Connect with us


Kome Olori Agulonu: Getting Help For Depression



Once upon a time, there was a young lady who came to intern at my mother’s business. She was just out of secondary school so we knew she would only be with us a short while; until her WAEC results were out and she went away to University. To my 10 year old self, Alice was larger than life. She was smart, gentle, patient and so pretty; not mean or snobby or pompous like girls that age can be.

The summer holidays quickly passed and so did Alice’s time with us. She had been accepted to study at one of the higher institutions in Lagos, Nigeria while I was going away to boarding school. We neither heard of nor saw Alice and I almost forgot everything about her except her gentle smile.

Fast forward to this weekend, nearly 20 years later, my mom mentioned that Alice had turned up out of the blue at her office begging for her old job back. She was skinny and haggard; not at all like we would ever have imagined her to be. Apparently, life had not been all she had hoped for, because soon after she had gone to University she  lost both her parents in quick succession. Perhaps burdened with sorrow, she was unable to keep up with her academic work, dropping out of University all together a year later. Soon after, she married a young trader who lived in her neighbourhood. With no qualifications or hope of finding a good job, they struggled to make ends meet.

Things came to a head in October 2013, when Alice lost her only child after a short illness. According to her, the pain and turmoil of her life was too much for her;  she was unable to eat or sleep for many days at a time. She soon discovered solace at the bottom of any bottle she could find. Rum. Whiskey. Beer. It really didn’t matter as long as it numbed the pain she was feeling and before she knew it, she was hooked on the alcohol; needing it to get through each day.

The exact events and circumstances of the past years can only be narrated by Alice herself but what I do know is that, this sweet, gentle soul is struggling with an alcohol problem. She has nowhere to stay as her husband has thrown her out of their matrimonial home. She has no immediate family to turn to and those who may have helped her are mostly afraid of whatever ‘curse’ has befallen her. Sadly, after everything she has been through, she is being jeered at, mocked, called different names (Witch being the favourite) and blamed for how life has turned out for her.

Last night, as my mom and I discussed the options that were open to us in our desire to help Alice, I remembered a silly joke I once heard about how Nigerians do not suffer from depression like the ‘white’ man. Something about how it was a foreign ailment and how Africans in essence are stronger than the Westerners. This situation reiterated the silliness of that notion, and it also brought the realisation that throughout my years in Nigeria, I never saw or heard an advert for a counselling or support network for people dealing with issues like bereavement, addiction etc. I wondered if such organisations exist and maybe I have just never heard of them.

I wondered about the way many people approach real problems that real people encounter. What has alcoholism or addiction got to do with witchcraft? Are people so myopic in reasoning that every single storm in life is caused by the devil? Now as a believing Christian, I would be the first to tell you about how spiritual everything is-  but surely there is a place for medicine, psychology, psychiatry and good old understanding. Not every wind is the devil’s doing. I would like to think that there are challenges that are not demon-induced.

Lastly, I am concerned that marriage to some people seems to be all about the good times. I remember my own vows very clearly “for better or for worse”. I would expect that a spouse’s prerogative is to assist, support, encourage their other half and not add to the problem! Throwing your wife out of the home should never be an option especially when you know she has nowhere else to go. Likewise, locking your husband out of the house is mostly unacceptable.

Dear reader, the purpose of this piece is not to cast blame or speculate about what goes wrong in people’s lives. Instead I hope it will be a reminder to all of us that there are people out there who for one reason or the other are more disadvantaged than we are. Some of them have lost their way and are passing through tough times.  Please, let us try to help them when we come across them. Let us all build a society that is fueled by love and understanding. Pointing fingers and judging really do nothing to help. It is amazing how we lay everything at the devil’s feet. I strongly believe that though we live in a developing country we can change things one person as time through our interaction with one another.

I look forward to hearing from you all. Have you suffered from depression – maybe from hardship or bereavement? Please share with us how you coped and triumphed over it.

Photo Credit:

Kome Olori Agulonu is a writer and business analyst. She is also the CEO of Chunky Jewels, a brand of unique, handmade, African inspired costume jewellery sold in the United Kingdom. You can follow her on Twitter @komeolori or email her at [email protected]

Kome Olori Agulonu is a writer and trade finance analyst. She is also the CEO of Chunky Jewels, a brand of unique, African inspired costume jewellery sold online in the United Kingdom. You can read more of her writing on her blog: Connect with her via twitter @komeolori or email her at [email protected]


  1. Lols

    April 7, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    I suffer from depression. There are times I wonder if it’s not easy to just end it all by killing myself. It helps that I have people to talk to who have opened their homes and themselves to me that whenever I need them, they are there for me. It’s a serious ailment that a lot of people don’t understand or want to understand. Instead, when you hear about people committing suicide, they become pious and put on holier than thou judgemental attitudes.


