By Shola Okubote
The first time she told us something was wrong with her, we told her not to confess negative things to herself, and we prayed with her and told her to read some joyful psalms.
When she kept coming back, we started questioning her faith and her willingness to snap out of whatever it was. You see, we were young Christian sisters and we had been taught that we can take authority over whatever was troubling us.
Tolani stopped telling us about it, but it wasn’t because she was better, infact it was because things had become worse. She wasn’t so much of an extrovert before but she smiled a lot and cared deeply for everyone around her and everything she had to do. So it became really worrisome when she would spend hours in solitude, totally uninterested in everything. She stopped attending classes, stopped caring about herself and everyone around her.
She had things going on well for her, a loving family, brilliant academic success at a very young age, and a very sweet personality. We just didn’t understand why she couldn’t shake off the depression.
When it became obvious that it was something out of her control, she was taken to a clinic where she was referred to psychiatric hospital and she was properly diagnosed and treated for a certain mental illness.
It was many years ago, but every time I remember her, I think of how ignorant we were about Mental Illness. Mental Illness is not a personality weakness that can be willed away and no matter how hard you try, you cannot snap out of it. It takes professional help to treat and our misconceptions can prevent people who need help from getting it the medical attention they need.