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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Tells the Story of her Struggle with Depression | Reason Why Story was Removed



A few hours ago the Guardian UK published an article by Nigerian award winning writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie where she shared the heartfelt story of her struggle with depression.

In classic Adichie style, the writer talks about her symptoms, the effect of her depression on her family and friends, and how the condition is often a writer’s scourge.


The article was taken down from the Guardian UK website.
Initially, the Guardian stated that the removal was due to a technical error.

Now, they have updated their site with the following message.

This article was deleted on 1 February 2015 because it was launched in error, without the permission of the author following a technical error. The Guardian apologises unreservedly to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Therefore, we have decided to remove the excerpts.

Update 2

Chimamanda’s Management have released the following statement on why the article was removed. Contrary to speculation, it is not because the author wants to “hide” her depression experience rather it was due to a misunderstanding with the Guardian UK Newspaper.

When a writer of Chimamanda Adichie’s status writes an essay, many publications are interested in publishing it. Her agent sends the essay to a few publications. The publications indicate their interest and make various offers and proposals including how they will feature it and what they would like to accompany it (e.g. a photo shoot, an additional interview), how much they will pay for it, when they will publish it and in what section of the publication. Chimamanda then makes a decision about which publication she prefers

Chimamanda wrote the essay about depression last year. Depression is a very important subject for her. She wanted to make sure the essay was very honest. She wanted to use the essay as a way to help people, to start a conversation about depression, particularly among Africans. Many people suffer in silence. Breaking the silence around the subject of depression can be the first step to getting better.

Many magazines and publications were interested in the essay. One of them was the Guardian. Chimamanda considered their offer and then decided she didn’t want it to be published there. She felt that the Guardian was not the right place for the essay. She declined their offer, and they acknowledged in writing that she had declined.

She planned to publish the essay later this year, when she would have finished other engagements, to give her time to deliver a talk in Nigeria about depression.

She had still not finally decided which publication she would go with when she discovered on Sunday that the essay had been published in the Guardian, with no notice, no permission, nothing. She was shocked.

The Guardian claims it was a technical error. It is not clear how something could have been published, with photographs, due to a technical error. It is possible that The Guardian deliberately published it even though they had been turned down. That way, The Guardian could claim to have been first to publish Africa’s most-internationally recognized novelist writing for the first time on the very personal subject of depression. The Guardian’s action was unethical and possibly illegal. The Guardian has apologized and removed the essay.

The essay will be republished properly later this year. Chimamanda thanks all the people who have already shared their own stories of depression. She hopes that knowing you are not alone will be a source of comfort. She will speak more on the subject in the coming months.

BN encourages anyone going through depression to consult a doctor immediately. Depression is an illness. With proper care and therapy, it can be managed and treated.


  1. Hilda

    February 1, 2015 at 2:31 pm

    I know that feeling or the lack of a feeling! Unworthiness, not good enough, seeing the glass half empty. I hate being in that place but cant get out of it.

    • Wale

      February 1, 2015 at 6:43 pm

      I read the full article on LI earlier. It is more of PMS than major clinical depression(which is more serious). then she went ahead and likened herself to Wolfe, Van Gogh and Hemingway etc. Hmmm! After so many, many words, the bottom line was she has a condition millions of women all over the world attribute to PMS. I guess she feels she ranks way toooo up there-she over described it and I got bored after the third paragraph. Bottom line, it is hormonal- live with it, nothing unique to her or her history.

    • Ebele

      February 1, 2015 at 8:04 pm

      Responses like yours, are the exact problem with the publics’ attitude to depression. I used to think and use the same exact words, until i found myself in the same position 3 years ago. Crying everyday, when you cant put a finger to the reason and cant seem to snap out of it, is NOTHING to wave aside

    • Nala

      February 1, 2015 at 9:34 pm

      Do you know how to read? Are you educated? and no, i’m not talking about education from the four walls of an institution. More like do you have an educated mind? I read the piece and she didn’t compare herself to those people. Someone else did the comparison. Crawl back to the hole you came out of. Talking about ‘live with it’. Did she tell you
      Bottom line (since that’s your favorite word), Deal with your fish brain and lack of comprehension. People who reason like you make me sick. Uuugh!

    • Fish brain you are

      February 1, 2015 at 9:56 pm

      Sometimes,it’s not being educated,but also being enlightened.My dear,for her to have talked about it,she must have been medically diagnosed.Nobody wishes bad on him or herself.Be sensitive please!

