This article was inspired by Niyi Okeowo, his voice on this issue was the strength I needed. #LetsTalkAboutMentalHealth is an important hashtag that needs more awareness, especially in the African community.
Everyone is fighting their own mental war, some more than others. – Ayuba, Director Of Media at More Branches.
I remember the first time I told my dad I was depressed, he asked me what does it mean to be depressed? Why am I depressed? What do I have to be depressed?
It was year 3 in university, I had just vibed through a panic attack and I literally felt like I would kill myself. I can remember sending my aunt a text telling her I was afraid I was going to end my life, I was scared and I couldn’t deal with my world. I was tired.
She sent this text to my dad, who ended up calling me, leading to those questions.
What happened next?
I was taken home, my aunt, my dad and I, met in his office over the weekend. This meeting concluded with my aunt pointing out that I’m suicidal and was saying all these things because ‘I take drugs‘, ‘Dayo Tin Fa Gbo‘ – translation ‘Seyi smokes weed.‘
My dad is in shock, skip a few days ahead I’m seeing a therapist who’s treating me because she thinks I’m actually depressed and bipolar partly because I’m taking drugs.
Weirdly, it was the best time I’ve had in a while, the therapy was good.
What was the point of that story?
Well, I wasn’t depressed because of the drugs it turns out (no shit, dad) I’ve been depressed since I was a kid, my parents didn’t believe their child could be depressed, the same way many African parents don’t believe the concept of depression is real.
I was mentally dying, and my parents didn’t believe it was something to take seriously.
Also, the stigma of being a pot head (story for another day) blinded their very moral and religious judgement, this was not about my mental health.
At age 12, I had the urge to sit on a balcony; we stayed at the last floor and I felt this need to sit on the edge and fall, I was drawn to this balcony’s edge to sit, thankfully I’m still alive now, that’s a good thing.
Many of us have problems internally we never identify because our culture judges us through other contexts and never the well-being of ones mind.
It’s funny when you get the comment; Why are you depressed? What’s so wrong?
Everything is wrong.
Nigeria is a shit hole, I have everything to be depressed about. I can’t dream, I can’t live, my parents don’t understand me, I see poverty, I see pain, I’m not ignorant, I can see how broken my world is.
It’s a bit of hell. I know friends who are depressed, I know people who are trapped in pain mentally because their world is not theirs to control.
So many dreamers trying to make a way. – Tek/SDC – Popping Again.
This is a real state, it’s okay to feel pain in your mind, it’s okay to feel imbalance in your emotions, you can’t condemn me for being confused, for being depressed, I’m a fucking human being, give me a break! It’s not my fault!
We should understand that this state of mind is not just in our heads, it’s a chemical imbalance in the brain caused by so many reasons and it needs to be highlighted more in the African society, kids need to feel understood, they need to be helped, I need help.
I’m thankful for the awareness our generation is bringing to this issue. I’m speaking out because we’re getting our voice heard, more and more.
There’s a platform called ‘psyndup‘ with a beautiful community to help those who feel alone and in pain. There’s also a Twitter account called @MentallyAwareNG which engages in constructive and progressive conversations. I’m sure they’re others. We should come out of the darkness and get help we so desperately need, from others just like us.
Depression is a very profound topic because it’s so widespread, especially in developing nations where we lack education and much of our people are born into poverty.
The new age is changing Africa, so we should speak out more on topics like this, and take steps to eradicate the things causing such wide spread depression in our environments.
We need to acknowledge and understand mental health. So many people don’t even know that they’re depressed or in an unhealthy mental state, they’re made to feel like it’s normal to feel unstable. I knew what was wrong with me and it wasn’t good. Not being in control of my own emotions, not having direction of what my mind felt. It’s a mental prison created in my own mind and every time I can feel it collapse a little.
These sort of thoughts shouldn’t be prevalent, but it’s only a product of my reality.
Reality is, there are a lot of scarred souls all going through terrible mental unrest. It might seem like I’m exaggerating but it’s the truth of how dilapidated we’ve allowed it to become. I hope I get better, I hope the other souls around get help. I hope parents make more of an effort to know the person that their child is becoming, the world fucks us up pretty bad, it’ll be a lot less painful if we don’t have to go through it alone. I hope Africa gets its shit together and we help our people better. I hope mentally we achieve stability, I hope mental health issues become a conversation on the daily spectrum. I hope I don’t die by suicide.
The mental health of a nation is very important, the people have to understand happiness, they have to enjoy their lives and see things positively to create a general sense of harmony. I’m not happy, it’s what I’ve come to realize as I faced my mental issues head on. Most of us aren’t happy because of the many fucked up everyday life that comes with being or living in Africa and I don’t blame anyone for feeling this way.
We all need to find our happiness, find inner peace in whatever way we can for the sake of our collective mind. Side comments don’t matter, listen to your heart and yourself. Be one with yourself and pay no mind to that’ll try to bring you down for being who you are, just because they struggle with expressing themselves. The future should let us be open and more expressive of our emotion. To be liberated physically and psychologically.
Our environment needs to understand and embrace more and more conversations centered around educating Africans about mental health.