Thursday, 15 April 2021

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Taking Care Of Your Mental Health As You Relocate

 


Relocation, used interchangeably with migration is not a new trend. 

From pre-modern migration to the Great Atlantic Migration of the late 1840s to modern migration, human migration has existed for centuries.

In recent years, the migration of highly skilled professionals to western countries has been on the rise. 

Highly skilled professionals are motivated to migrate for reasons ranging from seeking a higher quality of life to economic factors. These reasons are often deeply considered before making the move. What is less considered however is how the move will impact mental health.

Research shows that most middle-class skilled immigrants from West African countries such as Nigeria, migrate in search of a better quality of life. Often, they seek better healthcare, security and a system that works and less often, economic factors. 

Such a decision is never an easy one for a middle-class skilled professional. They often uproot themselves from the comfort of life and the beauty of family to a destination country that is foreign.


The Story Of Jane 


Let's use the hypothetical story of Jane Doe to paint this picture properly. 

Jane is a middle-class, 30-year-old high-flying commercial lawyer in Nigeria. She is married to the love of her life, Tunde, a sought-after cardiothoracic surgeon, they have two children. She has a soaring career and a fantastic job as an in-house counsel in one of the top multinationals in Lagos, Nigeria. The Doe family has three live-in domestic help, a nanny, a cook and a cleaner. They also have two non-live-in drivers (chauffeur). 

Jane and Tunde's parents, siblings and extended family live in the same city and in close proximity. They gather every other weekend for family time. The parents come in to help the Does occasionally when needed.

Jane has a picture-perfect life. She is surrounded by all the help she needs to chase her soaring career.

The first threat to Jane's life came when she and her young family were robbed by 4 armed gunmen who broke into her house in the middle of a beautiful Saturday. Her house was wiped clean of all valuables. Thankfully, no one in the Doe family was hurt. Tunde called the emergency police response unit during and after the ordeal. They never picked his call.

With Jane and Tunde tied to a bed, their two children fast asleep and no emergency police unit or '911' to the rescue, the gunmen had a field day at the Doe's home. They spent hours raiding every corner of the house. After 4 straight hours of raiding and a 2-course meal in Jane's kitchen, the armed men left. 

Traumatized and losing faith in the system, Jane's family changed homes and moved to a "safer neighbourhood." 

Two years went by and Jane and Tunde welcomed their third child. 

Two weeks after the new birth, another set of armed gunmen invaded their home. This time, after an initial threat by the gunmen to cart away Jane's three young children, they fled with Jane's new company car, injuring her two security guards in the process.

Jane has had enough. 

It did not help that Jane's best friend was recently released from a 3-day kidnapping ordeal after paying an outrageous ransom. 

Jane concluded that living in Nigeria is a huge threat to her life and that of her family. She sees no end in sight to the security breaches in a country that winks at her plight. 

She then went through the gruelling procedure that immigrants go through before relocating, the act of weighing the sanctity of her life and the security of her person against her soaring career and beautiful family life and choosing to protect the more important one.

After months of weighing the pros and cons, Jane and Tunde decided to leave Nigeria for a more secure country. This translates to leaving their comfort, perfect careers, well-paying jobs, parents and extended family. 

Highly Skilled Professionals Migrate For A Range Of Reasons


Like Jane, thousands of middle-class skilled immigrants, choose to leave their home countries for safety, economic reasons and other factors.

The reality and the effects of migration however only dawns when the destination country is reached.

If you are migrating as a highly skilled professional, there is the possibility of a blend of shocking events that may shake your hopes and goals when you land in your destination country, affecting your mental health.

It is therefore important to weigh your options properly prior to leaving your home country and be prepared emotionally and mentally for eventualities in your destination country. 

It is also important to research where you can get help when you get to your destination country. Most countries have online and in-person mental health support. Find an example of mental health support here.

What Can Trigger Mental Health Problems?


A trigger is anything that affects your emotional state. They are situations or occurrences that may cause uncomfortable emotional or psychiatric symptoms, such as hopelessness, panic, dejection, negative self-talk, defeatism, discouragement or anxiety. 

A trigger is not a one size fit all, it varies widely among individual situations. When not dealt with immediately, can lead you through a spiral hole of depression, loneliness and lack of self-worth.

As a highly skilled professional in a new country, you should be aware of stressful situations that might serve as a trigger.

