"Without Amaudo and the psychiatric nurse that handled my case maybe I would be dead by now"
My mental illness started in June 1987 when I was 15. On that fateful evening as I was taking supper with my younger brother Emmanuel, I suddenly started to hear strange voices inside my head. Before I could reason what was happening, I had lost my memory and controlling my mental faculties became impossible. What started like a joke became a full blown mental illness that lasted many years.
My immediate family were all there for me. I was taken to different places for treatment but to no avail. On occasion my father would bring men who would bundle me to a native doctors’ home for treatment in chains. It was a horrifying experience – I saw myself in a constant state of internal disintegration and external shame. Each time I tried to recover my senses, I relapsed farther. One evening my father came back from the farm and saw my terrible condition. He broke down in tears cursing any man that would do that to me. Soon after, he violently took me to another, supposedly more powerful native doctor. After administering his medications, I regained my faculty for some weeks, only to relapse again. My family then tried to restore my sanity by talking to a man called “The Final Bus Stop” (“Eje Chie Ogwu” in my dialect). He was a homeopath based in Ebonyi State. After another relapse they gave up on me, it was 1999.
Meanwhile, whenever able I rushed back to school to push my academic dream forward. I completed my secondary school education amidst public stigmatisation of a mentally unstable man. One particular incident that I will never forget is when I was shot almost dead by village vigilantes, whilst wandering late at night, not knowing where I was. They mistook me for a thief and open fired – sustaining bullet injuries in both legs. I was taken that night to the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital.
After this incident, my father transported me home, dumping me to my fate in one of our family house rooms in the village. It was at this peak of my ill health that Mr John Idam Idume, coordinator of community psychiatry health services at Amaudo (who I later learned was related to my father) came into my life. The very day my father was taking me to dump me and forget about me, a voice shouted my name. It was Mr John Idam Idume, beckoning us to turn back. When we eventually did, he took me to his house. From that moment my story started changing for good. Today I am forever freed from the shackles of the devil and the agonies of mental deformity.
After I got well, I got my BSC in Biology. I also married my lovely wife and our union is blessed with two beautiful girls. I am presently staff of Akanu Ibiam Federal polytechnic Afikpo.
Mental disorder is just like any other sickness - like a headache, it has 100% orthodox treatment - like that Amaudo is famous for all over Nigeria. The downfall of a man is not the end of his life, don’t just give up because you are mentally challenged. Without Amaudo and the psychiatric nurse that handled my case maybe I would be dead by now.