The pessimist in me! 

It’s just like a default mode, because I just find that in every situation that warrants some outcome or decision I’m almost always looking at the reason why it will not work out, and always pointing out the negatives. Maybe it’s because I don’t like to be disappointed or because of the experiences I’ve been through that makes me not want to expect too much from people or situations, I can’t really place it, all I know is that I’m naturally programmed to expect the worst! This attitude of mine always leads to worry, and worrying for me leads to stress, and when I’m stressed I’m prone to make wrong decisions plus aphthous ulcers begin to pop up in my mouth. If those aphthous ulcers happen to you, then you know how seriously uncomfortable they can get, sometimes when my stress is overboard I can have up to four of them in my mouth! That said, that’s when I begin to realise that I really need to chill out and relax, fortunately for me, I’m blessed to have a few people who I can really talk about my problems with and who give me advice that I actually listen to. 

It has also been pointed out to me that I worry a lot, and that worries me (lol) because I believe that the fact that you can even be worried at all signifies an unbelief in the God who disposes. It means that you question the “why”of the situation, why it should be happening to you, which is wrong! Because if it was a good situation, we never bother to ask why. If at all, what one needs to ask is for strength to pass through such tough times and the guidance to know the way forward. It’s not like worrying ever solved a problem anyway. The good thing is I’ve come to understand that this is a weakness and it really needs to be dealt with. I need to be more of a believer, to be more optimistic, to always try and see the advantage in every situation because in reality we never really lose, but gain, in wisdom, and in experience, provided we see and learn the lessons for what they are. 

Dammy, worry no more! 

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Brotherhood.. 

In my opinion being in rehabilitation is more like being in a medical prison. Yes you’re there to recuperate and there to get off and try to get rid of the addiction that landed you there in the first place, but the environment is under lock and key, with full time security guards and crisis control personnel to handle unwilling inmates. So this one time when I was in rehab, it was time for lunch and being a drug rehabilitation center located in the federal neuro-psychiatric hospital, yaba, Lagos state Nigeria, popularly known as drug ward, that is, the Tolani Asuni and Adeoye Lambo wards, we were always the first set of patients to be served food, I can’t say for what reason but I suspect it’s because we’re aggressive and the management will not like to deal with hungry drug addicts. So we’re all gathered at the locked doorway, plates in hand, waiting for the doors to be opened so we can go to the cafeteria to get our food. Then I started singing Bob Marley’s “is this love” which is the one I like the most out of all his songs. “I wanna love you, and treat you right”, “I wanna love you, everyday and every night”…..

Before I knew what was happening someone else had picked up the song, and another person, and another, and before long the whole drug ward was singing along loudly and everyone was quite happy. I can’t quite forget that day and it made the figure of Bob Marley almost godlike, it made me realise the extent of his influence on people, especially people like us who emulated him in his habit of smoking weed, thinking that that was his source of inspiration! We were all united in that moment, although I’ve long since come to recognize that Bob Marley, like many other men, said a lot of smart things, but his habit of smoking remained a bad habit, and caused many of us our mental health, and smoking is  not in anyway a source of inspiration! 

But on that day, Bob Marley made us brothers! 

Beat that addiction!!! 

If you’ve ever been addicted to something then you’d know that getting rid of that addiction is no easy feat. It takes all the energy you can muster, as well as the Grace of God to beat it. Most people don’t get out of it! Being someone who did marijuana in the past and got served with schizophrenia in the process, I can categorically tell you that getting over marijuana was not that easy, but I did it anyway. First off the fuel that got me the determination to quit came from my first time in rehabilitation. I had come across a lot of people with different kinds of addiction ranging from alcoholism to coke and I had heard all sorts of stories of how it had ruined many a good thing that I made up my mind never to be found doing drugs again. Another fuel for my quitting came from the shame I had brought upon myself. After my folks found out I was doing weed and after it had affected me and when I got out of rehab, I couldn’t look my family members in the eyes, I had let them and myself down and I remember how I would lock myself in my room day in day out and how I found it unnecessary to say anything to anyone, what could I say in my defence? Absolutely nothing! I had fucked up and that was it, and I was willing to admit my fuck up and that also helped me in that I wanted to change my ways and let my folks see me in a better light once again, because I had lost their trust and trust is something very difficult to gain again once it is lost. I’m still indebted to my folks though because in spite of everything they still gave me the support and that went a long way to help me recover. 

