How I survived depression —LASU lecturer, Praise Ogabi

Praise Ogabi is an author, lawyer and lecturer at the Lagos State University. She tells OGHENOVO EGODO-MICHAEL how she highlights the experiences of women affected by mental health issues through her writing

When did you realise you had interest in writing as a career?

I started writing while in secondary school. It started as an outlet for me because as the first child in my family, I felt so much pressure on me to perform well academically, behave well and generally be above par. Back then, I did not even see myself as a creative person.

So, when did I start to see writing as a career? That was in 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when I released my first book titled, Finding Me: My Journey to Wholeness. I started to think about writing as a career after I saw the reaction of readers to the book.

As a lawyer and lecturer, why did you decide to write about psychology?

I could have chosen to write and promote several subjects in the legal field but instead, I decided to focus on mental health. The reason is simple— I am passionate about it. That is because I have watched loved ones face mental health challenges and I have had certain experiences myself. That is why I have chosen to share those experiences with my readers.

I have had bouts of depression. There were times when I could barely get out of bed and all I wanted to do was sleep. There were times I just wanted to die and I toyed with the idea of taking my own life. There were times I would cry till my chest literally hurt. At other times, I would be so giddy and out of control just because I could not face the reality of all I was passing though. I just wanted it to end and I did not know what to do. Some of my close friends have also had certain unpleasant mental health experiences. All that ignited a passion in me to do something about the subject, so I said to myself, ‘Why not write about it’? Why not let people understand what it feels like being bi-polar, schizophrenic or having borderline personality disorder?

How do you carry the weight of being a writer, lecturer and lawyer at the same time?

First, I’d say it is by God’s grace. Doing all these things can be very draining but because I love all that I am, I have to find a way to do all three without letting any ball drop. Obviously, I have to prioritise, so at certain times, I have to push one of those things to the background and focus on the others. One way or the other, I always pull through. Another thing is resilience. Sometimes, things don’t go the way they ought to but the ability to keep bouncing back is very important.

Just do it; don’t hesitate. You would find your niche with time. Bring your femininity into your writing. You should also take courses to improve yourself, and most importantly, read a lot.

Do you intend to continue being a writer and a lawyer in the long run, or you intend to face just one squarely?

For now and for many years to come, I intend to continue juggling both writing and practising law. However, I plan to retire to writing eventually.

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