Kene A Mental Health Story by Franka Chiedu Commissioned Artwork by Osaze Amadasun DEPRESSION! I’m not sure when it started but when Kene died a lot of things about life changed for me. I spoke with the nurses on duty the night before and was enthusiastically informed that she was doing better than expected and will be moving from the Intensive Care Unit to an open ward. I was overjoyed by the news and the prospect of speaking with my best friend again after weeks of anguish and uncertainty. Everything was fine with Kene until one day she returned from work with a mild cough and sore throat. We dismissed her symptoms as a flu or allergy from the pollen filled air. Gradually her coughing got worse and graduated to breathlessness, weakness and sudden inability to get out of bed. Our GP suggested she may be suffering from severe bronchitis and will need time to recover fully, tons of medications were prescribed including a healthy dose of steroids to help soften the phlegm causing the irittation in her throat. She was advised to try the honey- lemon and warm water therapy as well as the breathing exercise. She did all that she was told but her condition con- tinued in its steady decline. One day, I got a call from her office that she had been rushed to the emergency unit- she collapsed just as she was making her way into their reception area. Luckily, the security man had just walked out from the back office, so he quickly came to her rescue. After many tests, scans and cross examinations, she was eventually diagnosed with Tuberculosis. The diagnosis had come a little too late as the bacteria had spread to other parts of her body. Kene was quarantined and put in the intensive care unit. Pumped with all sorts of medications, with pipes and wires passing through her whole body, she looked like an experimental fixture. Seeing my best friend in such terrible condition ripped my heart in pieces. To watch her struggle to sit up, speak or move her body broke me. As days became weeks and weeks months, the hospital visits became my norm. For the first few weeks, Kene didn’t seem to respond to treatments. I fasted and prayed day and night. I begged the almighty God for healing; I carried Kene’s photo to different men of God seeking deliverance. An only child who became orphaned at 17, just when we got into Uni, I was Kene’s best friend and family. She spent most of her school breaks at mine, my family fell hard for her amiable spirit, my younger brother jokingly called her his future wife; she was the sister I never had. 5 / BLANCKLITE / OCT 2018 /