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I love listening to radio.

You will be wrong to say it is because I am a journalist. Radio was forced down my ears as a toddler through teenage. It therefore became a habit which was formalized by journalism.

Through that brown wooden box of a radio set permanently positioned on the right hand top corner of my mother’s door post in the Hammond’s House at Okaishie, I was involuntarily subjected to all the news from the regions of Ghana and across the globe by GBC 1. Through that ‘Kofi Adeka’, I got all the benefits- Education, entertainment and information.

One programme on then GBC 1, whose title still lingers is ‘Yen ara nkunkunku’- I don’t even understand. Plus, no one ever put that radio set off to the best of my recollection. You wake up and it is on, you are going to bed, still.

The ‘Kofi Adeka’ was replaced with the ‘Akasanoma’ radio set which I think offered optional stations to tune in to. Due to my love for radio, when ‘Walkman’ came to town and I had the opportunity of owning one, I looked for one that had a radio feature as well. I later connected it to big speakers for use as a young adult when I got a room to myself.

And when GBC FM launched, I locked my dial, so to speak. In the process, I memorized the names of all the presenters; Charlie Sam, Kofi Tsakpornu, Rock King Clottey, Tommy Annan Forson for short, TAF for long and Tim Quashigah etc. I could sing almost every song played on radio and recite the names of the composers.

It was therefore a do or die affair when I got the opportunity to intern at Radio Gold. I justified my inclusion. Here, listening to radio was a matter of bread and butter. You monitor your station and others as well, in order not to miss the breaking news.

Again, when it pleased the Lord to bless me with a car, the first accessory I looked out for was the radio. ‘Lala y3 mli lo’- Is there music in there? was my query.

My Schizophrenia experience

I got you there! It is the sensational journalist in me who chose this sub-heading.

I first heard the word on radio. It was Dr. Akwasi Osei, then Chief Psychiatrist and now Chief Executive Officer of the Mental Health Authority who used the word.

Having mentioned mental health, let me spare a moment to point out that although we see it as something that is far removed from us, it is so important that in the definition of health by the World Health Organisation, it features prominently- “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity.”

In explaining mental health itself, this is what the WHO has on its website, “it is critically important for everyone, everywhere, and goes beyond the mere absence of a mental health condition. It is integral to well-being, enabling people to realize their full potential, show resilience amidst adversity, be productive across the various settings of daily life, form meaningful relationships and contribute to their communities. Physical, psychological, social, cultural, spiritual and other interrelated factors contribute to mental health, and there are inseparable links between mental and physical health. Promoting and protecting mental health is also critical to a well-functioning society,” (Emphasis mine).

Before I proceed, I also wish to suggest that if you are a parent who barely satisfies the needs of your dependents, beware of which family you leave your child with to pass the time. They could adopt the taste and preferences of the family whose house you send them. The consequences could be dire for you.

Back on track. As part of my job at Radio Gold, I was required to monitor Joy FM, our main competitor at the time. When I left Radio Gold and I was looking for options, I tuned in to Joy FM and got hooked.

So it was on the 99.7 FM dial that I heard the word, Schizophrenia. It was used after the presenter of the Super Morning Show asked what could be the cause of a phenomenon that was raging at the time. That strange occurrence was dubbed ‘spousal murders’ by the media. Within a period of six months, many women were killed by their husbands. A very worrying happening indeed.

In Dr. Osei’s answer, he made a statement which has stuck with me till date. He said, “it is not every person you see dressed nicely in skirt and blouse or shirt and tie tucked in, who is normal. There are many people suffering from Schizophrenia but they look just like you and I.”

This statement hit me. So, as I was taught from primary school, I decided to look out for the newly found word. Here is what I found at https://www.advancedpsychcare.com/:

Schizophrenia is a long-term mental disorder of a type involving a breakdown in the relationship between thought, emotion, and behaviour, leading to faulty perception, inappropriate actions and feelings, withdrawal from reality and personal relationships into fantasy and delusion.

In very simple terms, it is a mental condition characterized by inconsistent or contradictory elements. Other authors describe Schizophrenia as a mental illness that affects the way you think. For example, you might see or hear things that others don’t. Or believe things that other people do not.

The symptoms are listed as follows:

  • Delusions. These are false beliefs that are not based on reality.
  • Hallucinations. These usually involve seeing or hearing things that don’t exist.
  • Disorganized thinking/speech.

