Of Chimamanda Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus Abuse and Us

In 2003, the world welcomed one of the most iconic books ever written, Purple Hibiscus, written by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Abuse is one of the recurring themes in the literature, exemplified by Eugene Achike’s maltreatment of his family: beating, kicking and almost killing Kambili for having a painting of her grandfather —a heathen, beating his wife and smashing a table on her stomach in one instance, causing her to have a miscarriage, disfiguring Jaja’s finger for missing two questions on his catechism test etc We also see this theme in the maltreatment doled out by the Nigerian military after the coup.

It is pertinent to point out that abuse extends beyond the physical manifestations, it can also be emotional or verbal.
That said, abuse is any act or attempt to hurt or control another human against their will. There is most times, an element of control in abuse, as shown by Eugene and the Nigerian military in Purple Hibiscus. This control or power play is seen in individuals who use one, some, or all forms of abuse, to influence another’s behavior. Although it cuts across all genders, women are usually and most likely the major victims.

Questionnaire And Outcome
I posted a questionnaire on the subject and its accompanying consequences, when I set out to write this. Had my friend Mike, a Ghanaian, do same. We got several replies, all from ladies, and I’m grateful to everyone who bravely shared their stories and insight. It made me realize how deep the waters of abuse run, and how badly it affects or has affected us. (It is disturbing that no guy responded to the questionnaire, and when I mentioned this, Mike said, “aren’t we oriented to face our pain as men?” A statement I totally agree with, and one I will find ways to correct in the future. If we get men to open up more about cases of abuse and hurt, and have them reorient themselves, maybe the statistics Pisniq shared, on the increasing rate of suicide among men, will feature a decline.)
Some of the ladies reported being sexually harassed, others emotionally and verbally, only a few reported being abused physically. A few of the ladies stated how being subjected to sexual harassment marred or influenced their sexual preference.
Some of the negative consequences of abuse are: self harm/mutilation, suicide, addiction to sex and/or alcohol, timidity and low self esteem, craving attention/love from all the wrong places and people, PTSD, a general distrust for people, depression etc

More On Abuse
Abuse might come in physical, emotional, verbal, sexual, financial, digital or other varying and toxic forms. Nigeria is rife with individuals and institutions practicing and/or promoting this daily:
In families: There are abundant cases of domestic violence, rape/incest, and an overwhelming occurrence of emotional, verbal and financial abuse. Technically, the average Nigerian family is probably the most toxic and abusive social unit in Nigeria.
Institutions and others: Growing up in Nigeria is not just an extreme sport, but also one of the most herculean things any individual can do. All our institutions are set to abuse you in one way or the other: there are myriad cases of rape, false arrest, physical abuse and extrajudicial killings by law enforcement agents; corporal punishment, verbal abuse and sexual harassment in the religious institutions; sexual harassment, corporal punishment, verbal and emotional harassment in workplaces and potential workplaces; physical, verbal, emotional and sexual abuse in schools, and a mix of all the abuses, meted out on the streets, in relationships, motor parks and other public places.

Conclusion:
A certain percentage of us are Kambili, abused and maltreated by the ones who claim to love us, the ones we adore and revere, beaten into silence and seeing life only in terms of abuse; while some of us are Jaja, striving to attain the sort of perfection that only us and God’s son are considered capable of, yet our abusers, unsatisfied, clip pieces of us until we become rivulets of faint memories; a certain number still, like Mama, hold on to the idea of forever and faith in social institutions, royalties grateful for crumbs, bleeding hopes, living numbed, like all the dreams people and society smashed out of our hearts; a certain portion still, are market women, wearily wearing hearts on wares, they who came to save us only doubled the pain, and increased the nails on our hands and feet.

There is no perfect ending for an imperfect piece like this, but I sincerely hope healing finds all victims and survivors of abuse; It is my sincere desire too that we get more proactive in providing speedy and adequate medical attention to the survivors, and also increase the campaign to curtail GBV and other forms of abuse, while strengthening institutions to serve justice to all concerned.

Written by Christopher Nwankwo

Making it to December alone is an achievement

We are at that time of the year when most individuals post reviews of “their year,” and flaunt laudable achievements. These reviews often contain proofs that a lot of individuals achieved a lot despite the global pandemic.
Somewhere, there are individuals like me, wallowing in sadness, wondering what our achievements are.
I’m here to let you — that person who is wondering why he should be celebrating the end of 2020 — know why you shouldn’t wallow in sadness and regret. Divorce the gloom, and hear: your making it to December alone is an achievement worth celebrating.


