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The Nwando: For Depressed People & Those Who Love Them

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I’m currently listening to ‘One More Light‘ by Linkin Park and it saddens me to think about the death of Chester Charles Bennington. Death will always be sad, but suicide cuts deep.

Depression is not a suit; one does not look at a person and see them engulfed in the dark broody clouds that they reside under. Sometimes depression sets up residence in the successful family man, the little teenage girl with no real life obligations, the aged billionaire, the popular socialite that has everything going good for her, the cleaner at the park.

Depression is among one of the things that unites all human regardless of skin color or life story. Money can not buy it’s way out of depression and poverty does not make one exempt.

It is of utmost importance to be mentally whole. Your mental health matters deeply just as much as your physical being. It can’t be easy to get to a point in life where death seems like the only coping mechanism. How mentally sound are you? How mentally sound are the people close to you?

Depression is a state where one feels a constant and profound sense of hopelessness and despair. It is not a mood, neither is it the feeling one has after a long day. Once, I asked a depressed person what it felt like to be that way and this was the description – “Imagine a park that’s divided in two, on one side it’s sunny and chirpy, birds are in the air and the sound of laughter rings out as kids chase each other around and parent’s gaze at them in a love daze; on the other side of the park there’s very dark cloud, it never rains but it’s constantly dark, chilly and there’s a looming sound of thunder brewing. You try over and over again to cross over to the bright side but it’s just not possible, you physically can’t no matter how much you try. You try some more until the effort wears you out so you embrace the darkness and you become friends with the voices that lurk in the darkness and sooner or later  they become all you know and all that is familiar to you. They accept you just the way you are with no judgment or pressure so you accept them because with them, you can finally be yourself without fear or pretence.”

It is not a personal decision for anyone to wallow in misery and as such it’s futile to tell one to ‘snap’ out of depression and face reality. They want to snap out just as much as you want them to. Depression is not laziness, it is not refusal to face life’s challenges and one’s obligation, neither is it the weak person’s escape from responsibility.

To suffer any form of mental illness is surely a struggle. To suffer mental illness amidst a culture that views depression as laziness and anxiety, as not having enough religious faith, is just torture.

It is torture because a culture cannot make room for treatment for illnesses that are not even acknowledged to begin with.

In the past few months I’ve read stories of every day people in Nigeria that committed suicide, so at this point it’s safe to say that suicide is not just in the western world, it has found it’s way to Nigeria. It is not enough to just condemn it by saying ‘it is not our portion’.

According to the Nigeria’s penal code (Nigeria Penal Code, Chapter 27, Section 327), “Any person who attempts to kill himself is guilty of a misdemeanour, and is liable to imprisonment for one year.”

Depressed and suicidal people need help. It is deeply inhumane to prosecute one for a mental illness. Culture is defined as a way of life of a group of people and as such, culture is fluid. It is often changed when the way of life changes. As Nigerians, we need to be willing to unlearn what we think we know about depression being laziness or witchcraft and we need to re-learn that depressed people need help, we need to set up platforms to help; the ones that educate on mental health, suicide help lines, places depressed people can get help from without the fear of condemnation and now is the time to do this!

To anyone depressed reading this, you matter. It may seem like the end of the road for you, you may feel like the world will be a better place for you and your loved ones once you leave but how can that be? Stay and fight please. Stay and fight for yourself. You deserve to be whole and you deserve a chance at a happy life.

I know you don’t talk about what you go through to anyone because how could they possible understand what you can’t quite simply put in words, there’s the fear of the judgement but please understand that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Trust in your inner strength and in your ability to pull through and fight until you see a better day and a better time. Find a way to channel your pain and despair. Do not romanticise suicide and death. Be real about your struggles, be open, seek the help you need. You, just as much as any one else deserves to be whole. Never give up on yourself.

To the families of people suffering from depression, don’t wait until it’s too late to wish you did more. Talk to them, be there for them, be patient with them and more than anything, listen to them. Listen to their cries for help. They are barely hanging on by a thread. It is not a taboo and it’s not something to whisper in shame. When you don’t understand what they say, listen some more, when they change and become a mere shadow of who they used to be, sit with them even in your discomfort. Be the ray of light, the hope they see in what is a dark world to them. Never give up on trying to save them from themselves.

Love x Light,

N.

Photo Credit: Darren Baker | Dreamstime

16 Comments

  1. Vanny

    July 21, 2017 at 2:45 pm

    Depression is real. Been going through it for sometime now. Just last week I felt overwhelmed and called my friend crying and saying I was tired. sometimes I wake up and there’s nothing to keep my zeal up. It’s like nothing is working in my favour. I am loosing it. Truth is that I have body image issues. I know that I am ugly and I am not wanted by the opposite sex. I mean all my friends are getting hooked but here I am not even a toaster lol. I feel that if I was pretty things would be easier for me. I know that. Sorry guys, but this is the only platform That I can use to express my innermost feeling and fears. No one will understand me. I still find little inspiration reading bellanaija. My life hurts so much I hate the way I look and I get really depressed about it and other issues.

