. Luckily for me, I started working in a mental health hospital after telling them a little bit of my story in the interview I had with them. That was how I become more motivated to wake up every morning, look in a mirror and say to myself I SHALL NOT DIE, I REFUSE TO COMMIT SUICIDE. This has kept me going since I joined Vision Mental HealthCare in 2017 where I work as a Support worker, working there has been a therapeutic and a means of survivor for my recovery journey. In fact, during this COIVD 19 pandemic, I realised that I was struggling mentally, I started reading stories of those affected by my kind of diagnosis and I noticed that they all have hubbies which helps them and distract them from the tough times they are going through with the help of professionals e.g Therapy and medication. my children are also my motivation.

In conclusion, my children are my motivation, now I have a reason to stay alive and I also said to myself that it is not too late to learn or reinvent myself intellectually. However, I tell my children everyday in the car when taking them to school that education is very important, what ever they do in life, they should make sure they gain knowledge through reading, listening to their teachers and exploring their environment and more so help themselves because to be honest, no one will help you even families can turn their back on you in times of need.