It is obvious a lot of persons are going to enter into the new year, 2021, feeling like a failure, and feeling depressed for wasting the entire year and not achieving much. Don’t. Be gentle on yourself, treat you as you would treat someone you love.
You were literally fighting throughout the year: fighting for your life, fighting to keep your sanity, fighting to be there —in a safe manner— for those who you care about. We lost some, some lost it. We almost lost others, others too almost lost it. So yes, this year was hard. You don’t need to be extra by being hard on yourself too. You owe yourself compassion, especially now.

Let us do a little recap: the year started with the Covidi-one-nine virus (as a certain president called it). We were scared to death but fought to stay safe and alive; The entire world experienced a severe and self-imposed lockdown —not a trivial matter and the first in a while. 2020 drained us, and it is probably by the mercy of God that we are still alive.

The pandemic slowly waned and ushered in the EndSARS protest —this decimated a portion of the Covid survivors, and traumatized a couple more. The interplay of Covid, the protest and other factors, stagnated and staggered our economy, resulting to a recession.
Dear human, you passed through all the aforementioned, witnessed personal problems, yet still have life in you — that alone is an achievement.
So when you begin to get overwhelmed with the posts and all, try not to be jealous or angry at the overt achievement and/or underachievement. Do not be sad too, welcome 2021 with as much positivity as you can muster.


Focus your energy and time on planning for the new year —if you can. Take your time and plan slowly —if you must. But do not think that you wasted the year, no, you are a victor in my eyes and in the eyes of the greater good. Think about the things 2020 opened your eyes to, think about the amazing people you met, the brief moments of joy — think about all these and more, maybe you’d realize then that 2020 wasn’t a waste after all, and that seeing the end of this year’s tunnel — alive/undead — is probably one of the greatest achievements of the decade.

Written by Oluwapelumi Oresanya

Understanding The Bipolar disorder

On Monday, I recorded a podcast titled The Mood Swing Disorder. The mood swing disorder is also called Bipolar Disorder — a supposedly understandable and often relatable term. However, it is quite shocking that lots of people do not understand what bipolar disorder is, so I recorded a podcast to address that. You can listen to the podcast on: https://anchor.fm/safeplace/episodes/The-Mood-Swing-disorder-eo2nih

Bipolar Disorder is a mental health condition associated with episodes of mood swings, ranging from depressive lows to manic highs. Some of the symptoms of bipolar disorder are: extreme and prolonged feeling of sadness (usually lasting longer than 2 weeks), feeling loneliness even in the midst of people, loss of interest in everyday activities , a constant feeling of fatigue, insomnia and episodes of suicidal thoughts.
When a bipolar patient is manic, some of the symptoms associated with it are: unusual surge in energy levels, feeling of extreme enthusiasm, overconfidence, having lots of creative ideas, being talkative, high appetite for risk etc it goes without saying that bipolar disorder is a medical condition that requires serious medical attention.
What causes the Bipolar disorder?
The exact cause of bipolar disorder is unknown. However, experts believe there are a number of factors that contribute to the condition; these include a complex mix of biological, environmental and social factors
How can one get help?
Bipolar disorder is currently incurable, but can be treated and/or managed.
Treatment may include therapy, medications and hospitalisation

Nota bene: Bipolar disorder is not a life sentence. We need to support and create safe spaces for those living with it in our communities. If you wish to speak to a doctor, counsellor or a therapist, click on this link https://goo.gl/forms/aJjsa5pmq0yDBpAH3

Understanding mental illness

Understanding Mental illness: Impossible?

In recent times, the issue of mental illness has been discussed more freely than it used to be awhile back. People now openly talk about their struggles and are more willing to seek professional help. In terms of publications, more articles about mental illnesses are being churned out, and this has contributed in creating awareness about the illness(es). Despite all the aforementioned, do you think it is possible to really understand what someone with a mental illness goes through?

Recently I was talking to a friend who is a bipolar disorder warrior, and I asked her to explain how it feels living with the disorder. The first thing she told me is, “It is difficult to explain how bipolar disorder feels to someone who hasn’t experienced it,” and that statement stuck in the gramophone of my mind.

