So I had Severe Anxiety ….. Again

After 6 weeks of being at home, no thanks to the current pandemic that the world is currently facing, I lost my mind again.

Severe Anxiety - A mental health disorder characterised by feelings of worry, anxiety or fear that are strong enough to interfere with one's daily activities.

This is a story of a young man losing his shit, it is a terrible time for us all, and some people are struggling with a lot, there is the loss of jobs and reduced income for almost every family in the country. Nigeria is a country that doesn’t take much interest in mental health, everyone is just “hustling” their way out of everything. Ademola is saying in his story that you can speak out if you feel like you’re losing your mind and get the necessary help you need. Ademola gets help by penning down his thoughts, so this Article is Ademola getting help.

A little backstory

My place of work has implemented a Work-From-Home protocol a week before the Federal Government of Nigeria announced a lockdown in some states of the country, this is because of the mass number of people on every floor of my office, the management thought it would be a risk to have that number of people (staffs) in the office at a time like this. So I have been at home for the past 7 weeks.

Working-From-Home is good, there’s hope that we would get paid our salary once it is the end of the month, and the company can keep afloat by going about its business, but rather than be in the office, we can do this work from our respective houses while keeping safe …. All thanks to Technology.

Working-From-Home is no different from the office in terms of workload, the only difference is I can do this work while on my bed, or even take a few minute walk down my street and nobody will notice that I am not behind my computer.

So after 4 intense weeks of Working-From-Home, I felt I needed to rest, as I now sleep behind my computer, my energy level has reduced, I proceeded to apply for an annual leave of 1 week (don’t be surprised please). 

My application for leave was met with disappointment as it was not approved, so I have to manage along with all the energy I had to just keep showing up each week, and earning my pay. 

Knowing who I am, and how I can be when I am demoralized, I opted to take some time to read and get my energy from somewhere else, I couldn’t find energy anywhere, everywhere I turn, it was as thou - the small energy I have in me is being sucked out and I am gasping for life.

I tried to talk to some friends in the neighbourhood, but sadly a number of them are already demoralized for different reasons, getting fired due to the pandemic, not able to get money for food and many many stories like that… Nigeria is a sad sad place!

Then it happened ….

The 3rd week of staying at home, news of 1 Million Boyz started, their assumed letters of warnings started coming up everywhere - in the national news and even in the street bantz. 

I had an urge to encourage the Vigilante in my area with some money and gift items by presenting same to them and advise them to intensify their measures against these hoodlums who wish to go after our lives and properties. So I reached out to my landlord to lead me to them or take my gifts to them, I was given a shocker …… Landlord said WE HAD NO VIGILANTE, the last ones that were employed left due to late payment of their wages, he didn’t stop there, he mentioned that other landlords will be meeting in the next few days to discuss measures that would be put in place for the time being, but most likely, we will all have to start coming out every night to guard our lives by ourselves.

Just like he said, the meeting of LANDLORDS happened and they asked all the men in every compound to be coming out every night with whatever weapons they have to safeguard the lives and properties of the street. It wasn’t easy, the intense work in the office and then I have to now do night-duties, I tried speaking to my landlord about the possibility of doing this at shifts, where some men will go out today, some will go tomorrow because obviously, I cannot keep up if it is every day. HE DIDN’T AGREE, he kept shouting and telling me, do I think I am better than everyone else…... @%$%$%, let’s not say some bad words here!!!

So I have a depleted energy level, still resuming at work from my computer and mobile devices, and also carry my kitchen knife to go out and do VIGILANTE at night, the same country where my tax every month is more than minimum wage.

I managed to do my office work, sleep for a few hours, come back out at 11:30 pm and go back inside my house by 3 am. I did this for some days ……

…… then on Friday, 1st of May, 2020. I set my alarm for 11:25 pm for going out, I woke up at the exact time, and all of a sudden fear gripped me, thoughts started running through my brain, what if armed robbers actually came, what would I do, the highest level of military training I ever did was NYSC Lagos Camp, and I was not even part of those matching every day. What if I lost my job too? A lot of “what ifs” starting popping up, I couldn’t leave my room, I could hear the TV from the next 2 houses that night, I was scared shitless, and I don’t even know why I was. I quickly went online to look for one of the Medical Test I could run to see what exactly was wrong because this feeling is not new to me, but I assumed it has become a history.

After running one of the tests online, I figured I had severe anxiety, and in fact, what I just experienced was a panic attack, I read further, that I should just relax and the world won’t look the same to me for a few moments, this I followed and I didn’t want to wake my sister sleeping in another room up.

I was waiting for my Landlord to come to challenge me as to why I didn’t come out that night. When it was morning, I called for help, reached out to an HR team in my office and also called my fiancee, just needed her to know the state I am in. 

My HR was in fact very helpful in trying to get me a therapist but we ended getting a doctor that just prescribed that I sleep and relax, I also reached out to Mentally Aware on Twitter, someone called me from there and she kept reaching out till I confirm that I was back to my normal enlightened mode, the conversation with Titilayo*, the therapist assigned to me was extremely relaxing, reassuring and comforting. I was as well given a one-week sick leave to rest.

In my one week of sick leave and therapy, I learnt that going to work was a part of our life that we use to forget about some of our troubles. It was a way-out for a lot of people and staying in Lagos, I hate traffics but I somehow miss the traffic, I miss my friends, I miss going for meetups, I miss going for Pizza and Ice Cream, I miss date night with my girl, I miss Church, I miss the normal, I hate this new normal!!!

I will be back to work on Monday, fully energized again, I am also trying to pay the help I got forward as a number of people are going through some hard times, Mental Health is so important for anyone to carry on his/her daily activity. A pandemic like this has not happened in our lifetime before, it is OK to feel scared, worried, anxious or even depressed, know that you’re not alone. Watch out for the signs and get the help you need immediately.

*Not real name

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