Oyinkansola Alabi, popularly known as the Emotions doctor is the Founder of Emotions City based in Texas, USA. In this encounter with Yetunde Oladeinde, she talks about caring for people with emotional instability, writing her first book at 17 and being mentored by late Pastor Bimbo Odukoya.
TELL us about the inspiration and how it all started?
I have been on the journey for 17 years. I became an appointed pastor in July 2003, head of campus. Fellowship and I was pasturing one of the branches at that time. That was the beginning and when I finished school, I got back to Lagos to serve and I was ordained in church.
You must have worked with late Pastor Bimbo Odukoya?
Yes, I was one of her Protocol assistant. I have quite a handful of pictures with her on social media. I wrote a letter close to what would have been her 60th birthday, September 12th this year. I always say that there is really nothing I can really say that can encompass or encapsulate her personality.
How did you meet her?
It was when I wrote my first book at age 17 years and it was published on my 19th birthday titled the teenage Christian. I scribbled my thoughts and my mother packaged it as a birthday gift. So, Funmi Iyanda and Livi Ajuonoma had invited me for interviews. So, I was getting into the studio and Pastor Bimbo was stepping out of the studio. That was my first time ever but I had always seen her and admired her. So, she looked at me and said: ‘you are the young lady they said wrote a book. At that point, writing a book was a big deal because there was no social media. She asked who I was and just liked me. Then, she said come to my church and let’s have a conversation. I went to the church and finally had access to her. As soon as she saw me, she said young author and that was the name she called me till she died. We got talking and it was the first time, someone said I am interested in mentoring you. She was my first mentor. I was in another church and then I started going to her church. It was two months after that that I became appointed as pastor, I started the fellowship, streams of life in the University and I was a powerful force to reckon with. I remember one day that the vice chancellor called me to meet with me and we were student pastors who knew what they were doing.
Then Sosoliso crashed, it was the first time that I was hearing of Sosoliso. I never heard about the airline and then reality dawned on everybody. I spent three years with her and it was one of the best foundations I ever heard. She was a very kind person and when you say that you experienced God, she was a human being I particularly felt you could touch her love. When she needed to correct you, it was correction in love, not what people do now and attacks your self esteem. Pastor Bimbo always left you feeling better.
I used to visit her tomb for three years, then I used to bike from my house in Mushin and tell the bike man to wait for me. I will be there for about 30 minutes and I did that for three years. Then the spiritual relocation and everybody moved on. So, by the time she was gone I knew that there were so many things that she needed to proud of, things I said I would do. The most important was me still being a Christian and holding unto God because that particular incident shook me. I couldn’t board a local flight for five years. I boarded international flights but I had distrust for local flights. I also lost my only uncle in DANA crash, my mum’s brother. So, while I was recovering from Sosoliso, thinking as a therapist, I could do all my stuff, DANA happened.
At what point did you start caring about people’s emotions?
From being a school leader, I had always been interested in studying human behavior. I later discovered that it was called psychology. My first degree is in International relations. So, I decided that I was going to do my MSc. but I couldn’t afford it immediately. I started and had to stop in a UK University. I then got into life coaching. This looked like it but it wasn’t all that I was looking for, then I got into therapy, different schools, attending different courses. It was looking like it and finally I got into emotional intelligence. I went on to finish my Master’s and Doctorate is in progress. So, this is what I had always wanted to do, this is life. This is me in my natural zone. I have always wanted people to move from dissatisfaction to satisfaction, from meaningless to meaningful. I have always wanted to make people happy and fulfilled.
How did you arrive at the name Emotion city?
One of the things I did was to spend four years in Brand school and I have an idea of personal branding. I have a knack for creating names, names that are unique. I came up with the name Emotions doctor when I wanted to stop my MSc. But I had always wanted to be a doctor. So, I told myself that I needed to have a reminder in my head. I bought a stethoscope and I said every time I see the stethoscope, I would remind myself what I should do, what doctors, do.
Talking about depression, COVID-19 brought a lot of cases, how do you come in here?
I actually did a research report on the effect of COVID-19 on the emotional stability of Nigerians and also in Africa. COVID-19 was something we never experienced. The beginning of the word unhappiness is when your present reality does not align with your desired outcome. So, what this means is that what you are presently experiencing does not align with what you have projected, anticipated or desired. Disappointment is one of the ingredients of unhappiness. So, when COVID showed up we were all disappointed. We had just done our plans for the year and valentine. Valentine became quarantine and the world started reacting in different ways. It affected people’s jobs, attacking their spiritual and financial source. Sadly, we are in a country that is not service oriented. We are in a pandemic and you are increasing fuel price, electricity and dollar is increasing.
You are also working on a trust fund to assist those who cannot afford care here. Tell us about this?
Yesterday was my birthday and we launched a trust where we are going to be offering 80 percent free therapy for Nigerians. We will try and get people who appreciate people to invest in mental health. Targets are those who cannot afford it but they will pay 20 per cent. The reason for the 20 per cent is to value and appreciate what they are getting. It is your life, take responsibility for your life?
A lot of young people are on drugs these days, what do you think is responsible for this?
Every time I see that people take drugs, it is an effect not the cause. What that means is that drugs are a reaction to something. Something has fundamentally gone wrong and they are looking for options. There are people who cheat; it may not just be that something is wrong with their marriage. Their value may not be faithfulness. If at the beginning one of your value is faithfulness, you will try to fix it and if it is not fixable, you will find your way out. It is the same when people steal, not because you had to steal but it is because you are a thief. It is not the scenario that made you steal, but it is in your DNA. You take pleasure in stealing; the act aligns with your belief and your values. Those who have it in their DNA would steal weave-on and put in their bra, it is not poverty. A lot6 of people reach out to us on social media but we are not able to attend to all.
That inspired the idea to open a Trust and see what we can do for them. Mental health and mental illness not the same thing and people always think they are. Mental health is about emotional stability but illness means that you have to treat an imbalance, probably a hormonal imbalance. Treating it the same way that you would treat your finance, if your profit and loss is not balanced. If your health is not aligned, you pay attention to it. I work as an intersection between the carnal and the Spiritual. I can function in both, the religious and the intellectual level.
Rape is another issue that is on the increase and it has emotional health issues. What have you done about this?
I also did a paper on that. It is about how pornography influences rape. During the lockdown people consumed porn a lot. The sites said they received too much visitors because they also know how to attract. The porn guys gave the first 6 months free access, so you can imagine if our banks and others did the same. They waived it for 6 months and everyone was at home, so porn sold. What that means is they will register and pay later. And they were wondering why rape increased, people were idle. I wasn’t surprised that Father’s were raping their daughters and mothers couldn’t talk. Uncles were raping nieces, too much porn makes you see people as things to be penetrated. Not humans to be respected. Porn reduces a human being to an object and I did a research paper on it.
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