Depression is an alien term within many African societies but whether we choose to face it or not, the reality is, many African men and women at home and in diaspora are depressed. We have heard stories of seemingly happy and accomplished people committing suicide and when many of us look inward, we can relate to those dark feelings and gloomy emotions.
BN reader, Jennifer has been there. Depression and low self esteem wrecked havoc in her life but she has bravely turned her life around. Read Jennifer’s story and be inspired to turn your life around. If you recognize any of the symptoms of depression in any of your friends and family. Please encourage them to seek counselling and professional help.
I recently read a story of a young woman who took her life and people’s reaction to her story motivated me to tell mine.
I have been experiencing acute acne since I turned 14, instead of getting better, it got worse as I grew older.
There was absolutely no space on my face that was not covered – every inch of my face was covered in large, raised, red pimples…yes, it was that bad.
It made me so shy but I was able to hold my head high tried not to worry about it so much; After all, I was one of the best students in secondary school. Apart from the occasional taunts and name calling like “stone face”, high school wasn’t bad.
I gained admission into the university and I was ready to conquer the world. The day I landed, I vowed to graduate with a first class, get a lucrative job and make my parents proud. Life was good!
I met a nice guy, an older student, a good student who eventually became my boyfriend. On my birthday, during the second semester of my first year, I was in my room getting ready to go out with my boyfriend to celebrate when a girl walked in.
She was my roommate’s friend and she kept glancing at me. After a while she spoke to me…”Do you have a boyfriend?”, she asked “Yeah”, I replied.
“Hmm, you are lucky! With all these things on your face a man can still look at you? If I were a man, I wouldn’t date a girl with pimples, wont even allow my brother to date one”
My roommate was clearly embarrassed and later apologised but it was too late. The damage was done! My self esteem took a dive.Those malicious words zapped my self worth…
Thus began my journey with depression. I allowed those words to take root in my mind. I didn’t leave my room that day. I told my boyfriend who came to take me out to celebrate my birthday that I was sick. I didn’t even look up, I hid under the blanket…there I would hide on most days, missing lectures and more.
My grades suffered.
When people laughed, I thought they were looking at the huge, sore, inflamed zits on my face.I became a recluse, with very few friends. I graduated with grade far lower than what I vowed.
Due to depression and low self worth, I made bad choices in relationships. I was insecure, hence going from one abusive man to another. I blamed myself for the constant abuse and wouldn’t leave them no matter what. I felt I was lucky to even have a man, at all, with all these “things” on my face. Once a man showed interest in me, I would communicate those feelings of low self worth in some ways and they would capitalize on that.
Professionally, things were not going well. I couldn’t get a job. I would score high marks on tests but when it came to oral interview,once they asked me a question, I would be thinking that they were looking at the puffy, raised spots on my face. I would become tongue tied, unable to respond to questions I knew answers to.
On my way home one day, depressed and frustrated with no job; broke, friendless and with “black eyes” – a daily souvenir from my man, covered with thick foundation, escalated acne due to stress, I was crossing a
busy Lagos expressway…
A voice said to me, “All it will take is a few seconds, then all your problems will be over…Just stop, a few seconds and a vehicle, in seconds…you will be free. Do it, after all no one cares about you. No one will miss you“
For some seconds, I was in the middle of a busy highway but miraculously, no single vehicle was in sight. Some people looked at me curiously, probably wondering if I was crazy.
Crazy, stupid, selfish and foolish.
At that point, I thought, for goodness sake, there are people who with permanent disabilities: blind, scarred, deaf, dumb, on wheelchairs and dead.
It took two years of prayer, series of counselling before I became free.
Most importantly, I found someone who loves me unconditionally. JESUS CHRIST, my personal lord and saviour. I dumped all the baggage and embraced freedom.
We all go through life carrying life limiting baggage that has eaten deep into our subconscious. Sadly, human beings are virtual creatures,hence they judge others based on their looks but we all have a choice about how we react to each and every situation in our lives. We shouldn’t let what people say affect us negatively, you might hear the words but choose your attitude.
There will always be voices and people telling you that you are not good enough, you are too ugly, too fat, too thin, too dark, dull, too poor and that you are a loser and a failure. What matters is how you choose to respond to them. Find happiness in your strength, focus on your goals and never give in to self pity. The power to choose is one of the greatest gift God has given us.
Start now, toss out that trash and lighten the load. As for me, I don’t have acne anymore except for the scars, dark patches and discolouration which I will take care of with microdermabrasion as soon as I can afford it.
I still get the occasional bouts of those negative emotions but I always quickly replace them with positive ones.The lost opportunities,the few good men I drove away are not coming back but there are better opportunities and a good man out there.
I am going to get a more lucrative job, to fall in love and experience the joy of motherhood, by His Grace.
Whether you are a victim or the one hating on others, making making malicious comments about others, remember that the strongest voice is YOUR OWN.