People would always tell me as a child that my mother was sick. I naively answered them, “I was also sick last week but now I am better”. Some will just shake their heads with smirks on their lips while others will tell me it is not that type of sickness. I was playing a game with a neighbour and because I was the one winning, out of jealousy she called me ‘OMO WERE’ and some of the people around laughed and others had this weird looks on their faces. I got home narrated the experience to my dad. He told me my mother’s sickness was a mental disorder, in other words, she was literally “mad”. I looked at mother who was sitting calmly and went out to play with new children who were in the neighbourhood.
I did not entirely comprehend my mother’s situation until I was in 200 level, when my mother had stopped taking her medications and the symptoms returned, my mom has been suffering from schizophrenia all along! She was very aggressive, yet I stayed in the same room with her. I saw my calm mother turned to a monster. She would randomly throw things at me and would lock me out of the house sometimes. I knew it was not her fault and she did not understand what was going on. Only my father could calm her down. She began hallucinating and would attack me thinking I was a different person. At times, she thought I was her first boyfriend who jilted her, other times, she thought I was her father who maltreated her. She saw different people in me and would abruptly attack. We became the talk of our neighbourhood and people would bring herbs for us to give her. I understood it was medical but she would not go the hospital. I became a shadow of myself and my nights were full of prayers and cries for my mother’s healing.
There were times my mother would not return from her walks in the evening and we would begin searching for her. We found her in various strange places, in trash of dirts, talking to herself while people surrounded her and laughed at her display. There were times we found her fighting random people or begging people for money when there was plenty at home. My father never stopped caring and there were times he would cry loudly in the bathroom. He was a spiritual father people looked up to but was now being ridiculed. Some people said, it was because he had sinned and that was why we were experiencing such.
On a fateful day, he called my mother’s family to initiate the idea of taking her to the hospital. We arrived at Yaba Psychiatric hospital that day, we waited the whole day before we were attended to. We went in with high hopes that she would be admitted but were just given medications and sent home. The next day, my mother flushed all the drugs down the toilet and we were left with a different monster. She became more aggressive and saw us as enemies. I remember her hitting me and smiling afterwards. Her hallucinations became so severe that she cursed me at times.
I was about to go back to school and knew I could not leave her in such situation. We went back to the hospital to talk about full admission. We paid for bed space, made arrangements with the medics to come to our house and take her to the hospital. They came in the next morning and we directed them to where she was sleeping. She was going to be injected while she continuously struggled I knew it was the right thing to do but I was not happy that she was being treated like an animal. The hefty men held her down but she still struggled. They had to chain her before she was injected. That day, I saw my mother being treated like an animal.
That particular semester was super hectic for me as I went to the hospital every weekend to see my mother. My grades suffered badly but I was glad my mother was better. I would call the nurse every day and my father on Saturdays just to speak with my mother. That was a very tough year of my life.
My father died six years later leaving just me to take care of my mother. I still love her, her mental health has improved, though she remains an outpatient at Federal Neuro-psychiatric hospital, Yaba. I accompanied her for check-ups and personally saw a THERAPIST for all those traumatic experiences I went through. I know Psychiatric disorders are genetic-related and I fear for my children being infected with it, but the psychotherapy sessions with my therapist have fortified with hope and skills to increase my resilience and my children’s to reduce our chances of Schizophrenia. I AM HEALED NOW.