Living With Hypertension And Depression

April 21, 2021

As told to Femi

A couple of weeks ago, I put out a tweet looking to speak with young people dealing with hypertension. Ehimen reached out to me. Our conversation spanned beyond hypertension to other issues. Here’s his story.

It all began in my final year at the university when I was 19. I think it was all the stress from being a final year student and trying to graduate. Being one of the few people with a laptop, I helped others with their projects. I was under a lot of mental stress. Sleep came in bits and I had very little appetite. I noticed I was having migraines and a lot of hallucinations. My eyes and fingernails turned a shade of red. I thought I just needed more sleep but there simply wasn’t any time.

Sometime later, I found out that I was to have an extra year because of a mix up in matric numbers. Seeing my mates graduate drove me into a downward spiral of depression. My mental health took a major hit and I lost the will to do anything. My physical health too was declining steadily. I fell sick and went to a pharmacy near my hostel, looking to get drugs for malaria. I explained my symptoms to the pharmacist on duty and she told me that I needed to check my blood pressure.

I was surprised and almost laughed it off, thinking only old people could have blood pressure. She insisted I checked it so I did. Her look of shock still haunts me to this day. She checked 10 more times, with three machines. The readings were all around 180/130. She couldn’t believe that I could still be standing with my blood pressure that high. She asked where I was coming from. She expressed disbelief that I walked that distance without fainting or going into a stroke.

I called my parents and they asked me to come home to Lagos immediately. They understood how dangerous it was because they were also hypertensive. My whole family was worried sick because they knew what my parents were going through with it.

After some treatment, I went back to school but the blood pressure symptoms worsened. I started feeling chest pains, migraines, insomnia and weak erections. When I could get erect, I would hardly last 10 seconds before ejaculating. It was a dark period. I would lock myself in my room and only come out to eat once a day. I moved to a new hostel and was acquainted with a new group of friends and that was when I started slacking off with life. I didn’t care about anything anymore. Sometimes, I would take more pills than I was prescribed just because I didn’t care about life anymore.

I moved back to Lagos after school. I landed a good job and was in a great relationship. My libido also improved and life was generally improving. However, my relationship began to stress me with incessant fights, along with having to deal with a long work commute from Victoria Island to Ejigbo. Every sickness I had worsened due to my blood pressure: malaria, typhoid and even injuries were exacerbated. At this point, I knew I couldn’t avoid taking blood pressure medication.

The first pill felt like a shot of heroin up my arm. I felt so calm and weightless. It was going great until I started reacting negatively to the medication. I was having incessant nose bleeds, worse insomnia and hallucinations. Sometimes, I’d see pictures talking to me and see things that weren’t there, such as snakes. I’d be walking and suddenly feel like I was falling off a building. The doctors put me on milder medication. 

As I got older, I added more weight because I trained as a chef. I was eating a lot of new meals and wasn’t exercising. A health checkup told me that my cholesterol was higher than normal for my age. At this point, I decided not to let this condition affect my life. I started making plans to live healthily. Exercise became routine and I ate more healthily.  I gave up alcohol and started taking my pills diligently. Then the lockdown happened.

Because of my condition, I was almost paranoid because I knew I had to be extra careful not to catch COVID-19 At some point, I was exhausted. I stopped taking my pills and was hoping I would contract the virus during a suicidal phase.

Now, I’m trying to relocate to another country so I can access better health care. I think there’s something wrong with me, deep inside but I think I’ll have better answers when I leave this country. Nigeria triggers my anxiety a lot. Seeing a police officer or having a close shave in traffic often sends my heart beating at a thousand miles per hour. I feel a tightness in my chest, my breathing becomes gasps and I feel dizzy, even when driving. Every day, from my waking moment, till I go to bed, I feel sick. I am trying to relocate to another country so I can have better medical care. I still believe there’s something wrong with me inside, I can feel it. I believe I’ll have better answers when I get there. But it has been a tedious task trying to leave this country. 

I’ve learned to take a nap whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed and to avoid all triggers because I know I’m going to live with it till the day I die.

Are you a man who would like to be interviewed for a Zikoko article? Fill this form and we’ll be in your inbox quicker than you can say “Man Dem.”

Zikoko Donation Banner

Help Zikoko keep making the content you love

More than ever, people are turning to Zikoko for stories that matter and content they love. But still, we, like many media organisations, are feeling the financial heat of these times. If you find us valuable, please make a contribution to help keep Zikoko zikoko-ing.

Thank you for your support.

We are also cool with Crypto.

Donation Close
Zikoko Logo

Complete Your Commitment

Donation confirm

Your Contribution is confirmed! Amount

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this


Now on Zikoko

Recommended Quizzes

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:

October 30, 2019

Kemi Adetiba’s King of Boys movie got a lot of things right, especially casting, so yes, it was a monster hit. Now, we know you may not have put much thought to this, but the personalities of some of the characters closely match yours, and we would like to help you find the perfect match. […]

September 1, 2021

August is over, and here are some of our best quizzes from August. Enjoy: 1. QUIZ: Only Ajebutters Can Get 10/21 On This Quiz Some people like to form ajepako when they’re really ajebutter. Are you one of them? Let’s find out. 2. QUIZ: Sorry, If You’re Under 25 There’s No Way You Can Pass […]

October 29, 2019

We are going to be attempting to guess when you’ll marry based on your favourite Nigerian foods. What does your fave swallow have to do with when you’ll tie the knot? Please, don’t ask complicated questions. This quiz is rigorous and accurate (don’t quote us), so just take it already. QUIZ: Why Do You Have […]

More from Man Dem


Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

September 13, 2022
Vs The World is a Zikoko original video series that follows best friends Astor and Hassan as they take on the world.
August 23, 2022
Zikoko Ships is a Zikoko Original series where we invite two people who share a relationship to play the Zikoko card games
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.

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.