Psych Ward Diaries. Addendum 1.

The past few weeks have been pretty chill.

I got this serviced apartment here at Victoria Island Lagos, to stay for a bit.

I do not earn a monthly salary. Every now and then money comes into my life somehow, and then I’m responsible for staying alive and well until the next financial inflow.

I initially paid for a week or so. I don’t have enough money to pay for a longer stretch of time at once. Maybe I might if I put my mind to it, but I’m still raw from my last attempt at trying to rent a space nearby. At Lekki Phase 1.

I paid N400,000 into the bank account of the real estate agent. The “Mr Olu” who walked me into the compound, greeted the security guard, opened the doors to the apartment, and showed me around.

N400,000 was supposed to be rent for a year. Or six months I think. I’m not sure now.

That was last year. I never got to move into the apartment. I never saw “Mr Olu the real estate agent” again. I later realized that the email address with which he corresponded with me, was different from that on the agency banner hung out on the building’s front gate.

Say the banner of the actual real estate agency had the email “olu_something@gmail.com”. This guy’s email was “olu_somethingg@gmail.com”.

The second email has two “g”s.

I knew his email address was weird, but I assumed it was because the intended one was already taken. That can definitely happen with email addresses.

So I thought he was just making do with an address which was lexically similar. What I did not notice at the time, was that the email on the actual agency banner did not have that anomaly.

I mean, it’s not like you scrunch up your nose to scrutinize every letter in the email address on some banner outside the building where you intend to rent a space.


All of that was last year.

I went to the bank to make a complaint. They said they would freeze the recipient account, and that the fraudulent guy wouldn’t be able to withdraw the funds.

That was good to hear. They said to recover the money I would need to contact the Police. The Police had the authority to request a reversal of the funds transfer.

I stopped by the Police station to narrate my ordeal. At some point they said there was a special department that dealt with digital fraud and stuff. Said I would have to pay about N200,000 for a start, to access the services of this department.

Haha.

I was trying to recover N400,000. To do that, I had to pay the Police N200,000.

For a start.

Hahaha.

I took some time to weigh my annoyance. Was I angry enough at Mr Olu to undertake such expenses even if they could eventually add up to, or even exceed the amount I was trying to recover?

Hmm. I didn’t think so.

In all it was a very confusing experience.

It all felt so legit. I’m still not sure if I was intentionally dispossessed of the funds, or if there was some sort of a misunderstanding.

Like, there was another guy- some like, seventy year old man I spoke with on the phone.

He said he was the owner of the house. The Landlord. Mr Olu was just the agent. Helping him get new tenants. The “landlord” was asking me questions like:

“Hope pe iwo o kin p’ariwo ninu ile? Awa o like ariwo o.”

“I hope you don’t make noise where you stay? We don’t like noise makers here o.”

Like, how can a seventy something year old man who asks such questions, and who sometimes doesn’t answer my calls because he says he’s in the mosque, not be legit? How?

I don’t understand. I honestly don’t.

At some point I called the numbers on the actual real estate banner. Some guy responded on the other end. Said he was the one the agency was named after. That he was Mr Olu. The real Mr Olu.

I told him someone was impersonating him. I spent some time expressing my frustration and annoyance on the phone. He said all that was difficult to believe, because I was the first person to make such a complaint. Sensible point. But not at all placating for me.

Honestly it was this whole annoying episode. I’ve just had to take my mind off it, and pay attention to more inspiring and encouraging things.

Mr Olu. Has his office on Lagos Mainland. At Palmgrove. Talking to me and showing me around the apartment like a responsible human being. Fraudulent motherfucker.

It was to my utmost shock, that the security guard said he didn’t really know the fake Mr Olu. Said he was just some guy walking by the house, who proposed to show some prospective tenants around.

The fact that he had access to the building and keys to the apartment gave me the impression he was undoubtedly legit. Legit to the point that I thought he would feel insulted if I asked too many questions.

Motherfucker.

“Mr Olu”.


I’ve been trying to buy a motorbike. A cool dual-terrain kinda bike. I’m looking forward to some off-roading soon.

I found this guy on Jiji.ng. Jiji.ng is like the Nigerian EBay. He had a cool Scrambler for sale. I liked it. He was located in Abuja, the country’s capital.