You should be aware of the following:

You might have to do survival jobs in your destination country


Survival jobs are jobs that you take in your destination country just to keep food on your table. This can be very dicey for skilled professionals who are used to being highly placed in a corporate environment. For some, survival jobs might not be as easy as it sounds. 

Jane and Tunde needed to do their professional exams before they can practice in their destination country. 

Tunde was not qualified to work as a cardiothoracic surgeon. He was gradually running low on fund reserves brought from Nigeria and needed to put food on the table. He was grateful when he eventually found himself a job as a pharmacist's assistant in a local drug store after looking for more related jobs for months. 

Tunde's new boss, a fresh pharmacy graduate who could care less about Tunde's experience, expertise or history treated him with contempt, often being verbally abusive.

Jane was not doing any better on her end. Tunde became a caricature of himself. He second-guessed his decision to relocate with his family. He barely had enough funds to write any of his many exams or support Jane. After eight months of gruelling unsettlement, Tunde slipped into depression. He decided to go back to Nigeria, leaving Jane and the kids.

This is not always the case. However, it is vital to be emotionally prepared for this if it comes up.

You Might Have To Start All Over Or Start At A Lower Job Level


Skilled professionals often struggle with being offered an entry-level job when they have over 10+ years or more experience.

Be aware that most skilled professionals will have to go through professional exams before they can practice their profession in their destination country. Some of the exams take up to a year while others run into 4 years or more. 

It is important that you prepare emotionally for this. How are you going to fund the exams? Are you ready emotionally to do survival jobs till you can practice your profession? Can you handle the emotional toll of starting afresh at entry-level and working sometimes under a fresh graduate who would have been your subordinate back in your home country? 

All these reality checks will help maintain a healthy mental balance when you are faced with these realities in your destination country.

You Might Need Extra Help For Your Young Children


If you are relocating with young children, you might need help. 

The likelihood of having family members around to help you like you had in your home country is low. Domestic help such as nannies, cooks and drivers might not be readily available like you are used to in your home country. 

Not having help might weigh heavily on you, causing you physical and emotional distress. 

Will you be able to afford child care in your destination country? Is there a dependable family or friend already based in your destination country who can help you out? Is there a possibility of having either of your parents come along with you to help?

It is good practice to think through this aspect before relocating.

You Might Get Lonely 


Coming from a family-oriented country like Nigeria with strong family ties and her extended family members a stone throw from one another, Jane was badly hit when Tunde went back to Nigeria. 

Living in a country where she barely sees her neighbours and saddled with three under-6-year-olds and a demanding law clerk job, Jane felt isolated and nearly went insane with loneliness leading to her experiencing episodes of panic attacks and constant anxiety. 

If you are feeling lonely, there are resources that can help you. It is important that you get help. 

A good place to get help is the immigrant services in your destination city. Also finding networking opportunities, volunteering opportunities and getting involved in your new community might help.

Picture Credit



Wednesday, 7 April 2021

Lockdown memoirs of an introverted writer


Today I wrote in the sun.
On my back porch.

The magnificence of quiet.
Oh, the bliss of my home.

Dressed up or not. It's Eden!

All by myself.
Alone with my brain. With my thoughts. 
With my alter, Phillipe.

Not out visiting. Expectant of no visitors.
No fanfare. Just me and my pen.

What beauty. What life!
The indoor life! Oh!
So sweet!

Yes, I know!
This is the life I've always wanted!

By Jumoke Eniola Odepe
ON, Canada

PC: Evg photos from Pexel


ORIGINALLY POSTED ON JUNE 20, 2020

Sunday, 4 April 2021

The Accidental Bride

 

The Accidental Bride by Jumoke Eniola Odepe

The Accidental Bride is a hilariously engaging short story about a Philly-based post-age-37 years Nigerian who returns home for her dad's burial with a pretend fiance after fleeing to Philadelphia for fear of her marriage frenzied family.

She finds out that her family is now even crazier about marrying her off than when she left.

Would she be forced to marry her pretend fiance or any man that comes by?

Grab a cup of tea and enjoy how this sidesplitting short story unfolds.


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{Post originally published on Nov. 2020}

                                                           



Wednesday, 17 March 2021

The shoulders we stand on - #IWD


activepens.com


By Jumoke Eniola-Odepe, Written on Her Sides: The shoulders we stand on in celebration of women and women's history month:

 

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has" - Margaret Mead.

 

March is Women's History Month.

 

Rightly so.

 

With over a century-old women's rights movement, women have crossed many rivers to get to where we are today. 

 

Over the years, women have fought for the right to vote, equal representation in government, the right to equal pay, and a host of other rights. 

