Adebola Rayo: On dealing with mental illness (YNaija’s 30 Days, 30 Voices)

For over a decade, I’d known something was not quite right with me mentally. I’d been living with the needless, sad and mad (as I called it) since I was about 8 or 9 years old, but speaking to anyone, let alone doing anything about it, was tough. When I was in the university, I used to go to the guidance counselling department regularly. It helped, but it wasn’t professional help in the real sense of it. It was just a way of coping without dealing actively with what I was going through. I left school in 2010 and from that time it was a slippery slope. I would have episodes and each time I’d tell myself that I really ought to get professional help, but then I’d start to pull through after a few days or a couple of weeks, so I never went in to the hospital. I was very functional.

By 22, I had my LLB and B.L. While I was still in Law School, I got recruited into the company I’d dreamed of working at. I was good at my job – Rewriting and Copy Editing – and within 18 months I’d moved on to better prospects twice. To everyone around me, I was good but to myself I wasn’t. I had always felt like I wasn’t good enough, like I could never be good enough. Mental illness clouds one’s judgement seriously. Outside of work, however, my personal relationships were a mess. I didn’t like people and kept away from them as much as possible. The ones I let in constantly had to deal with my moods. I was good at putting on a smile and what I called my “normal face.” I was good at holding the turmoil in for whatever number of hours I needed to. What no one knew was that I was dying inside. I’d go to bathrooms or toilets to cry, or just breathe, and then I’d blot my eyes and fan air into them, put back on my “normal face” and come out to face the world.

That had been my life since I was a child. As a teenager I used to say that I’d die young. Most people thought I was being melodramatic but I wasn’t. I really did believe that I’d die young. I wanted to die young. Dying would be better than trying to live with emotions that were like a swing set — up and down, never quite still, tormented by some ill wind. I believed I had somehow broken my brain. My doctors would later tell me that I have something called Borderline Personality Disorder, and one of its effects was exaggerated reactions and emotions.

Click HERE to read the full article about the main issues: Stigma, Education, Support Systems, and Overcoming.

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