By Dr. Kilani Al- Hassan Bo Taiwo


Excerpt from part 1.

She soon noticed her breasts were getting fuller and she was getting sickly on most mornings. This was when she realized she had missed her period for 2 months. She was overjoyed as was her husband. He urged her to visit the hospital so as to register for Ante natal care. And that was the beginning of her troubles.

The result of the serum pregnancy came out negative just as the obstetric ultrasound result picked no fetus. It was the most incredulous thing she ever heard, with all the signs and symptoms of pregnancy. She began frequenting various hospitals and diagnostic centres but the results were the same. There was no pregnancy. And so the journey led her to various churches and faith healers, Alfas and marabouts, diviners and herbalists. She began marathon fasting and vigils, took various concoctions and spiritual baths. About four “would-be healers” had suggested “spiritual mating” to deliver her with them of course being the vessel of the deliverance. She had vehemently refused.

Her husband was at first very supportive and understanding but as the weeks rolled in to months he changed. Altercations became rampant at the slightest provocation and often got physical. He would often sleep on the couch neglecting her and their baby. She grew unhappy and cried most of the time. She began sleeping poorly. Often she would lay on her bed like she murdered sleep, brooding on her predicament. She would wake up in the morning feeling so weak. She lost interest in previously pleasurable activities which included eating and would often keep to herself. She could hardly concentrate and found it hard remembering things. And at the last church she had been for deliverance she attempted suicide by drowning. She had been there for 6 weeks and her husband had refused to visit her. She became hopeless and helpless.
Worried about her social withdrawal, the Pastor of the church had suggested she be given a radio set. Her straying mind in a moment of fleeting concentration had picked the words of a psychiatrist on one of the radio programs. He was discussing about somatic manifestations of psychological disorders. Her hope was rekindled. She knew the psychiatric hospital and without wasting time headed for the hospital.

Now she was crying again but this time I allowed her cry freely. Her pregnancy was 15 months old. My assessment was of Pseudocyesis but now with co-morbid severe depression. That she was depressed was not a surprise, not with her ordeal. I felt sad that someone had to go through these pains largely due to ignorance. Ignorance stemming from our cultural and religious beliefs which have put us in the bondage of fear so much that we fear to question. Fear that gets us feeling paranoid and persecuted at the appearance of strange happenings. So in your fears I dare you to ask “What is Pseudocyesis?”

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