I don’t like Eid. 

It is wrong when I say it like that. Because I do not mean it like that. I believe myself to be a fairly spiritual person, I like what Eid represents generally. I don’t like what Eid represents for me.

As the days march on, closer to the dread that lies ahead for me, I get sulkier. My mother has noticed. She has noticed that I do that each Eid for the past three years. That is 5 Eids, 5 Eids of dread. 5 Eids of trepidation. 5 anxiety filled Eids of what if. Because it happened 6 Eids before.

In my part of the world, we call Eid day Sallah. Sallah means prayer; worship. Sallah means Eid; worship. My sister has suggested we get someone to design our hands with black lines of Henna. I prefer the red henna designs, it is more Sallah befitting, but I don’t tell her. Telling her means I might be looking forward to Sallah too, but I am not. I am, I am looking forward to Sallah, but without the burden that comes with it. Without the spree down memory street. The reminders; the henna paints that design my days in ugly stains of black. 

My sister is now bugging me to call the tailor. “He listens to you more.” She whines on, she is convinced I am in a better position to push the tailor to meet her deadline of three days pre-Sallah. 

“I called him”, I tell her. I don’t call him, I just pretend to. 

“When is he bringing it?” She asks expectantly. “He says he’ll surely be ready two days before Sallah”. I tell her. Hopefully he won’t be ready then. She is disappointed but she lets it go.

The saloon is next. ‘I like my hair the way it is’ I tell her.

‘Get in the Sallah spirit Sis!’ She insists. I look away and don on an uninterested look. She sighs, she has given up on that one. 

‘You are doing all these things because you want to snap pictures and send to your boyfriend. I don’t have a boyfriend, leave me alone’. I add.

Her face falls in sympathy. The sympathy towards me.

“But his death has nothing to do with Sallah. Why do you always act like a window each Sallah period?”. 

‘He’ means my boyfriend, Abdulwahab. My ex rather. Is he an ex if he dies while you are still together? There should be a term for the widow of the unmarried. Only I am not sure I really grieved his passing. I was just waiting for the next Eid.

“This is not about his death!” I say to her firmly. I have refused to look at her.  Or at anyone, they all anger me.

I storm away.

Sallah day comes and it is as I wanted it. The tailor brought our clothes in the morning and mine is so ill-fitting I almost cried of joy. With the late timing, there’s no way he can make adjustments, I am wearing some gown that looks every bit maternal. I had deliberately given him wrong measurements. 

My hair is a mated mess. My finger nails are chipped. I look miserable. I want to look miserable. Maybe, just maybe, if they see me looking like I am about to die, like I genuinely regret what I did. Maybe they will stop the torture.

It is almost 12:00pm. I am restless. For 5 Sallah days consecutively, unfailingly, I get the same message. The message that reminds me of one decision. 

It is 12:00pm. My heart has failed to remember how to pump blood. I can hear the whistle of panic inside my ears. ‘Please leave me alone’, I pray. I have prayed countless times to God to make it stop. But it is my punishment on Earth. 

It is still 12:00pm and the message has not come in yet. I am hopeful. What if my prayer has been accepted and the person has died? I am slowly inhaling and exhaling now. My pulse is getting steadier. The message has never been this late. 

It is 12:02pm. I smile. I prostrate to God in thanks. I am joyous. It is over! I rise up from my prostration. The first thing I see, straight ahead, is a wall clock. It is 12:00pm now. My phone’s clock setting is off.

It is 12:00pm now and I can feel the tears sting my eye. I feel the message before I see the notification. When you cry, do you taste the tear, the salty sea of regret inside your throat? Because I do. I am swallowing it like a meal. I am swallowing it like it will wipe away my turmoil. I am tired.

I open the message. I know what it says. It is the same thing it has said 3 years ago. It is from unknown. I open it anyway.

“I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SALLAH…”.

I choke. It will never stop. Now I know that. It will never stop until I know who the sender is, I don’t know who the sender is. It could be anyone. I thought it was Abdulwahab, but he is dead. The messages, sadly, live on.

It was Abdulwahab’s idea. I swear. Okay, not his idea to steal the gold. But he pressured me to do something as the good girlfriend I am. He is dying you see. Have you ever seen your loved one dying? Have you ever being the bystander, the helpless, useless one who feels guilty for breathing without pain. For sleeping and not having to wake up a dozen times a night , screaming, because you feel like your insides are being melted by acid. Have you ever seen someone so beautiful, Abdulwahab, he was so beautiful. Before he was reduced to nothing. To skin and bones. Have you ever…? Then don’t you dare judge me if you haven’t. Don’t you dare tell me I was stupid to be swayed by love. He was human, my human. He was an amazing human. 

Abdulwahab would never seek for my help. He wasn’t rich, his parents were in the poor category even. But he was a proud fellow. No one knew his broke days because even on the days he would sleep hungry in school, he was sure to make everyone’s day cheery. That was my Abdul.

I knew he wouldn’t ask me for a dime, so when he did, I knew it was pain. I couldn’t bear it I swear. I did the first thing I could think of, I went through my mothers things carefully, for three days, until I found it. I found it a day before Sallah. I called him to get it on Sallah day. 

Abdulwahab came by himself. And when I saw him, I cried till I felt sick. My love had withered. My loves was a dandelion, but he had been reduced to a stalk. My love was a rose; he was life, I couldn’t bear seeing him so sickly, sapped out of life. I knew then, I knew that even if it meant selling my fathers house to fund his treatment, I will.

Abdulwahab got better. For weeks after the treatment, he was looking like he had breathed the magic dust of life. But Abdulwahab was the only thing that got better. You see, I didn’t really sit to ponder what would happen when Mama realized that her set of gold worth N5.3 million was missing. I really didn’t think along that lane. My reasoning was a one way traffic. To help resucitate my love. I didn’t think.

Mama discovered her gold was missing three weeks after. She was puzzled. It wasn’t where she always kept it at, but no palaver. Maybe she had moved it. Each search though, each search were nothing turned up meant a step higher toward the heaven of hysteria where the angels of chaos were waiting. The whole house stayed awake that night. We searched, we looked, we raised every furniture. We denied, we accepted, we grieved. But Mama wouldn’t have it. She had saved this set for ten years, she wouldn’t have it getting missing now that she wants to sell it and get a new set of shinier gold.

