Bernard, October 8, 2019

I had a relapse at the prayer camp and I was tied like a sheep

My late brother and I were working together in the hospitality sector, running a bar. We were making good money. So, I advised my brother, we should build a house. We worked together on it for more than two years. It was a three bedroom flat each… on one plot.

That’s around the time I started seeing things differently from reality. I thought people were controlling my lights… but no one was there. I was hearing voices. 

My brother was asking, ‘what is happening to you?’ I told him; I was experiencing thoughts that people were planning to kill me. I hadn’t experienced anything like it before.

He took me to the psychiatric hospital. I was lucky. The nurses at the hospital handled me with care. After two weeks I was discharged. The fear had gone.  

In less than two days though, it started again. I was put on various drugs. Whenever I’d relapse, I’d be given different drugs.  I was in and out of the hospital for many years after that.

After my illness, my brother told me the building that we built together, was no longer mine. I would no longer have a share in it.  He wanted to make me seem abnormal so he could claim ownership of our land.

Since the building was completed, I haven’t received one Ghanaian Cedi out of it. 

The pastors at my church helped me realise my brother treated me unfairly. But I didn’t want to accept that. More recently, MEHSOG [Mental Health Society of Ghana], advised me to speak to a Judge about my rights. The Judge told me since the case is more than ten years old, I don’t have a right to my property. It’s painful.

I thank God that I am physically healthy and that I am working. It is difficult to find a job when you have a mental illness. People see you as only a survivor – not a real human being.

The stigma is everywhere in this part of the world. When you have a psycho-social disability, the respect given to you diminishes.

For a long time, when I see my family and I open my mouth to speak, everybody turns their face in the opposite direction. They didn’t want to listen to me.

In our country, even the politicians don’t understand mental health. One of our Ministers sent his son to prayer camp. I’m not against prayer camp. I’m against the way they handle people.

I was taken to a prayer camp myself. Some of the treatment is… not good. They wake you without footwear and they use palm fronds to beat you. They beat my head everywhere. They will tell you they’re combating the illness.

I had a relapse at the prayer camp, and I was tied like a sheep. They tied my legs together, like a pig or an animal at a butcher to be carried home. It’s ignorance. They are doing me harm, through a lack of knowledge.

I don’t know any leader of a prayer camp who would be willing to sit down and hear my advice. They shouldn’t shun orthodox medicine. Likewise, orthodox medicine shouldn’t shun the prayer camps. They can work hand in hand. If they get a newcomer at their prayer camp, they should diagnose that person. If the person needs injections or tablets, they should give them to the person… while they pray them with them.

Mental health is a global issue. No one should be made to feel worthless, isolated or ashamed because of their mental health problem. Find out more about Time to Change Global.

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