    • grace

      February 1, 2015 at 11:55 pm

      Trust Nigerians try and downplay someone’s feelings. Are you a certified doctor that you’re so it’s PMS? Most learned, Dr pangolo GTFOH!

    • M

      February 1, 2015 at 11:59 pm

      Please get out of here with your rubbish deduction. Say na must be PMS.

    • sandstones

      February 2, 2015 at 12:01 am

      What the hell is wrong with you. Is your period coming. Just can’t comprehend to save ur life. Daft man.

    • Iris

      February 2, 2015 at 1:08 am

      Did you really just liken depression to PMS? Somebody please tell me, who the f**k is this individual? Where do you get off making such an indescribably idiotic statement? PMS! REALLY?!!

    • Esi

      February 2, 2015 at 1:21 am

      That is some ill-informed nonsense you just typed. Did you bother to read the article at all?

    • manny

      February 2, 2015 at 9:41 am

      289 people loved this nonsensical comment?

    • Curious

      February 2, 2015 at 3:37 pm

      Why una dey surprise? This Wale character na confirmed agbaya since 1905, no be today so na to jump and pass this kain stupid comment.

    • ai li

      February 2, 2015 at 8:14 pm

      sending you love and light. Someone loves you more than you know xxxxxxxxx

  2. Mabrr

    February 1, 2015 at 2:43 pm

    How brave of this woman to share her story. Having suffered depression I agree with her that it is indeed a “powerlessness”. I often wonder, though, if this depression would have come over me if I lived in Africa. I mean, it is hard to feel powerless when you have a strong support system around you and sunshine reminding you that better days are coming. Simplistic, I know, just a fleeting thought that comes to mind. Please seek help if you feel depressed. Suicide ala Woolf and Van Gough need not be the answer.

    • T E M I

      February 1, 2015 at 4:38 pm

      yes, the depression still would have come over you. Probably. Depression can affect anyone and the support system that you so speak of can only do so much before they tire out cos like she said they think you have a choice. I’m grateful people like Kelechi(best human being i know) who has held my hand countless times. Depression is real.

    • Biola

      February 1, 2015 at 10:52 pm

      I live in “Africa” I see the sun everyday, still depressed. I don’t think thats a major factor

    • Hafsat Blacksoap, Oils, Body & Hair Butter

      February 2, 2015 at 10:30 am

      I think in Nigeria especially, you would have better support system than you can possibly have living abroad. Your mum, dad, grandparents, elder and younger siblings may not understand what it is. But they will definitely pray for you and that my dear works wonders more than drugs. People who love you will ask you whats up and check up on you from time to time and do the prayer thing!! Sending you loads of prayers, hugs and warmth….


    February 1, 2015 at 3:11 pm

    It is not easy for strong woman like her to admit to depression. I could not picture her sitting on a therapist’s couch though so I am not surprised she did not follow through on that one. I hope the anti depressant give some relief.

  4. Ololade....

    February 1, 2015 at 3:13 pm

    Hmmm….Life….When you see her,the last thing you think of is depression….You will out strong Chimamanda**cyberhugs**

  5. blow

    February 1, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    Depression is real, and the bad thing is, people around you may not understand why you feel the way you feel especially if you are usually the bubbly type.
    ……they ask questions like; “blow, why are you such an in grate? Do u know how many ppl wish to be like u, have what u have??”……..

    • Ada Ada by flavour

      February 1, 2015 at 5:28 pm

      God bless you.
      If i count how many times, i have heard that sentence.

    • Curious

      February 2, 2015 at 3:39 pm

      A lot of times people around (like the ignorant Wale above) only help to make matters worse, because people (Nigerians especially) are sadly unable to empathize with that which they do not understand.

  6. CoconutPineapple

    February 1, 2015 at 3:24 pm

    Even the way she talks about Depression is so beautiful that you feel it!
    *sigh* what an amazing writer! I Love this Woman.

    However I do hope that she gets all the help and therapy she needs and does not allow the depression to drown her.

    This battle sounds very deep and dark.

  7. bees

    February 1, 2015 at 3:38 pm

    Most creative people suffer from depression. For writers, i think because they spend so much time in their own heads, they are more likely to rummage in there and come up with the bad stuff that might trigger it.

