“Yaba Left is full of broken hearts and broken dreams”
Betty Irabor: I had seen about nine doctors and psychiatrists [at that time]. An uncle had come and said to me, there is a doctor at Yaba Left (the Neuropsychiatric hospital) and I was at that place where all I needed was my sanity.
I had reached a place where, they say “he who is down fears no fall.” I was already down, I was on grass level and I was looking for where I could find help.
So that morning, my driver who has been with me for 15 years since Genevieve and I got into the car and I [told him to drive to] Yaba Psychiatric Hospital. He lost it.
He said “Yaba Psychiatric Hospital? Madam, that place is for mad people. What are you going to do there?” I lied; I said I needed to go interview a professor on mental health for an edition we are working on.
“Madam, you shouldn’t be seen there. Why are you not sending an editor?” he asked me. He was so pained, and so reactive, he get scandalized.
I wasn’t sure if he was thinking of himself driving his madam to insane people and he persisted. He literally stopped the car and said “‘Madam, you can’t be seen there.” But as I said, I was passed being ridiculed. I was passed caring about stigma.
I just smiled and I prayed he would stop that conversation. When we got to the gate, he was trying to look for a place to park. It’s a Mercedes, so we parked and we got to the gate and I said to the gateman, I want to see professor so and so. I went upstairs, saw the professor and I came back, got into the car and both of us were quiet.
It was a very humbling incident for me in the sense that growing up as a young child in Methodist Girls’ High School, Yaba, it was hilarious to discribe people in that place as mad people and many years later, I’m one of those people that we used to really love to scorn.
The truth is that Yaba Left is full of broken hearts and broken dreams. It is full of people who in their lifetime felt that they are going to be big, the world is going to know their names and they have a mental breakdown in a society that does not know anything about empathy and does not know about humanizing mental health. So you go there and you are further stigmatized.
We need to begin to get some of these mental health therapists to learn how to deal with people who walk into their clinics because they are sometimes clueless.
You can also watch the full interview at watch.withchude.com