My name is Kemi and I am currently recovering from bipolar disorder. When I was first diagnosed two years ago, I didn’t share the news with friends and immediate family. I was so ashamed since I always considered myself to be a strong, capable person. The thing with mental health is sometimes it happens to the best of us.
I was given every opportunity in the world to succeed. I am from a rich home, went to those top international schools in Lagos, got my bachelor’s degree, and a Master’s degree from one of the best schools in London, and I lacked nothing. On social media, other girls wished they had my life.
At first, it felt like PMS since I get irritated and get angry for the smallest reasons; but this lingered longer than normal I would break things even on people. do you know that feeling that you need to run away or something is wrong, all the anxiety and restlessness? that is what I was feeling. Squandering money and did things that didn’t make sense, just to get a release and hopefully die in the process. This behavior was unexplainable to me, could barely sleep. I lived with my aunty at the time, told her I may be running “mad” she prayed for me and said we don’t have a history of mental illness in our family.
I started to fail at things I excelled in so I began to isolate myself. I avoided social gatherings because I never wanted to answer questions like: “How are you?” and “What are you doing these days?” I even got very aggressive and defensive. A suicide attempt was what made my aunty take me to see a psychiatrist, spent 2 weeks in the hospital. I took a series of tests, therapy sessions, and got a diagnosis of bipolar disorder and given medications.
My journey to recovery hasn’t been easy, I have lost relationships that meant a lot to me, just because I didn’t know what was wrong with me. Once I got on treatment and therapy, life started having color again. It took a while to get a track, but I picked my pieces up and now run my dream business with the help of my family.
I guess the truth is that I’m still ashamed of my illness and don’t want to be completely honest with the world or myself about it. However, I choose to come clean with the people I love and in return love me regardless. I have also come to a realization that my illness doesn’t define me and I hope that you know that too. Whether you are going through a mental illness like me, physical illness or just a phase of life know that you are so much more.