It isn’t the house helps. We haven’t had one the month between the last time she saw it and the first time she discovered it missing. It isn’t us. Mama cannot even fathom what that would mean. Mama couldn’t concentrate, she wasn’t eating, she will be praying and you will hear her audibly exclaim ‘Hmmmmm!’. I was panicking.

Then three days later. Oh! I wish this part did not happen, it is the worse happening of all, but it did. Three days later, Mama stormed into the house. She went straight to the sitting room where Baba was lounging. She snatched the phone he was scrolling through and threw it aside before extending her palms before him.

“Give it back”. She ordered. Her hand was planted on her thick waist. The sides of her gown had pleated beneath her palm. I still remember it. It is not something you forget; your Mama accusing your father of stealing her gold set. Two lovers spatting. Because you decided to save your own lover. This is something that holds your brain to ransom.

Baba was furious. He is a furious man. He seems to be always riled up even when he doesn’t mean to. We have come to realise that he just seems that way. But that day, Baba was a furious, furious man. He told her to ‘stop that nonsense’. He asked her ‘are you mad? Did you drink something?’. He ordered her to ‘keep shut and behave this minute’. But I swear it was like Mama’s eyes were masked and her ears were plugged. She kept raging. She kept accusing. Then she said she was told by a Mallam. She just came back from a Mallam who checked the thief’s identity and he saw Baba. Baba wants to remarry, he wants to use her gold to remarry. Over and above her dead body. 

I am still not sure if Mama believed the Mallam, or if it was just easier to blame Baba for it, or if she was pushed into believing because of jealousy. I never knew he was trying to marry a second wife until that very minute.

Baba flared up worse then. What?! A Mallam. You know what that means? No man of God has the ability to see things like this. This is sorcery. He never knew Mama consulted sorcerers. He cannot stay with a woman who does Shirk. He divorced Mama the next day. I was dazed all through the exchange and months after. I was in a simulation. I was a horrified audience watching a movie in 4D.

I didn’t tell Abdulwahab the problem my little heist caused at home. I didn’t want him to blame himself . But while life was seeping back into him, it was seeping out of me. It was like I had fed him the happiness in my life. I had once wanted to take some of his pain away even if it meant me bodying it. I must be careful what I wish for. 

The guilt was eroding me, I was the desert, reducing to nothing but loose sand. My parents are apart, because of me. I still cannot believe it sometimes.

Then the first message. 2 months later, 2 months after small Eid, on big Eid day. ‘I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST EID. AND I WILL MAKE SURE YOU PAY FOR IT’.

Denial, it is a wrong message. It is a prank. It is not Abdulwahab. But who else knows. This is horrible. They will tell. I am dead. Acceptance.

Abdulwahab died a month after. 34 days precisely. I had stopped loving him then. These things, these guilt trips, they take a toll on you. They wear out your emotions and all the feelings you thought you had into dust. I was broken a bit more when he died. My parents are still not back together. They are both standing their ground. But does that mean that the ‘unknown’ has gone too. I was hopeful.

The next Sallah day, I didn’t think much of it. It was a one-off incident. So I had thought. When I received the second cryptic message, I knew shit had hit the literal roof. Someone was onto me, and he was NOT letting up. The next Sallah, I knew it was coming. And it did come. The next Sallah, I prayed throughout Ramadan for it to not come. I was psychotic. Everyone seemed like the sender of the message. I was in a punishment. What if they tell? What if they blackmail? What if I blurt it out? Then the next Sallah…

Do you know what it feels like to be waiting for two particular days on the whole annual calender? The two days you are to be reminded of being a thief and a home wrecker. The two days to mark your treachery. It happened on the day of small Eid, but this person never misses a chance to remind me even on big Eid.

It is a biennial event.

This Sallah, I reasoned maybe if I don’t look like I am enjoying life, maybe they will say I have been punished enough. But they didn’t. They sent a message to continue taunting my wretched self. I am honestly so frustrated I won’t mind they telling all that I am the cause of everybody’s woes. I won’t mind making this rollercoaster crash. I won’t mind… what if I do it? If I tell, they have nothing else to tell. If I tell, I am free of this hell.

I find myself standing before Mama. I look crazed. I feel crazed. Mama is seated on the two seater of the sitting room of the home she has been occupying since she was divorced from Baba. My three siblings are with her too. Baba is married, we don’t like his wife. Somehow, we conveniently made her the blame placeholder. Even I did. It is easier to live with myself if I locate an object to dash my blame to. Baba’s new wife is the coffee table.

Then I hear the words sprinting out. It is a marathon inside me now that I have decided to out everything. It is a stampede. I am confessing my sins to mother and I am saying forgive me, for I have sinned. 

Every emotion of confusion and grief has graced my mothers face today. I can see it. She is processing. She is processing the implication of what I have done, what she has done. She isn’t believing it. She is believing it. 

My sister says “What messages? You are not making sense”. My sister does not want this to be true. She hopes I am going crazy, seeing things, saying things. 

I say “The messages sent by someone who knows what happened. It reads ‘I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SALLAH. AND I WILL MAKE YOU PAY’.

My sisters face contorts in understanding. And I am the one trying to disbelief. She says it the moment I realise it. She says “there’s no blackmailer Fati. I sent that message that Sallah day to punish you for stealing my clothing style and telling the tailor to change mine into something uglier. It was just a prank.”

But, but no. It is sent every Sallah day. It is more complicated than this. Someone is behind this. I tell my sister so. I tell her I have received this message every Eid afterwards. 

“I must have sent it through the app then. I have an app that sends automated Eid messages to all my contacts. I must have used it and hidden my ID for that message. If I don’t cancel the message, it sends every Eid”. 

I tell her it makes no sense. It cannnot be that simple. I cannot have been through this hell for three years because of this explanation. But Mama has recovered from her shock. And now Mama has faced me. I am the dancer finally facing the tune of my music.

