When I recently talked about depression, I never knew I could have an effect on anyone. I just thought it was a therapeutic way for me to let go and maybe make it up to those I may have been a shitty friend to during that despairing period. So you can imagine the shock when I got responses in my inbox on the matter! It was an eye-opener, to say the least.
You see, talking about mental illness is still a taboo in our society, especially in our African culture. There are always these misconceptions about it that delay those affected by talking and seeking help. You will always hear things like, “Why are you allowing yourself to be this way?” or “She is a weak human!” or “Pray about it, you will feel better” or “She is psycho.” And the worst of it, “Just snap out of it!” Well, let’s see you snap out of cancer or malaria! How about that? Sorry, I digress. Hehe
What I’m saying is that mental illness is no different from any other form of illness. Just because you can’t see it and don’t understand it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. You have to seek help and/or treatment just like any other sickness. Due to the judgment, many cower and shy away. How dare she talk about it!?
So what are we left with? Thousands of people walking around, sad, confused, miserable, but still have to put on airs and act all happy and content. And when they have no more strength and will power to keep up the charade, they either snap and lose it or do the ‘unthinkable’, commit suicide. Kenya, by the way, has seen an all-time high rate of suicide, with men’s rates being higher than those of women. But that’s a story for another day.
So the one question that I got from my responses that really stood out was, “How do I know if I’m depressed?” “I think I’m depressed, am I?” The funny thing about this whole thing is that strangers were more open to me than my own friends and family. We have gotten to a sad point where it’s better to talk to a stranger about things you feel you have a connection with than talk to those closest to you.
I am no expert in matters depression but what I know is that it is here, it is real and we have to deal with it. So let’s take a 2-minute short course on it, shall we?…
My dear friends, if you feel you are going through some of the symptoms in the link above, you are not alone! You are still human and you will be fine. Seek help. It could be in church, a professional counselor, a close (non-judgmental) friend or mentor. Keep your head up, do the things you love, have a positive outlook on life and at no point should you give up!
If you have a friend or family member who seems to be going through the symptoms, reach out to them. Have their back and make them feel loved and appreciated to encourage openness. Ooh, be open-minded and don’t handle it like a self-righteous, egotistic, do good maniac who acts like their lives have never had bad times.
Consider Befrienders Kenya, http://www.befrienderskenya.org/, A great organization where you can get help on issues concerning abuse, suicide, depression, bereavement and other types of emotional distresses. Where you can talk freely to those who understand the situation you are in.
I pray that my new ‘stranger friends’ get the courage to overcome what they are going through and most importantly, the love and support to push on!
So talk out and reach out!
Coldplay, Fix you.