    Depression is very real to me. My mom was a sufferer. I have my rounds too. Growing up, i haven’t necessarily become better, but I have taught myself to transform it into beautiful art. I write better when I feel like dying.

    I’m not suicidal in the real sense, but most times I dream of going back to undo it all. Does that even make sense?

    I side-eye anti-depressant though. Withrawal can be mind-numbing too, just ask my aunt.

    • Esi

      February 2, 2015 at 1:25 am

      More power to you @bees for sharing your story.

  8. Dr. Maymunah

    February 1, 2015 at 3:46 pm

    Although STIGMA is still very high in this part of the world, I believe if more people (Celebrities, Role models, You and I) come out and talk or share our stories about our mental health, a lot can change. This will create awareness and enlighten more Nigerians, especially the youths that they are NOT alone in this struggle. It is WELL, and I’m FINE are signs you may be depressed. More Nigerians are committing suicide everyday, the truth is are we really WELL?.

    Kindly read and share the links below…..

    Depression, A Global Crisis.

    Are we still the happiest people in the world?

    Sadly, suicide among the youths is increasing in Nigeria: Why? ‎

    Risk Factors of suicide.‎

    What will make someone commit suicide?

    —-Be Inspired, Be Informed!

    Mental Health Advocate‎

    • anon

      February 1, 2015 at 10:26 pm

      Thank you, Your comment makes alot of sense to me. Our celebrities should talk about these issues more as many young ones look up to them and we as a people should learn to be more accomodating and try to resist the urge to say ‘deal with it’. Read this article which discusses mental disorders sometime back, i believe it can also help with depression-

  9. Zara

    February 1, 2015 at 4:14 pm

    We shall conquer !!!!

  10. Mgbeke BoyFriend

    February 1, 2015 at 4:47 pm

    Chi Adichie, you have done so well to write about this even as you cutely dressed it in nice literary accessories. I understand and can relate with every thing you wrote and for once, a new light of awareness has thus flashed across the shadow of this enigma. I couldn’t really get myself to write and explain my episodes as you and so i found it a challenge to communicate my ‘strangeness’ to friends and family who are largely unaware of this Depression Thingy. I am a creative too and many times i feel i am as powerful as a hand fan and as hopeful as the day before, but i am everything a normal bubbly bloke from the outside. More of this from celebrated and recognizable people should be encourage to help the many who are shackled and manacled by depression without them realizing.

  11. Chris

    February 1, 2015 at 5:14 pm

    I agree with your point on sharing, especially things that are too heavy for some fragile hearts to take. However, caution should be taken to the choice of people we intend to share stuff with, else the singular act of having shared that thought, constitutes a major source of depression. I can’t stress how much good it does to surround yourself with ‘real’ people, especially those that tell you the ‘hard truths’.

  12. Person

    February 1, 2015 at 5:33 pm

    My brother who is a psychiatrist has been my lifeline. It ‘doesn’t get better’ but you learn to live with it.

  13. Tosin

    February 1, 2015 at 6:36 pm

    Sad how little we understand about health. Not illness, I mean well-being. Weird thing is that with mental health, place matters, people, weather, food, random stuff like that. I don’t understand the relationships, but these weird little things matter. Western medicine is more about pills, for some weird reason (capitalism), but if one can afford it, get the best psychologist in the world, or try a new country.
    – a non-expert
    – a travel advocate who doesn’t really travel 🙂

  14. Kal

    February 1, 2015 at 7:34 pm

    For anyone suffering from depression, I recommend the Destroy Depression system written by James Gordon. He is a former depression and PTSD sufferer, and teaches a totally natural 7 step process to eliminate depression and regain control of your life.

  15. Gladys

    February 1, 2015 at 7:49 pm

    I’m proud of Chimamanda for writing this. Don’t know what is up with the Guardian, and I hope it is republished. More Nigerians need to speak out about the reality of mental and emotional unease in our society. It is hard even just blogging about this, talk less of telling people. Chimamanda is brave for speaking up.

    • Spirit

      May 7, 2015 at 12:19 pm

      It looks like the Guardian did not respect her and her rights as an author. It is good to see an African standing firm and defending their intellectual property rights.


    February 1, 2015 at 9:02 pm

    She is brave indeed. Those suffering from it should not be made to feel embarrassed. It’s a disease like any other. Here are two books I recommend you read immediately.