She told me about her struggles: what battling manic episodes of the depression felt like, the side effects of the drugs, and other heart-wrenching details. Despite her detailed explanation, I realized I wasn’t really getting what she was saying because I wasn’t her, I wasn’t the one battling with BPD. I tried to understand, I really did! I tried to grasp her recurring and often painful mental and emotional states, but I couldn’t. It made me conclude that only those who have or have experienced one form of mental illness (or more), can truly understand how it feels.

So the next time a friend or an acquaintance talks about his/her struggles , don’t go about saying “I understand” because honestly you might not understand, instead empathize with them, tell them how proud you are that despite all the struggles they go through, they still keep their fighting spirit, applaud them when they tell you of their little wins, this will boost their esteem and help them fight on.

Written by Naomi

Post-partum depression: The nightmare on birth street

The first time I paid any real attention to Postpartum depression (PPD) was in June this year after Diary of a Naija girl (DANG) shared a post about a woman who battled with depression after the birth of her baby. The depression affected her sexual urges and her husband never understood, he felt there was no such thing as being mentally ready before they could have sex and raped her continuously. As I read through the comment section, I felt outraged and the fact there was a need to initiate conversations and create awareness about this condition in Nigeria.

The transition to motherhood is associated with some psychological changes. This is positive for some, but for others, it is associated with emotional upheaval, which if left untreated, could have devastating consequences like the inability/ diminished ability of the mother to bond with her child, suicide, infanticide, diminished growth of the child, and underdevelopment. Little wonder many researchers termed PPD a public health emergency.
Postpartum depression (PPD) is a term used to describe depressive symptoms that occurs during the first year after birth but for most people, it emerges in the first 2-3 months after childbirth. It is different from what is called baby blues or maternal blues. Baby blues or maternal blues is a more benign condition that usually begins 3-4 days after birth and resolves after a few days. PPD on the other hand has more severe symptoms lasting more than 2 weeks. PPD has similar symptoms to depression.

These symptoms include
• Depressed or sad mood
• Fatigue
• Loss of interest in usual activities
• Feelings of guilt
• Feelings of worthlessness or feeling incompetent
• Suicidal thoughts
• Changes in appetite
• Poor concentration.
It can be seen that there is a need to be proactive in addressing maternal PPD to ensure the wellbeing of the child and mother. For people with PPD, prompt treatment can help manage the symptoms and help bonding with the baby. However, there have to be conversations about these matters, so Nigerian women know they are not crazy for feeling this way and that there are others just like them. We also have to enlighten our men about these matters, so they can relate more to their wife’s condition. Mental health issues are as real as any health issues and just because one does not manifest traditional symptoms like headache, fever, cough, etc. does not mean one has no problem.

Written by Ogbonna Emmanuella

Light at the end of the tunnel

The last meeting of the year for The Overcomers Club had just ended and Deborah was glad at the progress that had been made throughout this year. The Overcomers Club wasn’t just a club to her. It was more of a family.. She was definitely going to miss all the close friends she had made so far. She couldn’t wait for the meetings to start again the next year. With her fingers slightly caressing the stairs, she reflected on her past. Deborah was amazed at how much she had changed in the past few years.
Five years ago on New Year’s Eve she had received a call that had changed her life. Just a single call and her world had come crashing down. The call that had changed her life foreover and defined whom she was now.

It was a panic call from her neighbor who has called to tell her that her house was on fire. In panic, she threw away the onions she had gone out to buy that evening and ran home. Running had never been her thing. In secondary school, she was the orobo of the school being the fattest person in the whole school. How she managed to cover a distance of about 25 minutes in less than 5 minutes, she could not explain. From a distance, she could see the thick smoke that hung in the air.She ran like her life depended on it, the back of her heels almost touching her head. Anyone that saw her at that moment would have thought she was mad.

Reaching home, a huge crowd had gathered in front of the house. She pushed her way frantically to the front past the hundreds of people that were gathered.
“Where is my husband? Where is my husband and son?”, she asked
The whole house was already on fire and people were trying to douse the fire with water and sand. She spotted her neighbor Tai; the one who had called earlier .
Daniel and his daddy would be fine. I think the fire started from the kitchen. People are trying to put off the fire. They will get your family out in no time” Tai said, trying to reassure her.