While I made preparations to send him the funds for the purchase and delivery of the bike, he was telling me stuff like “Don’t worry, there’s no problem. I’m a family man.” to increase my confidence in him.

Family man.

Mister Olu was very likely a family man too.

Bruh, I’ve been swindled by family men, don’t even go there. Don’t even try that line on me Mister Man.

My N400,000 from last year is still nowhere to be found.


It recently occurred to me to call Mr Dayo.

Mr Dayo from the Psych Ward. The fellow inpatient.

The sixty year old ex-hockey coach.

The last time I saw him, I was at the hospital for a post-hospitalization checkup. So the doctors could see if I was properly recovering from a mental illness I never had in the first place.

Mr Dayo was sitting on a chair in the walkway. Looking very relaxed. We spoke for a bit. He seemed very comfortable and chill. I had collected his phone number earlier. I said I was going to call him later, after he had been discharged.

That was close to two years ago.

I haven’t exactly been in the frame of mind to make the call. I’ve been dealing with struggles of my own:


So, post-hospitalisation, my parents enrolled me in a university.

It’s this university that’s owned by this pretty prominent church in Nigeria. The church’s ideology is principally based on concepts like deliverance from demonic oppression and the breaking of ancestral curses and the holy murder of destiny-devouring witches and other such esoteric phenomena.

The university was founded by, and is managed by the church.

At 5AM every morning all of the students gather in the chapel to cast and bind some demons real quick before commencing the day. Repeated failure to report at the chapel could get you suspended.

On average, students spend about 2+ hours everyday collectively binding and casting out demonic powers.

And that is just the very tip of my disconcertion iceberg with regard to that university.

I would never in my right senses have agreed to be enrolled there. But I was fresh out of Psych Ward. Fresh out of 3-months of daily antipsychotics, and full of daily-reinforced doubt in my decision-making abilities:

I obviously didn’t know what I was doing with my life. Everyone obviously knew what what was good for me. Everyone except for me myself.

A couple months after being discharged from the Psych Ward, I ditched my supply of antipsychotics and lost all of the Psych-Ward weight. I gradually became more and more certain that the entire Psych Ward thing was Bullshit. And I became angry at everyone who made it or let it, happen.


I’m going to call Mr Dayo today.

I’m chilling in this alright apartment at Victoria Island. I have no serious doubts with regard to my sanity or mental wellbeing, and I’m plotting some schemes to enable me discontinue my enrolment at that soul-eroding university.

Life is good.

I call Mr Dayo’s number.

The phone rings for a bit.

Someone answers. It is a woman’s voice.

“Hello?”


This post is one in a Series. Feel free to view the other pieces here.


Image: On the balcony of a room at the Prest Waterfront Hotel, Lekki Phase 1, Lagos.

Lagos: On Dating Apps and Strip Clubs. 1.

I’m in conversation with the doctor.

She just said something I find counter-intuitive.

She said at any given point in time, female sex-workers are less likely than women in general to have sexually transmitted infections.

Hmm.

Hmm.

Hm.

Well first it depends on the place.

I’m in a clinic on Victoria Island (VI). Victoria Island is one of the more affluent parts of Lagos. Sex workers here would generally be in association with a more affluent and health-conscious clientele. And consequently I imagine their employer would ensure they underwent medical checks on a frequent basis.

And so first I think her perspective varies by location. I’ve spent time in different parts of Lagos and so I’m somewhat aware of how different things can be. Take Obalende for example.

Second, I disagree with her choice of words.

Her words were “They are cleaner than the general woman you come across on the street”.

I don’t know about “cleaner”.

I don’t see how someone who has sex with other people for purely financial reasons, is cleaner than someone who doesn’t. I don’t see how that works.

But I definitely see the logic in her thinking.


I first visited this clinic a few weeks ago. I had some things I felt I needed to discuss with a healthcare professional.

I was in VI for the weekend.

There’s this interesting DJ guy (I think. I don’t know who exactly is behind it), who throws really cool parties I like to come around for. Pretty frequently they fly in DJs from other countries to perform. I think it was a few weeks ago they flew in Hanna Hais from Paris. It was fun.