 I personally know a schizophrenic or two and I am boldly telling you, it is the worse!. 

Though these individuals physically reside in our physical world, their minds are anywhere but. They, at certain intervals, seem to exist in a world of hallucination, an altered universe where they see a lot of  scenarios their minds have made up, which are gravely different from what is obtainable in real life.

Swipe to read up more facts on Schizophrenia, it’s symptoms, causes and treatments (if any).

-Schizophrenia is a serious and long-term mental illness that interferes with a person’s ability to think clearly, manage emotions, make decisions and relate to others.

-When the disease is in full swing and symptoms are severe, the person with schizophrenia can’t tell when certain ideas and perceptions they have are real or not. This happens less often as they get older.

 FACTS ABOUT SCHIZOPHRENIA 

-There are different types of schizophrenia.

-You may experience ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ symptoms of schizophrenia.

-Positive symptoms are when you experience things in addition to reality. For example, you might see or hear things that others don’t. Or believe things that other people do not.

-Negative symptoms are when you lose the ability to do something. For example, losing motivation to do things or becoming withdrawn. They often last longer than positive symptoms.

-Although schizophrenia can occur at any age, the average age of onset tends to be in the late teens to the early 20s for men, and the late 20s to early 30s for women. 

-It is uncommon for schizophrenia to be diagnosed in a person younger than 12 or older than 40. 

-It is possible to live well with schizophrenia.

-Only a small percentage of people with schizophrenia are violent. People with schizophrenia are far more likely to be harmed by other people than other people are to be harmed by them

SYMPTOMS 

In Teenagers:

-Drop in grades

-Change of friends 

-Irritability 

-sleep problems

-being suspicious 

-withdrawal/ isolation 

General symptoms:

-Hallucinations 

-Delusion

-Negative symptoms 

-Disorganised thinking

-Slow movement

-Poor grooming or hygiene

-Changes in body language and emotions

-Less interest in social activities

-Low sex drive

Commonly, people with schizophrenia have anosognosia or “lack of insight.” This means the person is unaware that he has the illness, which can make treating or working with him much more challenging.

CAUSES

-Genetics: Your likelihood of developing schizophrenia is more than six times higher if you have a close relative, such as a parent or sibling, with the disorder

-Environment: Exposure to viruses or malnutrition before birth, particularly in the first and second trimesters has been shown to increase the risk of schizophrenia

-Brain Chemistry 

-Substance use. Some studies have suggested that taking mind-altering drugs during teen years and young adulthood can increase the risk of schizophrenia

DIAGNOSIS

The difficulty of diagnosing this illness is compounded by the fact that many people who are diagnosed do not believe they have it.

TREATMENT

While no cure exists for schizophrenia, it is treatable and manageable with medication and behavioral therapy, especially if diagnosed early and treated continuously.

I first came across multiple personality disorder in a book written by Sydney Sheldon titled ‘Tell Me Your Dreams’, and later, in ‘Fight Club’. Over the years, I have come across video recordings of people who have this rare and complex psychological disorder switching between their different personalities like there is a control pad navigated by someone somewhere. 

It is very curious and frightening to see a person almost physically change as they take up a new personality. Their voices change, their eyes take up a new light, their demeanor alters, their accent becomes different, their history and gender and ideologies and habits and characteristics and the core component that makes them who they are is replaced. But they themselves, physically, remain the same. It is wonderful. 

Dissociative identity disorder is characterized by the presence of two or more distinct or split identities or personality states that continually have power over the person’s behavior.

DID is usually a coping mechanism due to a traumatic experience that has happened before (usually in childhood). In a bid to suppress the memory, the person literally shuts off or dissociates themselves from the situation or experience that’s too violent, traumatic, or painful to assimilate with their conscious self. This is the case with 99% of people living with DID.

DID can lead to gaps in memory and hallucinations (believing something is real when it isn’t).

DID affects only 1% of the population.

Women are more likely than men to have DID. (I wonder why?)

Some people with DID have up to 100 alters. (Basically many aljanu cases might be DID)

Although not everyone experiences DID the same way, for some the “alters” or different identities have their own age, sex, or race. Each has their own postures, gestures, and distinct way of talking. 

Sometimes the alters are imaginary people; sometimes they are animals.

As each personality reveals itself and controls the individuals’ behavior and thoughts, it’s called “switching.” Switching can take seconds to minutes to days. 

CAUSES

It is caused by many factors, including severe trauma during early childhood (usually extreme, repetitive physical, sexual, or emotional abuse).

HOW TO IDENTIFY 

-Two or more distinct identities that have power of the persons behavior.

-Inability to recall key personal information that is too far-reaching to be explained as mere forgetfulness. 

-Highly distinct memory variations, which may fluctuate.

OTHER SYMPTOMS ARE:

TREATMENT

DID might manifest among children between the ages 5-10. 

It might be confused with other behavioral or learning problems common in children, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). For this reason, DID usually isn’t diagnosed until adulthood.

Some seek treatment with hypnosis where the person’s different “alters” or identities may be very responsive to the therapist’s requests.

There is no known cure. It can only be managed.

There are some people that are inherently, extremely self-involved and self-centered. To then, they are holistically the center of the world. They are vain, they think the world of themselves, they are manipulative and they are unable to understand the feelings of others and their worse enemies are criticism and knowing you can see right through them.

But beneath all that facade, they are trying to hide a crumbled self-esteem and self-doubt.

They are narcissists and from experience I am telling you that they are capable of messing you up really, really bad.

SYMPTOMS:

  • Have an exaggerated sense of self-importance
  • Have a sense of entitlement and require constant, excessive admiration (worship the ground they walk on)
  • Expect to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it
  • Exaggerate achievements and talents
  • Be preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate
  • Believe they are superior and can only associate with equally special people
  • Monopolize conversations and belittle or look down on people they perceive as inferior
  • Expect special favors and unquestioning compliance with their expectations
  • Take advantage of others to get what they want
  • Have an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
  • Be envious of others and believe others envy them
  • Behave in an arrogant or haughty manner, coming across as conceited, boastful and pretentious
  • Insist on having the best of everything 

TRIGGERS:

They have trouble in handling anything they perceive as criticism, and they can:

  • Become impatient or angry when they don’t receive special treatment
  • Have significant interpersonal problems and easily feel slighted
  • React with rage or contempt and try to belittle the other person to make themselves appear superior
  • Have difficulty regulating emotions and behavior
  • Experience major problems dealing with stress and adapting to change
  • Feel depressed and moody because they fall short of perfection
  • Have secret feelings of insecurity, shame, vulnerability and humiliation

Causes

The causes of personality disorders aren’t fully known, but narcissistic tendencies typically emerge as a type of self-protection.

