I met Brayo a little over 6 years ago after I got married. His family and my in-laws are great close family friends. Brayo is fun, outgoing and a people’s person. He is kind, always ready to help and super respectful. And he has a twin brother. Ask me about him later!
When I was a new mom and couldn’t get my way around places with a newborn, he was the one who helped me out and made my life a bit easier. He comes from a family with deep Christian roots and values, attends church religiously and is also a member of his church choir. He is SDA btw, ladies, pay attention coz I can for sure vouch for him… Ahem!!
He is talented, a go-getter and very likeable. His persona oozes chivalry, he has a fantastic fashion sense and is just an all-round cool cat.
So you can imagine my shock when I stumbled upon his story on how he overcame depression, and there, I was interested in finding out more. I contacted him and asked if he would share his story on the blog, and he was happy to do it. As we talked, I was impressed by his strength and willingness to share his story; not only as just another depression tale but mainly to educate and create awareness.
This is what I learnt;
How did you realize that you/things were not okay?
It was back in 2018 when I started having persistent feelings of sadness. Just after my graduation in June 2015, I applied for a Job at National Bank of Kenya, and I worked for 3 years before my contract expired. That is when I started having some behavioral changes, both physical and emotionally.
Sometimes I could stay the whole night without sleeping, and I really lost appetite. I wanted to share these sudden changes, but I was really stressed to the extent of having self-esteem issues. This affected my relationship with most people I was relating to. At some point, I tried to apply for some online jobs. Still, the feeling of even not getting any reply from any organization worsened my situation, and I even felt like committing suicide to end the pain. During this time, I really felt irritated by even my closest family members.
What was the main trigger for your depression? Were there other triggers?
I can, for sure, say the main trigger for my depression was the loss of my job and the thought of being unemployed. I had a lot of goals and dreams to achieve. I certainly gave it my all while working, but the feeling of not being recognized made me feel like a failure.
I had also registered myself in a Sacco where I was submitting something at the end of the month. So the thought of where I would get some funds to pay for the Sacco and proceed with it worsened my thoughts.
What emotions did you experience during that time?
Lack of sleep, loss of interest in everything, including social activities, feeling sad and being irritated with everything, including family members. Restlessness was also a significant experience which made me feel more hopeless.
Also, most of the things that needed my input didn’t matter anymore. I never cared for anything, and most of my life decisions were irrational. I negatively viewed most of the things all the while feeling everything is just not okay.
What thoughts did you have that were not normal?
Generally, my lack of sleep and sudden loss of appetite triggered the thought of committing suicide. Every time I was awake, I felt angry with myself, and I saw myself as a loser. So I just thought I wanted to take away my life.
How did your friends and family react to you having depression?
For a long time, I don’t think they noticed I was undergoing depression since by then we were not so close to each other. My mother used to question my weight loss, and would continually ask what was bothering me. She is the one who was keen to study me, and after a week she insisted that I have an issue and was even willing to help me.
How did your relationship change with others?
Naturally, I am a social person, and I love associating myself with many people, but during that short period, I just became an introvert. I was very quiet and just needed my own space and time alone. Everybody started to irritate me, so at some point, I even decided to cut communication with most of them.
Most of my close friends started complaining that I am losing myself, but that’s what I really needed. I felt my own space can be my cure, so even answering phones calls was no longer in my priority list.
How and where did you get help?
For sure, in my whole healing process, I did not seek any medical help, but my mum played a significant role and connected me with an old friend. She took me in for therapy sessions, which helped me overcome my thoughts. She became a close friend, and each time I felt like I was losing it, I could call her, and she could help.
I first opened up about my emotional thoughts, and she decided to take me in for 5 sessions, including spiritual sessions, where she gave me some crazy stories and facts, and I started viewing life differently. I also started reaching out to the friends I had snubbed before and shared my story, and the feeling of them being compassionate really encouraged me.
Have you been judged or shunned?
I really wouldn’t know, but I had the feeling that I was being judged, especially when I decided to go back home to my parents. Most of my friends judged my decision and even questioned it. So I have been shunned before.
What coping mechanisms do you use when you feel sad or low?
Born in a Christian family, I really love music and listening to good hymnal music helps me feel okay. Sometimes I spend most of my time playing the piano just to uplift my spirits.
After some time, I was introduced to a studio and being there daily just to play most of the instruments as I sing is one of my social engagements that makes me feel better. I also love singing.
What motivates you to share your story?
The therapist my mom introduced really set the pace for my healing journey. She was able to offer a free from judgment space where I could open up and share my thoughts and feelings and later learnt to overcome them.
This gave me peace of mind and just being open about any life situation, one can go through a process of healing. The fact that I picked myself up and started my journey afresh is an excellent motivation for others out there.
Any parting shot?
We all go through tough times but how we pull ourselves out of them is what matters most. Depression is real and can affect anyone. What we need to be is more observant with our healths and seek help or advise when we feel something is not right. We should also try to be more kind and helpful to people who struggle and avoid all judgment. Cheers.
Do you have any kind or motivating words for Brayo? Reach out to him on Facebook at Brian Jalas Yobra
Please feel free to share your stories, anonymously or not and create awareness while spreading positivity!