I’m not sure who exactly is behind the Instagram page that announces new parties, but whoever it is definitely has considerable international exposure. People generally seem to be aware of this, because there’s usually a substantial expatriate presence at the parties.

The events are cool, and the prices are fine. Nothing like the usual overpriced bougie Victoria Island events. I get annoyed by a lot of them because they’re so much about spending money and exhibiting financial capability, than they are about genuine interactions with other people.

Lagos can get very annoying. You can spend an entire week going out every night in Victoria Island and still not feel like you’ve really met anyone. I think it’s partly because at events in Lagos people generally keep to themselves a lot:

They go out with people they know.

When they’re out, they talk almost entirely with those people they went out with.

And when they leave, they leave with the people they came with.

Lagos makes me miss cities I’ve lived where people frequently go out with the primary intention of meeting new people.

The only people I know in Lagos who regularly do this, are the women who go out for parties and stuff, with plans to meet guys who will pay them for sex.

Like seriously. And it’s normal. Like, very normal. That’s just the normal thing. It even has a name.

See, let’s not even go there yet. Let’s still talk about some other stuff.


I got a ride from the hotel where I spent the night, to the clinic- all the while wincing about the inflation that came along with the COVID-19 pandemic. Everything is more expensive. The places I stay whenever I’m in VI, are now about 50% more expensive than they used to be. Hotel prices have gone up, and I’ve quickly realised that my personal surveys on the cost-effectiveness of different hotels around VI are now outdated. A lot of things are different now.

I got to the clinic like Okay I’d like to speak with the doctor.

The clinic is actually very visually appealing. Medicenter. I found it via a Google search. A considerable amount of effort went into the aesthetic of the place.

Got a brief glimpse of CNN on the TV in the waiting room. Something about Lebron James getting the COVID vaccine. I spent some time wondering why that was on (inter)national TV.

The receptionist was like Okay sir you’ll need to pay the fee for somethingsomethingsomething.

Which is twenty thousand Naira.

Sorry what?

Hehehehee!!!! Wetin happen? What is the problem??!!

In my head I was thinking: What is this person saying?

Just to see the doctor? I’m not sick o. I didn’t come here with a heart attack. I’m fine– I just need to talk with a healthcare professional.


For some sort of a reference, twenty thousand Naira is like the cost of eight very solid meals. Say we label meals in any city from 1 to 5 based on price. 1 is a meal from like a roadside stall or a food truck, and 5 is the priciest of the priciest. Then by eight solid meals I mean eight meals which are a very good 3. And so depending on how frequently you eat out, that could be the amount you spend eating out in say a week if you eat out everyday or a couple weeks if you don’t.

People generally convert into dollars and go Oh X Naira is equivalent to Y dollars or so. I feel conversions like that are misleading because they do not take into account the purchasing power of the concerned amount of money, and how that varies with location. So whenever I hear stuff like “Soso people (whose primary legal tender is not denominated in USD) live on X dollars a day”, I’m like Jesus Why. Why.


I had some back and forths with the receptionist, and then at some point she said I should come talk with the manager of the place.

She took me into a different room. The manager was this dark-skinned thickset woman pointing out some things on a MacBook Pro screen to someone who looked like a young nurse.

The receptionist introduced me. And then the manager and I began to exchange words.

I explained that I just intended to talk with the doctor and ask some questions.

Usually with a hospital in Lagos, any sort of visit requires that some you have some sort of membership account. With a first-time visit you’ll need to have this account created, and this usually comes with a fee.

I was aware of this, however I was really just at the hospital for information. I wasn’t about to begin a treatment routine or anything, I was just there to talk with a doctor. And so it was pretty unsettling to think I would have to pay for the full package. I asked questions to know if there was a way around it somehow, but that didn’t seem to be the case.

I liked the way she spoke though-

So, I enjoy learning new words, I enjoy using new words, and I enjoy hearing people use interesting words.

The manager (she herself a doctor) and I exchanged some interesting words, and then at some point I thought Ah to hell with it. I’ll just pay this money and keep moving forward with life.


That was the first time I visited.

That was a few weeks ago.

I got here this morning and told the receptionist I intended to see the doctor for a follow-up on the initial appointment.

Got another glimpse of CNN in the waiting room.

The receptionist was like Okay sir you’ll need to pay the fee for somethingsomethingsomething.