 

We, the younger generation of women, are proud to be in this era because of the work that our female forerunners have done {and are doing}.

 

Some of the women who paved the way for us are known; some remain unsung heroes. 

 

We knew nothing about the three women mathematicians who worked in NASA as human computers till the 2016 movie "Hidden Figures" brought them to our screen. 

 

Based on the non-fiction book by Margot Lee Shetterly, the movie brought to us Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson. 

 

In the face of segregation by race and sex, the brilliant work of these three African American women was pivotal in propelling the first American orbital spaceflight piloted by astronaut John Glenn in 1962.

 

In 2018, shortly after the movie, a bipartisan bill was introduced to designate the street in front of the NASA headquarters as "Hidden Figures Way." 

 

On June 12, 2019, the street was officially so renamed in honour of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and "all women who have dedicated their lives to honourably serving their country, advancing equality contributing to the space program in the United States."

 

These women went before us, opening the doors for other women to work in space exploration and aeronautics research.

 

In pre-1929 Canada, based on a narrow interpretation of the law, women were not regarded as "persons" and therefore were not eligible to sit in the senate. 

 

A group of 5 prominent Canadian women activists, Emily Murphy, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Nellie McClung, Louise McKinney, and Irene Parlby {the Famous Five}, challenged the interpretation of the law that excludes women as "persons."

 

On October 18, 1929, in the celebrated Person's case, Lord Sankey, Lord Chancellor of Great Britain, announced the decision:

 

"The exclusion of women from all public offices is a relic of days more barbarous than ours. And to those who would ask why the word 'person' should include females, the obvious answer is, why should it not?"

 

October 18 has been declared Person's Day in Canada. A day dedicated to honouring the bravery and determination of the Famous Five and the historic decision to allow women's equal participation in all aspects of political life in Canada.

 

We stand on the shoulders of these women.

 

In Africa, we have Grace Alele Williams, the first Nigerian woman to obtain a Ph.D. in mathematics and the first female vice-chancellor in Nigeria. We have Mo Abudu, the first female to launch a pan-African TV channel in Africa. 

 

A cloud of female forerunners surrounds us, pioneer women, shattering diverse glass ceilings held up against us and showing millions of women behind them that impossibility is nothing.

 

We stand on the shoulders of these women. We see their work in our everyday lives. They have amplified our voices. They have extended available seats for us, opened more doors for us, and made us walk a few inches taller.

 

We, in turn, owe it to one another to pull each other up, to open the doors for one another, applaud the success of one another, and ensure you're not the only woman in the board room.

 

We owe it to the next generation of women to provide mentorship, keep pressing on, and paving the paths, so the next generation of women can thread on the paths we pave.

 

About the Guest Writer

Jumoke Eniola-Odepe is the author of two hilarious books, Memoirs of Great Ife and The Accidental Bride. A lawyer by day and a writer by night, she received her Bachelor of Laws at the University of Ife and her Master of Laws at the University of Ottawa. She is a lover of summer walks, family cookouts, and everything indoors during winter. She and her husband live in Southern Ontario with their two extraordinary boys. You can visit her online at www.activepens.com


 PC

Tuesday, 16 March 2021

About


About the Writer

jumoke odepe
Jumoke Eniola-Odepe is the resident writer at Active Pens. She is the author of two hilarious books, Memoirs of Great Ife and The Accidental Bride. A lawyer by day and writer by night, she received her Bachelor of Laws at the University of Ife and her Master of Laws at the University of Ottawa. She is a lover of summer walks, family cookouts and everything indoors during winter. She and her husband live in Southern Ontario with their two extraordinary boys. You can reach her at writeme@activepens.com




Friday, 12 March 2021

One day, women will rule in all ...#IWD

 



Have you ever thought of the possibility of women ruling? Have you ever thought of the possibility of a day when women will rule in every country in the world? At the same time? 

I have thought of it.

And so I wrote this poem in honour of that day. 

Enjoy it and long live the Women Era.

****************************************
on a beautiful day.
in a few moons from now.
women will rule in.
every country in.
every continent of.
the world.

end child soldiering.
ceasefire here. 
ceasefire there. 
ceasefire. yup.
stop human trafficking. 
modern-day slavery.

calm the storms.
stop the wars.
rule with intuition.
balance. justice. equity.
rule of law.
peace on earth.

on a beautiful day.
in a few moons from now.
women must rule in.
every country in.
every continent of.
the world.

***********************************************