Seven ‘Great’ years ago…

I have been in deep retrospect these past couple of days. A lot has happened recently that has got me digging deep.

So in the spirit of retrospection, I celebrate today!

Today marks a very significant day in my life. My first day of work…ever! 12/4/2010.

I was not privy to internships while in school so having gotten a ‘proper’ job for NYSC, made me really really nervous.

On this day, seven years ago; I got up early, dressed up and was driven to the office. With so many emotions flooding my mind, I stepped into something I didn’t realize at the time was great.

I am so thankful for that day.

The past seven years have been an array of events that shaped my life and made me the person I am today. I have been awarded the opportunity of working with talented people, multinational brands, exploring my potentials and learning far beyond my imagination. On the job, I have witnessed personally the hand of God guiding me – I had to learn to commit all to Him and watch Him do wonders even in the littlest projects.

While I was in Secondary school, I never imagined I’d be this serious in life. I struggled so hard to keep up, reading was a major chore. With the way I was going, I would have ended up with a career – wife of a rich man, or worse.

The turning point came when I failed my Diploma exam in Uni and thought I wasn’t going to get accepted. The way God came through for me, I made a decision to change.

This was the beginning of the better days of my life.

Some were born ‘serious’ while some of us had to learn to be serious. Some of my friends hardly read but passed regardless while people like me had to read and read to pass.

The fact is that no two of us are the same. We all must learn to accept our strengths and weaknesses. The hope we do have is that in our weaknesses, God has promised that His strength is available. Therefore I do not have to fear situations that may expose my weaknesses but embrace them knowing the power of Christ in me.

Grace Saw me through school, Grace has seen me through seven years of gainful employment, it is Grace that will take me to the places I want to get to.

Looking forward to the next seven years! Hopefully, I would have gotten myself to write a book by then!

 

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So this was me, seven great years ago! In the parking lot of Motorways, just before walking into my work life.

Photo Credit: Mr. Awe, the greatest!

All that mattered, Still matters.

7th April 2014…. three years ago, I pushed myself to publish my first post.

I was at a point in my life where I really needed to express myself. I found my voice in writing my thoughts, experiences and dreams. My husband and I had just moved in together and I was learning to be a wife and more.

Writing is my mirror, showing me what lay beneath the strong, independent woman I pose to be. In three years I have written over ninety posts and I must commend myself for my persistence even when I had opposition with some of my content and months long writer’s block.

I really hope with the way I am going, I will end up writing a book and more!

Many thanks to everyone who has encouraged me to keep writing through my rants, flaws and all!

Below is the link to my first ever post on blogspot!

All that matters…

You might want to read and judge how far I have come. I can say for sure, the journey has not been easy but it has been worth it.

Have a great weekend!

Burden of Care in Mental Health Conditions

This time two years ago, I was in the hospital.

I had just suffered a mental breakdown and was on admission. I had been separated from my child and my husband had to shuttle between the hospital and the house daily. I recall he slept at the hospital every night for the three weeks+ I was on admission for.

During this period, I hallucinated, was violent, cursed and basically acted out. I recall being out of touch with reality, being so afraid and alone. I totally forgot that I had a daughter and part of what began my healing process was when my family agreed to bring her in every night to see me.

I am indeed thankful for my care-givers especially my husband. Everyone made sure I was okay always. There was a period I was addicted to playing the Game Ludo – all the nurses had to take turns to play with me during the day as I was always bored and restless!

It indeed isn’t easy being a patient neither is it easy being a care-giver. It takes a lot of commitment and love to keep at it.

Below is a write up by a Medical Officer at Happy Family Hospital, I hope it encourages you today.

***

Ifeanyi is a 31 year old male who has been visiting our hospital for the past 4 years. He was only 27 years old when he first visited. Before then, he was an Economics student in one of the tertiary institutions and he combined this with a part-time job to earn some income.

It all started when on a particular day he suddenly became agitated.

He ran out of his home singing at the top of his voice. It was impossible for him to be calmed down. He claimed he had been talking to Jesus and had a very important message to pass to his school’s management.

He was eventually admitted to the hospital and went home after 6 weeks of being on admission. A working diagnosis of acute psychotic illness was made on his first visit. He returned to the hospital 8 months later with a similar episode. After then his diagnosis was upgraded to bipolar affective disorder.

He has had many episodes of relapses and remissions since then.

All illness generally exerts a devastating effect on both the sick person and his immediate support system of care-givers. We cannot prevent falling ill sometimes. Still, nobody ever wishes to fall ill at any particular point in time. Also, nobody can accurately predict when he or she will be ill or otherwise. So it is something absolutely left to chance. When illness does happen, it is always expected that it resolves in a definite period of time. This enables the sick person to go back to his former role in the family or society.

