Aluta And Chill: 6 Pan-Atlantic University Students Talk About Their Mental Health Struggles

July 30, 2020

Students in Nigerian universities have stories to tell, but hardly anyone to tell them to. For our new weekly series, Aluta and Chill, we are putting the spotlight on these students and their various campus experiences.


We are taking issues of mental health in Nigeria more seriously than we used to. However, there is still a lot to do. For students, there is a  relationship between mental health and their quality of life, which includes satisfaction with the college experience. So, I spoke to some students at Pan-Atlantic University and asked them to talk about events that have affected their mental health. From feelings of inadequacy and depressive episodes to panic and anxiety attacks, these students had a lot to say.

Soho

Four weeks into the second semester of my second year, I got into an argument with my group of friends. They were the closest thing I had to a support system. That would come back to bite me. 

At the end of the month, the school released the first-semester results. I’d assumed that I would well as I usually did. However, when I saw my grades, they’d done so much damage to my CGPA. It was way below what I was used to. 

I broke down at once. An existential crisis happened, and I started to question who I was and what my purpose was. I always thought I was a smart person who didn’t need to work a lot to get what I needed. My school persona was tied to my grades, so when I got those low grades, it felt like I lost an important part of myself.

I always struggled with impostor syndrome as well. I didn’t think I deserved the good grades I got, and the one time it actually happened to me, I believed that my day of reckoning had come and I would be made out as the fraud that I was. 

A lot happened. I was tired, stressed, and so out of it. Everyone I could talk to wasn’t on speaking terms with me. I went on a downward spiral and was at my lowest for a while. 

People didn’t know I was hurting because I deflected my pain with humour. I looked happy, but deep down, I was in a lot of pain. 

Slowly, things began to mend themselves. However, I don’t think I fully recovered from the episode. I was on a 4.GPA before it happened, and I dropped to a 3. GPA. I’ve been trying to get my CGPA back up since that time, but it hasn’t happened yet. I guess I just have to figure out a way to live with it.

Damilola

I’m the first child of my parents. Growing up, I was taught to be strong at all times. I’ve lost count of the number of times somebody told me to get a hold of myself because “people look up to me.”

I internalised all this, and it was a driving force to how I lived my life. In my third year, one of my closest friends died. I didn’t get to process that because it meant going out of character. The enormous schoolwork didn’t help either. School turned to hell for me. At times, I wanted to cry, but I couldn’t shed a tear because that person wasn’t who I was raised to be.

 I’m very outgoing and generally a people person. I put on smiles for people, while I was dying inside. This was me for two months as I struggled to keep it together.

One night, I attended a friend’s birthday party and drank more than I should have. As I sobered up, I became so emotional and couldn’t stop crying. I had a heartfelt conversation with two of my friends that night and shared everything I kept bottled up inside.

From that night, I became intentional about my mental health. I decided that it’s okay not to be strong at all times, to blow off some steam when I need to and to let go of anything that could weigh me down. I still struggle with all this, but I take it one step at a time. 

Ifeoluwa

My first week at the university was not very fun. Right from the moment I stepped into the gates, I felt funny. On my second day, I tried to push myself out of my comfort zone and talk to people. Everyone was doing it. I saw someone I’d known before I resumed at school. We’d been talking in a group chat, but we hadn’t seen each other yet. It seemed like a good idea to talk to him. 

But as I walked up to where he was, I started hyperventilating badly. I couldn’t control it even when I got to him. I knew I was in the early stages of a panic attack. We barely spoke a word when I hurriedly excused myself and left awkwardly. It was embarrassing, but it was either that or breaking down completely befoe him and everyone else. I couldn’t live with that memory.

It was my first panic attack in months. I called my mum and she managed to calm me now, albeit with strict instructions to visit the school clinic. 

At the clinic, I had an extensive conversation with the school psychologist and she was very helpful. She spoke with me calmly about my history with panic attacks and made me feel much better about myself. I thought that was a wonderful touch. 

 I think I’ve gotten used to the school now, so I’ve gotten some grip on my anxiety and mental health. More importantly, feel better with the fact that the school takes these issues seriously and there is a professional I can always talk to whenever things try to get out of control.

Carol

I study accounting, which I’m not very crazy about. I tried to switch departments in my first year, but my parents didn’t allow it. By my second year, I’d had a couple of carryovers. I was just going along with the flow, not sure how to be at my best. 

I’d just seen a couple of my results and there were additional courses I failed. I was in class when one lecturer came in and started talking about success and how CGPA play an important role in it. She implied that I was doomed to fail in life if I didn’t get my grades up. I was already low, and listening to all of this just made it worse. It triggered a depressive episode. I broke down in class, in front of everyone. 

When I finally got a bit of myself together and left the class, I went to the guidance counsellor, hoping to get some clarity. However, there was little they could do to help me. 

