A society is gauged by how they treat their mentally unstable.
I once wrote this down somewhere in my notes and didn’t even think much about it at the time.
After all, thoughts would always be thoughts.
Well, today, I met a clean cut, handsome, smiling 66yr-old with dementia.
I didn’t even figure it out initially as I was caught up with how impressionable and overly affectionate he was with a neighborhood kid.
When it hit me, my face was like one of Martin Scorsese’s freeze frames.
Jaw drops. Click!
Memories came flooding back.
I tried to think of the exact minute you go from being all rational and logical to spewing incoherent and meaningless stuff.
The exact moment it clicks shut in your mind, and then you begin saying nonsense.
The exact moment your mind is broken.
And then, the forced smiles, yimus, snickers, and managed tolerance from people around you.
The loss of dignity. The shame. You go from being respected to becoming a mad man.
In a very superstitious community like ours, your case takes on a spiritual undertone immediately.
“A mad man is never ashamed, only his family members are” – Igbo proverb
Why then would his family let him go about like this?
But then, there’s only so much caregivers can give and take.
People get tired.
Patience has an elastic limit.
People have their own lives to live, build and manage, and not let it peter out by being tasked with the burden of taking care of a family member, a mentally unstable one at that.
What about his country/community?
Which begs the question, aside ostracization, what does Nigeria do for its mentally ill?
Kesh just told me “They don reason us wey well finish before they start to reason craze people? Baba, you go wait tire o“
In saner climes, mentally ill people are provided with robust options; quality health care system, accessible medication.
And so many of them even get to enjoy life, doing almost everything others get to do including getting an education and raising a family.
And though I have never been to a mental health institution in Nigeria, you just have to visit our prisons to understand what it means to be institutionalized in a country like this.
This is not one of those ‘everything wrong with Nigeria’ posts, rather it’s a reaffirmation of the maxim ‘Enjoy the life you’ve been given‘.
We could all die any day, worse is we could lose our minds any day.
And with a country as ours, we are always minutes away. Love yourz.
When we talk about the uncertainty of life, we almost always think of death.
I once got down from a bus at Marina, walked about ten steps, tried to shift for an aged woman walking beside me so she wouldn’t get hit by an oncoming vehicle and boom!!! I smashed the side mirror of a danfo parked on the side of the road to bits.
I had just the transport fare to where I was going on me, so when the conversation switched to “Bros, how we go do am naa?“, hard guy for start to dey cry sef. 😂
I thought about every decision I made prior to alighting from the bus when I did.
“See me wey suppose stop on top bridge. Heiii God!!! 😂 Which kind calamity be this?”
And then it hit me, someone once said that’s how the afterlife is/would be.
The one time you get to question every single decision you’ve made throughout your life.
That is if you refuse to live introspectively.
So do we wait until we die before asking questions of ourselves?
Funny thing is, death doesn’t even scare me.
However, yut you see dementia? Chills my bone marrow.