Different illness conditions have different expected periods of resolution.

For instance, when someone is down with malaria, it is expected that after a few days of medical treatment, he should be up and doing. Let us look at other illnesses that can take quite a longer period of time to resolve – say, a fracture of the thigh bone. In such a case, the patient is restricted to the sick bed for say a period of weeks to months. But the good news is that after this period, he eventually gets up and gets about. He can be adjudged to have recovered.

Now let us look at other health conditions which unlike as in the two examples cited above, do not resolve in definite time frames.

Medically, these conditions are described as chronic health conditions. Let us take for example, two popularly known health conditions – diabetes and hypertension. In these conditions, the patient does not get to go free from the illness, but can only manage symptoms and hope that complications do not arise

Most mental health conditions also fall into these category of chronic health conditions. Schizophrenia for instance is not a condition that can be said to have resolved after any defined period of treatment.

The aim of management is to keep patient symptoms free and functional for greater part of his days as much as is possible. Same applies to bipolar disorders and personality disorders. In both situations, the sickness more or less remains with the patient for life. There may or may not be intervals of stable state after which the patient gets ill again.

Caring for people with chronic health conditions especially mental illness places enormous stress on the patient and the care-givers. This stress is both physical, psychological and financial. The care-givers for the purpose of this discourse is broadened to include both the patient relatives and members of the health care team seeing the patient.

The patient after long periods of multiple hospital admissions gets tired of going in and out of hospitals. Such patients easily fall prey to quacks and charlatans who promise them easy solutions to their problems that are not attainable. Some other times, they are also tempted to turn to religious bodies for solution to their problems since it seems to them that orthodox medicine has not been able to resolve their problem. Again, such patients are the ones that are most likely to stop taking prescribed drugs as they feel that the ones they have taken so far has not been helpful. Besides, prolonged periods of taking most drugs usually predisposes to unpalatable side effects.

The patient relatives also get demoralized and frustrated after prolonged periods of providing care, most times without any obvious dramatic results. At such times, care-giver apathy may surface. They tend to rationalize that having done their best for the ill person, maybe it is just best to leave him or her to her fate. Remember also, that the illness also always is a major drain on the finances of the patient relatives who in most cases are the ones footing the medical bills.

The medical personnels who are also part of the care-giving team are not immune to this process of care-giver apathy. The psychological burden of seeing a patient repeatedly and knowing that you have probably offered the best that you can for his condition with little or no changes in the status quo cannot be described in words. Patient and patient’s relatives drop the burden of the illness and their frustrations with it on your shoulders at every clinic visit. They justifiably expect you to wave a magic wand and make their problems disappear. From a doctor’s perspective, it is frustrating that we do not have all the answers yet, and sometimes the very best we can do for our patients is only but very little.

In summary, it is important that both the patient and the care-givers understand the prolonged nature of chronic health conditions right from the outset when treatment is commenced. There are always some psychological and financial burdens attached to chronic illnesses, and the aim of treatment is not always with intention to achieve cure, but rather to keep patient stable and functional. Understanding this will enable all units in the team to work towards a common goal and to encourage each other when the need arises. A chronic mental health condition does not warrant a total write off or abandonment of the ill individual.

Contributed by

Dr Anyim Nnamdi

Medical Officer (at Happy Family Hospital Ltd) with interest in Mental Health

www.happyfamilyhospital.com.ng

Understanding Depression

There were congratulatory messages everywhere.

Joshua Ndukwe had just been promoted at work from the post of a Deputy General Manager to a General Manager in one of the new generation banks. This new position was very demanding because he had to cover various regions in Nigeria and Africa and report to the Regional Head weekly.

He was quite happy with this new position. It meant he could now afford better schools for his kids and improve on his lifestyle. But he knew that this also meant more expectations from relatives both on his side and from his in-laws. He had always had sleepless nights concerning these duties, his wife had 2 of her siblings living with them and he was responsible for their training/education. He was the first son in his own family and a lot was expected of him in terms of obligations. Whenever his parents had a function in the village he was required to attend and contribute financially. He also catered for the needs of his widowed sister’s five kids.

The burden was a lot on him.

His ever supportive wife noticed for about four months that he had been withdrawn at some point, was not eating and sleeping properly and lacked interest in his job and this was something that ordinarily he never toyed with. Whenever his favorite team, Manchester United was playing; rather than watch the match, he would lie down in his room in deep thought.

He began to have problems at work in terms of performance and was eventually advised by the Human Resources department to take time off work to sort himself out.