But the most important thing I did in that period of my life was the drastic dismissal of any and everything that didn’t seem to add value to my life, yes, that mostly included people! I especially sat down to analyze the people in my life and the role they played and to my utmost surprise most of them were the people I’d often smoked with. It involved the restructuring of my life right down to belief, I literally started my life over again! With the analysis complete I put a vehement slash to it, slashed these people off my life, slashed habits that made no sense and it also included the places I go, as most of those places were places where I smoked and where it is liable to continue to smoke if I ever visited there again, but then I was determined not to go back to my old ways. This drastic decision took away a lot from me, I hardly have friends now, but I’m okay this way, it also helps you not to be easily accessible and helps you to think and reflect more instead of having unnecessary conversations that add nothing to you. I continued this way until I developed a resistance to the temptation of smoking. It wasn’t  easy but It’s way gone from my life and even if now I see people smoking and I’m in their midst nothing can still make me ever go back to it. This year 2018 marked my seventh year of being clean and once in a while I give myself a pat on the back for a job well done. 

So if you ever need to get rid of an addiction, whatever it may be, my advice to you is to be truthful to yourself in the first place. Do a serious cross examination of the way your life is and what your life represents at the moment, draw out a map of your goals and the achievements you want to make, do not indulge yourself. Admit that you’re already a fuck up and have the necessary mindset to make amends. Then start slashing away. Note that you’d have to put in the utmost excertion, and I can assure you that it will most certainly involve drastic measures. And in the midst of all these, don’t forget to call on your God, you’d need His Grace! 

It is no easy feat to beat an addiction! 

One day at a time! 

Man proposes, God disposes. 

Adages are a sure mark to truth for the people who write them or make them up have learned a vital life’s lesson, they have experienced, and experiences remain the best teacher. Sometimes we have a plan or a course of action during our sourjorn in this world of matter, we seem sure of our plans, but the bringing it to fruition always makes you wonder if you have any control whatever over your life. Two steps forward, ten steps backwards. Things blow out of proportion, but all we can do is breathe, and take it one day at a time! 

Psychosis !!!

Basssssssseyyyyyy! 

I shouted with all the terror I could afford to put in my voice, and it must have had the desired effect, because Bassey quickly locked his door. But I was thinking “not too fast, you are not getting away”, so after a short run and a flying kick, Bassey’s door came crashing down and I faced him……. 

Few months earlier 

I had just graduated from university of Ilorin, Kwara state, Nigeria and I had to do my National Youth Service Corps, incidentally I was posted to Imo State, Eastern Nigeria. My university lifestyle was mostly an unserious one, I had dabbled into drugs and had very bad grades and finally in my fifth year (I was doing a four year course, Chemistry) I was admitted in the Federal NeuroPsychiayric Hospital, yaba Lagos and was diagnosed with a mental illness that I never really paid attention to because I really didn’t believe there was something wrong with me. That was the year 2011, around March , till May. I stayed for 2 months. I graduated in 2012 and now fast forward to 2013 when I started my service to the fatherland, I had stopped using my meds because they had a bad side effect in that I could not always think and I slept most of the time plus my body just shakes sometimes. I didn’t like these side effects so I dumped the meds, my rationale was that I didn’t do drugs anymore so I didn’t need the meds. 

How wrong I was! 

So Bassey was a fellow Corper and he was my neighbour, we shared the bath and kitchen but had different rooms. Oh my he was one of a kind. He was always quick to tell me that he was a frat boy and tell me stories of how he and his frat members always beat up lecturers in school and other things and I think he did and said all these in a bid to scare me and sometimes he liked to always act bossy and tried to tell me what to do. But I’m not that easy a nut to crack myself, so I just always dismissed his threats. But slowly he was starting to get on my nerves and I remember vividly the first time I would give him a warning. Being that we were both serving with the police headquarters there In owerri, we had been given the rooms we were in and there was a police hospital just near our apartments where we usually watch soccer matches and that year was the year that Nigeria won the African Cup of Nations. We had gone there to watch a match but unfortunately it wasn’t shown and we had to go back to the apartments. On our way he was just a few paces ahead of me and by the time I got to the back door to the kitchen we usually used as entrance, Bassey had locked the door from inside, thereafter he and his girlfriend (can’t quite remember her name) went to have a shower while I was kept waiting outside. After taking his time he came and opened the door and there and there I had warned him, I told him I didn’t want to fight. 

