Why you should never stop learning – life lessons “Great things happen to those who
This is a true story of a young man who fought all odds to get past the lowest moments in his life.
The Anger and Bargaining
His father’s death was one trauma too many for Peter to bear. He just couldn’t understand why when it rains it pours. Grief has a way of removing a person completely from the world he is familiar with and Peter struggled at first to find answers to the hordes of questions that beclouded and plagued his mind.
The man was healthy at the time he travelled and he had no inkling that he had taken ill so badly because he was also hospitalized in Warri at the time. The pain was unbearable and he cried his eyes sore almost every night for at least a week. He was inconsolable.
He wasn’t sure what angered him the most; his father’s untimely death or the fact that his mother concealed it from him. The grief was so palpable that Peter locked himself in his room questioning God!
“Why! Why!! Why!!!”
For comfort; he had his bible, for company; his friends tried to be there for him. Their phone calls were unreturned and it took a lot of work to get him out of his room when they managed to corner him. He was ashamed of the hobble in his steps, something he would either have to explain or ignore.
When in the end, he spent time in the company of his friends, his conversation was often out of context, critical, inflexible, intolerant, vehement and extreme. His religious bias appeared to dominate his thoughts and judgement about situation. He pretended to be unaffected by the passing of his father and played down on how badly he was in emotional turmoil. His friends did not think much of it at first. They assumed he was navigating through one of the five stages of grief; denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
His fixation with not sharing cups, cutleries and other shared items in the house caused him to buy his own set exclusive for his use. When he bought a pot for cooking his meals, his mother noted the first red flag. He had gone too far!
During the burial rites of his father, he had an emotional outburst in public cursing and apportioning blame to extended family members who had come to pay their last respect, calling the elderly by their first name and making revolting remarks and accusations. Many of his invectives went unanswered. Their looks of disapproval burned through his skin but they uttered no word.
He had to be literally hauled away by close friends back into the house to avoid further embarrassment.
After the burial, he remained indoors and his behavior worsened. He no longer spoke to his mother or family members and spent the day inside his room with the door locked. Sometimes he cried, other times he read the bible and majority of the time, he spoke to himself audibly enough for his own ears alone.
On one occasion, he wielded a cutlass to refrain his mum and other family members from leaving the house when he feared that there was some danger lurking outside their home and he had the responsibility to protect the family in the absence of his father. That incident was the final straw for his mum- the second red flag.
She feared for her safety and that of other members of the family. She had to do something and fast too.
His clients tried to reach him as new developments and construction projects had been on hold for him for three weeks. But his phone lines were mostly unreachable except in the dead of the night when he tweeted religious obscenities on social media and spooked his contact list and followers about his mental wellbeing.
It was rock bottom for Peter, the lowest moment ever you’d have thought. But the lowest was yet to come.
His mum was increasingly worried and equally shaken by the demise of her husband, but seeing Peter’s irrational behaviour go from bad to worse was a genuine cause for concern. She discussed with old friends and agreed to seek for help from the local parish of a white garment church within the neighborhood. They assured her that within a month, the evil spirit in him would be exorcized and her son will be made whole again. They assured her of the successes they had achieved over the years with young adults his age dealing with acute mental dysfunction and she believed them. She had no means to handle his erratic behavior herself and Peter was a full grown adult with the strength of a horse. He would over-power her in one instant.
And so, Peter was convinced to speak with one of the priest on his condolence visit to the family home. Unknown to Peter, the visit was to also assess his state of mind and to ultimately determine his readiness for the rigorous treatment that they would mete out to him.
Certain that he was a suitable candidate for the treatment, a date was arranged for his “admission.”
Nothing prepared Peter for what he was about to experience during his stay at the white garment church. Nothing.
Because he was a natural non-conformist, they treated him as the poster child for truancy. He was locked in a room and half the time he spent there he was severely beaten with a horsewhip while they asked him to denounce his membership of the spirit world. It was as though he was going through his Warri experience all over again. Each whip reminded him of the soulless mob that scorned and raged as he was stoned and kicked while lying helplessly on the road that evening. He had done nothing wrong then, and he had done nothing wrong now! What a distasteful situation life served him.