Which is Sososo thousand Naira.

HAAAAAA!!!!!

What do you mean?!

I didn’t really register the amount she mentioned. I just registered the range. It was not too different from the amount I paid the first time. It might have even been the same thing.

For a follow-up?

The receptionist and I began to debate.

At some point she said I could discuss with her manager.

Manager wasn’t on seat so I had to give her a call.

We began to discuss.

Yes, hello?

Oh Yes Hello! Yes!

I began to explain the situation.

At some point we began to exchange words.

You this woman. You’ve come again. With your voice and your English. All you Doctor people. Leveraging my anxiety and my need to hear pertinent reassuring words from a healthcare professional. Leveraging that to empty my bank account.

Where is the money?! Where is it?!

We debated a bit more.

At some point she went, Alright don’t worry you can go see the doctor. I’m going to let this one slide.

Yeah that’s right you Manager Doctor woman. You’d better let it slide.


I’m in conversation with the doctor.

She just said something I find counter-intuitive.


This piece is one in a Series. A list of all of the pieces in this Series can be accessed here.


Image: A My Coffee shop at Victoria Island.

Psych Ward Diaries. 04.

The preceding piece in this series can be accessed here.

It’s a calm evening in the ward.

It’s always a calm evening.

In this place you’ve got about half a dozen inpatients, incessantly plied with food and antipsychotics throughout the day.

Evenings are always calm.

You’re usually either full, or faced with a new meal you have no choice but to consume.

And there aren’t so many ways to expend energy.


I feel like I spend my entire time here digesting food and adding weight.

The chief Psychiatrist instructed Mr Dayo to take us through routine morning exercises.

I recently realised I hate mandatory exercise.

This came as a surprise to me, given that I’m generally a physically active person.

I think it’s the fact that the exercise isn’t self-motivated.

Every morning Mr Dayo rounds us up to do some weird shuffle-jogs around the corridors.

Mr Dayo used to be a hockey coach.

I imagine he’s in his element taking all of our unfortunate selves through this annoying routine every morning. He’s probably done this with tons and tons of unwilling students in his life.

Yemi’s own fitness passion seems to be Yoga.

Yemi is the guy with sleeve tattoos.

He’s very good at it. Yoga. Taking everyone through the poses and stuff.

I don’t like it. Or maybe it’s just this place. Yoga feels too slow-paced and static and somewhat ostentatious for me.

I don’t quite get the appeal if I’m being honest. I just don’t get it.

There’s also the topic of Yemi’s stature. Or at least my perspective of it.

I don’t know if it’s just me, but he seems small in a way that makes me feel like I’m too big.

Like I’m too tall.

And like my head is too big.

And like my limbs are too long.

I don’t understand it. I don’t get it at all.

This is even more confusing for me, because my physical stature is actually something I’m very happy about. Like, I have no complaints. None.

And so this feeling is one I do not understand at all.

I don’t get it at all.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s just this place and the drugs messing with my head.


I am in the room. In the room I share with two other patients.

One very annoying thing about being in this place is the significant absence of personal space.

I am twenty-two years old.

The past few years of my life have seen me gradually grow into increasing personal independence.

In addition to me getting used to having my own personal space and having a predominant say in the affairs of my life, this independence and personal space is becoming a part of how I assess my quality of life.

I could be like: “Oh I don’t like this apartment- I feel like there’s not enough personal space. So I need to get a new place to stay. Somehow.”

It has become a part of how I assess what direction in my life constitutes forward movement.

And this?

Oh God.

Sharing a room- One room, with two people- Two Entire Separate People who have no personal relationships with me?

Like I’m in some slightly-upgraded boarding school environment.

Oh God.

Being woken up at God-knows-what-time every morning for exercise?

Like I’m in primary school?

Oh God.

Mr Dayo seems pretty calm about being here. And he’s in his late fifties.

Although I can imagine how a much older person might be less bothered by all of this spoon-feeding and monitoring and lack of significant personal agency.

They probably already know who they are and have a pretty definitive idea of their place in life.

All of this micromanaging on a personal level might not take so much from them, because they know the moment they leave this facility they’re back to their normal lives- Back to whatever place they’ve carved out for themselves in life. Something like that.