Many people with narcissism had a narcissistic parent or experienced some type of abuse or neglect early in life. The negative messages and criticism they absorb become their internal voice.

To defend against this negative voice, they develop maladaptive coping strategies, or narcissistic defenses. Their treatment of others typically reflects how they feel about themselves. 

Narcissistic personality disorder may be linked to:

  • Environment or upbringing; extreme adoration from parents or neglect.
  • Genetics ― inherited characteristics
  • Neurobiology — the connection between the brain and behavior and thinking

TREATMENT 


People with narcissistic personality disorder are not likely to perceive anything wrong with them as they are an embodiment of ‘perfection’. Therefore they are unlikely to seek treatment.

Treatment for narcissistic personality disorder centers around talk therapy (psychotherapy) though they are unlikely to change.

RELATIONSHIP WITH A NARCISSIST 

What is a relationship with a narcissist like? Torturous at best. But before they show their true colours, they are the nicest, most accommodating people.

Here are signs you may be in a relationship (work, intimate or otherwise)

with a narcissist:

-‘Enough about me. How do YOU feel about ME’. It is always about them, even if it is about you.

-They isolate you: methodically. They bad-mouth their partners and create unnecessary arguments questioning why everything about you.

-They are masters of gaslight: Why can’t you take a joke?  I never said that! Why are you always so angry? You’re being paranoid. You are being to sensitive.

Why can’t you let go of the past? No one will ever love you like I do.

-They change from sweethearts to strangers: Before you are comfortable with them in a work relationship or you get married, they will heap flattery and praise on you. They have a goal. The moment they get you however the tables turn and you are never enough.

The switch from the charming person you fell so hard for, to someone you feel like you barely know.

That is why they may look like saints before others and monsters before. 

-They are masters of gaslight: Why can’t you take a joke? I never said that! Why are you always so angry? You’re being paranoid. You are being to sensitive.

Why can’t you let go of the past? No one will ever love you like I do.

It Feels Like Your Partner Is Trying To Make You Jealous

Beyond praising others, a narcissist may talk glowingly about an ex or flirt with someone right in front of you. This is no accident or innocent misstep, but a strategic move designed to make you feel jealous.

-They may get jealous of you or your success or the time you assign to other things instead of them.

-They admit that they are narcissistic. And to them, that makes them the most superior beings.

-Always looping you in for a fight. It’s a bait, you fight, they gaslight and make you feel stupid, silly, small and insecure.

-They avoid responsibility 

-Very manipulative.

The reality is that narcissists are very resistant to change therefore unless they are willing to change by taking up therapy (you should encourage them), you can neither change them nor make them happy. You can only save yourself.

Complications

Complications of narcissistic personality disorder, and other conditions that can occur along with it, can include:

  • Relationship difficulties
  • Problems at work or school
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Physical health problems
  • Drug or alcohol misuse
  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior

Sources: The Mayo Clinic

Healthline.com

Psychalive.org

Psycom.net

Lifehack.org

-50% of mental illness begins by age 14

-Borderline Personality Disorder is the most misdiagnosed. It’s so misdiagnosed, in fact, that there isn’t even an accurate prevalence rate for the condition

-Borderline Personality Disorder is the most painful to live with. BPD can produce symptoms of intense emotional pain, psychological agony, and emotional distress.

-Having more than one mental disorder is called comorbidity or co-occuring disorder (7.9million of adults in the US, don’t know about Nigeria).

When you think you have every mental disorder, it’s a disorder in itself called somatic symptom disorder. The symptoms associated with somatic symptom disorder are not under the person’s voluntary control, and they can cause great distress and can interfere with a person’s life.

-When a person doesn’t have the ability to perceive or recognize his mental illness, it is called anosognisia or lack of insight (denial).

The reason why people with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder refuse medications or do not seek treatment claiming they are fine.

-The five main warning signs of mental illnesses generally are as follows:

  • Excessive paranoia, worry, or anxiety.
  • Long-lasting sadness or irritability.
  • Extreme changes in moods.
  • Social withdrawal.
  • Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping pattern.

-Autotopagnosia- A type of agnosia involving loss or impairment of the ability to recognize (i.e., point to) parts of one’s own body. 

  • 5 major mental disorders most likely to run in the family
  • autism, 
  • attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • bipolar disorder
  • major depressive disorder and schizophrenia

-Clerambault syndrome or erotomania or psychotic love is characterized by the delusional idea, usually in a young woman, that a man whom she considers to be of higher social and/or professional standing is in love with her.  

The core symptom of the disorder is that the sufferer holds an unshakable belief that another person is secretly in love with them.

-Othello syndrome (OS) is a type of paranoid delusional jealousy, characterized by the false absolute certainty of the infidelity of a partner, leading to preoccupation with a partner’s sexual unfaithfulness based on unfounded evidence 

Transableism is a term that refers to the desire to acquire a disability through choice rather than happenstance.

The syndrome of apotemnophilia, body integrity or amputee identity disorder, is defined as the desire for amputation of a healthy limb, and may be accompanied by behaviour of pretending to be an amputee and sometimes, but not necessarily, by sexual arousal.

What do you know about autism and aspergers?

What if I told you that there many people living with autism or on the spectrum that have not and will never diagnosed because it is not physically apparent?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that affects communication and behavior. It means the individually is not a neurotypical therefore he does not process information and emotions the typical way.

1 out of every 125-150 children in Nigeria is autistic.

That is roughly 600,000 children living on the spectrum.

This is from a study in 2014 and not taking adults into account. 