Although schizophrenia can occur at any age, the average age of onset tends to be in the late teens to the early 20s for men, and the late 20s to early 30s for women. It is said to be uncommon for schizophrenia to be diagnosed in a person younger than 12 or older than 40.

The exact causes of schizophrenia are unknown. Research suggests a combination of physical, genetic, psychological and environmental factors can make a person more likely to develop the condition. A stressful or emotional life event might trigger a psychotic episode.

The good news though is that it is possible to live well with schizophrenia. And while no cure exists for schizophrenia, it is treatable and manageable with medication and behavioral therapy, especially if diagnosed early and treated continuously. It affects about 1 in every 100 people.

Ooooohhk!!! Was my reaction after reading this information.

Actually, there are people walking around with other mental health conditions- bipolar, psychopaths and sadists. Bipolar should be familiar because the famous Abena Korkor has opened up on her challenges with the condition. As for psychopaths and sadist they are not easily noticeable but ‘by their fruits, ye shall know them.’

False beliefs that are not based on reality

My second encounter with the word was at work. One fine morning, some young men we had employed as clerks came to report to me that one of their colleagues was ordering them around.

According to them, their contemporary said the second in command at the office had made him their boss. The young men could not fathom why. I got befuddled as well.

So I checked with the second in command. He was baffled. Being a health professional, he put one and two together and diagnosed the ‘new boss of the clerks’ as displaying symptoms of schizophrenia. Later events confirmed his suspicions and the rest is history.

I dare say that instances such as the above cited abound in most marital, official and social relationships.

That friend of yours who always likes to play the boss by ordering you around to the extent of dictating what you eat, which persons you should associate with and where you should not go to. A behaviour that irks you so much. That person could be assuming the role of your mother or father in his head.

That husband, who will not allow you to work or express your opinion on domestic issues and spanks you at the least or no basis for provocation, could be a suspect. That wife who insults her husband, as we say in Ghana- p)t)p)t) over simple issues,  yet allows him to give her pleasure at night is worth paying attention to.

That colleague who disrespects everybody in the office because a vacant position, which he or she felt is his or hers, was given to someone else, may need Psychiatric/psychological assessment.

Seeing or hearing things that don’t exist

Under this sub-heading, I have no testimony to give because, the kind of things they see, the literature says does not exist. “You and I were not there” on my mind.

Disorganized thinking/speech

I checked and got synonyms such as; messy, confused, unsystematic and an interesting one, higgledy-piggledy, for the word disorganized. That’s because I wanted to drum home the conflict- causing capabilities of persons who suffer from schizophrenia.

Do you remember that meeting you attended at which everybody agreed with the decision that was taken except one person? When the issues were so clear for everybody yet this person said ‘not me’? Schizophrenia could be at play.

That boss, whose only tactic to getting his subordinates to increase productivity is shouting at and threatening to sack them, could do with a checkup into his head.

Some are even saying that, that leader of that country in Europe, who is killing people in his neighbouring country and destroying their infrastructure, for which reason our government says we Ghanaians are suffering, may require help in this regard.

Persons suffering from this mental condition present a serious challenge when it comes to resolving simple issues. They will break the rules at work because they understand it differently. If you dare write a one-page query to them, you will get a ten-page response full of explanations that have no relationship with the issue at stake. If they are a bit educated, then the challenge is humongous. I have not mentioned anybody’s name please.

Errr! You must have observed that whether in church, at the office, in the family or in your area, there is this individual who, even when you need a life-saving assistance, and you are asked to speak to, you instantly wave your hands in disapproval. That person could do with a chat with the Psychologist.

Imagine this. There was this driver whose contract for a work and pay arrangement for a vehicle had to be terminated. Per the contract, he would be entitled to a set amount if he works for a stated number of months. Although he worked for a quarter of the required period, he went about shouting his voice hoarse that because he has not decided to quit, he is entitled to the full compensation. No advice from arbitrators could stop him from proceeding to court.

During the arbitration process, he complained of the car owner trying to control every distance he covered, literary. In his words, “all he should do is to watch me as I work and make the weekly sales. But he is always giving me trouble. Meanwhile he knows me. To the glory of God I have owned four cars in my life.”

Meanwhile, the termination of the contract became necessary because of similar tantrums as reactions to simple requests such as ‘please do the servicing at Total Energies’. The response to this request is, “Total people, their servicing is unnecessarily expensive, you can get the same oil on the market and give it to a mechanic to change the oil for you.”

