Mental health and crisis

Stephtalks
Posted December 26, 2019 from Cameroon

Friday 20th December I summoned the courage to go back!

Over a year ago  me and my family relocated from Buea to Douala for the fear of the unknown. Then I was about 4months pregnant. The incident presiding our decision to move was an "operation run" that took place one unfortunate morning. I went to see off my Dad who had come visiting me for the first time since I got married. We boarded a taxi for him to mile 17 accompanied by my big brother. That morning Samuela had insisted to follow me see off "grand pere " as she calls him. Upon our return, she demanded for biscuits, you know how kids are lol. As we were about making a U turn to go get her some biscuits, behold "operation run for your life" every soul we saw were running hapharzardly back into the quarters from the main entrance. Apparently, there was a shoot out down town between separatist and government forces.  Pregnant me I was confused, I grabbed my Sammy by the arm and we started running but she could not run at my pace, so I carried her in my arms. I looked ahead and behold the steep hill we had to climb to make our way home. My strength immediately left me. Sudden cramps gripped my lower abdomen. I was about 4 months pregnant . that had been diagnosed by a certain hospital in Buea to be "etopic"! Gasping desperately to keep up with my breathe, I jumped into one mama's house by the road side who quickly blocked the door behind us and told me to calm down. She was a cheerful - looking white - haired woman with a comforting smile. Not long calm returned. We thanked mama hurried off home.

 On getting home, my Dad, big brother shortly followed by my husband all found themselves back home. They had been very worried for us.  Till date, Buea has had many more of such shoot outs and runs and even mass migrations especially by families around the outskirts. The crisis is still far from resolved. 

We actually moved to Douala for calm and safety, given my vulnerable situation then. Hubby had to stay and keep his job, though. 

My mind has been through a lot since that day! For instance every night in  my sleep I was killed by either of the armed groups, blood shed and bombing. The nightmares continued for months, insomnia visited, anxiety and depression was the order of my everyday. I could no longer leave in fear of the unknown, fear of being shot, fear of our house burnt down, fear of my families safety.

 The first two months in Douala was seasoned by provocation on provocation with the famous line "les Bamenda" used on us by the local indigents. In the public market, especially, the stigma was obvious. It took us time to reintegrate and today we are still barely coping and doing all we can to survive both in body and mind. Mental health really counts

Imagine that since I left I only summoned the courage to go back on Friday? Our graduation ceremony was scheduled for the 20th but I kept telling my self I am not sure I want to go back now. Late early last week I told my husband I will go! Yes, it took me 2 weeks to make that decision. Today I am happy I went back. The fanfare at the graduation ceremony had in it nostalgia of a once peaceful town. Peace is still possible! The town was calm than the usual, very evident on road side buildings were numerous bullet holes. Not forgetting the numerous police vans that  paraded the  streets. I cried in my soul and shock in fear at the sight of any military officer. 

It is difficult to describe the mental suffering you see when you go to a war zone and you meet people affected by conflict or war. Sometimes you think it can’t get any worse. And then you go to another conflict situation and it is worse, another kind of hell.

These people desperately need to be able to obtain treatment and care. Their disorders often impair their ability to function – so access to care isn’t just about improving mental health, it can be a matter of survival.

Sadly there are very few organizations with the capacity to identify, treat, reintegrate and follow up persons living with mental illness as IDPs or residents of the restive North West and South West. Neither are they any tangible mental health policies in Cameroon.

The numbers are sure to triple after the crisis and the big question remains; What is the way forward? Do we remain reactive or become proactive? What form of psychosocial support can we offer IDPs suffering from mental challenges?

Remember any further neglect on  the mental health of persons in war zones and IDPs will be very detrimental for the proper functioning of the economy now and in future. Let's act now!

#mentalhealthmatters#Goldmind#mentalwellnes#mentalhealthNCrisis#StephTalks

P.S : Best Graduating Management student HIMS 2018 National Best (Distinction).

Comments 10

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Anita Shrestha
Dec 26, 2019
Dec 26, 2019

Thank you for sharing

Stephtalks
Dec 27, 2019
Dec 27, 2019

Thank you for reading through it all. ❤

Lisbeth
Dec 27, 2019
Dec 27, 2019

Dear Steph,
A very warm welcome to world pulse and congrats on your first post. How are you doing now? So sorry on this your experience. I can resonate with you. Sometimes ago we had a similar issue in our country, one of the city ethnic conflict. OMG! The sound of the guy alone made me not want to eat else to talk shootings. Honestly, I went into shocks many times.

I can understand, good to know calm has returned a bit now we are grateful. May sincere prayer for real peace to come. Meanwhile you guys stay safe and always take care.
Warm regards
Lizzy

Stephtalks
Dec 27, 2019
Dec 27, 2019

Thank you very much Sister Lisbeth. I am doing pretty well. As an active survivor I try my best to use my story for advocacy purposes. Hoping that one day we all can get the desired changes we've always dreamt of from childhood.

Lisbeth
Dec 28, 2019
Dec 28, 2019

May it come to passed.
You take care.
Regards :-)

Esraa Eltaweel
Dec 27, 2019
Dec 27, 2019

Dear Steph,
I am so sorry to hear what you have been going through. It is really so hard to live under constant worries and anxieties. I can relate to how you feel always not safe and threatened and worried about your loved ones. I pray for you and your family to stay safe and I hope the situation will be better soon.
BTW, you have a very nice and kind smile. I pray for you to always keep it darling.
Esraa

Stephtalks
Dec 27, 2019
Dec 27, 2019

Thank you sister Esraa for the kind words. It goes right deep to my soul.

Dawn Arteaga
Dec 27, 2019
Dec 27, 2019

Congratulations your graduation! I am so inspired by your words “peace is possible” after all you have lived through - you are incredibly courageous. I also loved hearing about the mama who blocked the door to protect you and your little one. The world is full of those mamas reaching out and ready - I have experienced that kind of protection and safety myself too many times - once when at an abandoned bus stop and suddenly felt a crowd of boys around me and a knife to my back. The bus arrived just in time and I was able to literally fall inside only to be greeted by a packed bus of mamas and babies with outstretched arms embracing me and crying “we are with you sister”. Like those mamas I welcome you to World Pulse! Thank you for sharing your powerful vision and example with us.

Stephtalks
Dec 27, 2019
Dec 27, 2019

Thank you sister Dawn. Your words are truly an encouragement to the heart. May God bless every mama out there for the role they have played and are still playing in our lives.

Jill Langhus
Dec 27, 2019
Dec 27, 2019

Hello Steph,

Welcome to World Pulse:-) Thanks for sharing your harrowing, but inspiring story. I thought oh, no, she's going to say she lost her child. I'm so glad you and your family are safe and that you attended you graduation ceremony, with honors, no less:-) So, what are your plans and goals now? Do you work for a NGO or mental health facility?

I'm looking forward to seeing more stories from you. I hope you and your family are safe and well, dear:-)

XX