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I will begin this story by first saying it is OK not to be OK.

In 2021, I suffered a nervous breakdown.
I was actively covering conflicts, speaking and interviewing victims of abduction and kidnapping.

I was engaging with parents agonised by the abductions of their wards and not knowing the fate of their loved ones. I interviewed parents who lost their children to bandits.

I went into Chibok, and interviewed parents still waiting for their children. Some of them are still very much in pain. For some of them, the interview session brought back painful memories, for some, it was an opportunity to vent to a government that have failed them. Most of these interviews ended in painful tears for the interviewee and I. And each moment, I sat through all of these individual stories and took them all in.

I went into Kankara in Katsina State, into Kagara in Niger State, into Tegina, into Jangebe, into Afaka in Kaduna and others . In all of these places, they were painful, traumatic experiences shared

There were tons of interviews like that that will follow.

I had flashbacks, panic attacks, vicarious traumatisation. I didn’t realise how real these were until when I had a nervous breakdown.

I had taken in all of this, talked very less about it, thought I was strong and okay until therapy came in. And indeed, I wasn’t okay and I had to admit it and work through the process of therapy. Within that period I appreciated the power of journaling, of yoga, of talking, counselling and taking a break mentally from it all

I am thankful for therapy sessions and therapists and for the flexibility I got from work at that time.

So on this World Mental Health Day, I like to remind you to take care of you, to know you will struggle sometimes, to talk about your mental health and there’s absolutely nothing to be ashamed of about it. Most importantly, reach out for help, and that too, is OK.

Sending love and strength to all

Amaka Okoye

Amaka Okoye

A seasoned and an award-journalist who has practiced both in and outside of Nigeria. She has covered varied beats but her forte is Conflict and Crisis Reporting. She majors in reporting terrorism, banditry and abductions in the Northern part of Nigeria.

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