Talk about mental health out loud and positively
Dele blogs about how his local Mind has helped him open up about his schizophrenia.
I went along and spoke to lots of helpful people, who told me I could take part in art therapy and creative writing sessions and photography. I started to look forward to going, especially on Thursdays when they made good food after my creative writing class. I was able to speak to someone about money as I had some debt issues at the time. I had some sessions which helped me learn how to budget and manage my money.
“Being in contact with so many positive people allowed me to be more open about my diagnosis.”
Being in contact with so many positive people, allowed me to process my thoughts and be more open about my diagnosis. This was a big step for me. Despite struggling since I was a teenager, I couldn't talk about what was happening to me because of the stigma attached to mental health in most African societies.
Disturbing voices in my head
I was 15 and living in Nigeria when I began to feel I wasn't in connection with the current world. I started to hear things in my head. Disturbing voices were telling me: ‘Oh boy, you belong to me. You’re the son of the devil. You will never be the same person again.’ At first, I tried to ignore it. I went to university and the creative environment suited me. The voices in my head became sweeter. Now they were saying: ‘You're going to be a genius. You’re going to be a fantastic actor. Just keep going boy.’
But in my early 20s, I had a massive schizophrenic episode. I told my parents I was hearing strange things, but my parents said it was a fever and I would get over it. I was in the hospital for around six weeks. My parents didn't want my friends to know - they told them I had gone to stay with my uncle.
“I can barely remember anything from the time I slept on the streets because I was so disconnected from the world.”
I didn’t find my time in the hospital helpful, so I came to the UK, where I’d been born, hoping to find a new life. I stayed with a friend of my uncle for a few weeks before I started sleeping on the streets. I can barely remember anything from that time because I was so disconnected from the world. I went to see a doctor who finally diagnosed me with schizophrenia. I was prescribed medication and I started to look forward to recovery and stability. I stayed away from certain things and cut off certain people.
Connecting with Mind
But it was only when I connected with my local Mind that I felt more confident speaking about my mental health. Talking about it out loud and positively is a good step forward towards recovery and Mind supports me in doing that. I’ve learned not to shy away from it because it makes things worse. Talking about mental health creates change and positivity. Now I say to myself: ‘Dele – your schizophrenia is beautiful and no one can take that away from you.’
Information & Support
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Share your story with others
Blogs and stories can show that people with mental health problems are cared about, understood and listened to. We can use it to challenge the status quo and change attitudes.