ASPERGERS is a high functioning autism. People living with aspergers have milder signs of social and communication impairment.

This in turn makes it harder for people living with aspergers to be diagnosed. 

People living on the spectrum are just wited different, sometimes it shows physically, most times it doesn’t. There’s no known cause though genetics plays a role.

Contrary to what people may think about autism and the intellect, autistic people more often than not have a higher IQ.

Popular people on the spectrum? Einstein for starters.

Bill Gates, Tim Burton, Isaac Newton, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk … you get the picture.

Safe to say autism may make genius. 

But it is NOT roses or a sure road to success.

Chances of suicide are 3 times higher in them.

They don’t fit into the society and most likely never will.

They find making and maintaining friends hard. May end up never married or find it hard to maintain a relationship.

They don’t necessarily communicate the way we will understand or understand the way we communicate. 

Common Signs of Aspergers?

Just because you are socially awkward and introverted doesn’t mean you are an aspie.

-avoidance of eye contact 

-clumsiness

-obsession with patterns, routine, repetition (OCD)

-obsession generally with particular object or topic of interest

-Not empathetic in the typical way

exceptional verbal skills (great vocabulary)

-below average non-verbal skills. Don’t understand gestures, body language, facial expressions 

-above average intuition(some say they are as close to psychics as they get)

-social and speech difficulties (their voices maybe monotonous with no emotion to it)

– do not typically show their emotions. An aspie may not show shock, surprise or fear on his face.

-may struggle with seeing from other’s perspectives

No you don’t want to be autistic. Forget the Elon Musk thing, they are facing so much hate and misunderstanding.

So much bullying and suicidal thoughts.

In Nigeria, there are parents trying to kill their kids because they are ‘possessed’.

In the western world, they are marginalized and called weirdos and oddballs. They don’t fit.

Society isn’t designed to accommodate them.

They are constantly misunderstood and harrased.

Imagine you being called out every single day for seeing the world the way you do.

Or being punished for seeing the sky as red not blue. When what you actually see is red.

Being stopped from doing something your brain says you MUST!

IT SUCKS!

Remember that high ranking police official who couldn’t read well. Remember he kept blabbing ’transmission, transfusion, transfer…’ and it went viral. And we had a good laugh. And some turned it into a song. Mocked him good.

Well, I’m just here to tell you we are shitty people. 

I later learned (from unconfirmed sources) that he is dyslexic. Which means he can’t read as fluently as you can because that part of his brain which can easily decode letters and make sense of them is unfortunately not very developed. Says nothing negative about his intelligence.

So, let’s explore the four dys’s.

-Dyslexia

-Dyspraxia 

-Dyscalculia and

-Dysgraphia 

What they have in common? They are neurological disorders leading to learning disabilities . I.e a part of the persons brain responsible for that function just isn’t as responsive.

What they are not? A measure of intelligence. People with either of these are just as intelligent, sometimes more as it may be affiliated to other disorders like Autism.

Causes: Hereditary most times.

DYSLEXIA

A chronic neurological disorder causing inability or great difficulty in learning to read or spell, despite normal intelligence. They just don’t recognize those symbols we know as letters or what to do with them.

Symptoms:

-Very poor reading skills

-illegible or bad handwriting 

-writes letters in reverse (b instead of d)

-writes words in revers (deb instead of bed)

-Problems remembering or naming letters, numbers and colors

-trouble learning foreign languages

-difficulty memorizing 

-math difficulty 

-difficulty summarizing a story

Does it get better? It does but according to neurologists, it never really goes away.

Do they work? Definitely, normal jobs like you and me. They just need to educate their colleagues and employers about their conditions.

What else? Nothing! They are normal people.

DYSCALCULIA 

Learning disabilities involving math. Often called number dyslexia.

A disability that impairs an individual’s ability to learn number-related concepts, perform accurate math calculations, reason and problem solve, and perform other basic math skills.

No, just because you have problem solving math problems doesn’t mean you have dyscalculia, there’s being bad at math (what you are 😏 ) and there’s having a neurological disorder which prevents your brain from making sense of math problems not to mention solving it.

There is no single type of math disability. Dyscalculia can vary from person to person. And, it can affect people differently at different stages of life.  

Symptoms:

-visual-spatial difficulties (problems interpreting graphs, charts, maps, can’t tell how far objects are or space)

-bad at doing things like tying shoes

-language processing difficulties 

-Difficulty making sense of money and estimating quantities (told you you are just bad at math)

-Difficulty with telling time on an analog clock

-Poor visual and spatial orientation

-Difficulty immediately sorting out direction (right from left)

-Troubles with recognizing patterns and sequencing numbers

Other facts: it is present more in children with ADHD or ADD

Again, not a sign of intelligence or lack of it.

To everyone stigmatising people with bad handwriting, it may just be a sign of something bigger (shame on you). And it may just be that we have bad handwriting 😌.

DYSGRAPHIA

Where dyslexia is a disorder that impairs the ability to read, dysgraphia impairs the ability to write.

Dysgraphia is a term that refers to trouble with writing. Many experts view dysgraphia as challenges with a set of skills known as transcription.

Dysgraphia makes the act of writing difficult. It can lead to problems with spelling, poor handwriting and organizing thoughts on paper. People with dysgraphia can have trouble organizing letters, numbers and words on a line or page.

Signs.  

Trouble:

  • Forming letters
  • Writing grammatically correct sentences 
  • Spacing letters correctly 
  • Writing in a straight line
  • Holding and controlling a writing tool 
  • Writing clearly enough to read back later
  • Writing complete words without skipping letters

Dysgraphia often occurs along with ADHD and learning differences. These include dyslexia, written expression disorder, and expressive language disorder. 

Caused by trouble with motor skills which can improve with therapy.

DYSPRAXIA

Or developmental coordination disorder (DCD).

Dyspraxia is a brain-based motor disorder. It affects fine and gross motor skills, motor planning, and coordination. It’s not related to intelligence, but it can sometimes affect cognitive skills.

 It is an immaturity in the way that the brain processes information, which results in messages not being properly or fully transmitted. 

Dyspraxia affects the planning of what to do and how to do it. It is associated with problems of perception, language and thought.