      April 7, 2014 at 4:33 pm

      be strong babe ,seek help,talk to people that really car and i pray God helps u ..amen

    • Precious

      April 7, 2014 at 5:49 pm

      Dear Lols,
      I know how that feels but do not give up. Ending your life should never be an option. Eat, drink and breathe Philippians 4:6 in the Bible. It really works! You are special dear. May your trials make you stronger. Shine through!

    • Stephanie

      April 8, 2014 at 3:37 am

      Don’t worry God is there to help. whenever you are depressed always remember that there are people who don’t even have the privilege to be depressed….where there is life there is hope. Just try to always focus on the happy things in your life..ok?

    • MemE

      April 8, 2014 at 11:54 am

      i suffer from it also…sometimes i feel like it has left me then suddenly I’m back to my deep dark thoughts. i wish it wud go away…:(

  2. Deerpark

    April 7, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    You have all eternity to be dead, why start now?

  3. nene

    April 7, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    depression sucks because you think the world will be easy, but you go thorough a lot of adversities, and in this part of the world, adversity is with you everywhere you go. i think depression comes about when a person believes that their goals and aspirations are unachievable due to one thing or the other, which comes about when the individual compares himself/herself to others, or when you are being judged by society or people around you. it could be that you are not rich enough, not smart enough, not beautiful enough, not creative enough, etc, and it makes a person have a poor self image, then confusion and frustration sets in, and ultimately the person feels hopeless. i believe a lot of nigerians are depressed, but the rate of suicide is still very low probably due to religion. i suffered from depression when i was a teenager (surprise,surprise..) but now i’m wiser and stronger.

    • slice

      April 7, 2014 at 4:28 pm

      some depression is physiological and has absolutely nothing to do with your thoughts for that the person needs medical attention asap.

  4. anonymous

    April 7, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    sweetie,there are many tins that can make u get depressed in this world but your job is to always speak peace to yourself,watch comedies,eat what you feel like eating,sign up 4 a salsa class and always remember mehn!! people are in far worse worse situations than u are.make Phil :4-6 your watchword..and quit saying something like I V DEPRESSION..whew!,sweetie pls b positive always,all d best.

    • NaijaPikin

      April 7, 2014 at 8:39 pm

      Sorry darl,

      For people suffering from depression, speaking peace is not the answer. Seeking professional help is.

    • TA

      April 8, 2014 at 7:45 am

      Thank you o! Please get professional help FIRST! Then prayer and whatever rocks your boat can follow. People do not realise depression esp major depression is dangerous and sufferers need medical attention not ‘speaking peace or prayers alone’.

  5. Joy

    April 7, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    I suffer from moderate depression. It took me years of struggling and failing: at school, jobs, and relationships, before I finally sought professional help. The main thing that held me back is the very thing you mentioned: this tightly held African notion that mental health is a white man’s problem, or imaginary. My father didn’t understand, and worse, he did not want to understand–he thought I had been cursed and wanted to send me home to Nigeria. My mother was instrumental in making sure I finally got the help I needed, and making sure I stuck to it. I’ve been on antidepressants for over a year now, and the difference is a joyful relief.

    The process of finding the right drug was difficult: one made me angry, one made food disgusting to me, and of course the stigma of taking psychiatric drugs in the first place. But I finally found something that works while I seek counseling and learn how to deal with my recurring depression.

    I emphasize totally with the woman in your story. It was so difficult for me to acknowledge that I needed help, and could not handle this problem on my own. I felt weak, lazy, like a disappointment. It made me want to “disappear” so I wouldn’t cause problems for my parents anymore. I told myself they would eventually get over it, and in the end they would be happier. That was one of my lowest moments, and a major impetus for me finally getting help.

    I just wish I had done it years earlier. But the cultural stigma and the pain of my father’s dismissal of my problem held me back for so long. Nigerians need more mental health awareness. It would help so many people who are struggling the way I did.

  6. Joy

    April 7, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    I forgot to add that I have my father’s full support now. He still doesn’t completely understand, but he makes a huge effort to pay attention to if I suddenly stop going outside and encourages me to exercise and follow up with my therapist if I forget. I’m immensely grateful for both of my parents for their support. And I finally feel like I’m making them proud again.

