By Bunmi Sofola
There’s nothing that destroys a person’s self esteem than lack of confidence. In spite of the fact that Yemi grew up in a boisterous family, she still managed to convince herself she wasn’t pretty. But what she lacked in beauty, she more than made up in impressive intelligence.
“It wasn’t until I got to the university that I met a man who I could say was serious about me”, she recalled. “Until then, I hardly met a boy than he was off with with someone else. So when Tunde lasted longer than the others, I felt flattered.
Of course, I’d gone out of my way to boost my self confidence. My best friend at the time was a sophisticated make-up freak and she put me under her wings. Though I balked at some of the things she wanted me to try, the few that I agreed to were quite flattering.
“So, when I met Tunde, I felt flattered that he wanted to go out with me. He wasn’t the type I’d thought I would fall head over heels with – but he would do. Through our courting days, he was quite unreliable – always late for dates an never calling when he promised to. But I was just grateful to have a steady boyfriend, so I never complained.
I got pregnant quite by accident but Tunde was all for our getting married and I was excited at the prospect. I had a good job and he was lecturing at a polytechnic. Economically, we were ready.
“My parents were caught up with the wedding bug and spared no expense. I loved the whole fuss – it was proof to all my friends that I had someone to call a husband. Deep down though, I didn’t have that much respect for him, but went ahead with the wedding all the same.
He came from a poor background and scarcely contributed financially to the wedding but we had a big one in spite of that. Only, within a few weeks actually living together as man and wife, I knew I’d make the biggest mistake of my life. The thought of spending the rest of my life with him was quite frightening.
“His folks were always visiting and he expected me to act like his native mum, cooking for all his friends and relatives and cleaning up and him in spite of the fact that I earned more than he did. I felt trapped and I was very unhappy.
I couldn’t see a way out of the marriage so I decided I might as well give it my best shot. I’d always wanted children and we had three in the space of five years. The kids were the light of my life as my husband continued to be the irresponsible man he’d always been. He was also very controlling but I was scared to opt out. My parents’ marriage was solid and they put a lot of pressure 0on me to make mine work. It made me feel that if I divorced him, I’d be considered a failure”.
“I was given bigger and bigger responsibility in my place of work and Tunde seemed to be quite happy in the rut he’d settled in at work. My last child was five when I decided to pack in my marriage. By this time, Tunde had turned into a monster and had started hitting the children – his way of exerting his authority as their father.
He scarcely listened to anything I said and when I got another job with living quarters thrown in, he sneered he wasn’t a woman wrapper that would be tied round his wife’s loin. He was all for my turning down the opportunity of a better professional life. I accepted the job offer, moved out into the quarter with my children and kissed my bad marriage goodbye. This time around, my parents backed me up. They’d seen how argumentative and irrational Tunde often was – it was as if by antagonizing my parents, he was having one over them for not coming from the same social background as us. Tunde took his time about getting in touch, insisting he had rights to see his children. He must have thought I would fight him with the kids and when he realised I wouldn’t, he simply stayed away.
“I’m a happier person now. The children are doing well and I’m grown up and matured enough to realise that pretty or not, a man should take his partner on her terms. Nobody does anybody a favour in a relationship. Tunde is much happier living the way he likes. Thanks to the children, I hear a blow-by-blow account of his escapades with his various girlfriends. But it doesn’t bother me. I’ve now built a new life and I’m confident enough to look for a meaningful relationship. I’m not hankering after marriage – I just want to be at peace with myself.”
Spotting early sign of mental illness
Recently, a former colleague told me that she was worried about an older brother who had suddenly gone religious. According to her, this brother said: “he could hear God talking to him through the radio. He also alleged that all of us in the family wee evil because, we didn’t believe in the spiritual church. He thinks his own spiritual church and his beliefs are right. As wild as he looked when he made these allegations, it was obvious that he was cracking up. So, how do you tell if someone close to you is cracking up? With all these named disasters and economic crunch plaguing the country wouldn’t it be nice to know?
According to psychiatrists, there are seven clues to alert you. For instance, an unexpected change in behaviour is the big tip-off that a friend of co-worker is suffering from emotional problems and may need professional help. Here are the seven clues to look for:-
*A person who is usually energetic acts tired and indifferent. The person may complain about being tired. His work may be neglected and he doesn’t seem to care.
*A previously polite and caring person suddenly becomes insensitive. Manners and social etiquette often fall apart during mental illness, said a psychiatrist. “Words like `please’ and `thank you’ may disappear from the person’s vocabulary and he or she may act rude – pushing ahead of others in a line, for example.”
*A person who usually controls his alcohol or drug intake loses control. When someone with no history of alcohol or drug-abuse begins to abuse these substances, it can be a sign of mental illness. And drug abuse doesn’t necessarily have to mean illicit drugs – it also can mean prescribed drugs.
*A person who usually maintains stable relationship starts to develop difficulty with important ones. The person may have trouble dealing with people on the job – and with his or her spouse. He or she may resort to physical or emotional abuse and may yell or scream.
*A person with emotions in the normal range becomes despondent or shows rapid shifts in mood. The person may begin to have rapid shifts in emotions going from anger to playfulness, from sadness to giggles.
*A previously decisive person has trouble making decisions. Even the smallest decision, like choosing clothes, become difficult. The person might make up his or her mind and then changes it possibly several times.
*A person with good hygiene. His or her clothes may be inappropriate, dirty or not ironed. Often the person may wear the same clothes for days, not brush his or her teeth and bath less frequently – and may even begin to smell bad.
According to a recent publication in the medical journal, you could be a candidate for a nervous breakdown if you answer yes to six or more of these 12 questions:-
*Did you have a tragic childhood? A parent’s death or separation?
*Was your childhood unsettled with constant moves, parents coming and going?
*Do you always feel everyone is bigger, more clever and nicer than you?
*Do you think too much or take drugs?
*Are you the sort of person who thinks happiness won’t last?
*Have you always felt people criticize you behind your back?
*Do you find it difficult to express your feelings?
*Do you find it hard to be angry even when you’ve reason to be?
*Do you find it difficult to find and keep friends and lovers?
*Have you been exposed to a nervous breakdown sufferer, particularly when young?
*Are you pre-occupied with your health? Indeed, reading this, are you now convinced you’re having a nervous breakdown?
According to the psychiatrist, “in approaching someone you think needs help, do so in a caring manner. Say something like, “something seems to be different about you. You’re not acting like your old self. I really care about you and I think you should talk to someone who is skilled about it”.