His wife made a bold decision to talk about this with her colleague at work who suggested he see a Psychologist. Three months after, Joshua eventually heeded to the advice and booked an appointment to see a Psychologist.

Careful assessment by the Psychiatrist led to the discovery that he felt hopeless, empty and had certain sensations over his chest which bothered him a lot.

He was told that he was suffering from a moderate depressive illness.

Mr. Ndukwe was surprised about this as he was not aware of such an illness in any of his family members.

After a lot of persuasion by the Doctor, he eventually agreed to commence with medication under the supervision of his wife.

Three weeks later, during his next visit to the doctor he had become more cheerful, reported good sleep and had put on weight. His productivity at work had also improved.

***

Depression is a type of illness that manifests with low mood, loss of energy and lack of pleasure in previously enjoyable activities. It can also affect sleep, libido and appetite. There can be associated feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness and guilt, weight loss/gain and irritability.

In the severe form of depression, there will be associated psychosis which is characterized by strange behaviour, hearing or seeing strange things in clear consciousness. All these may eventually make an individual want to commit suicide.

Depression affects more females than males. Once detected it can be managed successfully with psychotherapy and the use of medications.

Do not wait until it is too late, talk to someone today.

Written by:

Dr. Charlotte Nwigwe

Mental Health Expert

www.happyfamilyhospital.com.ng

The Power to BE

So many things are happening around me; lots of bad and lotssss of good.

So many of you know my battles with my health while others know my struggles with motherhood. This post isn’t to dwell on the bad but to highlight the good.

These past few weeks have been challenging (in a good way), I have stretched myself and pushed myself to do much more.

I recently began my social media management career and I must admit it has been challenging to keep up with. I find myself leaning more to my creative side and relying on my guts to post the right contents!

I have written more in the past weeks, exploring partnerships with other blogs.

I have partnered with a Mental Health Expert to enlighten my readers on all mental health related topics – cool right?!.

I am also pushing myself as a wife and a mom to make ‘better’ decisions that are best for my family (especially after realizing some major errors I made in the past).

Amidst all this, I have learnt that the power is in my hands to make everything right.

I have the power to be happy regardless of whatever is happening around me.

I have the power to influence my generation.

I have the power to love in spite of.

I have the power to do more.

I have the power to serve.

I have the power to lead.

I have the power to achieve greatness.

I have the power to be ME.

I know I am a work in progress, but I have found perfection in Christ.

I implore you to push yourself too. There is so much out there to be achieved, so much impact we can make. So much ‘Life’ to live!

DO NOT GIVE UP!

P.S. Notice that I have a domain now? That’s part of what I have pushed myself to do.

 

Help us Live

It saddens me greatly to see that the plague of depression seems to have caught up with us here in Nigeria. So many people in recent times are resulting to taking their lives as a means to an end even with a blossoming life ahead.

My condolence goes out to the family of the young man who took his life yesterday on the 3rd Mainland Bridge. Only God knows whatever mind battles he had just before he made that decision to take his life.

Depression is indeed a growing trend in our country now. Gone are the days where people were scared to take their lives for fear of going to hell, the days of it being a taboo have long gone.

I find myself concluding that this generation is exposed to so much pain and struggle, the threshold level of so many of us has declined greatly.

Many times, a number of us aren’t sensitive to the needs of others.

Just take a look at the on-going trend on social media these days.

People clap back, diss and curse each other for fun and our media isn’t helping. We find that people hype and make so much fun of others at the detriment of the feelings and self-esteem of others and for some weird reason, it’s okay!

As the world becomes a much harder place to live in, my goal is to encourage and motivate as many people as I can.

I am not to be misconstrued, I have my issues (a lot of you know this already) but what matters most to me is how I can help the person next to me be better.

It is not my prayer to know someone who will end up taking his/her life. I do not wish this even for myself.

I know I have treaded the path of depression but I am glad that that’s over now. It takes having the right people around you and ultimately finding solace in God.

Please read up on Depression and guard your heart against this epidemic diseases.

There is much more hope in living than cutting short your life.

Let us join hands to help each other stay alive as God has promised us an abundant life.

I know things may seem bleak right now but don’t lose Hope.

Remember, you are never alone.

Declaration 

I am strong even in weakness. 

I love even in hate. 

The world has given me thousands of reasons to cry but God has given me millions to celebrate. 

The world is filled with sadness, pain and depression is thriving. 

If only we cling to Him the one who makes all things right. If only we welcome Him into our homes to turn things around. 

Declaration:

I am Light for He shines through me, I am First because He put me first, I am Saved because He died for me, I am Me because He says so.