    • TA

      April 8, 2014 at 7:48 am

      You are a special one and you are stronger than you know. Never quit fighting OK? *Huge cyber hug*

  7. peace and joy

    April 7, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    Depression is a serious mental state of mind that if left unattended it can lead to devastation. I have dealt with depression before, reoccurring actually. Its so strenuous especially for us who are BORN AGAIN CHRISTIANS. they judge you and cannot relate because they think you suppose to be past that. I finally seek professional help and everytime I start noticing my mind sinking or getting depressed,I put some worship songs on and I worship my God. WORKS EVERYTIME.

  8. babysco

    April 7, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    menh in America ,you’ll undestand what is real depression.Just moved to California and menh depression hit me hard.So I understand.May God grant Alice solace.Thanks for this article

    • Ijeoma

      April 9, 2014 at 1:15 am

      I live in California!!!! C’mon loooove!! If you live in Southern California, let me know!!! America takes a lot of getting used to, California now that one na another story.

      Light upon light!!!

  9. bukky

    April 7, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    This is well written Kome. More grease to your elbow

  10. Dami

    April 7, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    I remember in college my tutor asked me how people from my country dealt with depression…. I simply said Nigerians are too busy with struggling for a better life than getting depressed.

  11. mist

    April 7, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    Do not be fooled cos sometimes depression is very much spiritual, i didn’t want to believe it so i kept to my meds and try as i did i will always relapse months after and the doctors kept putting me on different drugs until one day a man of God prayed for me after it had been revealed to him during a revival i had been invited to by a friend. so fast forward four years after that encounter and i have totally forgotten i ever suffered from that medical condition and i am as free as i can ever be (Praise be to God!)

  12. kome Olori Agulonu

    April 7, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    @Lols I am glad that you have not succumbed to the thought of taking your own life. Please know that you are very special and that the world needs your God given gifts. I am relieved that you are getting the love and support you deserve from those around you. Stay strong…

  13. Chidinma

    April 7, 2014 at 7:03 pm

    I believe that Social media is responsible for the increase in depression among young people. We can’t help but to compare ourselves/lives with those on fb and instagram. We value self worth with likes and followers and hardly genuinely interact. Must people dress just to put a picture up on social media. The world is becoming some sort of robotic global village. I personally recommend a Spritual detox. It works for me. Deactivate ALL forms of social media for at least 2 weeks. Let some calls go to voicemail. Get off bbm and whatsapp. During that time..write lists. Discover yourself, likes, hopes, aspirations and listen to only gospel music…no romantic or dance stuff. Pray and study the word of God. You’ll come out a different person.

    • vivian

      April 7, 2014 at 10:25 pm

      I totally agree wih what u said. Social media is the mother off all things cray cray. I was never the Jealousy person until i joined instagram. Meeeeehhhnn, the spirit of jealousy hit me like a ton of bricks and i was like a mad person.always comparing myself to everyone on always criticising myself and my facial features wishing to be someone else. I was so tormented,i lost all the self confidence and self esteem i had, it started affected my daily li ibg and not before long i was depressed. Massively depressed. Thoughts of suicide where vontant companion. I prayer and asked HOLY SPIRIT what was happening to me and he instructed me to close instagram immediately and spend atleast one hr

    • Spicy

      April 8, 2014 at 7:31 am

      That is the exact reason why i have refused to join instagram so far because lf that culture of showing off there. I know myself, i know my limitations, i can’t help but compare myself to others and think why haven’t i achieved what some of my mates are despite being sucessful in my own right. Even as a confident person usually, i get a little depressed when i consider such things, therefore i made the conscious decision not to expose myself to an avenue that’ll feed my self doubt. Even twitter,facebook etc sef, i try to not visit frequently, just stick to my bbm

    • Pretty

      April 8, 2014 at 9:55 am

      @ Chidinma: you are so right. I reconnected with a friend of mine after a very longtime on facebook. And after going through her pictures i became depressed. She had the cutest hubby and son. And i even saw her posing in one very beautiful sitting room(i dont even know if that is her house). Her life looked perfect on facebook and here i was single and just there. I had to stop looking at her pictures before i became ok. Social media sucks.

    • Onyinye

      January 24, 2017 at 5:28 pm

      We should be friends. I need people like you with this understanding in my life. To help grow realisti cally and sincerely.

  14. vivian

    April 7, 2014 at 10:27 pm

    Atleast one hr every morning reading and meditating with the word of God. I was freed. Thank you Jesus

  15. Anonymous

    April 7, 2014 at 10:52 pm

    Let me first commend you for writing this article. Personally I love the bit you mentioned how Africans believe depression is a white man thing. I am a male, 25 years of age with serious depression which resulted in serious gambling addiction. My family believe it’s a spiritual thing and my mother has done all sorts from 100days fasting to visiting God knows man of God…. Tried to explain to her several times, the thing that fuels my gambling is my chronic depression…. Not spiritual but they believe am just making excuses. To cut story short, I have got proffesional help and working on myself to be a better and a happy person. Africans need to wake!!!