For me, it’s like everything is still very vague. Nothing is clear- I don’t even know so much for certain about my future and what my life is going to be like.

Pretty much everything about my future is just plans and ideas and feelings right now. Not so much exists in tangible reality.

And so fighting for things like personal space and independence is still this very intense psychological battle.

That makes being in this place feel like profound backward movement. I feel like a lot of my personal progress in the past few years has been completely eroded.

I don’t know if that is actually true, but I can’t help feeling that way.


Uchenna is on his bed, wistfully thinking aloud.

“Men, today na Friday. If to say I dey my area right now, I go just dey one bar with some correct beer and correct smoke, dey get myself right now.”

“Man, today is a Friday. If I was in the area where I live right now, I would currently be at a bar with some solid beer and respectable weed, seriously getting in touch with my inner man.”

I burst into laughter.

You miss the simple things in this place.

A quiet evening with drinks. Just chilling.

Music. Music of your own choice. Music you want to hear, the way you want to hear it.

You miss the simple things in this place.


Image: Chinese dinner in Ikeja, Lagos.

Psych Ward Diaries. 02.

The preceding episode in the series can be accessed here: https://mayowaosibodu.wordpress.com/2021/04/10/psych-ward-diaries-01/


Mister Dayo.

Yes, Mayowa.

We’re at the circular sitting area where a number of walkways intersect. Right next to the table-tennis setup.

We’re reading.

Mister Dayo came into the facility with a number of novels. Unlike every other patient here, he actually made plans towards checking himself into this place. He didn’t just wake up one morning in an unfamiliar hospital ward, groggy from sedatives.

I met him for the first time a number of weeks ago. It was in the evening. He walked into the common room, and was introduced as fellow inpatient at the facility.

He was significantly older than any of us. He appeared to be in his late fifties. Clean-shaven head with some gray in his light goatee.

I was very happy to see that he brought books. I had run out of things to read.


Withdrawal symptoms.

That was why he was here.

Distilled spirits.

Those used to be very central to his life. For decades.

He said he began drinking as a child, as an act of rebellion.

Adults were always saying do not drink alcohol, you’re too young. Do not go near it, it’s not for you.

That made us determined to do it, and to satisfy our curiosity about what was so special about that alcohol thing everyone seemed so intent on keeping us away from.

In my mind I was wondering how principally rebellious behavior generally appears in retrospect, especially when the “adults” who were being rebelled against, are at the time long dead.

Like, if you define yourself as the opposite of something, then who are you when that thing ceases to exist?

At some point there was cause to reduce his consumption of alcohol. Abstinence caused him to have seizures. At that point it was pretty clear he needed some help.


I’ve been reading this book. This Crime fiction book. By some guy. Dean Koontz or something. First time I ever came across the name.

The book is about this immensely famous actor and his young son whom the (apparently non-negotiable) travel obligations of his career, have estranged him from.

He attempts to compensate for the lack of father-son quality time with lavish and expensive presents. The strategy does not seem to be working too well.

At some point there’s some sort of a security threat. Some stranger parking his car by the road, to throw death-threat packages over the fence of their expansive compound- Something like that.

So far it’s been a pretty interesting book.


There is a word stuck in my head.

“Profligate”.

I wonder what in the name of God the word means. I came across it while reading another book- also obtained from Mister Dayo’s stash.

This one was written by Bryce Courtenay. Another name I had never heard of before.

It was also an interesting one.

There was this family: The husband, I think died when the ship-assembly factory where he worked, accidentally sealed him in the hull of a ship where he was making some final touches.

The manager of the company- some guy who was trying to impress his father who founded the company- something like that: He was made aware of the possibility a worker was sealed in the hull. However he declined from reopening the ship to confirm.

Some sort of a logistical complication.

These ships need to be delivered somewhere today, reopening a finished ship will cause delays and my father will continue to see me as a failure—- Some tensive family backstory like that.

I don’t think the hull of the ship was ever unriveted. The guy inside probably suffocated to death. Extremely sad stuff.


“Profligate.” Do you know what “profligate” means, Mister Dayo?

Hm. “Profligate.”

He pronounces the word differently. He puts the stress on the last syllable. Pronounces it “profliGATE”. I pronounce it “PROFligate”.

