Anxiety, Depression. Mental Health
Conversations around these conditions have assumed prominence in recent times. From health professionals to psychologists; from the church rostrums to individual households, and work places, the discussions surrounding mental health and its concomitant effects is gathering attention. The debilitating effects of mental health conditions has resulted in the death of many people- celebrities, TV personalities, highly qualified professionals-who appeared very healthy, physically and mentally on the outside.
In Ghana, the conversation is beginning to gather moth. Mental health issues have traditionally been considered a ‘taboo’ topic. It is treated as an ‘alien’ disorder. Our traditional society makes it highly uncomfortable for many, especially men, to express emotions. Any signs of depression, anxiety or mental health disorder is considered a ‘spiritual attack’. Some families would rather send relatives suffering from such conditions to religious camps than to the hospital for proper examination.
The statistics on mental health disorders may not reflect the exact situation on the ground, but it is quiet revealing. According to a 2017 data from the Ghana Health Service, 42% of Ghanaians suffer some form of psychological disorder. Despite the lack of education on this condition, some individuals are, in their small ways, opening up the conversation by sharing stories about their struggles with these disorders.
One individual contributing to the discourse on mental health issues is Poetyk Prynx. A spoken word artist, guitarist, sax player and engineering graduate, Prynx (mentioned as Prince) has managed to draw attention to the issues via his twitter timeline and events like “The Sanctuary’’, which has been held twice this year.
Last week, he released ”Collywobbles”, a three track EP with focus on mental health disorder. Employing his own bouts as example, Prynx offers the listener a detailed insight into his personal struggle with anxiety and depression.
”Collywobbles” is presented like a stagy piece of performance where he discusses the ‘dark’ themes of his poetry in recent times. Poetyk Prynx opens up to a confident about his situation on ‘’Navel-Grazing’’: ‘’Of late de3, the poems I dey write, I no dey fit write any happy poems. Either I dey write about depression or my anxiety, and e dey make I dey worry waa’. The confident, in response, assures him to not give up since ‘whatever you wanna talk about, you still have listeners’. On the second part of the opening track, a conversation on his potential message between two people of his ‘audience’ comes up after his introduction by the MC. The guys complain about his recurring commentary about anxiety and depression; a sentiment he confirms with his introductory remarks.
Collywobbles is an exploration of his mental challenges: his fears, struggles, low self-esteem. Delivered in a voice that evokes vulnerability , Poetyk Prynx succeeds in highlighting how his fears holds him back from chipping into conversations with friends because ‘I’m too afraid I might ruin it for them’ and how he ‘fakes’ phone calls just to escape a gathering. For a little over 8 minutes, Poetyk Prynx paints a picture of how debilitating his battles are on his being. Finding solace in sleep or a state of solitude isn’t a solution that works. In fact, it is rather an aggravator of these wild, charring thoughts. He makes a lucid presentation on how his fears get emboldened by his state of solitude: ‘’I’m afraid I may be drowned by the voices in my head and die in my sleep/ that my dreams might be sucked by my nightmares’’.
The ‘dreams’ refers to him becoming ‘one of the greatest humans, poet, and engineer’. He proceeds to weigh in on how the burden of being the eldest of the family fuels this fear of failure that keeps vanquishing his dreams. To defeat his fears and anxiety, he leans on friends for feedback; something to validates his existence.
Unlike some poems that paint a picture of grief without recourse to ‘solutions’ on how to deal with the situation, Prynx takes a different approach: he offers solutions on how to address the situation by featuring simple advice from two medical officers on the precautionary steps to take when one feels depressed.
‘’Collywobbles’’ is Poetyk Prynx’s smallest way in drawing attention to this ‘taboo’ subject. He has moved the conversation from his social media timeline, where he often used his 280 characters to begin a conversation around health issues; building a community of interested people- victims either directly or otherwise and health volunteers. The commitment he shows to the course is gradually adding to his reputation. With ‘’Collywobbles’’, Poetyk Prynx did not wail about his afflictions; he did offer a useful advice for both victims and non-victims on how to handle it.