No one will willingly admit to suicidal ideation – the intense obsession with the thoughts of death. This is not necessarily the thoughts of taking one’s life but it’s often seen as the way out. I have found this to be the deepest and most difficult aspect of depression – I call this deep thinking; what else can it be?
I think it’s natural to think, no pun intended. If not, we will not be called rational. How did I fall into this hole – this black hole of the mind? I will never know or understand but one thing is crystal clear, I have always been under pressure for the greater part of my life. The pressure to conform to a stereotype, the pressure to be a smart kid especially when I was younger, to be smart like my siblings. I know what it means to be a failure and to be called a failure so I’ve always wanted to be the best, to be successful in everything. I’ve never cherished praise or adulations but to be left alone and still be seen as the best. I’ve always wanted to be seen as a genius even in failure.
I have not really slept for the best part of a decade. I have been fantasising with being successful for the best part of 15 years. I have always wanted to create the kind of life and living I never truly had. Now that I have a semblance of what I wanted, now is when the black hole feels at its widest and deepest. I can’t fathom it.
It is said that courage is not the absence of fear. I don’t know if I am afraid or not but I feel vulnerable and incapable of helping myself. Yet I don’t think I have failed, at least not to those close and dear to me. I feel I’ve done my absolute best and just want to check out.
I have suffered illnesses and sleeplessness; I still experience these. These are merely the symptoms of the depression I suffer from. Even migraine seems to be ever present.
Am I tired? Yes, seriously. Am I vulnerable? Yes, absolutely. Am I a weakling? Yes, completely. Yet I will never want to piggyback on the strength of another man. This is a simple case of not wanting to be disappointed and I’m not one for being a burden.
There’s a space I want to occupy, that unique essence of being free and unencumbered.
I beg your indulgence to contradict myself. Life is full of various pressure and my greatest is to pay my rent and other bills. The pressure to succeed has been with me for so long it doesn’t feel like pressure anymore.
Don’t ask me about love and loving. I know what they mean and how they feel but they don’t motivate me. They feel like massive burdens.
Help me to ponder my existence. Allow me to moan about the failure of a past life. Teach me nothing. I am not inclined to learn, not for a simple mind but a bleak mind. I can teach you a thing or two. I can teach sadness and a sorrowful existence. I am a master but don’t follow my lead. I persistently summon blackness from the depth of a place I know nothing about.
I wrote the above piece when I was going through a depressing time. I actually spent a lot of time writing my thoughts down in poems and proses. I hope the above is able to shed some light into my thoughts during those times. Yes, depression, the essence of this article.
Mental health by its very nature is often a taboo in every society and in almost every culture. More so in a society that takes pride in protecting the integrity of our family name. Suffice to say that even in the Western culture, it was sadly overlooked until recently. Why so? Mental health is often seen through the prism of its seriousness. If it’s not serious that it warrants the person being institutionalised, then it’s not given the right attention it required.
No one wants to talk about mental health and it’s often taken for granted as it’s only seen through the narrow worldview of one of its forms; ‘visible madness’ or what I will call a psychotic state of mind. Yes, no one likes been called mad. Madness or psychosis is the brutal state of mental illness. It’s stigmatic by its very nature. This is not an attempt to talk about the various forms but the very silent form; depression. No one really cares for a depressed mind. Why? Depression is not high up our list of illnesses.
As a country that’s bedevilled with several problems, of course some issues won’t be on the table at all. Yes, I understand there’s no space for mental illness in a bowl full of so many problems. The main picture that’s registered on our minds are the dirty looking mad men in tattered clothes picking food from the rubbish dumps or the very violent ones.
The aim of this piece is not to talk about the state of the Nigerian healthcare system but to advise sufferers to seek help. If you are a sufferer and reading this piece, then it is never too late. The first thing is to talk to someone. Let your loved ones know what you’re going through. I remember talking to a doctor some years ago. I was able to deduce two things; talk to someone or get a flat mate. You might be wondering why I had to talk to the doctor. I was unwell, with severe tummy ache. The diagnosis was Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). The IBS wasn’t a recent development but as a result of years of deep thinking. You may want to call it depression.
I spent the sad time thinking uncontrollably. I couldn’t shut down my mind, I couldn’t stop it from being busy. I slept less and less over the years until I finally slipped into insomnia. So you see a number of interrelated issues; depression, IBS and insomnia. I was able to get out of them all but it was a lot of work and it took a long time. Of course, I thank God. How did I get into such a state? That is a very long story which I may have to serialise.
Depression is a silent killer. Of course, I will like to assume so many people, especially the young people, are suffering from this ailment. This can only be true given the current tough economic situation in the country. Everyone seems particularly stressed. So I will advise anyone struggling to talk to someone. I accept that our culture is very masochistic but it’s about survival. Of course, people have the very wrong notion about depression. One is often seen as a weakling. You’ve heard it so many times that boys don’t cry. No wonder the rate of depression is higher for men than women. We’ve heard about several suicide cases so it won’t be far-fetched to assume depression played a great part in it. Seek help. It certainly makes no sense to suffer in silence. No one wants to talk about it but you can talk about it to get out of it.
Are you going through stress or are you depressed? What is your experience like? How were you able to get out of it? Please let other readers hear about it all by adding your comments below.
Photo Credit: Foto.com.ng | Nsoedo Frank