I came back from abroad on a short holiday to Lagos in 2005, my visa was about to expire at the time so I decided to just chill a bit longer here & renew it before returning.
That was a life changing decision that led me to the darkest corners of my soul.
My visa wasn’t renewed and I couldn’t return to my apartment, job, car or life. I found myself stuck in Lagos and squatting with a friend. I ran out of money quickly and had no source of income aside calling up my friends and relatives to send me something.
Eventually, my landlord abroad lost patience with my stories and the rent I owed him, he probably threw my stuff out on the street or sold it to offset the rent I already owed, till today I don’t know. My car was towed away from where it was parked when the MOT expired.
Here in Naija, my host had lost patience with squatting me & was issuing me ultimatums to pack out. I don’t really blame him, what had started out as a fun visit from your boy from abroad had stealthily morphed into a charity situation where he was feeding and housing me.
I’ve got to tell you right now, NOTHING in this world is worse than suddenly becoming a liability where you were an asset. I had become a cautionary tale about how not to fuck up your life in the same places I used to go and be celebrated.
I was a millionaire before the age of 25 and here I was at 27, a homeless and wretched ‘deportee’. (The rumour going around was that I was deported).
Even I started to believe the talk around me that I was somehow cursed or spiritually embattled.
Then the suicidal thoughts started.
They started off innocently enough, with questioning my worth, but quickly they got dark
I figured that since I wasn’t useful to anyone or even myself, the world would be better off without me and I’d be better off without all this pain.
Suicide is the ultimate act of self criticism. It’s basically telling yourself that you don’t have what it takes to tackle life.
It’s a clear vote of no confidence in ones own ability to weather the storm till it passes, as all storms eventually do.
I thought of numerous ways to end it all.
I always favored methods that didn’t bring pain to me or inconvenience to my friend that I was squatting with.
I didn’t really care much about my corpse, if the vultures ate it, at least I’d be useful to them.
I eventually decided on jumping off the 3rd Mainland bridge while strapped with a backpack of rocks.
I couldn’t swim, so I knew I couldn’t fail at this, plus I figured it would double as a funeral if I did it right and sunk to the bottom where my body wouldn’t be found.
The only thing that kept me from ending my life each day was the thought that I could do it tomorrow.
Or in other words, procrastination saved my life.
Eventually I moved from my first squatees house and started squatting with another friend.
Both men are still my closest friends till today, and on clear nights like this when I do some introspection I wonder if I could ever repay their kindness to me.
They were generally good to me since they fed and housed me at different times, but they didn’t spare me the indignities of being the broke friend, the hanger-on.
I found myself running errands and doing house chores just to have something to contribute.
There’s this rut one can sometimes find oneself in, where we start to mentally accept our status as something written in stone that cannot be changed by our own hands.
I had reached that stage, but as I read somewhere God speaks to us through the voices of those around us.
Another friend of mine who knew me before my life went to shit somehow still believed in me when I had lost all hope in myself.
He loaned me 70k in 2007 (time really flies when one’s life is going nowhere!) which I used to buy some watches. I sent those watches to the UK…
…And made a reasonable profit from them. I paid my angel investor back his money and rediscovered how sweet it is to have your own cash.
Before the money from the watches ran out, I had found a job lecturing at a computer school and that was the end of my depression story.
I would like to share what I learned from this episode with you, maybe it might be useful.
1. All storms would pass eventually. Except you’re suffering from a terminal disease, all you need to do is hang in there.
2. How long we remain in our storm might depend on us to some extent.
I don’t say this to put the blame on you, but just to let us all know that the tools for coping or overcoming could be lying dormant within us while we spend our energy looking outside ourselves for a solution.
3. Our network defines us.
I mentioned 3 friends, two helped in a way that only enabled me to continue to live less than my potential, but the third, God bless him – reminded me of who I am.
They all were doing their best for me according to what they knew.
4. Sometimes our storms prepare us for the long ocean adventure.
I’m an extremely adaptable person today because of the experiences I’ve had. I don’t think an easy life could produce the quality of human that I believe myself to be.
I still went through a lot more on my way…
…to who I am today, but I went through it with the confidence of a veteran. Maybe that’s what you’re being primed for today.
4. Belief is everything. The moment you stop believing in yourself, it’s game over, son. I’ll say it again. NEVER stop believing that you’re awesome.
This is 11 years later and I’ve gained everything I lost and I’ve done so in multiples. Some of the things that we hold as so important today might just be insignificant memories in the future.
Don’t sweat it.
The conclusion is on another thread, this has reached its limit