Mary, a 30 year old hair stylist was introduced to Deji, a 41 year old school certificate holder wishing to relocate abroad.
They began an affair which blossomed into a full relationship.
After about four months, Mary discovered that she was pregnant for Deji. At the same time, Deji secured his visa to travel to the United States of America. It was an exciting time for both of them.
Mary introduced Deji to her parents and in no time, the initial marriage rites were performed.
Deji departed to USA six months into the relationship after a family thanksgiving and promised to process Mary’s papers so that she could join him. After Deji’s departure, Mary moved in with her in-laws to be. She was happy attending her antenatal classes, receiving regular calls and money from Deji, while she remained expectant that her visa would be ready soon.
Months went by and Mary moved back to her parents’ house after the delivery of her baby girl in order to be with her mother. From time to time, she paid visits to her in-laws and all seemed to be well. Deji often sent things to her and their daughter whenever he had people coming to Nigeria.
By the time her baby was about six months old, Mary noticed that the frequency of Deji’s calls had reduced and each time there was also less enthusiasm in him regarding the progression of her USA visa application. When she complained about this, he attributed it to the stress of work. He also began to default in the monthly allowance he sent for their upkeep.
By the time their daughter turned two, he had stopped calling altogether.
Mary became increasingly worried. She tried to secure a stable job to earn a living but jobs were not forthcoming. She was hesitant to ask her parents for money since she was betrothed to her husband to be.
Eventually she resorted to having flings here and there with men just for the little money they could give her. During this time her two younger sisters had gotten married and left the house. She got tired of all the endless questions people were asking about her fiancé and when they would get married.
Soon Mary noticed that she was having difficulty sleeping. Even when she managed to sleep, she woke up quite early and often felt tired during the day. Her appetite dropped, she lost interest in watching her favourite TV shows, her hair styling job and many other things she used to enjoy. She became increasingly weak, was very moody for most part of the day and cried occasionally for no reason.
About two months after she developed the above complaints, she began to mutter to herself and to laugh without reason. She would repeatedly scream Deji’s name while talking irrelevantly. She became violent and was threatening to kill herself or hurt someone.
The above is a relationship scenario that is prevalent in Nigeria although all do not degenerate into severe depression as the one above.
While the support network is very critical during the early development of the symptoms, Mary was only able to make a full recovery once she received psychiatric care.
We all have our tipping points. How are you managing yours?
Dr. Charlotte Nwigwe
Mental Health Expert