ON DEPRESSION AND MENTAL AWARENESS
I recently stumbled on news about a 14 year old girl who committed suicide and streamed the whole process on Facebook live. Shortly after reading the news, I went ahead to do a little research on the girl and on a few others who also live-streamed their suicides.
What I find disturbing is how people leave insensitive comments encouraging a suicidal person to go ahead. The girl whose news I first read apparently had a mother who, while watching her daughter on Facebook live, left a comment to tell her that life goes on and that the teenager was simply crying wolf. A mother!
This week, I have heard about too many suicides that were encouraged by friends of the depressed person.
How depression is a farce to many still baffles me. People get depressed and no one is really above it.
A former friend of mine once told me that depression is not real and that people who claim to be going through it are annoying attention-seekers. This from a very literate man. Seeing as he was someone I used to like a lot, I subconsciously assumed I was an attention seeker when some thoughts hit me. As such, I would not seek help anywhere but would cry my eyes out.
I’ve grown, I have learned.
I recently put up a post on my Facebook page about how my teenage assistant was going through a confused phase in her life and how it occurred to me that my response could be what would make or break her.
There is a ‘movement’ of sorts on social media called ‘#iammentallyaware’ (@mentallyawareng). I suggest you go through their social media pages. There you’ll see, from testimonies of people, that depression respects no one. Perhaps the older we get, the easier we can deal with it but I may be wrong.
Not everyone is strong enough to fight this thing. For years, I never smiled because I thought my teeth were too big; I never went braless because I thought my breasts were too small; I never let my hair down because I thought it was too full. It was a few days ago, when Olu and Otigs were helping me in the kitchen and discussing insecurities, that I realized I once felt insecure about my teeth, breasts and hair. There I was, in the kitchen wearing a spaghetti strapped top without my bra, laughing heartily with two beautiful men who had just complimented my culinary skills and my natural hair. I told them about how I once was in a relationship where he would constantly remind me that he liked big breasts and that my insecurity disappeared gradually when a friend whispered in my ear one day in church while pastor was preaching about insecurity, ‘see did I not tell you not to worry about your breasts?’
There used to be days when I would be angry with my father for not trying harder and with my mother for not being like some others. If they had tried harder, I would not be thinking about my bills when I was eighteen, I would not be carrying so many responsibilities at twenty-five, I would not be worried about food or rent or clothes, I would not lack if only try tried harder. With these thoughts came accusations, ‘perhaps this is why I can’t keep a man, there is something wrong with me’ and I would cry, write and cry. My last real breakup broke me into all shades of suicidal.
That was years ago. These days, I have learned to let people go who want to go; to spend time building myself rather than crying over the past.
Not everyone can deal with it the way I do. Remember I said I was suicidal? I also used to be extremely impulsive. What if I did something dangerous on impulse because I could not control my feelings? Indeed I could not control how I felt. I impulsively packed my bag around 3pm and got on the bus to Portharcourt. I arrived Port Harcourt at 12am.
Not everyone has someone to talk to, many feel no one will understand and the truth is, no one may truly understand the emotion.
But if you feel the urge to encourage a suicidal person to go ahead and kill himself, I suggest you keep your thoughts to yourself and walk away rather than add to an already existing pain.
What they need is love and if you don’t have it to give, please look the other way.
I love you all.