Recognizing Past Challenges and Prioritizing My Mental Health
Content Warning: This article discusses abuse and suicidal thoughts. If you or a loved one are experiencing suicidal thoughts, please text or call National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or visit their website.
I recently moved to a new city here in Ghana called Ho.
A few days later, I got really sick and was sent to the hospital there. I didn’t really like the way the doctors were pricking me continuously in search of a vein although I showed them so many times the only spots they could get one, so I took to my heels.
Luckily, I saw my dad then and he calmly took me back. It was then that they decided to take me to the psychiatric ward for treatment. I was also hallucinating and acting a bit weird so it seemed like the best option to them. Well, I hated the idea but after spending three weeks there, I found that it was actually good for me.
I realized a lot of things during my stay and admitted my shortcomings (something I will never do on a regular day).
Some of the things I realized are:
1. An abusive relationship
I stayed with an abusive aunty for over 8 years and I only realized the impact it actually made on my life in my 3-week stay 7 years later.
Wao! I said to myself. She actually really tortured the living hell out of me and the effect of that is what made me the mean girl I am today. I am grateful for the fact that my tough self did not fold into a mediocre personality.
She would call me useless and throw mean words strong and capable enough to make me have an inferiority complex, but God did not let that happen... I wonder what kind of person I would have been if I didn’t fight her words strongly in my mind. Not to talk of the burns, beatings, and starvation.
I finally realized that I didn’t deserve it like I made myself believe all this while. No one deserves to be treated like that, not even an animal. Whether it was because of my health or something else, I’ll never know until I master the courage to confront her someday.
The other effect of this is when I want to die on the days I don’t feel well, when it feels like there is too much suffering in this world and I’ve had enough, and all I want to do is leave this wicked world... Forgetting that my life has not entirely been a living hell. Besides that, I’m a mother now, with a good job here on sickle-cell.com and that is in enough to keep me going.
2. The losses and setbacks from sickle cell
I also realized the impact sickle cell has had on my life - the losses and the setbacks; having to start all over again each time I get sick.
The financial, social, and mental aspects are things I’ve always downplayed until now. Imagine saving money for over 4 years to start your dream hair shop, only to lose it all in a month to an infection caused by SCD.
Yes! That happened to me too. It is true that everyone goes through things in life that are no fault of ours, but sometimes, you blame yourself because it is you who has the disease. There are so many times during a crisis that I feel it’s my fault but mostly because the people around me like my uncles, aunties, and sometimes even parents tell me so.
You should’ve taken your time, you should know yourself better, etc. Truth is, I do know myself and I take my time, but none of that is enough to stop sickle cell from attacking my veins, bones, and organs... it’s just what sickle cell is and I’ve come to accept it.
3. Healing from heartbreaks
I am still healing from the heartbreaks I encountered mostly because of my condition as a sickle cell warrior. And this has influenced my decision to stay single for 5 years.
In as much as no one may understand this, I do and that is okay. I am also healing from all the things I’ve been through in life and don’t want to carry my unhealed self into another relationship.
I believe that I should be able to heal well enough in 5 years and then I can start thinking of dating and maybe marriage again. As a child, I always dreamt of having a big wedding filled with love and understanding. This dream has not been nullified but needs some healing to make happen.
The value of mental health
Mental health is truest important and I am determined now more than ever to take it more seriously... Don’t forget, there is no health without mental health.
What awareness month activities do you plan to get involved in?