Deborah could hear the cries and screams of her husband and son from within the house . She had left them sleeping in the house when she left the house minutes ago to get salt to complete dinner. At this point, she couldn’t keep calm anymore. She tried to enter the house to save her family and was quickly held back by members of the community. She was outnumbered and easily overpowered. Despite all her cries and struggles, there was no way they were going to allow her go into the house and risk her life.
Women were trying to console her as she wailed and rolled uncontrollably on the ground. The only thing that could put an end to the anguish that she felt was to see her husband and son alive. Seconds turned into minutes…Minutes turned into hours. This was the worst waiting period of her life. The fire service later arrived and was able to put out the fire. What she saw next were two roasted bodies being carried out. The next thing Deborah remembered was waking up in the hospital.

Slowly walking down the stairs, she remembered how her life had been in the years after the sad incident that claimed two of her loved ones. The feeling of hopelessness that had ensued, how she had withdrawn from all her family and friends. The once cheerful black beauty had become a shadow of herself. She closed her eyes and could still remember vividly all the nights she had cut herself repeatedly with razor blades. Till now, her skin was still marred with the scars of the damage she had inflicted on herself. She had considered suicide at different times. She had even bought the bottle of insecticides on three different occasions but each time she opened it, she didn’t have the will to go through. It would have been better if she had died with her family on that day in the fire. What was left for her now in this world. Her doctor had diagnosed her of a mental disorder called depression.
The battle against depression hadn’t been easy at all. There were nights when she heard her husband’s voice calling her. With the help of psychological treatments such as behavioural activation and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and with the support of family and friends, she had been able to get over it.

Growing up, she always heard the adage, not” There is light at the end of the tunnel“. In Deborah’s fight against depression, she had seen the light and was determined not to keep it to herself. The Overcomers Club was here to stay for good. It was a club where people with mental illnesses were accepted and not discriminated, where they would not feel ashamed of their conditions, a community of mental health warriors who would strengthen and support one another. Mental illnesses are a wide range of mental health conditions that affect your mood, thinking and behavior. If she was able to get over mental illness, then there were so many people who could still win this fight. She was going to reach thousands of people with mental illnesses and help them win this fight. With a smile on her face and a firm resolve, she left the building and ran the journey home. This is who she was and this is what she was born for.

Written by Bolaji Ogunyade

If you are having thoughts of suicidal and you want to speak to a professional. Contact Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative on 08091116264

A DATE WITH DEPRESSION

P.S If you are feeling suicidal and need help . You can contact Mentally Aware Initiative on 08091116264

My name is Mehek, I’m just 22 years old, and this is my story.

Two Years Ago.

It’s been awfully long since I had a sound sleep, it’s been ages I slept peacefully. It was like forever since I placed my head on the pillow and really rested.
My nights were only  filled with tears upon tears to compound my tiredness.
And then one morning came, I was not able to step down from the bed.

It’s been so long I actually saw my life as a failure. Everyone I met in my life wants a successful life like mine. I was an inspiration to many young women, if only they knew how imperfect I was.

No one knew I was filled with anxiety and emptiness in my life. I was scared to tell people that I was suffering from depression.
I was afraid, of what they would say, of what they would think, of what I’d be labelled as.

Nothing interested me anymore,I fell out of love with my favorite sport — football. I can’t even remember how I was living my life, maybe it’s because I wasn’t truly living, I was merely alive.
No one really cared to know if I was okay. No one ever really asked if I was. Surrounded by hundreds of people including my family and friends, everyone just assumed I was fine but I, only I knew that I wasn’t, in reality I was far from fine because sadness and depression became my companion.

But one day, after constantly thinking of  killing myself, my body was shivering and my backbone started to ache, and I could feel life draining out of me, I knew that was it, I knew I had to do something, I knew I had to make a move, I knew I had to do whatever I could, to save myself.

I rushed to the psychologist, I had nowhere else to go.  He gave me hope, that I could truly live, that I could live a happy life, that I needed not to be sad for the rest of my life.

He told me it was okay to be not okay, he told me it was fine that I was not fine but that I could actually be fine —that was the beginning of my healing journey,  and I am still healing, because trust me it’s not something that banishes just like that.

Seek help if you’re facing the same situation as me, talk to someone, don’t be shy, don’t be ashamed, you are not a failure. It’s a phase, that you can pass. Your life matters, your mental health matters.
Seek help if you’re depressed.

Don’t go all about faking your smile and happiness. Be happy truly, because that’s what life is all about.

© Papareddy Sai Sanjana

FOR BOYS LIKE US


Today’s piece is a poem to counter the popular saying that BOYS DON’T CRY. It is popularly said they are stronger than the other gender and shouldn’t show weakness even when there is a bleeding corner in their hearts.