  16. always happy

    April 8, 2014 at 3:13 am

    lol……so social media has some demons that are sending signals through your pc and inciting you with the spirit of envy , jealousy and such? I have heard all sorts but this one trumps it. I think its apparent within the heart of mine lies evil thoughts, if na social media dey activate urs then pls yes go on social media fasting and never come off it.

  17. Anonymous

    April 8, 2014 at 10:25 am

    Nice write up. I currently work in the NHS and my team specializes in organising self management trianing for people with long term health conditions so i thought i should share some links that might be useful

  18. Mariaah

    April 8, 2014 at 10:59 am

    Depression is real! Very real. I think different things work for different people. Some people just love from family and friends, others prayers, others professional help/counselling/anti-depressants and the likes.

    I’d advise though, seek professional help

  19. agbeke

    April 8, 2014 at 11:12 am

    I totally agree depression is real! Please get help. let it out and pray. I don’t know if I believe in therapists but they work for some people. As for social media. I totally agree especially instagram. just leaves one sometimes feeling under achieved and I visit it less and less now. I’ll just drop a line from such preacher and i’m paraphrasing: never try to be like someone else because that someone else also wants to have what someone else has so just be the best that God has created you to be…may God help us all and please stay strong @ lols. God bless the writer of this article.

  20. Deerpark

    April 8, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    Overcoming depression is simply becoming discipline.if social media is causing depression, best believe the world is not going to get any less global.So now is the time to make yourself stronger because the showing off.AKA see me i wear fine cloth is not going to stop.All you need is good health,money and people who love you.Dats all.

  21. kome Olori Agulonu

    April 8, 2014 at 6:55 pm

    Dear Anonymous, thank you for the links and information you have shared. I am sure this will be useful for those who want to learn more about how to cope with Depression.
    (please copy and paste link in your browser) –

  22. Me

    April 8, 2014 at 8:47 pm

    I moved to another country, no family, no friends and depression hit me. It’s like falling into a dark well. I was spiraling downwards fast and I found myself grabbing for something to hold on in the dark and it was almost closing up on me. I didn’t seek professional help but I thought about the people I loved and who loved me and when I found myself sinking into that dark hole I ask myself- “what will they tell them at home?” “How will they cope if I give in?” “How will their lives be affected?” So I climbed out of that dark hole, it took me a while, a long while, but I thought of my family, when I could, I talked to God with all my heart and I thought about the many destinies that are tied to mine and how I would fail them-I came out of it. So anytime I feel myself falling again into that dark hole, I really, really try hard to snap out of it especially when I think of that claustrophobic darkness, that hole scares me so bad. When I was home I thought depression was a white man’s sickness! Not knowing that the traffic, hustling for fuel for the generator and Lagos wahala kept it at bay!

    • babysco

      April 9, 2014 at 1:27 am

      I understand exactly moving to the US.what country are you in?

    • omoobanta

      April 9, 2014 at 12:10 pm

      A dark well is exactly how I describe it!

  23. Kome Olori Agulonu

    April 8, 2014 at 10:36 pm

    @me , I know what you mean about being lonely and how it can deal a serious blow when you are far from home. but I am happy that you are fighting through it. From what you have said, it seems things are on the mend? Please try not to isolate yourself, make an extra effort to meet new and make new friends. Hopefully before long, all low moods will be history.

  24. Ijeoma

    April 9, 2014 at 1:24 am

    I love seeing everything here that does not solely point to The Bible as the only way to find help. This is something that i hold very very close to my heart because it is not only about current events that makes you depressed but the past. There are some of us who do not deal with childhood issues and as adults, it hits us…it hits us hard. I want anyone reading this to know The Universe is here and you are here and you are worth it, you are worth it all. It is hard, i know it is hard and it feels like you need to keep up but there is no “keeping up” with anyone, just take care of you. You come first. Seek professional help, talk to someone who would listen and not judge you or tell you your problem is spiritual. Do not listen to anyone who tells you and makes it seem you are looking for attention. Please please, seek happiness because you deserve it. We all deserve it. I was the poster child for happiness. I was always so happy, so filled with light till it hit me, those close to me i thought would understand thought i was just seeking attention. I faced my demons and i am glad i did. I don’t know what you are going through but know, The Universe will always be here for you. If you want to seek God, do. If you want to seek God through Buddha, Krishna, Jesus or Muhammed and if that will make you happier, then do it. You are the living proof and you will testify. Keep your head up. Keep your head up. Afam bu Ijeoma and i am the living proof that light overcomes darkness and no matter how cold the night is, the sun will always ALWAYS shine. Ka chi of. Light upon light, TheIjeoma.