All this time I had stopped using my meds for more than four months and the symptoms had started to come back, I remember vividly planning an escape route in case someone came to kill me, in this case the most probable person was Bassey and his group of frat boys that came occasionally to the apartment, I was already having persecutory delusions, and then I also fancied myself a detective, I thought I was a secret agent on a secret mission, I can’t fully explain the feeling and it’s hard to get, but after my first psychotic episode that got me hospitalized in 2011 I had already made up my mind that nothing this world offered will ever frighten me anymore, so in my mind Bassey and his cronies wanted to kill me but I was not scared, I was just anxious about how this was going to play out. So this fateful day I have my girlfriend and her friend with me in my room and then Bassey and his frat boys were just outside my window, and I must have been hallucinating because all I heard from the voices outside my window was “let’s kill him, na him dey inside house ba”? “Mey we end am”, now the only problem I saw with this event were the two girls in my room and how they were going to go unscathed and I’m sure by this time they must have been alarmed at my behaviour but none of them said anything. Should I say Luck came my way because it suddenly became very cloudy and  a storm was imminent so the guys outside my window quickly went away and Bassey was left alone. My thought at that time was I needed to act, how dare this guy come to my window with his mates and threaten me to kill me? 

So I went outside and shouted his name with all the terror I could afford to put in my voice and I’m sure it felt like the storm too. 

After breaking down his door I pounded the living daylight out of this guy, his girlfriend came to his rescue and bit me in the back and for the first time in my life, I raised a hand against a woman, I had decked her a backhand slap, and before long other corpers came and separated us. 

God! 

I could easily have had a dead body on my neck just because I stopped using my meds. And I noticed a trend, when I’m going through my psychotic episodes my anger is always directed at people whom I seem to be at loggerheads with at the time, but they I’m sure will be wondering what they did wrong to warrant all this anger. The experience of psychosis is always so intense for me that……. 

……Anyway Bassey reported me to the police and I was asked to tell the story, which I did according to how he had been looking for my trouble and all, before long my parents were called and they came to my rescue, but before they came I still did somethings that I find very hard even now to say, because they cause me such embarrassment when I remember it. 

Naturally I was taken back to the hospital where I was able to recuperate and start my life over. This Illness is so powerful and intense sometimes I don’t know what to make of it, but I won’t give up, I’ll continue to try and get better and part of that is finally knowing that it’s Schizophrenia that’s disturbing me, I only discovered that after my recent psychotic episode this year 2017. And part of this getting well is me coming public with it, in order that I will constantly remind myself to always use my meds and tell people not to use drugs anymore. 

You don’t always know what you have until you lose it. I would kill right now for good mental health!!!! 

In the other side of sanity!!!!! 

I’ve been on a trip to hell and back!!! And I must tell you that It’s really not nice in hell. The trip I made there, I must say, is solely my fault. You see, I have schizophrenia and for a long time now I’ve always tried to run from it, never owning it, always believing nothing is wrong with me, in short, trying to cheat life! But life told me “no, you had your chance to change your ways but you didn’t, now deal with the consequences “, and I have no option but to oblige. If you have followed me on this very bumpy ride of writings and experiences, you might have noticed one or two places where I mentioned smoking weed, yes weed, and that’s what caused my schizophrenia! 

I’ve been living with this condition since 2010 when I was first diagnosed with it, although my experiences in a rehabilitation center in my country Nigeria popularly called yaba left put enough fear in me to quit smoking and beating addiction almost effortlessly, it wasn’t until this year 2017 that I knew that it’s schizophrenia I’m dealing with because I never really owned it, yes I knew I had a mental condition and knew it was smoking that caused it and was always quick to use myself as an example when I see some of my friends still smoking but secretly I believed there was really nothing wrong with me and that’s the reason I always tried to get off my meds but it only ends in disasters. I’ve had three episodes in all since I’ve been diagnosed and I’ve been lucky so far not to do so much damage but the people who have crossed my path at these times are not going to forget me that easily. Damage!! In that state, I feel like the voice of God is talking to me directly and everybody is out to get me, that everybody is out to snuff me out of this world. And I remember the first time it happened, my God, I was terrified to my balls and even the slightest things like mosquitoes and rats frightened me almost to death, and there was the voices and sounds I heard, hallucinations, of a great beast just outside my window. Never had I been so scared in my life, but naturally after that fear was no more in my dictionary. I’m no longer scared of anything in my life,  okay maybe the fear of not making heaven, but I work on myself daily to see that I reach the luminous heights someday, but I digress, this fearlessness that I now had made me look extra formidable in my episodes and I’m sure that I’ve scared a lot of people shitless. My last episode was just a few months back, around August of this year. I had stopped using my meds again because I wanted to see if I was fine without them but apparently not. Maybe some other time I’ll take you through the intricate details of my thought process in these times but just know that it is usually embarrassing for me when I’m back to normal and it also has a comic relief to it. I laugh at myself and just say to myself “Dammy you mad man”. I should also add that this last episode I went through cost me a whole lot, I cannot even begin to mention it but the only thanks I offer to the Almighty Father is that I came out of it unscathed and in one piece. Whew! Thank God! 

