Photo credit: Seun James Taiwo Photography. Model: Favour Fola Roberts
26th of September, 2006, I had my third course of ECT. ECT is the psychiatrists’ cunning way of concealing the horror in the name, Electro-Convulsive Therapy: a displeasure that comes with squirming violently like someone afflicted with farfadiya; an initial battle of mighty anxiety; hamstrung struggle to allow an emotion-bereaved doctor place some plates on my head. Hmm. Before thinking of what was to come next, I had been switched on by an electric current… imagine, just like a television set. In no time, I had lost myself in an absurd, uncontrollable physical dramatization. The doctor and his subordinates had watched my display in expectant like a climaxing action film. I didn’t just understand why he had made me go through this because I agreed to be sick, OK… he said I wasn’t just sick, I was sick in the mind, and so, was that why he made me pass through such…? I can never forget that first time he mentioned ECT to my ears, he said there was nothing for me to worry about. ‘The procedure would only require a low voltage passing through your brain. It is the best available option for your severe depressive state.’ I didn’t initially realize his assurance was more of a subtle warning, he had indeed planned passing the electric current to make me convulse. But, I didn’t have any choice, my mind was choking me out of this world and I needed to be myself one more time.
That was how he made me convulse the first time, second time but after the third time, I ran away from Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Kaduna. I was 38 at that time, sometime in September 2006. That day, I seized to be called a psycho patient, same day, my logical reasoning jumped back at me. You may say I’d already received adequate treatment before defaulting, or you may disagree with that and say my continual stay in the hospital was indeed the thief stealing my sanity, but did I tell you how I broke down with depression in the first place?
After being knocked down by the motorcyclist on my return to Zuru, on the 9th of March, 1994, I was rushed unconscious to a small government hospital where I was diagnosed to have suffered concussion. Years after, I asked for the meaning…, but really what kind of concussion renders a patient unconscious for months? With my consciousness still wandering far way the next day, one of the doctors later said I might have suffered a bleeding in the head, hence needed an urgent MRI and neurologist’s intervention. I was referred to the Neurology department of Usman Danfodio University Teaching Hospital—UDUTH, Sokoto on the 10th of March, 1994. In UDUTH, I remained in coma for 3months. People said, the doctors said my condition was really strange; they said I didn’t suffer any external injury; they said dozens of tests including: MRI, CT scan, X-ray, Y-ray, Z-ray, and all sorts of expensive imagining were done but nothing was seen. Back in Zuru, they also said all sorts, Alhaji’s mother also sang her own song of my witchcraft. But one person was by my comatose body all that period, Al-ameen. Have I said anything to you about him so far? Al-ameen was the tall handsome man that was waving at me before the accident happened; he was the good Samaritan that rushed me to Zuru hospital and the good mala’ika that had watched over my unconscious body for 3months. And to say a little more thing about Al-ameen, he was a rich young man.
Al-ameen did not still abandon me after I regained my consciousness and was discharged from UDUTH. Now I wonder what better ways I could have paid him back…nonetheless we got married immediately. After an un-fancy ceremony, we relocated to Gusau in Zamfara state. I perceived he had a decent job because he was always making a huge some of money every month and still had enough time to stay with me during the day, although majority of his shifts ran at night. I had no cause to worry about that, he was the perfect husband I ever wished for. He always told me love is not only about wealth even though he was capable of buying the world for me. He was 30 and I was 26, I never knew someone as young as Al-ameen could love me after wasting 10 of my reproductive years in an older man’s house. He knew about Alhaji; he knew about my tribulations in Alhaji’s house; he knew about my miscarriages; he felt with me the agony of seeing the restless spirits of my four unborn children, crawling around in my dreams all nights. Indeed Al-ameen was my beginning and my end! Together, life gave us a new meaning and we gave life in return her reason to live for us.
After about 18months of living together in Gusau, Al-ameen told me he had quitted his job and we have to relocate. Without hesitation, I agreed and we relocated to Zaria. Al-ameen’ s darling nature had always being the reason for my total submission to any thing he said or did, I mean anything. The Al-Quran tells us, women, to submit fully to our men, mine was more than fully. In no time, we got settled in Zaria as he told me he got another job, this time, majority of his shifts ran through the period of Asuba sallah—the morning prayer—to around 10 in the morning, after which he was home till the following morning prayer. Zaria became our new home for another two and a half years before we relocated to the city of Kaduna, Al-ameen didn’t say why we had to move. It was while we were living in Kaduna that I got pregnant but lost it again. Al-ameen didn’t make me feel like I had lost another pregnancy, he promised he would take me to see a specialist. The closest Teaching Hospital where we could have found a reliable specialist was in Zaria, but he was strongly against the idea of going back to Zaria, he told me never to bring up the name Zaria again and I didn’t bother to ask why. Sooner after, things began to turn sour for our family. Some bitter secrets started unveiling themselves like commandos trooping out of the jungle hideout, but at a time when the done damages were already unfixable; redemption was too late for Al-ameen. I became lost one more time.