 Children that have dyspraxia may suffer from clumsiness, slightly slurred speech, awkwardness with walking or short term memory loss.

Signs

  • Unusual posture
  • difficulty with fin motor skills that affect writing, artwork, and playing with blocks and puzzles
  • coordination problems that make it difficult to hop, skip, jump, or catch a ball
  • Hand flapping, fidgeting, or being easily excitable
  • messy eating and drinking
  • Temper tantrums
  • Poor hand-eye coordination 
  • becoming less physically fit because they shy away from physical activities.

Although intelligence isn’t affected, dyspraxia can make it harder to learn and socialize due to:

  • a short attention span for tasks that are difficult
  • trouble following or remembering instructions
  • a lack of organizational skills
  • difficulty learning new skills
  • low self-esteem
  • immature behavior
  • trouble making friends

Dyspraxia is a lifelong condition. There’s currently no cure, but there are therapies that can help you effectively manage the disorder.

These disorders are often interconnected with a person having more than one.

They may be symptoms of other disorders such as autism.

They can be managed with therapy and they do get better in adulthood but some studies show that they can never be cured as they are not diseases.

People with either of the above disorders can lead normal lives with proper management 

Usually connected to ADHD or ADD in children.


‘Who doesn’t like money abeg?’ I shake my head comically at the obviousness of my wise saying.

‘That’s why you work for it. Not say that you have to marry a man who has money. That’s gold digging’. The fact that Yasmin says things like these and still feels like she is the smartest tot that roams the earth escapes my comprehension. 

‘Mining my darling’ I correct her ‘Gold digging sounds stressful and illegal. When you mine, you are reaping the natural endowments of the person and showing him his potential by investing in you. Doesn’t mean I won’t make money, but my money is mine and his money is my mine. Note the difference?’. I cross my fingers that just finished gesticulating the mathematical structure of my definition to her and smile victoriously. 

‘Mine and my mine’ Fafa says. ‘Good one’ She laughs in what might be a sarcastic or genuine laugh, I keep my smile on. Fafa might be annoying but she appreciates genius .

‘You still sound like a gold digger’ Yasmin says, her signature blank look smack on her face.

‘You sound like poverty mentality’ I roll my eyes.

‘You’ Fafa directs at me in between munching on chocolate chip cookies ‘sound like a wise sage to me’. See, Fafa has sense.

Yasmin’s sense of morality is warped. She believes she is a moral compass and world morality guide and in the same stride, believes the actions of Thanos can be justified. He just wanted to depopulate to save the future generation. Huh?!?!

I tell her so.

‘Thanos’s reasoning is logical. It isn’t moral’ she explains.

‘Okay so logic supersedes morality?’.

She thinks for a while before nodding. ‘Logic supersedes everything’.

‘Tell me better logic than securing one’s comfort in the future by marrying a rich person. And I’m being gender neutral here’.

‘The person can lose all that in the blink of an eye’.

‘Aaandd…’ I stress on the word for emphasis ‘the person might not. I am someone who has a hustler mentality, even though I don’t actually do the work’ I quickly add the second part while gazing directly at Fafa. Her head had shot up when I said I am a hustler at heart. 

But I am. I am someone who sees potential everywhere; potential in people, in places and in ideas. The biggest enemy to actual implementation of my ideas is my fear of failing, of disappointing myself. It makes me unwilling to act.

‘Success is actually more important’. Yasmin presses on. I can see that she’s taking the discussion way more serious than it ought to be and no matter how smart she is, I don’t see myself arguing on and on with a 19 year old. She may know the books, but honestly, she’s yet to see the world in its truly elusive and whimsical form.

‘Yeah. You are right’ I say in all seriousness because I agreed. ‘Just make sure the success comes with money’.

She sighs but doesn’t say anything else. The finality in my voice has communicated that the conversation is dead for me.

I smile a bit as I scan through my phone. If only… if only my siblings know the real me. If only they know that the tough face I put up almost all the time is a facade, and I am not half as composed or confident as I may seem. And I don’t have my act together just because I am done with school with a good grade. And I am actually a big softie at heart.

If only Yasmin realises there are a dozen things I search for in a potential partner and finances doesn’t even rank top 5 on my list. Loyalty does, and trustworthiness and understanding, because I believe if that was a solid foundation in my parents marriage, then they would have weathered the storm heads-on. Wouldn’t they?

Money on the other hand, it destroyed everything.

But I have to be strong. For everyone. For my sisters who, no matter what, see me as a beacon and look up to me before taking actions. For my brother who is like a newly blinded man searching his way through a haunted maze.

For Mama whose hurt is still deep and whose regret has started surfacing.

For Baba and his new world, I have to show them we are strong to hold off our end.

For me though, all I want is for everything to get sorted out, for everything to go back to how it was so that I can stop pretending to be this happy, calm and sane person when anxiety and lack of confidence on what the future holds racks my every vein.

I feel a ball of tears sneak up my throat and I swallow it down. Things can never go back to the way they were. That I know. I just pray it can somehow get better.

That is why you need money Nana. You need to actually start seeking it. I have been racking my brain, trying to figure out what people may need during the lockdown, something to engage them and get their money at the same time.

A knock on the door makes me snap back to Earth. 

‘Yasmin’ I say without raising my head from my phone and she immediately stands up to get the door.

‘Daddy is looking for you’ the messenger says before turning and leaving just as suddenly as she came.

I shake my head in despair, here goes.

He’s in his parlour entertaining the never ending troop of guests and political vultures. I perch on the dining chair, my head buried in my phone.

Fafa goes straight to the fridge and fishes out a tub of Häagen Dazs then sits down to dig in. Yasmin stands erect by the grand white show glass, her arms wrapped around her impatiently. She was doing something on her laptop when we were summoned and she is no doubt eager to go back to it.

We proceed to be granted an audience after the batch leaves. We are barely seated when Jamil comes in with Kamil in tow. Kamil’s eyes light up when he sees us and he immediately rushes to my side.

‘Nanaaaa!’ He exclaims and hugs my feet. I hug him back with a large grin. 

