3 BUSINESS DAY Friday 13 April 2018 WOMEN’S HUB From Her Point Of View Against All Odds MY EXPERIENCE @ Arise Fashion Week 2018 VANESSA COLE My Easter break was fast approaching, and being in London, I was looking for a reason to come home to Lagos for the Easter break. University was becoming overbearing and usually being an independent and thriving individual, feeling homesick was almost alien to me. Scrolling through Instagram, I noticed some publicity for Arise Fashion Week and saw that the dates aligned with when I wanted to come to Lagos. I then gave myself an objective; ‘Get yourself into the Fashion week team!’ I decided to just dive into it and emailed the Publisher/ CEO of ThisDay and convener of Arise Fashion Week, Nduka Obaigbena and I passionately wrote why I would like to join the team regardless of the short notice I gave him (1.5 weeks). Within 2 weeks, I got a response to join the team. In the next few days, I flew to Lagos to meet with the team and it was exciting to get an email from a previous employer of mine that I’d be under her team, Desiree Ejoh, who leaded me in my first major internship job in London for Naomi Campbell’s Fashion for Relief team. To much anticipation, I was going to be working with her again, but with a more interactive and fulfilling role. From the day of meeting the team, the preparation for the fashion shows became a sprinted race-course! With around 57 designers to fit into a 3-day schedule, fittings and model castings were fully underway. Of course, we are in Nigeria so timing was a major factor that we constantly battled with, but by thriving and staying productive even in unfathomable hours, the lead up to the shows began to come together. However, I would have to admit that up to the day before the show, we were wondering how the show would happen! But through God’s guidance and the drive of the leaders, the show started with a bang. Having a role of ensuring the designers knew their fitting times, were punctual and were ready for their show time was a challenging yet motivating job. It tested my ability to work under pressured time and almost impossible deadlines. If not for the support of the team and the energy we gave each other, the show would not be what it was! Again, I give God all the glory! The 3 days were successful, beautiful and exceeded all expectations. Filled with so much adrenaline, it is so sad to see such a production over. I cannot wait for next year and to take Africa by storm once again! Next year will be avant-garde and due to the success of this edition, I know we will be in the spotlight of many internationals. Arise is really the pillar of the future of African fashion. Surviving Depression Catherine Kahr was 18 and was severely depressed and suicidal, but I didn’t know what that meant. I contacted a suicide hotline. The police came to my house and took me straight to the hospital. Why did I call? I wanted to die so badly. But subconsciously, my survival instinct wanted me to live. I knew there was something wrong. Still, I didn’t know what to do or how to get help. I was only a junior in high school. That was a defining moment. Being taken from my home to a very adult situation was traumatizing, to say the least. The hospital was a place to be safe. I saw psychiatrists, and there was group therapy that is supposed to help you. Still, it was more of a filler of time in the hospital. They don’t want you lying in bed all day. I was out of the hospital only briefly before being committed again, and I wasn’t comfortable around other people. The stigma of mental illness only made it worse. You feel it from other people. You don’t want anybody to know you have a mental illness. You don’t feel part of the community. People don’t realize depression is a real disease. They think it’s all in your head and you just need to get over it. You can’t see it, you can’t touch it, but it’s an illness, a mental illness. The worst of all are the doctors and nurses. You are already prejudged by your medical records. You are your illness, not a person. The staff are careless about callous things they say within earshot of the patients, or worse, they are just flat-out rude or accusatory. A doctor told me that I should be well aware of what the street value of my medications was. He knew nothing about me but assumed I was selling my medications. I was hospitalised four times in a period of two months, and because my suicidal impulses continued, the courts ordered that I be confined to a state mental institution. After 28 months, I was sent to transitional housing to begin the process of re-joining society. I had my own room with a bed, a sink, and some other furniture. It was finally a place I could call home. Later, I met my husband. We were married in 1993. He has been there for me all along. I told him fairly quickly about my depression because I believe that he needed to know what kind of person he was getting involved with. He would have figured it out anyway; I have scars on my arms from selfmutilation. That’s how I dealt with emotional pain. I am on medication now. I have been through a huge array of medications, trying to find what works. I have pretty severe episodes if I don’t take medication consistently. I’ve had shock therapy (ECT, or Electro Convulsive Therapy) too. Still, the depression did not go away. My depression always hovered in the background. But it really didn’t return in full force until I suffered from postpartum depression after the birth of my second daughter. My husband supported me, and I went through years of therapy. However, my turning point was with a breakthrough therapy called DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy). The Portland Dialectical Behavior Therapy Program really helped me work through a lot of my issues and helped me finally recover from my crippling depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. I am a stay-at-home mom now. I attend school; I want to be a psychologist. My daughters know about my depression. They call it Sad Sick. It’s how my husband explains it to them. I don’t go around advertising my past, but I am very comfortable with my story and my life. It made me who I am. I am a very strong person. Without that learning experience, I would not have evolved into the person I am. I wanted to be happy, and I knew it was something I had to work for. It’s wonderful to be out of that darkness.