I came from a part of the world where depression never enters family, community or national discussion. It is the white elephant in the room that no one ever gets to talk about. Though I knew a word called depression existed but to me at the time it just meant you are sad, it didn’t go beyond that . So I got a rude shock that fateful afternoon as I sat in my GP’s office after some examination and she said Comfort, I feel you have a mild case of clinical depression.
You see just a few days before then, I was on the overground train and without sleeping, I missed my train stop because I was lost in my world. Then on my way back that night as I waited for my train, a thought slipped into my mind. What if I jump in front of this coming train? Death will be quick and easy but what if I survived and was maimed for life? No I can’t take that chance! Yet I’m just tired of it all and there seems to be no escape from it. My mind argued within itself back and forth for the next 2minutes before I snapped back and took hold of myself. I went home that night scared that something serious was happening to me, I just couldn’t put a name to it yet.
The next day, I had slept for about 4hours and was woken up by the worst kind of headache like it’s been for the last two weeks. So I booked an appointment and made a trip to see my GP on my way out. She took my vitals, looked at me with a frown and asked some questions. After few minutes of silence and scribbling, she finally told me I had mild depression, extremely high bp and I need to go back home to rest. Now it was my turn to ask questions and carefully she explained to me what it meant and what I needed to do to get back to my normal self.
This was my first real encounter and discussion about depression. I realised either it’s been discussed or not, the most important thing is depression is very real and we need to raise the awareness. Depression is especially common with women than men in the UK according to UK mental health statistics. The sad part is depression is hardly ever mentioned within the African community with little or no support within the family unit.
Its been two years now since that episode and I have come out on the other side stronger than ever without taking any medication but with tremendous support from family and friends. God gifted me with this great surround and support system at the time, they were four great men who stood as pillars of strength and support as I navigated the darkest and hardest part of my journey so far. Even when they weren’t sure of what was running through my mind or what next to do, they held my hands and silently walked beside me. That was just what I needed at the time.
I was lucky to have them but not everyone has that support system within their existing network or sphere of influence. I want you to know that the fact that your neighbour, colleague, sister or friend smiled at you doesn’t mean they are not depressed. A lot of people around us are going through depression and we don’t even notice. Most times a listening ear without judgement or correction, a loving touch, hug or smile is all it takes. At other times a shoulder to cry on or even someone to say it’s not your fault this is happening and everything is gonna be alright makes all the difference.
I have come to appreciate the little things more especially the sun, the rising of it brings fresh hope but most importantly the gift of love and friendship. I have learnt to be more empathetic, compassionate and understanding towards others. I urge you to intentionally watch out for people around you, after all the bible said to be our brother’s keeper. Make everyday count by giving the gift of love, peace, joy and hope. When you shine so bright please make sure you are lighting others too.
I pray for everyone going through a dark time in their journey that God will shine his light into every darkness. The bible said that the light shines in darkness; and darkness comprehend it not. That as you walk through the valley of the shadow of death you will fear no evil because the Almighty God will be your guide and shield. His peace will wash over you and you will experience the warmth of his embrace. Remember God loves you and his banner over us all is love…xo