    • Anon

      July 21, 2017 at 5:26 pm

      I know that I am ugly and I am not wanted by the opposite sex. I mean all my friends are getting hooked but here I am not even a toaster lol.

      Please, don’t ever tell yourself that and one day, someone will want you. Forget about the fact that all your friends are getting hooked. Step out of your comfort zone and you need to look for friends both male and female outside of your current circle. Mix things up. Look for the best parts of yourself and highlight those parts/work on those parts. You need to start loving yourself more. Stay strong.

    • Oyinkan

      July 21, 2017 at 6:04 pm

      You are loved,
      You may not feel it but it’s a fact
      Beauty is objective: you are beautiful!
      ❤️

    • Ephi

      July 21, 2017 at 8:25 pm

      It starts in the mind Vanny. That is the root, and that is where you have to start from. As long as you keep thinking to yourself that you are ugly, that is all you will see when you look in the mirror. Please, do NOT believe the lie your mind tells you that you are ugly.

      I would recommend a book by Max Lucado – “You will get through this”
      Take care. Hugs.

    • Friday

      July 21, 2017 at 9:18 pm

      Same story apart from the ugly part (sorry to use that description) and having friends.
      I don’t have one single friend i can even call up. people just sort of hate on me once they meet me. I cant explain it. Its affected a lot in my life. I have this phobia for meeting new people these days.

    • TTT

      July 22, 2017 at 8:14 am

      Depression is real but it does not have to be the end. There always solutions and many have made it out of their depressed states to live full and enjoyable lives. I believe you can too. There are quite a number of professional counsellors and mental health experts that can help you. Please reach out.

    • Elle

      July 22, 2017 at 4:06 pm

      Dear Vanny, as much as I loathe the first paragraph of Bruno’s comment the rest makes sense.

      Pls work on your mindset and self esteem.
      Tell yourself you are not depressed. Look for the positives in your life and dwell on it. Ignore the negative voices. You are beautiful, you have friends, you have a life worth living, and you are not depressed. E-Hugs

    • Bluey

      July 23, 2017 at 6:57 pm

      Hey Vanny, can we talk? Or anybody who just needs someone to listen to them.
      I can be reached on via E-maill- [email protected]

  2. Kay

    July 21, 2017 at 4:49 pm

    Preach!

  3. bruno

    July 21, 2017 at 8:22 pm

    bellanaija my comment

  4. Ariere

    July 21, 2017 at 8:40 pm

    I’m not trying to be a Sore thumb here but all this motivational speeches rarely helps a mentally ill person. We need to tackle this epidemy from the source.

    It’s easy to judge depressed people harshly cus from afar, they seem to have it all. And they surely are selfish to leave a mess of guilt and confusion for their family and loved ones after their suicide. On the contrary, many depressed people think they are doing the world a huge favour by not living. It’s that bad a feeling.

    It’s about the brain’s inability to produce efficient dopamine and other essential chemicals that stimulates happiness and wellness. It’s a sickness.

    Depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain. It’s not about feeling bad about bn poor, or unloved or not having enough. Everyone including the super rich and pitiest poor, the most loved or most contempable person can be depressed. Even someone who has all the accolades, achievements, wealth and loved ones around them can feel life is not worth living.

    Mental illness is a disease of the mind. Lets be real about the problems and not just look at it through the surface.

  5. bruno

    July 21, 2017 at 8:57 pm

    so because men are not toasting u, u are depressed? typical naija girl.
    and I can bet there are some guys who have made advances at and shown interest in u but because dangote is not their father u turned them down, cause thats how all naija girls are. money and social status is number 1.

    pls madame u are not depressed. u suffer from low self esteem. and u are the cause of ur own problem. pls change ur mindset. ur value or beauty shouldn’t be measured on how many men toast u

    ur jealous of ur female friends cause men are toasting them, do u know what those girls have to do for men to keep chasing them? trust me u don’t want to be in their shoes.

    many of u clearly don’t know what depression is.

    @vanny, if dangote’s son starts toasting u or asks for ur hand in marriage, will u stop being depressed? let me guess the answer is yes. then u were never depressed to begin with.

    • Friday

      July 21, 2017 at 10:29 pm

      So this is the comment you have been shouting about and making mouth since morning that they should post.

    • Ephi

      July 21, 2017 at 11:29 pm

      @ Friday ? funniest comment ever, hahaha

  6. Tessa Doghor

    July 22, 2017 at 6:11 am

    Invest in yourself.
    Invest in your family
    Dream big dreams
    Then execute them.

  7. Jane

    July 22, 2017 at 3:53 pm

    @Vanny I am not even going to pretend that I know what you’re going through because I don’t. I felt down sometimes but nothing like this. My dear you really need help, and fast. The lasting answer is Jesus. Not books or people or make up or fine clothes or jewelry. ( those may work- for a while). Once you realize that you are made in God’s own image and likeness and know how much this Almighty God really loves you, trust me, with time spent in fellowship,your self esteem level with skyrocket through the roof! Call on Jesus dear. He’s waiting for you. Stay blessed

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