Living with mental illnesses can be a strain not only to the one suffering but to those around them as well. I have realised that many developed countries have accepted and adjusted so well to these illnesses and to dealing with them than in most African countries. Mental illnesses can range from depression to anxiety to OCD or even dementia to mention a few.
I come from a community where mental health is still frowned upon. My grandmother has dementia and people often refer to her as someone who has gone mad. I for one did not know for a very long how to address the fact that I had depression for a very long time since i was a kid probably. When my cousin was diagnosed of depression some way back I remember my mum saying that why would he get it, from where and how? I remember how they thought it was his choice to be depressed and that they took care of him and that is how he repays them 🤦♀️🤦♀️😂 I swear I never thought i heard anything funnier than that my whole life but it makes me emotional that people still don’t get it in this day and age.
When i told my pastors early this year that i was struggling with depression they thought at first that I was possessed and then they just started avoiding me. Each time i would talk to them they would just ignore me and say may God give you peace of mind. I wanted to talk, you know? I needed them to pray with me so I can have hope for tomorrow but they were treating me as if either i was contagious or that i was a lost cause. I felt let down a lot.
I lost a lot of friends as soon as I mentioned my struggles, a lot of people just did not know how to handle me. It’s like they thought maybe I was dying or something. I remember my friend told me how her friend from high school had bipolar and the people at school looked down upon her. A lot of people thought that she was demon possessed. People will talk about you behind your back and say you have lost it not knowing that already makes me feel worse when i figure it out.
In 2018 when I went home i discovered that kids frightened me and i just needed to be away from the oise they made. They were so loud and i love them a lot. I love to hang out with them to learn from them and all but i just need my space sometimes and I saw nothing wrong with that. However our house is small and we had like 16 kids or more in that house for the weekend at my mum’s place. So i confided in my sister how they me anxious because of all the noise and how they just are loud and energetic the whole time. She was just like you have OCD what can we do about it and she brushed me off when I was trying to tell her about my struggles.
I remember feeling so offended and so let down. I just wanted her to listen to me but she misunderstood me and then misdiagnosed me there and then. There is nothing wrong with being OCD by the way but the way she said it it was like i would rot in hell because i have leprosy kinda way. I mean i got more anxious after that and i kept feeling so bad about it. I started overthinking, why did she say it like that? Was it my fault that I have ocd or did i say something wrong? You know it was until a long while later that i discovered that people misunderstand these kind of illnesses and they go ahead and make it worse for people trying to live with these illnesses.
How do we then educate people who have phd degrees and master’s degrees about this new reality? Some people live in the streets because as soon as they started showing signs of dementia their relatives chased them from home and some forgot where they stayed and got lost forever. How do we spread this news?
My other friend had postnatal depression and her family just ignored her and said its normal and it will pass, just get over it. Get over it? How? i do not understand how I am going through a storm and people say just keep going, even if i yell that there is too much rain I am failing to see the road and the wind is blowing so fast, please help… someone will always shout “Hey, get over it” but they never tell you how? At least offer me an umbrella. I’m not saying it will work but at least I will feel like you care a little bit because you do not want me to be wet, right?
I am not into politics but i wish the local authorities will do a lot to educate people about a lot of these illnesses. I have lost a lot of people to suicide because they just did not know how to handle the pressure depression comes with. There was this guy who a lot of people thought was gay, which is frowned upon by a lot in our community, he commited suicide and we lost him just like that. He was close friends with some of my relatives and he could not even share his struggles with them. They were all shocked to find him gone, rat poison. My uncle, father’s brother also died by rogor the insecticide. I was young but it was a momentary thing after an argument with his mother.
People always rush to say evil spirits, demon possessed and witchcraft. While I am not saying those do not exist I wish people would be more educated with handling people suffering with mental health. Check in with one another and just be there for one another. Just a listening ear will save someone’s life. That is all im saying.
We still have a long way but i hope since we have a global village now, most africans will watch and learn from the other countries. I hope that we will reform and learn to be there for one another and just avoid suicides and all. I hope therapy will be normalized and that we can have centers for well being and group discussions about this, I hope pastors and other religious leader will rise up to the occasion and help other people out. It is very important that we get this right for generations to come.
I hope you keep guarding your happiness and that you find peace 😊😊😊❤❤💋🤗🤗