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New Era Newspaper Friday October 13, 2017

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10 FEATURE Friday, October 13 2017| NEW ERA Living with bipolar disorder… ‘They called me Hitman’ Alvine Kapitako Windhoek Before being diagnosed with bipolar disorder family and friends of Unathi Hendricks had no idea that subsequent violent behaviour were as a result of a mental disorder. They could not understand why one moment she would be extremely happy and then suddenly very sad. Everyone called her moody. Within the streets of her neighbourhood they called ‘Hitman’ or ‘super woman’ for engaging in serious physical confrontations. Growing up, Hendricks who is now 27 years old could not understand why she would get so angry or easily irritable. “I did get so angry that I would ask myself why I got that angry afterwards,” explained Hendricks. As time went on, That is when her parents sought medical attention. In 2004, at the age of 14, Hendricks was diagnosed with bipolar. The medical doctor who diagnosed Hendricks was ‘kind’ enough to go the extra mile in explaining the condition and that it’s “just in the brain”. “It was hard for me to accept that I have a mental disorder,” said Hendricks as she recalls her journey. She then explains that nobody wants a bad diagnosis. There is no cure for bipolar disorder, however, the condition can be controlled with medication as well as a healthy environment and a strong support system. “I didn’t realise how serious and dangerous my condition is,” she adds, recalling the times that she did not properly adhere to the medication. Those were the times that she had the recall the seriousness of her actions. As a result, Hendricks was frequently admitted into the psychiatric ward. Today, she strictly adheres to her prescribed medication, which, she takes three times a day. “I would later discover that I almost killed my brother,” recalled Hendricks. Fortunately, Hendricks’ mother had an understanding of the condition and therefore she was supportive. However, she also recalled of the times that family members, including her dad remarked that her condition was a result of witchcraft. “Until today my dad feels its witchcraft. But my question is why do you have to believe in negativity?” she stated. in 2010, after being discharged from the psychiatric ward on Christmas Eve. “I told myself I would never go to a psychiatric ward again and until today I have not gone there again,” related Hendricks. That is because she made a decision that she would do everything possible to live a meaningful life and that meant taking care of her mental health. She has learnt that a strong support system, in addition to a stress free environment as well as taking her medication as prescribed are the ingredients to living a happy and healthy life. “The condition can be kept under control. We just need love. We need support,” she said, adding that people with bipolar disorder are just like any other human. The mother of one added that people with the condition belong to society and therefore, they have loved ones. “Losing one soul like me can do a lot of damage to those close to me,” said year old daughter. Although, she is no longer married to the father of her child, Hendricks is in a relationship with a supportive partner. They are her pillars of strength. And, although a simple thing such as a song playing repeatedly can agitate her, both her daughter and partner have learnt how to bring out the best in her. “My daughter calms me down,” Hendricks says with a smile on her face. She also spoke fondly of her partner as they shared eye contact and exchanged smiles. “I didn’t actually know what bipolar was,” said the partner. But that meant doing a lot of research on the condition in order to be a supportive partner. Hendricks partner tries to gain as much understanding on the condition and thus tries to assist her in the process. She has devised coping and supportive mechanisms for times when Hendricks has episodes. man,” said the partner laughing. Hendricks’ partner further remarked: “In the black community bipolar is for seen as a white people’s sickness. To me she is extra special. For example, she is very focused and she has respect for elders. Her Christian faith is awesome. There are a lot of things that rub off that have changed me to be more responsible. She’s cool. She’s really awesome”. Even though Hendricks has a strong support system, there are times when depression kicks in. “Sometimes I really do have major low self-esteem. And then sometimes I have so she said added. The netball lover stressed that people with bipolar need to be loved and accepted. There are many people living with the condition in secret for fear of being labelled as ‘crazy’, she adds. In the end, some may end up committing suicide. “How many people are in prisons for killing someone because they are bipolar and they don’t even know it?” said Hendricks, calling for an end towards discrimination of mental illness. “I was called ‘Hitman’ and ‘Super woman’ because of the aggression even though I knew it wasn’t normal,” related Hendricks. Namibia on Wednesday observed World Health Mental Day. The day is observed on 10 October every year, with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health. The Day provides an opportunity for all stakeholders working on mental health issues to talk about their work, and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide. Facing the facts… The multiple face expressions of Unathi Hendricks go through because of the bipolar disorder. Photos: Emmency Nuukala