I’m in my third year now, and I’m still struggling with school. To be honest, this pandemic is a blessing to me. I’m removed from the school environment, and I don’t think too much about everything that happens there. I don’t know what  I will do when I return to school, and I have no idea how to deal with it. 

Chike

I had a roommate in my second year whom we made music together. Sometime during the session, he organised an event — a gathering of music enthusiasts. 

He was in charge of planning,  and he included me on the list of people billed to perform. It was going to be the first time I performed my songs for people. I was pretty excited and looked forward to it. 

The day eventually came and everything was great. What I didn’t know was that I would be the first performer of the night. I guess the news took me by surprise, and everything became a disaster from there. 

My set was terrible. There was hardly a reaction or engagement from the audience. It didn’t help that I forgot the lyrics to my song. 

I blamed myself for everything that happened. For agreeing to perform at the event. For not preparing better. It was my first time and it makes sense to go easy on myself, but I was incapable of doing that. It was just messy. 

Needless to say, my confidence took a big hit. I haven’t held a microphone since that event.  I’m working on that, though. I plan on getting myself together and organising a similar event before I graduate from school. 

Kosi

Mental health in Nigeria

Covid-19 happened and the school sent us home. However, academic activities continued. Soon, it was time for exams, but things would be different this time. We would write our exams online. 

I logged in to Zoom 30 minutes before the exam was scheduled to start. Things were quiet for a while. All of a sudden, I started breathing fast and it felt like something heavy had been placed on me. This had never happened to me, but somehow, I knew what it meant. 

I called a friend and told him that I was in the middle of an anxiety attack. He instructed me to stand up, breathe slowly, and think of something that makes me happy. I did everything he told me to. In no time, my breathing returned to normal. And I managed to write the exam without any further incident. I think about it sometimes and I know for sure that I don’t want to go through another episode.


Can’t get enough Aluta and Chill? Check back every Thursday at 9 AM for a new episode. Find other stories in the series here.

Toheeb Lanlehin

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

May 2, 2019

Ekosodin is a student neighbourhood near my school, and it’s famous for all the wrong reasons. I was walking in the area with a friend once when we heard someone shout, “Fine girl wassup na?” We just assumed, “oh it’s just boys catcalling.” He kept at it, and we just ignored. All of a sudden, […]

Watch

Now on Zikoko

January 22, 2021

FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) is also known as female circumcision and it is the cutting of some or all of the external female genitalia. It has been criminalized in some countries, but not all. Unfortunately, there have been millions of women who have been victims of this act. Six African women talk about their experience […]

Recommended Quizzes

April 14, 2020

Every friend group consists of very different and specific characters — from the parent to the fun one — and it can be a little tough figuring out where you fall. So, we’ve created a quiz that lets you know exactly what kind of friend you are. Take to find out:

November 1, 2019

Twitter is buzzing right now, bringing a new conversation to the concept of cool vs not-so-cool, especially in relationships. If you’ve been thinking about how much of a red flag you are, why don’t you let this quiz help you decide once and for all?

December 11, 2019

In the past month, we’ve made quizzes that guessed the last time you had sex, how many people you’ve slept with, and just how good you are in bed. For our latest attempt, we will use your taste in Nigerian music from the 2010s to ascertain what you’re like in bed. Take to find out:

March 24, 2020

While we know that a lot of the best Nigerian artists deservedly have fans across generations, that won’t stop us from attempting to guess how old you are based on your taste in Nigerian music. So, take this quiz to see if we got it right:

November 14, 2019

The fourth season of Big Brother Naija came to an end over a month ago, but the conversation surrounding the housemates is far from over. So, in a bid to keep the fire burning, we decided to create a quiz that tells you which famous member of the ‘Pepper Dem’ gang is your soulmate. Take […]

how tall are you
March 11, 2020

Did your parents give you enough beans when you were growing up? If they did, then you’re probably around 6’0″ and above. Either way, we created a quiz that can guess your current height (pretty accurately, if we do say so ourselves). Take to see if we nailed it:

More from Aluta And Chill

September 25, 2020

For a Nigerian father, it is not enough that you made it to university. No, no. “Any random person can go to the university,” they’ll say. To them, it’s the course you study that matters.  1. Medicine This is top 2 and it’s not number 2. A Nigerian father’s ultimate dream is to say, “My […]

September 25, 2020

Dear OAU students, everyone knows that you have a vibrant community, so it’s only right that we do a post about the Obafemi Awolowo University experience. This one is for you: 1. When you are coming from Academics at 3 AM and Seun Risky has not closed  I serve a living God. 2. Awo boys […]

September 25, 2020

What does life look like for Gen Z Nigerians everywhere in the world? Every Friday, we ask five Gen Z Nigerian students one question in order to understand their outlook of life.  We recently wrote an article about some Nigerians struggle with drug addiction, so we decided to ask five students why they started using drugs in the […]

Watch

Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

December 14, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
March 12, 2020
Life is already hard. Deciding where to eat and get the best lifestyle experiences, isn't something you should stress about. Let VRSUS do that for you.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.
X