Oluwatunmise Oladapo Kuku, a life coach and storyteller who draws from her broadcast background to reengineer social paradigms and constructs that limit belief and sees herself as being on a continuous journey of defining herself, speaks with YEJIDE GBENGA-OGUNDARE on sexual molestation, managing bipolar disorder, among other issues.
Was your childhood different from the average experience of others?
Some people might want to argue when they hear parts of my story that it was different, but I will argue differently. Why? In my two short years of practice as a transformational coach, I have heard stories so similar to mine that I know that I am just a representation of a lot of girls and boys who have had these experiences and just need as much healing as I did and still do. You would be very amazed at how common place all forms of abuse most prevalent in parental neglect are.
From experience, how does sexual molestation affect the lives of young girls?
As I have alluded, it is not only young girls that are molested. But I will stick to the direction of your question. It is very difficult to narrow down on the effect of sexual molestation. The consequences are on a spectrum. From questioning why they were picked out for such an act, to guilt, shame, anger, self-esteem questions, the whole gamut. For example, I am very weary to pass judgement on anyone’s character questions, especially how they respond to the opposite gender. If anyone takes time to “listen” to these people they are quick to throw jab at, there might be some form of sexual molestation in there. Now to clarify, some people think that a full penetration in the case of a girl, or an ‘aunty’ asking a boy to go all the way is the only form of molestation that can mess with a child’s mind. I am here to burst that myth. All forms of sexual acts will mess with a child and indeed cause a form of dysphoria.
How should parents of victims of sexual molestation handle such cases to mitigate effects on them?
This right here is the greatest question of all. The best of course is prevention. The truth and fact also is we cannot be with our children all day long. The number one thing I would tell parents is, make your children understand that “HOME IS THE SAFEST PLACE IN THE WORLD.” What does that mean? No matter what anybody says, no matter the threat that is given to them by anyone, home – daddy, mummy, siblings- is the safest place to be. Be available to the children. This goes without saying. Never ever think the child doesn’t know what they are saying. Never. In my case, yes, I did have a wild imagination, I was quite vocal too, and probably questioned a little too much, – this was around 40 years ago – with now exposure to nothing, tv came on at 4pm. Imagine now that they have information everywhere and the brain is more stimulated? Have conversations with them. And when it has happened, by all means, prosecute, but care for and protect that child. Know that the more that case is splashed and rehashed, you are forcing that child to replay that event. Get the child a psychologist, psychiatrist/therapist a coach, – this goes for young adults and adults too. You don’t want to get justice so badly that you forget the person for whom you are trying to get justice. Don’t leave the fighter more wounded than they started.
How easy is it managing bipolar disorder?
It has been an interesting journey. Sometimes good. Sometimes sad. Sometimes just curious. Curious because that’s who I am. I want to know what I am up against. Living with bipolar and being a highly functional one was very challenging before I was diagnosed, because I didn’t know what was wrong. I just knew I was great at work, and things I needed to do. I was a chronic insomniac; I had all these energies and I was freaking dependable!! From work to church even at home and with friends. Anywhere I was needed to wear a mask? Count me in. I hated being in the crowd, being seen; two or more people gave me anxiety. I had children and it just went downhill. Suicidal thoughts that I could hold at bay with just a word of prayer and worship songs couldn’t work anymore; they became my companion. Racing, overwhelming thoughts. I could go and on but I have to be mindful of people who might be reading and are mentally fragile. I cannot over emphasise a good support system; my husband and a handful of friends too. Yet, one has to be careful who you share with and where. After I struggled with being diagnosed and referred to a psychiatrist, I did get help. I got on medication, got on a routine that combined psychotherapy, medication and I cannot deny that I heavily rely on my faith in God through Christ.
You believe there is power in names, why?
Oh yes! Call me superstitious, call me existential. I own that with my full chest. Oluwatunmise translates God repairs me. I can write a full paper on my name. The stories I have gathered along the way will suffice. Lately though, I have come to also understand that it is not just for me to experience wars and victories. It is also for me to offer gifts and hope to anyone who comes my way. I had always known this. So much so, as a broadcaster, my presentation and choice of music was tailored to give succour and hope. On Traffic Radio for example, I remember if I missed my daily motivating talk which I started my show with, I’d get calls or texts from listeners asking if all was well. Anyways, when I started this new phase of my life’s journey, I knew it was time to gift Oluwatunmise as a prayer, God, in the continual process of renewal to anyone willing to take a chance for me to take their hands.
Have you been able to use your experience to help others?
I have said earlier that I have curious and the more I understand it the more I want to help. Again, maybe because most of my life, more than half actually, I was a radio girl, the desire to demystify mental health questions has gotten the better of me. Then, I am empath. I have always been driven by the fact that I don’t want anyone going through what I gone through. Though the decision wasn’t very welcomed by many, I did leave radio. I went on to get certified at the Coach Transformation Academy, as a Senior Professional Coach, I also Shave a diploma in psychology now, and working on a diploma in Integrated Therapeutic Counselling. I run a Mindful coaching practice, and I offer The Wellness Anonymous Programme where people can come for some sort of talk therapy and mindful therapy on the go “anonymously”. It is virtual, and I offer it for free twice a week.
What should close family members of people with bipolar disorder do to help them?
The trickiest thing. I write not as often as I would love on FB with #diaryofabipolargirl. Because it is a mood disorder you never know when it is going to come on. The one tip though is, please, help them understand their triggers. Help them understand their personality types. Help them when they are in their low moods allow it for a bit. Yes, I said allow it, then begin to interrupt it, gradually. The high moods (hypomania or mania) you will know, help them manage them and if they are destructive get them to a doctor. Most importantly get them to a doctor. Neuropsychiatric Hospital Yaba has what is called the Amenity Clinic different from the General outpatient. It is something like a VIP kind of ward, and it is very affordable. I have used it.
What’s your vision going forward?
Mental health advocacy, and how we can demystify the mysteries around the questions that we all carry about. Mental health is not what is portrayed constantly in our movies or whatnot. It is simply how we relate and connect to how social, psychological, and emotional well-being. I have attempted to give a pointer to how I navigate that in my book.
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