‘I was chained for 11 months’: Living with depression in Liberia

Benjamin Ballah was brought into the world on a homestead in the north of Liberia, one of four youngsters. Growing up, he went through episodes of melancholy that his folks and grandma didn’t have the foggiest idea how to adapt to. These deteriorated as his nation was immersed in a common conflict and he had to escape to adjoining Guinea.

During one of these scenes, he was taken to a middle where he was tied up for a very long time.

He is currently back in Liberia, where he is an educator and works at Cultivation For Users’ Hope (CFUH), an association that promoters for individuals with psychological wellness issues.

He shares his story:

“I spent my youth in Lofa County in the country north of Liberia. My dad was a poultry rancher and tracker and my mom helped on the homestead. My folks were both uninformed. I have one sibling and two sisters.

“I created wretchedness as a youngster. At the time my family considered it to be a profound issue, as the consequence of black magic. They thought I was moved by devils. There was no logical reason for it. It was essentially strange notion. In any case, individuals, particularly uninformed individuals here accept what others advise them.

“My folks and my grandma had confidence in black magic and witchdoctors. Truth be told, my extraordinary incredible granddad was a witchdoctor.

“The First Liberian Civil War had begun in 1989. In 1994, when I was 14 years of age, Lofa was attacked by ULIMO (United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy) rebels. I was worried about the possibility that that I would be selected as a kid warrior and compelled to wage war, as happened to large numbers of my companions. So I went into banish in Guinea.

“I left without my folks; they followed later. I wound up in Macenta in Guinea, where I went to a school for outcasts. I remained with my more seasoned sibling who likewise escaped. In any case, with no family support, I turned out to be progressively discouraged.

“One night I turned out to be extremely restless and garrulous. I was given conventional home grown medication by a witchdoctor. It diminished my uneasiness. That was my first significant burdensome scene.

“I got back to Liberia in 1998 when I completed my tutoring and chose to turn into an instructor.

“The head of my previous secondary school reached me and requested that I instruct there. It isn’t not difficult to track down qualified educators for provincial regions in Liberia.

“Be that as it may, not long after, the Second Liberian Civil War started and I was again dislodged – this opportunity to Liberia’s capital, Monrovia. I was all alone again and things were not turning out great for me. I needed to get back to college yet had no help. I was acknowledged to contemplate medication in Russia yet didn’t have the financing to go.

“I turned out to be extremely baffled and discouraged. I strolled from one spot to another. I was blabbering. I would shout a lot and couldn’t sit in one spot for extremely long. I was additionally daydreaming and seeing bizarre things.

“My mom and grandma took me to a profound “mending focus” in Monrovia. They figured the middle would “acculturate” me since I was acting fiercely. I was frightened to go there however I had no way out.

“At the middle, I was binded to a weighty wooden log and put in an assembly room with around 30 others who were likewise tied to logs. There were men, ladies and kids in the room. A portion of the other tied men were previous kid officers.

“I got exceptionally upset in view of the manner in which I was treated at the middle. During the 11 months I remained there, I never saw a therapist or some other specialist.

“There was nothing to do the entire day except for stay there. They just unchained us to take us to the restroom periodically. Most days, I got only one supper. The food comprised of “garri” (dry cassava) and dry coconut. We were just given a limited quantity of water. At times, I turned out to be amazingly parched yet they would not give me any more. There were times I drank my own pee.

“Life appeared to be aimless.

“On occasion those of us tied there would converse with each other and make quips. I made a couple of companions in the middle.

“My mom remained there the whole an ideal opportunity to deal with me. She rested in a different room and took directions from the head minister at the middle.

“I regularly revealed to her I needed to return home however she would not take me without the minister’s endorsement.

“Now and then, she furtively gave me additional food. She would sit close to me. Every so often she would converse with me and attempt to comfort me; on other days she would simply cry.

“Following 11 months, my sibling came to get me and took me to ES Grant Mental Health Hospital in Monrovia, the solitary mental medical clinic in Liberia.

“I had a backslide quite a long while later, after my significant other, Victoria, kicked the bucket. In any case, this time I was taken to clinic, where I was treated for about fourteen days and determined to have misery.

“I presently work for an association called Cultivation For Users’ Hope, which advocates for those with emotional well-being issues and attempts to bring issues to light of it with policymakers. Emotional wellness has never been a need for the Liberian government.

“Mental offices in Liberia are truly underfunded. ES Grant Mental Health Hospital has just 80 beds for inpatients. The nation is incredibly poor and, as of not long ago, had no psychological well-being spending plan.

“I don’t fault my mom and grandma for taking me to the “mending focus”. They were uninformed and couldn’t perceive some other arrangement.

“My first youngster was brought into the world in 2013. Since I have three kids I have figured out how to discover bliss. At the point when I get back from work and see them, I feel glad.”

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