By – Jennifer Ifeoma Ugboh
- A state of mind producing serious long term lowering of enjoyment of life or the inability to visualize a happy future.
- A period of unhappiness or low morale which lasts longer than several weeks and may include ideation of self inflicted injuries or suicide.
In this part of the world, it is a taboo to speak of depression or mental health, we have been conditioned to think of depression as a white mans sickness. Africans are known to be a strong lot; we are resilient. It is impossible for strong and resilient people to be depressed. The only people that fall victims are victims of their village people, so go to church and pray that they dont find you. Pray away your sadness, it must die by fire because we serve a living God. – How sad.
I will have you know that 1 in every five persons you know is battling with depression, yes we smile and murmur our It is wells yes we are happy and content, yes we have a good job, great Family and friends that love us, our faces are happy, our lives are full but what is behind that smile?
Here are a few of the many facesof depression
Some days depression feels like an invisible hand holding my head down. I know the voice of despair lies to me, and I know my worries are unfounded, but some days the lies are very hard to resist, and I feel these brief, soul-crushing moments of despair. And then when I pull through these moments, I feel stronger, but I still fear the next barrage of despair.
Once I started to wrestle with depression myself, my empathy increased dramatically. It is such a difficult thing to understand if you haven’t experienced it. But I always encourage friends to seek therapy/counseling and most of all not to try to carry the burden by themselves. If you’re struggling today, what you are going through is very real and if anyone gives you the impression you should simply “snap out of it” then you need to avoid that person’s advice. It’s not that simple. There is help and hope.
I was diagnosed with depression and bipolar disorder when I was 17, and I’ve been on and off medications and in and out of therapy ever since. I consider myself an incredibly happy, stable person. One fact doesn’t contradict the other. The surprising thing I’ve learned, as an adult with depression, is that there isn’t really such a thing for me, at least as a big turning point or lifesaving moment, and that that’s OK. I’ve learned about the cycle, that sometimes I will feel those recognizable symptoms: the sense that I’ve hollowed out, retreated a bit too deeply into my mind, forgetful of the happiness I’ve known and worrisome that I won’t feel it again. But I’ve also learned to trust the other swing of the cycle, even when it seems furthest away: that I will come back out, that I’m never too far gone, that I’ll resist the fall into emptiness, and I’ll turn off the episode of whatever show I’m binge-watching, and get dressed, and rejoin the world.
This isn’t to say that I feel doomed to a life of depression; it’s more a freedom to understand that if Idoexperience lows, it doesn’t mean I (or my treatment) have somehow failed. I know that I’m susceptible to these lows but I also know, because I’ve been living it, that I can survive them. It’s my trust in this fact that has been most important to me (along with, of course, the support of the people I love, therapy, and, when necessary, medication) because it reminds me of my will when it’s at its weakest. It somehow makes those inevitable slumps less scary.
Depression comes in waves. Some days it feels as though you’re in a drought and some days you’re drowning, swallowing water until your thoughts are soaked and decaying from the salt. On these days not much can help you. You may have dozens of people waiting on the sand bar but when it hits it is only you treading and looking for air. On these days it is important to go easy on yourself, to allow yourself to feel your feelings, free of judgment. However, it is equally important to fight back. You must pay attention to your surroundings. You must find what makes the tides subside. You must understand that you don’t have to do this alone that like waves in the water, you can’t control what hits you. But you can control how you prepare yourself for them. You can decide what safety devices you’ll use against it. Find a lighthouse to keep in your mind’s eye in the distance. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and swim on.