Sometimes he was left on the cold concrete floor in the room with a plate of insipid morsel of bread and soup left to rot on the floor close to the metal access door that kept him locked in. At times, he would knock on the locked metal door repeatedly asking that he be let out and it often earned him more grievous beatings.
What they didn’t understand was that he was claustrophobic and the thought of being locked indoors without ready access to God’s green earth was causing his heart to palpitate and freak out.
Some nights the cold was unbearable and he would curl into the fetal position to keep warm. Some nights, it was smoldering hot and the aluminum roofing sheets did nothing but radiate the heat to his beaten body. Those nights, the concrete floor burned like hot coals.
He soon lost count of the number of nights and days he had spent there with no clock or calendar to guide him. He could barely tell the difference as he spent his days either in the locked room or reciting verses from the bible during the prayer sessions he had with the priest.
They were breaking his resolve physically, emotionally and psychologically. They were turning him into someone he couldn’t stand to be.
One day, he hatched a plan to escape from the church, it was supposed to be a foolproof plan in his head. They allowed him have his bath in the open once a week and he was determined to use the period to attempt a “jail break”. It was the least he could do.
As soon as he was out of the door that morning, seeing that his minder had turned his back, Peter bolted for what he had hoped was the boundary fence of the church property. He had seen the fence stretch throughout the compound every time he had the chance to take his bath and he was convinced that it would lead to the street or anywhere close.
He had over-estimated his strength. Although his resolve to escape was strong and his conviction unquestionable, his body was incapable of seeing his plan through physically. When he stumbled the first time, his minder raised alarm and a throng of young able bodied men gave a hot chase.
He picked himself up, found some energy and continued the race to the fence. His heart beat was irregular – as it hadn’t been subjected to intense physical activities for so long. His muscles felt like they snapped with every step he took. But he was determined to get away.
When he got to the closest part of the fence wall, he felt half a dozen strange hands grab every part of his body; from his legs, arm, feet and finally his head.
He had been caught!
What he didn’t realize until later was that, the wall wasn’t even the boundary of the property, but a mere demarcation from the main church auditorium and the resident area where he was kept. He would have failed even if he managed to climb the wall.
He spent three months at the church and was finally released to his mum for “good behavior”, only that he was a damaged good. What they didn’t know was that, he had come to terms with the treatment method at the church and learned the hard way, that he only had to fake his behavior and cooperation to get him out of the place early and safely. He feared the beatings and the starvation and that informed his behavior.
The collateral damage was heavy- his ear drums had been damaged from incessant beatings, he had constant palpitation, bad body hygiene, poor eyesight and scars all over his body. He was broken!
Peter returned home but he wasn’t the same Peter that left the house three months earlier. He didn’t need a reminder of what he had been through, because his worsening health condition distracted him enough. He had no emotions for his mum, none for his friends, and none for his life. He didn’t care again about anything. Nothing mattered anymore.
It took days to convince Peter to see a doctor for his waning health. He feared that he would be “detained” under the guise of admission and maybe even strapped to the bed. He couldn’t trust anyone, no one was after his well-being.
When he finally agreed, he went from one unit in the hospital to the other seeing ENT doctors, undergoing X-rays, CT Scans and multiple blood test. In the ended he was treated for multiple infections, bad eye sight, high blood pressure and other body pains. He ended up with a cocktail of tablets after every meal, swallowed under the watchful eyes of his mum.
When his health condition improved, he spent an awful lot of time in his room. It was in the confines of that room he felt truly secure and safe. And it was in that same room he was “abducted” by two able-bodied male nurse to the mental health infirmary where he finally received proper treatment for depression that had plagued him since the death of his dear father.
PS – Peter spent two further months seeing a mental health professional. He was treated for a type of depression. He has since returned to normal life and to his first love- Projects and engineering construction.
Another reader -Michael, also shared his depression story here. You will find it just as engaging and insightful.
You can also read more about depression here an article shared by DJ Irawo providing more insight into mental health and how to fight it.
“Coming out of depression requires a lot of assistance and we all need to pay attention to our loved ones to see how they are coming off after a trauma or a tragic event. People react differently and the response to it is critical to gaining full recovery” D.O.S.T
If you ever think you need to speak to a professional please visit greyinsights.org run by Dr. Sola Olowookere my good friend.
Your thoughts and comment are always welcome.
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