‘Big boy! How are you?’. I pick him up and place him on my lap.

‘Fine. A mished you’ he says, his palms squishing my cheeks. I struggle to smile against the pressure of the tiny hand.

‘I missed you too. You are going to follow me today right?’. 

He nods. 

‘I’ll get my clothes from my Mommy now. I’ll go to your house for 10 days ’I chuckle as he holds up three fingers. Then he slips off my lap and runs to his Mom.

Baba is smiling when I turn back to him. I immediately lose mine. He might have noticed, he might not have, but I rarely smile around him. He lost that privilege years ago.

Baba asked how everyone is and we answered in the affirmative of course, with probably only me doubting the sincerity behind his question. 

After handing us our upkeep and allowance, he announced that he was giving us each capital to venture into something worthwhile since we weren’t neither in school nor working because COVID said so. It is almost like he had read my mind. My brain has already started reeling. What am I good at? What can I do to invest this money and turn it over?

The money was to be sent to our various accounts. Baba was worried about Yaya and how he was going to spend his. It is not unfounded, we all know he can spend all of that money in unnoble ways within a few days. 

The painful clench to my heart is back and I have cycled back to blaming Baba for everything. Afterall, Yaya was perfectly fine before he broke us. But for how long can I blame him and avoid accountability. What happened had happened, no matter how much I’d like to hold Baba responsible for everything, we needed to take charge of our future.

Ayyyeee! See who is grown up. I listened to a podcast last night about forgiveness and letting go and apparently it’s doing small wonders. About time. 

Mental Health

Mental illnesses are health conditions involving changes in emotion, thinking or behavior or a combination of these.

Mental health includes emotional, psychological and social well-being.

Mental illness is associated with a lot of factors including genetics, life challenges, marriage issues, hormones, loss of a loved one or property and many more.

Mental illness is more common in women, in fact, depression is the most common mental illness in women. Women are also more prone to having Post traumatic stress disorder and anxiety due to the prevalence of sexual assaults and domestic violence.

Gender bias and discrimination, inferiority complex, oppression, emotional abuse, humiliation and a sense of loss also contributes to why more women are prone to being depressed than men according to the World Health Organisation.

Rape victim shaming also leads to a high number of suicide. Many people in this society have still not come to terms with the fact that a rape victim should be treated as such no matter what leading to stigma and abandonment. Many rape cases go unreported.

Now merge these facts with a society that does not recognize mental ill health, oppresses and stigmatizes the depressed and prefers to look the other way when the symptoms manifest. Little wonder women in Nigeria are in the forefront of spousal killings, stepchildren maiming, co-wives burning and other borne of pure pure frustration and depression.

When the majority of the populace are ignorant of the psychological disorders ravaging the nations very core, it is no surprise that it will only keep growing in multiples like a Hydra tackled by an ignorant swordsman.

From early teenage years, hormonal changes and growth wreaks havoc on the senses and teenagers often get misunderstood for acting and reacting in a certain way when in reality, they cannot help but react that way because of the changes occurring in them. And for some, when puberty is backed up by sexual assault and oppression in home front such as early marriage and gender bias, they can end up being depressed at a very early age.

People take mood swings attributed to monthly cycles for granted but every month, women have a shift in their hormones and that not only lowers their immunity, it makes them moody to the point of being temporarily depressed, anxious, irritable and borderline bipolar. Those may be because of the monthly cycle, but it may also be a warning to a greater problem.

Pregnancy is the major cause of hormonal  turbulence and it is not uncommon for a woman to be depressed and have mood swings throughout that pregnancy. 

Post-partum depression or baby blues occurs after birth (usually first birth) and it can be so serious it can make a woman homicidal to the point of killing the baby or suicidal. Some women especially those who conceived through rape tend to be blame the baby and have a certain enmity towards it.

All these, apart from puberty are unique to women therefore it is the duty of fellow women to lookout for each other during these times. And the first step you can take is get this message out there, inform others, offer help and generally be supportive all through.

How do you react to physical illnesses? Do you ignore physical pain, tell your loved one to ‘man it up’ when he has a killer headache, decide to treat yourself when you have diabetes? Or do you go to the hospital and seek professional help.

Now how do you react to psychological diseases? Are you are that mental illness do as much harm to you and your body as the physical and many physical pain are in fact, a manifestation of the pain that is lodged up in your brain seeking a way to get noticed and treated.

Mental health awareness, in developing countries especially, is just gaining momentum after wreaking harm for years unattended. 

Recently in Nigeria there is an appalling surge in the number of suicide and suicidal attempts, murder of spouses, relatives and strangers, terrorism activities and other life threatening acts. Are you aware that over 70% of these acts can be attributed directly (as in the case of suicide) or indirectly (as in the case of terrorist attacks) on mental ill health.

Psychopaths, sociopaths, people with borderline personality disorders and other personality disorders walk, work and live among us (they might even be us), but the lack of awareness on the signs to watch out for and when to get help can make the disorders worse to the point of making them dangerous in the society.

Depression spreads it’s tentacles far and wide, more so because it has found a suitable environment for growth in Nigeria fed by lack of awareness, shunning, pressure, frustration stemming from work, home, marriage life, studies or standard of living.

The lack of empathy makes it that much harder for patients to reach out and the stigma makes it worse when it comes to seeking help. But no one has ever stigmatized people for seeking help with cancer, so why is cancer of the mind any different?

What we need to understand is that mental diseases are diseases like any. What we need people to know is that having them is okay and seeking help is an act of courage. What we need from people is to research, know about the importance of mental health and what to watch out for, know the many different personalities and disorders, observe the people around them and give them a should when they need it. 

Because you mental well-being means so much more than what you think. It means the world.


Legend has it that there was once a family that was as close to the ideal family as could be.

The parents were the best of companions, constantly teasing each other, eliciting so much laughter, the best buddies. The children were mostly well-groomed and obedient and they got together well except for the occasional sibling fight.

They weren’t rich in this family, they were comfortable. Never lacked, never had in excess… they were the second bed laid on by goldilocks…. just right.

And then it all came crashing like the Wall of Jericho when the father joined politics. At first it was all good. Politics fit him well enough for someone who just started. Their comfort-o-meter was moving towards the greener light.

