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Monday, 2 March 2015

Depression--- More Than A Forbidden Myth.


It wasn't until this morning that I was fully convinced about the need to write about Depression and shed more light on this seemingly forbidden sickness. In some parts of the world, Depression is well understood and treated as what it is, an illness like any other. In Africa however, not so much. 

Over here in these parts of the world, it is seen as an abomination to even acknowledge it talk less of being diagnosed with it. If you dare broach the issues around these parts, you immediately get reactions such as "God forbid", "It is not your portion", "I reject it for you", "Confess positively and have faith" and "It is well" thrown at you.

Over this weekend, I had at least two people draw my attention to a particular pretty young lady on Twitter. She, from what I have gathered over the past couple of months on Twitter and on her blog, is suffering from a bad case of depression and I am not sure she had still gotten the precise help she needs. I have tried to reach out to her and I really hope she responds and would let me help her as best as I can. Her tweets this weekend and this morning gave me an insight to how dark things must be for her due to this illness called depression. Yes, depression is an illness like the regular fever, ulcer, migraines, etc. What stands depression out is that it affect both the mind and the body.

How does it affect the body, you're wondering? Well, depression causes a total loss of appetite and this leads to great weight loss and possibly ulcers, fainting spells, etc. Also, severely depressed people have been known to self-harm in a bid to cure themselves by ending their lives or at least getting their situation noticed and attended to. While a lot of people misjudge depressed people and feel they are "merely exaggerating their emotions" or "simply craving attention", I always say that if there's a chance that giving them the said attention they need would actually help them overcome this illness, why hoard it and risk them wallowing in this terrible mental state of mind? Why can't you just actually reach out to help depressed people get through the dark abyss that threatens to swallow them up most of the time?

Even though I had been flirting with the thoughts of putting my opinion and recent brief experience with depression into words and posting it, I recall the exact moment I decided to actually write about depression today. On my way to work this morning, I noticed a seemingly completely mad woman by the roadside and I was surprised at how engrossed she was as she watched two young adult students in uniforms making their way to school. The look of longing (?) and recollection (?) on her face struck me, as she seemed totally normal for a bit. It felt like she could recall walking to school with a partner when she was their age and it made me wonder how she came about roaming the streets without her mind intact. It made me wonder if she had been depressed before loosing her mind but had no one to help her before it was too late. 

I wondered if it was post-natal blues or a heartbreak or a death of someone close to her or a betrayal by someone really close to her that tipped her over the edge. I felt a part of her pain this morning as I watched her and the emotions across her face and in her eyes. So you can imagine my shock and fright a few  minutes later when I was copied in a tweet concerning that same young lady and her alarming tweets this morning. She said she wished she would sleep and not wake up. That is exactly how severe and serious Depression is and it should never be taken lightly. I knew then that I just had to write about Depression and enlighten as many people as I can that it is more rampant than we think and there is no need whatsoever to ostracize the sufferers but rather we must rally round them and show them love and care till they get back to their feet.

According to Wikipedia;

Depression is a state of low mood and aversion to activity that can affect a person's thoughts, behavior, feelings and sense of well-being.[1][2] People with depressed mood can feel sad, anxious, empty, hopeless, helpless, worthless, guilty, irritable, ashamed or restless. They may lose interest in activities that were once pleasurable, experience loss of appetite or overeating, have problems concentrating, remembering details or making decisions, and may contemplate, attempt or commit suicide. Insomnia, excessive sleeping, fatigue, aches, pains, digestive problems or reduced energy may also be present.[3]

I chatted with a doctor friend of mine this morning during my research after I decided to write this post and she said that the best way to overcome Depression is by early detection and seeking help fast. Dr. Amaka suggested that one "learns to find the early triggers of depressed moods and the early signs so that one can avoid them or know when to speak up to somebody". According to her and my other research sources, some people get depressed around certain periods in a year or when certain things happen to them or when certain people are around them and also when life deals cruel blows to them. It could be one or a few of such things that tips one into the seemingly bottomless pit of depression but the most important thing is to recognize you're depressed and then seek help.


"It was really hard to get out of bed in the morning. I just wanted to hide under the covers and not talk to anyone. I didn't feel much like eating and I lost a lot of weight. Nothing seemed fun anymore. I was tired all the time, and I wasn't sleeping well at night. But I knew I had to keep going because I've got kids and a job. It just felt so impossible, like nothing was going to change or get better."

If you are experiencing one or more of the feelings italicized above then it is time to seek help and talk about it with someone that can actually help you dedicatedly and without judgement. If you are helping a depressed person get through the dark phase they are in, please do not let their pace of healing frustrate you. Some people snap out of it faster than others, especially when they are bound by family and work commitments and know that things would probably get worse if they don't bounce back quicker. Others need more work and more time to overcome this illness. Our thresholds differ and you must realize and understand this fact, so please do not relent in helping others.

The next time you ask how someone is feeling and they claim to be fine, ensure they really are because by probing further sometimes, you will be amazed at the amount of pain and hurt they are dealing with and which you may actually help them overcome by giving a listening ear of a hug and some kind words.

In the past two months, I have lost more close family members and friends than I did in all of 2014 and I won't lie, it has been extremely difficult trying to deal with the pains, shock and weight of understanding it all. Then there was an incident with my daughter last week (which, thankfully, turned out to be nothing serious) and that just set me off. I think the final straw that broke the camel's back was also learning last week that a friend's husband died in his sleep. I just sort of snapped after that and wondered about the meaningfulness of life as we know it. I found myself teetering on the brink of depression, although of course I did not fully grasp the meaning of what I was feeling until this morning when I started reading up on it and then tweeting about it and realizing that there are far more people suffering from depression than we can even imagine.

I'm fine now so there's no need to worry about me. I'm taking each day as it comes and learning to adapt to life as an adult because as it is only now that I am realizing how rude death and life can be. 

"The second you find yourself not eating, not socializing, not having sex, not sleeping well, always sad and sometimes even crying, isolating yourself, and so on, make sure you shout for help immediately"   -Dr. Amaka.

Sadly, in our society, when most people are feeling this way they tend to go to religious leaders to help them with a cure or miracle rather than get seen by experienced or trained psychologists or psychiatrists. Most of these religious leaders have no idea about how to go about helping a depressed person out of their moods and often make it even worse. Others see being approached as an avenue to make money off the vulnerable victims and they go all out to fleece them thus making the victims suffer more for an illness they had no control over in the first place. 

Be guarded people. Keep reaching out to others. Look out for the signs and be #AllHeartsAlways to those around you. You never know when you will actually save a human life from death by depression.

1 comment:

  1. If only depression can be recognised for what it is in our society and the sufferer given the much needed support..our world will be much better for it.


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