Hi Imoh, Happy International Men’s Day to you! How are you doing today?
Hello BellaNaija. I’m doing quite well.
Glad to hear that! You’ve been very vocal about depression and mental health on social media. Give us a glimpse into your mental health journey
I think losing my parents in my teens really transformed my whole life and nothing has helped so far. So I just resigned to living with it because I have come to accept that joy and pain live side by side. So I am like Seal, I wear my scars. I realised early that owning your grief gives it less power over you. It has been one long battle but I have gotten to a place where I have a handle on it. I think also being divorced and being away from my kid also added to my depression. For most of my life, I’ve always wanted to be a dad and I think this desperation caused me to make a few mistakes in my relationship. Making jump at any semblance of love and affection has made me subject to multiple abuses and has also caused me to sometimes act desperately in maintaining a peace that I have only imagined in my head.
Sounds rough. It’s quite difficult to be expressive about mental struggles, particularly for men and public figures. Why did you choose to be this open about it?
Loads of celebrities kill themselves eventually due to the shame of their emotional struggle. A lot of them resort to drugs and alcohol and sometimes, what we see as excessive partying is people not willing to confront themselves. For me, I have been open about my struggle with depression because one of the ways to conquer the darkness is to demystify it. Like, everyone looks, there is nothing to be afraid of.
I had a very difficult financial year and I could feel the shame creeping in. I owned it because I realised life is a journey filled with ups and downs. Men need to understand that admitting to being depressed does not make you any less a man. This is our problem as men; dying in silence. But I want to show men that admitting to a struggle doesn’t mean you are not getting over it. It’s the same way I hate when some of my workers say “I am strong” because they are unable to come to work. No, you are not feeling well and it’s okay. You are human.
Has being vocal had any positive or negative impact on your personal and professional journey?
Oh, it’s mostly been positive because I get loads of messages from people who are inspired by the fact that I am not ashamed to admit when I am struggling. However, I have had an ex who once said she was embarrassed because I posted I was suicidal one time when my life was falling apart.
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You’ve also shared how you regained mental wellness with us your cousins on Twitter. How did you get help?
This year, I had an accident that derailed my entire year. I hit two women, damaged a transformer, totalled my car and another car, and got into debt. I thought one of the two women was going to die and she needed multiple surgeries. I also had to fix the car I damaged, buy a new transformer I damaged, and so many other things. The domino effect was massive and I was resigned to ending my life but all my cousins rallied around me and upheld me. I went to therapy. I was determined to push through and give it another day. I was deliberate in doing things that improved my mental health and, thankfully, my business rallied and we are back.
“Majority of the reported cases were male (80.6%), married (51.8%), students (33.6%), living in a semi-urban area (40.3%) and among the age group of 25–34 (25.3%). Hanging (48.6%) and poisoning (32.2%) were the most commonly reported methods of suicide.”
– A report on suicide in Nigeria between January 2010 and December 2019
“No fewer than 79 persons have committed suicide in Nigeria in 2022. Findings reviewed by our correspondent showed that the 79 persons comprised 70 males and 9 females within the period. The figure does not include the number of cases of suicide that have not been reported in the media.”
– PUNCH Newspaper
This year’s theme for International Men’s Day is “Zero Male Suicide,” and multiple reports show that male suicide rates are higher in Nigeria. What help can you suggest to people suffering from depression or mental health challenges, based on what worked for you?
The key element is shame. Shame is the primary driver of suicide in men.
I want men to realise that that bad situation is not the end of the world. Don’t look at the whole picture, it will overwhelm you. As corny as it sounds, take it a day at a time. Take every day in isolation. Do all you can to survive that day and then the next and then the next, and that dark cloud will pass away. Own your scars. If you are in debt, don’t run and hide. Admit it and make plans for restitution. If you have an addiction, seek help and you will be surprised how many people have battled similar situations as you.
One message you have for men thinking of ending it all?
Give it another day.
It is important to acknowledge the significance of open conversations about mental health, as they can contribute to reducing stigma and fostering a supportive environment.
Everyday we still celebrate men all over the world for their contributions and impact on the world.