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Behind the Heart with Chiadi Ndu: That Dark Hole



Chiadi NduThe dark hole of depression is scarcely acknowledged in these parts. Below is a story of the struggle of one of my young clients with this often crippling and overwhelming condition. I publish it with her kind permission but with some of the details altered to protect her identity:

The saddest day of my life was when I realized that death is the one thing I am most afraid of. I had no clue that I could be that scared. Being the first child with three younger siblings, I had learnt very early to be the fearless leader. I could go outside after midnight to turn off the generator, go out on my own to buy things for my mother, kill and get rid of pests I would have really loved to stay away from. I remember my brother asking me to walk him home from his friend’s house because he had stayed late and it was dark. He finished his request by saying, “Sis, you know you are not afraid.” I had literally done away with fear and I had convinced myself that nothing could ever happen to me or my family. Growing up, I felt very safe and sure-footed until I started to lose people close to me.

Fast-forward many years later-November 3rd 2014 to be precise- when I lost my very close friend. I had never felt such pain in my entire life. It was three days after my birthday and so I went from a hundred to zero in seconds. I found myself sucked in by feelings I could not control and I became so afraid. I was stuck in bed thinking, “If it hurts this much to lose a friend, losing family will definitely hurt more.” I became deeply fearful and with very little notice the fear turned depressive. I was constantly bombarded by thoughts of what to do to keep everybody safe. This constant worry had me distracted for most of my day and my productivity level plummeted. It was a struggle getting out of bed. I remember thinking to myself “This must be the way people go mad.” I was a mess.

The feeling of fear slowly began to give way to anger. I was angry that I had to spend all this time in this ‘black’ hole. I started to feel very ugly and unappealing to myself. I knew I had to do something but I didn’t know what do. One day, I came across the story of Massy Arias (Mankofit). She talked about how she struggled with depression and how physical exercise was her way of coping. The more I read, the more I realized the strong connection between mental and physical health. I discovered that if one’s physical health is in poor condition it will most likely affect their mental health. It was very interesting to find out that a negative mind set could have such an adverse effect on the body and vice versa.

Because I had been depriving my body of its requisite intake of food and exercise, my mental wellness was being threatened. If I had remained much longer in that state and I would have become a medical emergency.

I challenged myself to a make-over but I wasn’t sure I was ready; realistic or not I wanted one badly. I needed my life back. All the things I had read made it seem like it was a breeze but it wasn’t. I was frantically looking for work-out plans that I would enjoy-nothing too difficult since I wasn’t training for the Olympics.

I started with Yoga and after a while I added a bit of the regular sit-ups, squats and dance. I found the Yoga to be a very calming and not-stressful routine with immense physical gain. The dancing added a bit of fun for me. I started with just 5 minutes of exercise. I decided to buy some supplements to give my body a helping-hand. I found this to be a huge step in the right direction. As the days went by I started to feel better about myself, stronger and more confident. I moved from numbers like 5 to numbers like 30 and then 50. I even went as far as creating an exercise routine: wake up in the morning, exercise, take my supplements, eat at least 2 meals in the day, talk to someone else and above all challenge those fear-inducing thoughts! It felt great and I learnt to celebrate my progress.

All the things I was worried about have not disappeared but I have discovered that I have twice as many things to be grateful for. Though I had wanted out… out of it all; now I have caught a glimpse of the silver that lines the cloud and I have learnt to say ‘Thank You, Lord.’”

CHIADI NDU was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1987 but has since obtained a Masters Degree in Counselling Psychology. A Cognitive Behaviour Therapist, she runs BTH Integrated Wellness and Therapy. Email: [email protected] BTH provides premium professional counselling services with experts who understand how the mind works; offering a confidential and safe environment where our clients can work on any stressful, traumatic or simply uncomfortable issues they may be facing- ANXIETY, GRIEF, FEAR, TRAUMA, LOSS, FINANCES OR HEALTH  CHALLENGES. Website:



    June 14, 2016 at 10:31 am

    I can totally relate to this. People don’t know when you to put up a smiling face just to please the crowd but Deep down inside your are sorrowful. In my case I fantasised about death. I was at the extreme in my imagination. I hope to get totally cured.


    June 14, 2016 at 10:32 am


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