  25. As If...

    April 9, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    I was hit by depression quite early. I must have been between 12 and 13 years. I just knew that all of a sudden, my whole life was like a black hole, a bottomless pit of sadness and worthlessness. I didn’t know what was making me ‘feel’ that way. I didn’t know why I couldn’t find joy in anything. I didn’t know how to even explain what I felt but I felt horrible.

    As the days went into weeks and months and years, a pattern was established. The depression was seasonal, always starting around harmattan season and sucking all the joy and fun out of the Christmas and New Year celebrations. I only got to know that seasonal depression exists because I’m a voracious reader. I still couldn’t explain to anyone and having a medical doctor for a father only made it worse. He would never believe that anything was wrong. My mum also would just tell me to go and pray and stop seeking attention.

    I felt terrible but I knew I couldnt afford to let myself sink. How do I manage it? I dont know! Its a combination of many things, God’s grace and determination. I’m lucky I never took meds – luckier that I probably never needed meds but I’m happy that I learn how to love the imperfect me, to take life minute by minute if be and to just be content to be me with all my issues.

    I’ve been happily married for 6 years and my husband knew that I was struggling with depression but he loved me the way that I am and till now, he knows the signs to look out for and how to encourage me.

    Please seek help if you think you might be battling depression. There is always help available but you have got take some steps. Peace!

  26. kome Olori Agulonu

    April 9, 2014 at 11:30 pm

    @As if, I really like the enthusiasm I get from your comment. Although i wish that your parents would have listened and understood you but I am happy you have great support from your husband.
    Hopefully in the future, there will organisations and trained people in Nigeria providing the necessary care and support.
    Kudos to you. Keep it up!

  27. eva

    April 16, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    I had depression through out my teenage years. It was one hell of a big black whole. Sadness and worthlessnes. I just couldn’t seem to get out of it. It came over me again last year. I was so numb . Unfortunately no one understands. During that period my family just avoided thinking ibwouldnhurt them when I myself was hurting. They just couldn’t understand. I

  28. eva

    April 16, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    The wave came over me last year. I just got out of it tlast month and men I am glad cos I can see the sun. I thank God now for his joh is my strength. I am stronger now depression is a serious thing. I guess one of the factors stems from personality. I am melacholic so it is just something I struggle with. But today I’ve never been so happy in my life and I pray it continue this way

  29. Celebrity Shrink

    April 21, 2014 at 5:07 am

    Thanks Kome for this enlightening piece and to the BN team, keep up the GREAT work. Also to the powerful readers/Fans, it’s very impressive reading all the comments.

    Depression is a common mental disorder. Globally, more than 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression. Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and is a major contributor to the global burden of disease. More women are affected by depression than men. At its worst, depression can lead to suicide. In 2012, W.H.O declared DEPRESSION AS A GLOBAL CRISIS…….But the good NEWS is, there are effective treatments for it.

    The FACTS here in Nigeria…………………what you hear is;

    “I’m FINE”
     EMPTY

    “It is WELL”
     EMPTY
     LOW MOOD
    The truth is, are you really FINE or/and WELL?

    YES, it’s good to pray, have a positive outlook to life….but when DEPRESSION comes knocking, seek professional help ASAP. With prayers, family and social support, the outcome is usually GOOD.

    Kindly read up this article for more on depression. Thank you

    I remain committed to your psychological and holistic well-being.

  30. joke

    May 20, 2016 at 11:22 am

    There is an outpatient psychiatric clinic in abuja when my sister was going though depression we contacted them and the doctor was able to treat her without us even traveling….the doctor (a US trained psychiatrist) was communicating with her via phone and skype…that is something they use at their center they call it telepsychiatry so that they can help people across Nigeria…their website is it was really convinent since she didnt have to leave lagos.

  31. Anonymous

    March 28, 2018 at 3:30 pm

    Great article and really helpful comments. I have had suicidal thoughts for years and tried a couple of times to take my own life but I have not quite gotten the meds right, I have only succeeded in knocking myself out for some days. How can I get help in Nigeria. I have tried worship, I feel better and the next moment I’m back there thinking I have seen all there is to life and it’s time to pack it all in.

  32. Innocent

    April 26, 2018 at 1:34 pm

    Have never been so depressed, I can’t get a job to continue my education, I feel like a cripple but no am not one, am complete and beautifully made. So I don’t seem to understand why things are not going fine. I need someone to talk to please

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Star Features