“It’s important to remind ourselves that we aren’t alone”
– Tobi Nifesi
Tobi Nifesi is a fiction writer whose works focus predominantly on socio-psychological issues. To date, he has authored three psychological thrillers: “The Burgess Theory,” “React,” and “Domestic.”
In his recent chat with Kreative Diadem, Nifesi discusses the connection between mental health and isolation, as well as what it means to be creative in the midst of a pandemic.
KD: Tobi, for those meeting you for the first time, what are the top three things you want readers to know about you?
Tobi: Sure, three things:
- I’m a writer who shares stories and essays about sociological issues.
- My fiction writing process is highly influenced by Dan Brown’s writing process – most of which includes a ton of research on historical and symbolic subject matter.
- Like most writers, I have struggled with writing consistently. However, by engaging in small daily habits outside of writing, I am learning more about the nature of consistency motivation and applying those principles to my writing process. When I have completely figured it out, then I may be bold enough to share with other writers. Actually, I hope to – one day – teach the next generation of writers about the technical and psychological aspects of creative writing.
KD: In your works, there is a recurring theme that draws attention to mental health, what role does isolation play in proliferating mental health issues?
Tobi: One of the common phrases that mental health awareness campaigns and activists use is ‘You’re not alone.’ It is so common that I can almost, always, predict that a version of it will be used in any mental health ad campaign I come across. Regardless of how cliché it may sound, it is a necessary statement. It is important to remind ourselves that we aren’t alone because that is what we tend to think when we are in pain.
Like physical pain, the emotional and psychological stress that comes with mental health issues feel – and may actually be – very personal. This idea is amplified when we are in isolation. Isolation convinces us that no one else is going through or can understand or can help us deal with our version of pain and stress. This is the role isolation plays in proliferating and worsening mental health issues.
So, it is important that we remind each other that we are not alone. There is someone else who has felt or is feeling a pain or stress similar to ours. Even if no one understands our pain, there is someone who cares about and is rooting for us, in one way or the other. Our shared experiences can help lift each of us out of our seemingly personal pain.
“It is important to remind ourselves that we aren’t alone because that is what we tend to think when we are in pain.”— Tobi Nifesi
KD: As a creative, I believe it’s not strange to seek solitude in order to stimulate creative juices. Was the global compulsory holiday a blessing in disguise for you? Can you imagine what creative minds would have made from the lockdown?
Tobi: ‘Global Compulsory Holiday’ is a nice to put it. However, I can barely classify it as a holiday because I know several writers and creatives around the world have been under some form of stress during this time.
Personally, prior to the pandemic, my work was mostly remote. When the pandemic came, a lot didn’t change for me in terms of my working conditions. So, it wasn’t really a blessing in that sense. If anything, the blessing in disguise – from all this – for me is the opportunity to learn more about worldviews and social behaviours. During this time, I’ve learnt more about the nature of globalization today and the sociological effects of being separated.
I think there is a good percentage of creatives who may not have been productive or inspired so far during this pandemic – and there are those who may have been. There is no right or wrong group to be in. Yet, I hope that by the end of this pandemic, most creatives and writers would have learnt at least one thing that can make their writing a little bit better or inform their stories, essays, poems or whatever they like to work on.
KD: Tobi, you have authored three books —psychological thrillers — in the past three years, are you working on a book now and what is it about? Where do you see yourself in five years?
Tobi: At the moment, I’m in the very early stages of developing a story concept for my next book. So, other than the fact that it will be a psychological thriller, I don’t have much details to share about that. In five years, I hope to have worked or be working on a social commentary or documentary that raises social awareness about vulnerable populations in Africa.
KD: As an author in a world recovering from the scourge of a pandemic, what are you going to do differently and why?
Tobi: This is such a good question but I may not have a great answer. Despite the pandemic, my priorities and goals as a writer haven’t really changed. However, I have a clearer idea of the stories that matter to me. I intend to work more on them.
I appreciate the opportunity to share my thoughts with you. Thank you for the interview.
Source: From the Isolation Issue (September 2020)