  17. anon

    February 1, 2015 at 10:32 pm

    I just really want to say this is why I love Bella naija readers! Almost all comments here are up building and for the few who don’t get it, I can’t blame them but I pray them to try to understand

  18. nystyle

    February 1, 2015 at 10:33 pm

    Wow Tosin!!! U are absolutely spot on..when I faced depression in the UK, I never opted for medication, I actually told my doctor that medication will not solve m problem., God found me and relocated me to the United States and I am full of life. Relocation, people and income worked for me. Depression really in many cases is deep worry about ur socioeconomic state and future.

    • manny

      February 2, 2015 at 9:39 am

      I disagree on the socioeconomic part. Lots of financially secure people have depression. Thing is there are different triggers, the body processes them differently too. For some people, it really is an imbalance of chemicals. Changing place, relationships etc will only have a fleeting effect.

    • nwanyi na aga aga

      February 2, 2015 at 2:50 pm

      ‘ God found me and relocated me to the United States and I am full of life. Relocation, people and income worked for me.’ i copied this from her/his write up, count many times she/he used me and I in this sentence you will notice she personalized it. she/he was talking about what worked for her/him and what she/he thought.

  19. Funmilola

    February 1, 2015 at 11:07 pm

    She writes about it beautifully well,but depression is ugly……..i imagine it to be an evi spirit that descends upon one without notice depositing all it sadness and gloom it carries,changing one’s personality within a twinkle of an eye.
    I fought it and won!
    Will win if it ever comes again……..thanks for sharing ngozi,so many people don’t know and those that know won’t admit to it.

  20. Funmilola

    February 1, 2015 at 11:13 pm

    Let me add this…..the Bible helped me.
    Found strength in the book of Psalms.

    • manny

      February 2, 2015 at 9:35 am

      Yes indeed. I recommend the psalms for depression. I’ve been there, I was put on medication in the US. Audio psalms saved me.

  21. Nkeiruka O-O

    February 2, 2015 at 7:12 am

    Chimamanda, when you are comfortable to come out and talk to us…we are here to listen. There’s always one person out there to reach or encourage. Creative folks are often made up w/a unique scope and a message to share w/the masses. I totally get it.

    It’s weird that the following site…copied BN post word for word…At least mix it up some. Geez.

  22. jane

    February 2, 2015 at 7:52 am

    exactly what i wanted to say, through prayer you can overcome this

  23. Glo

    February 2, 2015 at 11:14 am

    These words “I remember the first book I read about depression, how I clung to parts that I could use to convince myself that I did not have depression.” are soo true….even now did exactly same thing while reading this piece…
    Like she said, depression is real…..and in various level…..the most important part is accepting that its real. This is the first step before the healing can begin.

  24. Uju Lilian Ikegbune

    February 2, 2015 at 11:14 am

    Thanks Doctor maymunah for sharing the links and article. I wish I can share my own story, reading all this articles and seeing people coming out through all this post to accept the problem, just makes me feel relived and believe we can all over come in solving the problem. If only there can be a project or a platform where people can share their stories and a way out of this depression problem it would be a nice and welcoming initiative, we can have doctors, psychiatrists, sociologist and many more on the panel. just as Tara of House of Tara did with her 1000 voices. peeps in the movie industry can make a movie. what y’all think?

  25. isaid!

    February 2, 2015 at 12:11 pm

    Thanks everyone who had one or two points to make on this illness. I am a sufferer too so i can so relate with everything being written My two cents, i think the more the world “‘ improves with modern technology”” and so on. Incidence of depression will increase. God created us humans to be in close interaction with one another. But modern technology, distance we cover to ‘” make it in life”” is tearing us apart and making us too independent thereby living us to deal with life issues alone. When humans lived communally, even though progress is often slow as a result of over dependence on one another,issues like depression wont be all that much . I think this still goes back to dealing with life alone, feeling “”strong”” etc. Neighbors, family may meddle in our affairs and all which we often don’t like but it just might make us keep our sanity too instead of becoming alienated and dealing with life alone and falling into all these kinds of illnesses. What do you guys think.
    Just my two cents. Sorry for the long epistle.

  26. Tunde

    February 2, 2015 at 7:47 pm

    if you think poor Nigerians don’t get depressed, read this by a Nigerian doctor

  27. jay fields

    February 23, 2015 at 10:40 pm

    Great article, it gives a insight into depression epecially for younger people i have just recently read a review on a book that helps with depression and it turns out the book is great for anyone who wants a read check it out

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