Terhemen Anongo was a brilliant student who loved Physics and Mathematics. He graduated from secondary school with the best results. His dream was to become a petroleum engineer.
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However, his father, Mr Anongo, a Mathematics teacher, had something different planned for him; he wanted him to study medicine and become a medical doctor. This is the genesis of Terhemen's tragic story.
In 1996, when Terhemen got admitted into Nigeria's premier university, the University of Ibadan, to study Medicine, Mr Anongo would probably think his dream for his brilliant son was about to become a reality; he would emerge as one of the country's most successful medical experts.
Unfortunately, life had in stock for Terhemen something completely different: he would end up a porter, pushing a wheelbarrow for a living in Gboko town, Benue state.
In an interview with The Punch, Terhemen who is now 43 years old narrated how everything fell apart.
He was admitted into the University of Ibadan in the 1996/97 session to study Medicine. Between 1996/97 and 1999, everything was fine. By the year 2000, he moved to the teaching hospital, the University College Hospital (UCH), having reached 500 level.
The severe depression
At the point where he was close to achieving his father's dream, Terhemen fell into severe depression and lost interest in medical school. And he did the unthinkable; he dropped out.
"Though at a point I tried to go back, the authorities did not allow me," he told The Punch.
Depression is a common mental disorder.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is a diagnosable health condition and “is distinct from feelings of sadness, stress or fear that anyone can experience from time to time in their lives”.
In 2017, the WHO estimated that more than 7 million Nigerians were suffering from depression.
What triggered Terhemen's depression?
Terhemen recalled that it was never his desire to study Medicine. He graduated from secondary school and had the best results, with a special love for Physics and Mathematics.
He wanted to study Petroleum Engineering. But his father prevailed on him, saying some Indian teachers had told him that the best course for him was Medicine.
"But when I got to medical school, I realised that Medicine is about cramming, memorising terminologies whose origin you don’t know. So, I lost interest in academic work but I still managed to pass and got to the teaching hospital."
Terhemen traced his depression to an alleged unfriendly system at the University of Ibadan.
"The way University of Ibadan is structured, the people there are not friendly, though, it is the best medical school," he said.
Terhemen narrated the story of an American girl who attended the university for a programme. According to him, the unnamed lady told the Head of Department that their approach was too harsh; that the environment was not friendly.
He said the university's harsh style and his lack of interest in the course threw him into depression which eventually made him quit.
At some point, he even contemplated killing himself.
Why not try another course?
Terhemen said he tried to take another course, Psychology, but the university refused.
He tried other universities, including the University of Maiduguri and Benue State University, but they all refused.
The medical student turned wheelbarrow pusher
After his failed attempts to go back to school, Terhemen now lives in Gboko, Benue state, where he makes ends meet as a porter, pushing a wheelbarrow.
"Imagine a medical student who could have graduated doing that. My mates are now consultants, but I am pushing a wheelbarrow, you can imagine the psychological trauma," he lamented.
Failed castration attempt
With no wife with whom to satisfy his sexual urge, coupled with a controversial religious belief, Terhemen made an attempt to castrate himself.
This was after three doctors declined to help him out.
"You know how the issue of sexual urge torments one when you don’t have a wife, coupled with your religious beliefs.
"I am someone deeply involved in religion and I read about Origen Adamantius, one of the early church leaders from Egypt, who paid to be castrated so that he would not be bothered by sexual urge.
It was in an attempt to do the same thing that I removed my right testicle but there was a heavy flow of blood, so I abandoned it (castration) and rushed to hospital."
He was admitted into the hospital for two weeks. Thankfully, the wound is healing now.
With only one testicle left, Terhemen said his sexual urge remains active and will love to get married but has no money to achieve that.
What next for Terhemen?
Mr Anongo, Terhemen's father, is no more alive. However, his mother is making efforts to put her brilliant son's life back on track.
His mother is trying to set up a chemist shop for him; she has got a shop while Terhemen himself is trying to get funds to stock up the shop.
For anyone suffering from depression, Terhemen advised them to get medical attention and "draw closer to God", irrespective of their religious affiliations.
Hopefully, Terhemen will also get back on track, like Emmanuel Nworie, a Nigerian man who resorted to petty cassava farming after graduating with a first-class in mathematics.
With the help of a Nigerian man named Michael Taiwo, Nworie has now left the shores of the country for the United States.
A university in Texas is sponsoring Nworie for his PhD.
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