The possibility of filling the vehicle’s engine with fake or imitated oil is lost on him. Needless to add that he may have no clue that engine oil is to vehicles as blood is to humans.  The need to ensure that for an engine to last long, an oil with the apt viscosity, oxidation stability and thermal stability must be used, is totally lost on him. Yet he boasted that he has been a driver for over 13 years.

Please read this dialogue which served as the last straw that broke the camel’s back:

Car owner: last week you paid only GHC150.00 out of GHC400, what about the remaining mount?

Driver: That is all I can give you for that week, I had problems with battery.

Car owner: But you worked four out of six days during that week. GHC150.00 is definitely not fair.

Driver: That is all I can give.

Car owner: Well, then we must enforce the one day break. So please come and park the car in my house and come for it the following day.

Driver: I will not bring it. You have an intention. Declare it so you pay me off.

Car owner: Then I will bring in the Police to get me the car.

Driver: You can even go to court. We will meet there. You don’t know me. I have brought multinationals down.

The same person who has owned four cars before and has brought down multinationals requires someone’s car to earn a living? False beliefs that are not based on reality on my mind.

There is this other instance of a tenant in a compound house who felt that in her quest to live up to the cliché that ‘the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach’, she has every right to wake up at 5:00am to pound ‘fufu’ in the porch.

The fact that the pounding sound will wake up those who want to sleep is her ‘back case’. Her husband eats ‘fufu’ for breakfast so everybody must understand or go hang- ‘Wonti asi3a d33di’- Micky Osei Berko (Dada Boat/Master Richard) is wont to say.

Now to a parent’s suggestion during a PTA meeting to discuss proposed fee increment. “We have to let the proprietor understand that it is the school fees we have been paying that she uses to expand the infrastructure, so we have shares in the school. She cannot just get up and say she is increasing fees.” I leave this to your judgement.

Finally, over the weekend, it emerged that a middle-aged man had been killed by a lion. The deceased is suspected to have attempted to steal a cub. Even chicks, if you want to separate them from a hen, see the trouble you go through. Hmm!

It’s time to go

There are many of these people plying their trades in town, driving commercial vehicles, selling at the market, in our churches, in our families and work places.

There are some who are doctors and nurses- Health professionals essentially. Fortunately, through the fitness to practice initiative, the Medical and Dental Council as well as the Nursing and Midwifery Council are able to weed them out of the system. Not easily though.

The presence of persons living with schizophrenia in society, as evidenced from above, cause many needless conflicts. I am not a mental health specialist. But I have witnessed enough of such needless conflicts occasioned by pettiness and intransigence on the part of such persons to conclude that Schizophrenia is a key underlying cause of marital, organisational and societal conflicts.

So anytime you witness arguments or conflicts over petty and bizarre issues, please look out for the symptoms enumerated above- Delusions, Hallucinations and Disorganized thinking/speech.  I have no doubt that many persons suffering from the ailment have found themselves in prison instead of the psychiatric hospital. It is sad, but the way they carry themselves- well dressed and all, you can’t tell.

Even if you empathise with them enough to suggest a visit to asylum down (Accra Psychiatric Hospital), they will be offended due to the stigma attached to mental health conditions. But they need help. So if you can, when you experience any of these persons, don’t call the Police, please alert the Accra Psychiatric Hospital- 0577690753.  It is easier said than done, I know.

Before I say goodbye, let me plead with you again. I have been married to my wife, Joy, for nearly 23 years, we argue and yell at each other, yet it has never crossed my mind to beat her because I am the head of the household. That’s because I don’t see her as inferior or one of the children she begot for me. Even the children don’t get beaten by me.

So please if you ever hear that I have slapped my sweetheart, don’t condemn me, call Dr. Akwasi Osei and his people to come to my aid. After all, the literature indicates that “it is uncommon (not impossible) for schizophrenia to be diagnosed in a person older than 40.”

This article is vetted and approved by a Registered Mental Health Nurse.

Yasou – That’s goodbye in Greek.

Let God lead! Follow Him directly, not through any human.  

The writer works at Myjoyonline.com. He is also the author of two books whose contents share knowledge on how anyone desirous of writing like him can do so. Eric can be reached via email eric.mensah-ayettey@myjoyonline.comThe two books cost GHC80.00.

DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.


DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.