내 머리 속의 목소리| Rising Above the Voices – A Deep Exploration of A Nigerian Living with Schizophrenia: Episode 8 (2019)
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The More Sibyl Podcast Presents: Rising Above the Voices – A Deep Exploration of A Nigerian Living with Schizophrenia
For more than 15 years, I have battled with pulsatile tinnitus (the closest diagnosis I have been given) – a condition that equips me with the ultimate pleasure of hearing my own heartbeat (24/7) in the form of a pounding or whooshing sound in both ears. I have done all kinds of series of test ranging from MRI, Doppler scans, to conductive hearing tests, but everything checked out. My symptoms are worse at night, away from the humdrum of the city, causing me increased irritability. Using ear plugs and not thinking about it have helped considerably. For the most part, I have been able to cope with it. It doesn’t really affect me except when it does. I think it’s bad enough having this.
Now imagine that scenario but rather than your heartbeat, you hear actual voices – three distinct ones to be exact. Voices with their unique characteristics and personalities with names to boot. This is a tidbit of what those diagnosed with schizophrenia go through. Schizophrenia is an umbrella-like diagnosis (meaning very broad) with symptoms ranging from delusions, hallucinations (auditory and/or visual), disorganized speeches or behavior to some negative symptoms. Suffice to say, each person’s condition is unique to their own.
Take, for example, our guest for today (let’s call her ‘Sis’) loves the color pink and get excited by it whereas, in another TEDTalk video I watched, the speaker therein talked about how the color red triggered them negatively. Today’s guest is based in the south south part of Nigeria. Sis was diagnosed in 2012 and attributed this to being sexually abused for a prolonged period. Noises from a running tap or generator set trigger her.
For a while, she was catatonic when she was first diagnosed – meaning she could not speak, move, or respond. Getting on medications not only helped her regain her activity, reduce the number of voices to three, but also to harmonize the characters and rule over them. She regrets delaying treatment.
In this episode, we explored her life from diagnosis till date, the impact of this condition on her social life, relationships, activities of daily living, and so much more.
Characters (her voices) are described below:
Emem (means peace in the Ibibio language), speculated to be eight, speaks in a cartoonish voice and has the exuberance of an impish child.
Christopher plays the baritone character of the ideal boyfriend who is trying desperately to woo sis’ affection.
Yetunde is in a one-sided relationship with Christopher, and the nature of this unrequited love makes her my guest’s bitter rival. #lovetriangle.
These characters keep her honest and hold her accountable for every actions and inaction.
She has taken advantage of her situation, and her story captures the beautiful, awe-inspiring side of schizophrenia that gets left out of the public narrative. For example, she describes her voices as very helpful in navigating the complexity of the world around her. In fact, they have ‘helped’ switch her personality type to a more confident, assertive one.
However, Sis has two significant needs because, right now, we are running against time as it is just a matter of time before the voices turn rogue and begin to generate negative thoughts.
First, she needs to get back on her medications but can’t as she’s been out of a job for many years and needs one. She has superb administrative and organizational skills and will be a great potential asset to any company.
Let me know if you have any leads in Nigeria she can pursue. In the meantime, I am committing to helping her raise some money for her medications. If you would like to donate, please see account details below.
Second, she is need of finding her community. If you are or know someone with schizophrenia (who needs a support system), kindly contact me so I can make the introductions.
Also remember, violence is much more likely to happen to those with schizophrenia than to be caused by them. Speak up and advocate for those with mental health issues.
This episode humbled me and gave me a better appreciation of the complexity of the human mind. Far beyond what I know from my many years as a practicing pharmacist and information forager.
GTB Account, 0014352121, Motolani Ogunsanya
Curious to know what schizophrenia ‘sounds’ like, try taking these:
TedTalk: I Am Not A Monster: Schizophrenia | Cecilia McGough | TEDxPSU - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xbagFzcyNiM
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“You Say” –Lauren Daigle (2018)
Resurgam (together, we rise),