11 Friday, October 13 2017| NEW ERA Biko: Black man, you are on your own We reproduce this undated interview between Bongani Mahlangu and South African black consciousness supremo Bantu Steve Biko, who was assassinated in 1977. Bongani Mahlangu: Mr Biko, what do you mean when you say “Black man, you are on your own”? Bantu Biko: A black man should be more independent and depend on himself for his freedom and not to take it for granted that someone would lead him to it. The blacks are tired of standing at the touchlines to witness a game that they should be playing. They want to do things for themselves and all by themselves. Bongani Mahlangu: To you what do you see in a black man? Bantu Biko: The Black man has become a shell, a shadow of man, completely defeated, drowning in his own misery, a slave, an ox bearing the yoke of oppression with sheepish timidity. Bongani Mahlangu: Would you say that is why you formed the Black Consciousness? Bantu Biko: Yes, and more! Bongani Mahlangu: How then do Consciousness is? Bantu Biko: Black Consciousness is an attitude of the mind and a way of life, the most positive call to emanate from the black world for a long time. Its essence is the realisation by the black man of the need to rally together with his brothers around the cause of their oppression - the blackness of their skin - and to operate as a group to rid themselves of the shackles that bind them to perpetual servitude. Bongani Mahlangu: What is causing the Black man to doubt himself and how do you envisage changing that? Bantu Biko: It becomes more necessary to see the truth as it is if you realise that the only vehicle for change are these people who have therefore is to make the black man come to himself; to pump back life into his empty shell; to infuse him with pride and dignity, to remind him of his complicity in the crime of allowing himself to be misused and therefore letting evil reign supreme in the country of his birth. Black Consciousness seeks to infuse the Black community with a new-found pride in themselves, their efforts, their value systems, their culture, their religion and their outlook to life. Liberation, therefore, is of paramount importance in the concept of Black consciousness, for we cannot be conscious of ourselves and yet remain in bondage. Part of the approach envisaged in bringing about “black consciousness” has to be directed to the past, to seek to rewrite the history of the black man and to produce in it the heroes who form the core of the African background. Bongani Mahlangu: Does a Black man relate to your ideas of Black Consciousness? Bantu Biko: We try to get blacks to grapple realistically with their problems, to attempt to to develop what one might call awareness, a physical awareness of their situation, to be able to analyse it, and to provide answers for themselves. The purpose behind it really is to provide some kind of hope. Bongani Mahlangu: What does Black Consciousness seek to teach a Black Man? Bantu Biko: The basic tenet of black consciousness is that the Bantu Steve Biko black man must reject all value systems that seek to make him a foreigner in the country of his birth and reduce his basic human dignity. By describing yourself as Black you have started on the road to emancipation, you have committed that seek to use your blackness as a stamp that marks you out as a subservient being. Bongani Mahlangu: But is that a matter of being Black as in a skin colour? Bantu Biko: Being black is not a matter of pigmentation but being black is a reflection of a mental attitude. Blacks are those who are by law or tradition politically, economically and socially discriminated against as a group in South African society and identifying themselves as a unit in the struggle towards the realisation of their aspirations. At the same time Black Consciousness seek to show black people the value of their own standards and outlook … to judge themselves according to these standards and not to be fooled by white society who have whitewashed themselves and made white standards the yardstick by which even black people judge each other. Bongani Mahlangu: Does Black Consciousness have a problem with White people? Bantu Biko: We have a problem with White Racism and it rests squarely on the laps of White society. White liberals must leave Blacks to take care of their own business while they concern themselves with the real evil in our society – White racism. No matter what a White man does, the colour of his skin is his passport to privilege and will always put him miles ahead of the Black man. with the blacks, the burden of the enormous privileges which he still uses and enjoys becomes lighter. Yet at the back of his mind is a constant reminder that he is quite comfortable as things stand and therefore should not bother about change. Even today, we are still accused of racism. This is a mistake. We know that all interracial groups in South Africa are relationships in which Whites are superior, Blacks inferior. So as a prelude whites must be made to realize that they are only human, not superior. Same with Blacks. They must be made to realize that they are also human, not inferior. Bongani Mahlangu: But wouldn’t that be discrimination against the minority? Bantu Biko: We do reject all forms of racism and discrimination. We are calling for a united and democratic South Africa, and an anti-racist society. We also believe that in our country there shall be no minority, there shall be no majority. Just People. Bongani Mahlangu: How does South Africa then solve this problem? Bantu Biko: If South Africa is to be a land where Black and White live in harmony without fear of group exploitation, it is only when these two opposites have interplayed and produced a viable synthesis of ideas and Modus Vivendi. We can never wage any struggle without offering a strong counterpoint to the white racism that permeates our society so effectively. Bongani Mahlangu: What do you believe the Black Consciousness can achieve? Bantu Biko: In time, we shall be in a position to bestow on South Africa the greatest possible gift—a more human face. The power of a movement lies in the fact that it can indeed change the habits of people. This change is not the result of force but of dedication, of moral persuasion. Bongani Mahlangu: To conclude this interview, any last words, Mr Biko? Bantu Biko: We are going to change South Africa. What we’ve got to decide is the best way to do that. And as angry as we have the right to be, let us remember that we are in the struggle to kill the idea that one kind of man is superior to another kind of man. And killing that idea is not dependent on the White man. We must stop looking to him to give us something. We have to own pride. We have to teach our black children black history; tell them about our black heroes, our black culture, so they don’t face the white man believing they are inferior. Then we’ll stand up to him if he likes, but with an open hand, too, to say we can all build a South Africa worth living in a South Africa for equals, Black or White, a South Africa as beautiful as this land is, as beautiful as we are. –News24

New Era

New Era Newspaper Vol 22 No 167