Mister Dayo looks into space for a while. At some point he indicates that he does not know what the word means.

I think it’s a negative word though. I came across the expression “profligate wretch” a number of times in the book. So it most likely is not a compliment.

This is definitely one unexpected source of annoyance.

Like, it’s not like I ever sat down to imagine what suddenly finding myself in a psychiatric facility would feel like,

but I think even if I did that- the frustrating inability to look up new words wouldn’t at all be on my list of things that would get me annoyed during my coerced stay.

It’s a very surprising source of annoyance.

I make a mental note to request a dictionary from the administration. Life is very bad. This word has been stuck in my head for days now.

Usually I would just look the word up on Google and would instantly have the needed information. Now I have to languish in this agony of semantic ambiguity for days.

This life.


That was not the end of that family’s misfortunes. The Bryce Courtenay book family.

After the father died in the sealed hull at the ship-assembly factory, the mother desperately searched for a source of income. I don’t think she ever even got to know how her husband died- I don’t think so.

She was invited for an interview after a series of grueling frustrations. It was for a secretarial position.

After a pretty nerve-racking interview with her potential employer, she was given the job. Soso pounds per month.

She was so happy.

I myself was happy for her. Now at least she would have some funds to take care of both herself and her young son.

Then there was a plot twist:

On her way back from the interview she was accosted by some cruel men. They were evidently very envious of her anticipated financial upliftment. They assaulted her, pushed her to the ground and stomped on her hands with their very hard-soled shoes. They ended up breaking pretty much all of her fingers.

She lay there on the ground, deflated- all hope extinguished, fingers gruesomely broken and deformed- her job appointment letter drifting through the air as it was idly blown about by an apathetic breeze.

Her fingers would never be able to work a typewriter ever again. At least not at any level of proficiency that would make her useful as a secretary.

I felt defeated.

She had been through so much. She went through so much to get that job.

I think she was to resume the very next day- She was skipping down the road from her new office when she came across this inestimably ruinous actuality.

Oh God.


Mister Dayo used to play hockey. Field hockey.

At some point he became a coach. He recently retired.

He says his pension is paid into his bank account on a regular basis. Says his time here just means he’ll be unable to make even more money.

He seems pretty calm. Came here on his own terms. Has no pressing matters in the outside world to attend to.

I on the other hand, am livid on the inside.

I have my life to live. I have stuff to get done. I have some serious life-defining things to do! What am I doing here? Whose misguided, miscalculated, condescending, unilateral paternalism landed me here?

What in the name of God am I doing in this place???

But I try to avoid overt outbursts of this anger and frustration.

That’s the thing with suddenly finding yourself in a psychiatric facility: It is assumed that there is something wrong with you, and so the burden on proof is on you to prove that there isn’t.

Loud, impassioned displays of anger and frustration will only lend more weight to the perspective that you have a psychological problem.

And so I keep fuming on the inside.


At some point, Mister Dayo and I talk about his wife. He says at some point she left to go start hanging out with some guy.

He says he’s not bothered at all about it. Says the last time he saw her, she looked very old. So she doesn’t even seem to be doing all that well.

Hm.

As we discuss, I quietly wonder what “This woman now looks old” feels like for someone in their late fifties. I honestly have no idea.


The FIFA World Cup is ongoing. Mister Dayo says he has a deep-seated hatred for football. Says he thoroughly hates the sport.

He told me of something that happened a number of decades ago. The Nigerian field hockey team had just advanced to a new stage of an international competition. I think they were to travel to Chad or Congo or something, for the next stage.

And then to his utter dismay, the government decided to withdraw the pledged financial support for the hockey team. They did this, so they would have more money to fund the football team- which wasn’t even doing all that well in their own competition.

Football killed my sport.

I feel his resentment.


We all gather in the common room to watch the FIFA World Cup matches though. It’s not like there’s that much else to do.

Plus there are the usual soccer legends who are always a pleasure to watch. There’s Christiano Ronaldo. There’s Lionel Messi.

And then there are some new guys. There’s this Mbappe guy with France who does some pretty magical stuff with his speed.

I wonder how this year’s World Cup tournament is going to turn out. I wonder.


Image: From a 2015 Halloween house party in San Francisco.