FOR BOYS LIKE US

From the onset of conception, we were the most sought.
Even creation gave us life first, the most taught.
We are the pride of Dad when we cry at child birth,
It’s a baby with a little third leg, we were given a unique fest.

Growing up, our heart inscribed with teachings of superiority.
That we should dare lions and make commanding our priority,
That we are the colonial masters of the other gender,
That even when tears comes, it should not be shown either,

That we are the target, the first of all crime suspect,
So a gun should not be far from us, because we are war prospects.
That pain, anguish, sorrow should never be shown in our eyes.
So we rather die a hero with pain, than be at ease and called a coward.

However in reality,
For boys like us; we are also humans subjected to pain,
For boys like us; we aren’t a coward if we show there is a thorn in our vein,
For boys like us; we are even stronger if we release our tears,
For boys like us; we are the best if we show we got fears,

TOXIC MASCULINITY KILLS FASTER; For boys like us

JAHISMINE.O

Cry. Forgive. Learn. Move on. Let your tears water the seeds of your future happiness.

I NEED HELP

📸 by Rui Silvestre

My name is Mobolaji. I am an indigene of Osun State in the western part of Nigeria.
I grew up in a polygamous family and  my mom is the second wife out of three. I am the only child of my mom.

My father is not always around. He travels alot. From Congo to Lagos to Zimbabwe and around the African continent. He is a trader. He trades the goods imported to him round the continent

My step siblings always treat me badly.
My siblings from the first wife were proud and wicked, afterall they are the legitimate ones.Likewise, my other siblings from the third wife.

My father always treated me special because I was the child who was very fragile. I usually fall sick right from birth. I remembered when I was little, I slumped on the floor after playing with my friends on the football field. I couldn’t breathe and my eyes were all pale. I was rushed to the hospital and I overheard the doctor saying my immune system wasn’t strong and I should stay away from stress and be taken good care of. Since then my father would give me a larger portion of anything he bought from the market to me. My step siblings were all jealous so they all treated me badly.

When I was eleven, my step siblings locked me in a little ventilated toilet for hours full of urine, soaked tissue with blood stain and feceses with rats running around. I couldn’t stand the sight. The smell from the toilet almost choked me to death. I screamed and cried for help but it seems no help was near. My step siblings opened the door hours later. They were all mocking me and told me that this won’t be the last. Truly, it wasn’t the last. The subsequent ones were worse and left me dejected.

I remembered the last time I spoke to my mom about everything they were doing to me. She was scared of confronting them because of the fear of the other wives. She told me If you can’t be beat them, endure it. So I did.

This is how I grew up. I feel like nobody cares about me at all and I feel less of myself.I don’t think true love exist because I have never felt one before even if it does, it is  definitely not for someone like me.

I feel so much hatred for people. I can’t give love and can’t maintain  relationships with people
I FEEL DESERTED, I NEED HELP!

© ISAAC TAIWO

This is a suicide hotlines 08091116264

Out of his mind

Onlookers gathered around, including the pupils who had various expressions of great surprise written on their innocent faces. The school’s headmaster was the interesting sight. He was completely naked and being forcefully dragged by his teachers out of the school premises and into a car. The driver was told to head down to the community church.


The residents of Jabata weren’t so  shocked to see that their so much respected headmaster had finally lost his mind to something they would rather refer to as ‘evil forces’. Women were crying and chanting prayers to the almighty to deliver him and take away the hands of evil spirits from the man concerned.


Back inside the school, the pupils seemed to be enjoy the time chatting away and gesting, but the headmistress shooed them back to their respective classes.
The car finally arrived at the church. The headmaster refused to come down from the car . He told his teachers that he was not under any form of  spiritual attack. They asked why he then talked and made gestures to himself. He replied that he was talking to his wife. He told them his wife always appeared to him.


The teachers couldn’t believe their ears.The headmaster’s wife had died in a fire accident when his house caught fire, burning her to ashes. How then could she had appear to him?
“Was she also the one who told you to pull off your clothes in front of everyone on the assembly ground?” One of the teachers asked. The headmaster bent down his head with tears in his eyes. He couldn’t reply because he was so full of shame for himself.
The teachers pulled the headmaster out of the car. In the struggling process, the headmaster’s skin got peeled against the ground making him bleed profusely

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