Notes on Tee Billz - It takes a village to save a child

At first I was amused. It isn't everyday that your country's biggest star's husband goes on instagram and says that she's slept with Don Jazzy, 2Face, and Dr Sid. The ideas were turning in my head. I planned to write an article where I'd joke shamelessly about the conversation that they'd have that night. I stayed aware of the affair as it sent Nigerian twitter into a frenzy. We're all piranhas there, unified only by the scent of blood in the water. I didn't talk about it. I decided that I would only write about it if we all learned that it wasn't true. It's one thing to make fiction with real characters, and it is another to use real tragedies as fodder for your humour.

Tee Billz created what he called a temporary twitter account  and claimed that he had been hacked. That was my call to action. Operation banter atop the head of Tiwa and Tee Billz was a go. I toyed with the idea, pulling it this way and that. I committed nothing to paper and continued to monitor the commentary on twitter. And then it happened: the whisper of a suicide attempt. He stood on the Lekki-Ikoyi bridge with the intention of finding a watery death. Operation dance azonto with the gist died a quick death. I will joke about many things but I will not joke about mental health.

Mental health illnesses are dangerously common, but even more dangerously silent. You may never notice it in another, but it'll be there all the same, lurking. There may be a trigger, or they may not be. They say that one in four of us will suffer from one. I have been the one in the four. At the time I believed that I was alone, but I wasn't. Friends came through in ways I didn't think possible and my mother hauled ass on my behalf. I'd always heard that it took a village to raise a child, I did not know then that it also took a village to save one. The therapist, the GP, the friends, the family, and everyone else in between, all working to see this one through.

I cannot say that what worked for me will work for you or your friend, or your mother, or your father. All that matters is that you find something that works because there's nothing worse than losing someone with the knowledge that you did not try. Even now the village tries.

They no longer greet me with how are you doings. When they ask me how I'm doing, they don't want to hear fine. They want to know where I am in relation to the 'D'.

When I saw the posts by some of his contemporaries on Instagram I was surprised and then I was disappointed. I suppose it would have been fine if there was no stigma attached to suicide and mental illness, but you can't change the fact that there is. If you cannot reach out to people that you claim to be close to with sensitivity when they're suicidal, then maybe you shouldn't at all. It is already hard enough dealing with it in private, how much more difficult is it when your friends are the ones fueling twitter's curiosity?

You must understand that the person who tries to die by their own hand does not do so because he or she is so forlorn that death suddenly seems appealing. It is because their invisible pain has reached a height that is unendurable. The fear of death doesn't disappear, it is that the terror of life is greater.

It is similar to the way one man jumped out of the twin towers during the 9/11 attacks. He was probably just as scared of jumping as anyone would be but there was a building collapsing around him. It was a terror so great that it exceeded the fear of falling.

You may look at him or her and say don't. But you cannot understand it. You'd have to have walked through his fire and his flames to - and maybe not even then.


Feyi Adesanya said...


Anonymous said...

Well said! Thank you for this.

Georgie said...

I love this Afam, I really do! Bless you! G

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