Before they got too comfortable however, Baba announced he had gotten married.

He did not say ‘I want to get married’ or ‘I have the intention of getting married’ or ‘my heart is doing me like I should marry’ he said ‘I have married another woman’. Hell did not break loose in the house after that declaration, hell became a tenant.

Maleficent moved in a month later. Apparently she was introduced to Baba by her brother who is part of his political circle months earlier. She is a good looking, young, widowed lady whose late husband left with two kids and a huge pile of money. Scratch that she’s not good looking, she’s beautiful. Sometimes I wonder why she chose to marry my father when she can chose from many different men who have more to offer.

I’m not saying Baba has nothing to offer, he is a very charming, charismatic and intelligent man and he ages very well. But she is so much richer than him I’d have expected a woman with a dark heart like hers will look for a place with more riches for her vampire fangs to suck.

Anyway, two months prior to the announcement, a massive renovation was initiated in the house near ours. We were so excited to get new neighbors; ‘maybe I’ll get a friend. And from the looks of it, they are definitely rich’- Fafa.

‘I just hope they don’t have a dog who’ll bark all night and stop me from sleeping’- Yasmin grudgingly.

‘Maybe they will have a tall, dark and handsome son who will be all posh and will sweep me off my feet’- Me in my mind.

 Me in reality- ‘This house is too fine, I bet they will be snobs’. 

A month later, Maleficent with no conscience/ The wicked stepmother moved in. Apparently she bought the house and beat it to fit her wicked tastes. 

Who does that?! Who marries a man with a family unannounced, buys the house sharing the same fence with his family, renovate it into a beautiful duplex that makes his existing home look like a gargoyle, and then a few years later, make sure he divorces his wife?. I’ll tell you, devil’s apprentice.

So I wanted to build up on the part where she led to my parents eventual separation but I’m too mad for that. Besides I may never share this journal with anyone because of the boringness in my life. So yeah, it marked the beginning of fights and mistrust in my parents life.

My siblings and I were all but sidelined. I literally had to pick up the maternal broom, I was 17, I should have been planning for prom.

Well Mama might be meek and after the initial brouhaha, she was willing to let things slide but she is no pushover. So when things got unbearable, when Baba wouldn’t come to our side for a month even though there’s a door that joins both houses from within, when he wouldn’t send upkeep money or he’ll retaliate at the slightest provocation, she left. 5 years later, we still aren’t over it.

Pretty messed up right? Honestly I didn’t expect it to be worse than this but well, my brother followed her soon after. According to the WSM, he was being very rude, discourteous (isn’t that basically the same thing?) and downright insultive to her. From what I heard, she made it seem like he was being almost violent, which is the fattest lie in the books; my brother is almost too gentle for a guy. Anyway, he was always fighting with Baba. Baba was always picking faults in his every behavior. She was always adding fire to the existing bad blood between father and son and then there was us, the three younger sisters trying to team up for our brother and fight for his innocence, in the end, we lost.

He moved out and moved in with Mama who is back in her fathers house occupying her mothers room. The thought of it alone disturbs me all the time. It makes me feel so bad thinking of Mama back in her fathers house because where else will she live? With all the other step mothers and siblings and relatives looking at her like the sad divorcee kicked out of her home. 

And it annoys me to no end that she has to move from a comfortable city house to live in an old-setting house with toilets outside of rooms and musty blinds and linens, dusty uneven plastered walls and rickety roofs. It makes me so mad. One of the reasons I need to make me money so soon and so bad. 

I know this makes me an ungrateful, selfish and probably cursed child but sometimes I feel like I wouldn’t mind Baba dying because that will bring an end to all this fiasco and I can use my inheritance money to get Mama a house. But I quickly try to get tid of that thought and conveniently blame shaytan, though I doubt it, I can be pretty dark myself.

What else haven’t I spoken about regarding our dysfunctionality apart from the fact that we (my sisters and I) still reside in our old home and at first we were getting food from the main house but it later trickles to nothing, instead, we get shopping money, buy food items and make our meals which is honestly more preferable if we get the money on time. Most times, we have to ask him and I hate the idea of asking Baba about anything and Fafa isn’t a fan either so we usually leave it to Yasmin. She has no problem getting the dough from him. Usually he sends us some lumpy pocket money and while Fafa collects hers with a smile and counts already thinking up ways to destroy the money, I grudgingly accept mine mumbling on how I cannot be bought; and truthfully, I wouldn’t mind not getting bribed into forgetting the destruction of our happiness by him.

Let’s talk about the step siblings. A male; Jamil;16; surprisingly good boy. Likes to play game and eat doughnuts everyday. Smart enough, responsible with his sister, tries to keep her in line. Not a fam of his mom’s attitude. Tries to be nice to us (was over nice at first because he thought he just gained a new family but we weren’t so forthcoming, surprise!!!!) and we are actually cordial, sometimes familial with him. I always remind myself that it’s not his fault, helps a bit.

Then Hanan; 14; bland personality honestly. Nothing to her. Got some of her mothers pretty features. I feel like she is too plain minded to be wicked. But then I feel like she might snap out of it and gain a personality when she blooms. We exchange greetings. Sometimes I ask how is school? She looks back like I just spoke Mandarin, not rudely; like she doesn’t get it. So I sigh and move on.

Her kids aren’t little no-good meanies and that makes things a bit easier to deal with.

Then our half brother; Kamil; three years old, a little angel. The reason I usually go to the other side. We honestly share a different I kind of love. Sometimes I bring him back with me because he wouldn’t let go. One time, he even spent teh night, his mother surprisingly didn’t mind. She doesn’t mind our relationship with the kids, she especially Kamil. ‘I wouldn’t wantnto come between siblings’ she says self-righteously. Oh yeah? How about coming between families huh?

I guess that’s it. The important ones you should know. There are unimportant people by the side like Umaima, WSM’s relative some-how and the messenger, Rahina, WSM’s younger sister who is 31 and very childish, silly and inappropriate but thinks she is the smartest pants lying around on the street and some others I couldn’t care less about