I’m now going to dedidicate my life to see that people are more enlightened I these matters of smoking weed and what it actually does to you, though I’ve long since realized that people usually don’t learn from another man’s mistakes but from their own personal mistakes and experiences, but I’ll still give it a try. 

My name is Damilola Agboola and I’m owning it, I am living with schizophrenia and I’ll do what it takes in my own little way to help out people in need to beat addiction like I did and maybe I’ll leave the world a better place in my own little  way. 

So help me God! 

The Worst! 

This is a confession!!! I know that I’ve not always been a good kid, and for that I accept my fault, and pray that when someday I also begin to have kids, they won’t give me as much trouble as I gave my own parents. This story I want to share is what I consider to be the worst thing I’ve done in this my short earth life. Let’s rewind back a few years to 2009 when I was in university, oh yes, I kinda fell headlong into bad habits and wrong company when I was in uni, and I remember, on such a day when I was indulging in one my bad habits, this one namely gambling, With video games (PES 2009 was the thing back then), Saturday morning it was, and I was in the middle of winning this game when my phone rang. It was my mum, the call was not more than two minutes, but it bore disaster, of an accident, a ghastly one in which my dad was involved. For personals reasons I won’t give you the details of this accident, let it suffice for you to know that it was really a life threatening one, and all I could ask my mum was “how did it happen?why did he…. “. It was a blow! My dad was in the hospital, he had lost a lot of blood, and was hanging for dear life, and here I was, I was sad, and I locked myself in my room, my friends all tried to console me but I couldn’t be consoled, I couldn’t eat. Nothing.

But there was something interesting. That night there was a party, and one of my friends was supposed to receive an award, seeing as it was a departmental party, and I remember he was supposed to receive the award for “rockerfella”,lol. So they were all dressing up and getting ready to go, all the while they we’re telling me to cheer up and come with them, they can’t leave me alone in the house, they said. It was hard for me, how can I dress up and go to a party while my dad lay in the hospital almost dying? I fought it but at long last I yielded to their persistence, but that’s just an excuse, I really wanted to go to that party, we had anticipated it for weeks. All the stunting we we’re going to pull and all the swag and all the…. You know how it goes, my squad were my squad, and although they were bad for business, they were the people I called friends. So I finally got my ass up and we went partying.

Yeah we all went with our friend to get his award on stage, we took pictures, stunting, and eventually the after party took full grind, I still had that guilty feeling but I finally threw caution to the wind and went with the flow, I rocked ass, and rocked more ass. And eventually we left that party and we were enroute another party when the unexpected happened. We were suddenly stopped by the popos and they told us that we were suspects in a robbery that just happened a few minutes back, we tried to explain ourselves as student just coming from the departmental dinner, and  that we were on our way to another party, all to no avail, even when we had shown our ID cards. We argued and begged but nothing happened. And we finally had to keep shut for fear of being beaten, when the DPO, a giant of a man, punched some smart mouthed student and the poor boy was rolling on the ground from the impact of the punch.

We were rounded up and taken to the station, Area F,  and locked up. Mind you this was around 3 am on Sunday morning. And it suddenly hit me. This was punishment for my wrongdoing, stupid kid, your dad is in the hospital almost dying and you’re here rocking ass. I had never been so sure of anything in my life, I divined a Higher hand in this. I knew, I was sure, it was punishment for my thoughtlessness! And I remember telling my friends that this thing, was a result of my carelessness, and they as cohorts were equally guilty. I don’t know if they believed me or not, but I prayed for forgiveness. This was one of the signs and experiences that warned me time and again to turn back and change my ways. But I hardly listened.

I had a test on Monday and I had planned to visit my school books after the party so I don’t go into the test empty headed. But guess what, we were released on Sunday evening after some of our other friends had come to the rescue to bail us. We paid maga money to the popos. But it’s  all good, I thank God it was not more than that. Naturally I failed the test on Monday, seeing as I had no time whatsoever after my release to read anything. My girlfriend at the time had tried to get in touch with me but to no avail. When I narrated the events to her she was appalled. She asked me what I would have done if my dad had died, would I still have gone partying?  I had never felt so bad in my life but I knew she was right. I resolved to live a better life. But I  knew, I knew  the events of my capture by the popos was punishment for my misdeeds, that much I was sure of.

Thank God for his mercies!