The suicide attempt on my 33rd birthday was not my first. I was just tired of living. I couldn’t bear the pains I was going through, anymore. So, I took an overdose of some sleeping pills to end my life. But I woke up the next day. Each time I tried, I failed. I failed to kill myself. By the next attempt, I would take more overdose of prescribed meds to kill myself, yet I wouldn’t die. I always woke up. And it p*ssed me off. All attempts to commit suicide, had ended in woeful failure. I always woke up. I was too ashamed to talk about it. I feared societal stigma.
Meanwhile, flashbacks of the rape scene kept eating from the inside, and prompting me to end my life.
The only eventful thing that happened on my 33rd birthday, was an unsuccessful suicide attempt. Nine days later, I tried again. There wasn’t even a ceiling fan or a bit of iron protruding from the ceiling of the house, lest I took advantage of that to hang myself. Everyone at home knew that, so they were on the alert. But I managed to take another overdose of sleeping meds, because of what I had been through earlier in the day.
I had missed my period, two months in a row – November and December 2013. To say I was distraught because of what had happened to me earlier the previous month, was an understatement. So, on December 23rd, I went to Garki General Hospital, in Abuja. The doctor requested a pregnancy test.
Positive. I stared unseeing, as he repeated the word to me, ‘positive’, like a life sentence.
I wasn’t about to kid myself, I couldn’t imagine myself keeping it. I would never love the product of a gang-rape. An abortion was my only option. The doctor only agreed to carry out the abortion because of what had happened to me.
Abortion is illegal, in Nigeria. Yet, so many procedures occur, every year. Under the table, of course. Majority are administered by quacks; leading to the deaths of many girls and women. Our culture and hypocritical belief system would not allow abortion be legalised in the country, even though many families continue to lose their daughters, wives and mothers to unsafe abortions.
I came up with the money for the termination, in less than 48 hours. On Christmas day, I went back to the hospital.
Depression hit me after it was done. I tried again to end my life; anything to end the shame, sorrow and pains. Again, I didn’t die.
Weeping frequently for no reason became my daily reality. Omagbemi, who later accompanied me during my visits to the therapists, told whomever cared to listen that I blackmailed the psychiatrists with tears. So, they shamed me again
“You obviously don’t want to get better.”
“Six months is well enough time for you to be ok”.
“You will get better if you truly want to get better!”
“Isn’t it just PTSD? Get yourself together and move on.”
I was shamed over and again. The lists were endless. Everyone suddenly became mental health experts. I died inside, daily. But the weeping spells just wouldn’t go away. And I was always emotional – rage and confusion, with rather high levels of mistrust. I trusted nobody, even myself!
People around me, started to speak in whispers, so that I wouldn’t hear what was being said. But I gathered from the side-talks among my relatives, that I suffered a nervous breakdown. It had been at some point in January, 2014. From the idle talks I also gleaned that I didn’t just break down; I actually became psychotic. Till this day, nobody wants to tell me exactly what happened.
“You had a nervous breakdown,” was all Adekunle, my colleague told me.
Some months later, when I went jogging on my street, I heard some strangers talking about me. “That’s the girl who went mad,” ones said, “it’s as if they have cured her.” They even pointed at me. I fled in the direction of the house, my face bathed in tears and shame overwhelming me. They now call me ‘the girl who went mad’ …
EROBOT ON TRIAL is a serialised, true story.