My encounter with depression
Depression is defined as feelings of severe despondency and dejection. I am 30 years old and I can tell you the bigger part of my life has been marked with sadness, misery, gloom, pessimism and hopelessness. As a result I have lived a life of loneliness because all friends have deserted me. Depression is such a bad ailment because it makes one unproductive. This is because it kills all the energy to wake up and do some work. Depressed people are bitter, negative and draining hence people don’t want to associate with them. Consequently, it leads to suicidal tendencies because a depressed person thinks the whole world is against them. Therefore they see no reason to live. The saddest bit about depression is that it is a silent killer. I struggled with it for so long and yet my immediate family thought I was very fine.
Loneliness led me to binge drinking. Since I didn’t have friends, the only people I could identify with were those drinking away in bars. It didn’t matter what time of day it was, I just wanted to be in the bar chatting and drinking away with my new-found “friends”. You must be wondering where I got the money to buy me alcohol. Well, at first I had some money on me because I was working. I am a qualified nurse, so I was earning and spending all of it. No savings, nothing. At times when I didn’t have, I would get on credit. See, thing is I had established this regular client relationship with Ndiwa-the bar owner. Strategic planning, huh! So during my “broke” days, he would still give me what I wanted and I pay later.
Alcoholism led to my dismissal at work. Since I was already hopeless, I saw no reason to look for another job. After all my job had become boring and paid less which couldn’t fund my drinking sprees. One night I sat in my room and started to think through my life in general. I have always known myself to be a strong girl and was determined to overcome this. It is a normal thing when you sit to think your life through, that you start comparing yourself to your friends/ peers. All my friends were doing well career-wise and married. They all seemed to be doing well but me. Some even had kids almost my height yet here I was trying to figure out my life. It seemed as though all odds were against me. Why couldn’t I figure something out? Is this the famous mid-life crisis? Is this what my life is meant to be? Who will help me out? All this time tears were flowing freely. I realized that even the best friend I used to call ‘sister’ was long gone. This is when it dawned on me that I was depressed. I had gotten myself in this situation and had myself to get me out of it.
You guessed it right, all this time I had no solid relationship. I was jumping from one boyfriend to another. At one point I told myself I was the problem-this is dangerous-I know it now. When you start blaming yourself for every bad thing that happens, you are at other people’s mercy. First of all you are very vulnerable and people will manipulate you as they please. And trust me they will. I longed for someone to approve of me. I slept with men as old as my father. Age was not an issue, after all, isn’t that a common cliché? I seemed to have one ‘thing’ that I was looking for from man to man. I couldn’t find it, let alone figure out what it was. I was so miserable. Every time a man told me he loved me, I felt different-loved. As a result I longed for this feeling all the time. So this led me into sleeping with countless number of men.
There is stigma attached to depressed people. That is why you find that many depressed people are dying silently. I mean you just can’t open up to people about your condition. More often than not, they’ll judge you and yet that is the last thing a depressed person would want. Wait a minute, is it only depressed people that don’t want to be judged? Certainly not. No one wants to be judged. So to run away from people judging me and others pitying me, I had to put on this mask. This mask that everything is ok. That am fine and don’t need any help. There is this misconception that when one smiles, they are ok. It even became harder for me being a nurse; I mean why can’t you treat yourself? You treat others why not yourself? So I had to vent in some way or the other. Usually people vent by letting it all out, I vented inwards. I had mastered all this fallacy yet I was dying inside! With this mask it’s hard for even your closest person to notice what is actually going on. So this made me ‘comfortable’ and hence the condition stayed on longer than it should have.
Picking up the pieces
It was one night and I was in the house alone. My sisters had all gone out( I stay with my two sisters). I found myself shutting down the television, switching off lights and just sitting in the couch in the dark. I had had enough of this already. I knew I had me, myself and I to pick up the pieces and get moving again. I mean I had no friends and even my family didn’t have the slightest clue of what was going on with me. Immediately I switched on the lights again after about 15 minutes seated in the dark meditating. I googled tips of how to overcome depression, what to do when you don’t have friends, etc. I found myself watching YouTube videos from inspirational speakers like Les Brown, Lisa Nichols and Marissa peer among others. The videos were so helpful, I must admit. I started to download them so I can listen to them offline. Marissa Peer’s “am enough” message helped me a great deal. She says “write ‘am enough’ on your mirror with lipstick. Every time you are dressing up in front of that mirror read those words until they get to you”. She goes on to say “sometimes the best words you get to hear are those you tell to yourself”.
I cannot say that I have recovered fully, but in the process. I have taken 3.5 months without drinking alcohol. It’s quite hard I must say but who said it would be easy anyway? I have had about 3 relapses but since mid-September, I haven’t touched alcohol. Am so proud of myself. Also I have started attending church, going for the weekly cell meetings and have started writing online as a freelancer. I realized I have to keep my mind busy and connect with people so I don’t feel lonely and bored which could lead to a relapse. Important to note is that my self-esteem is steadily growing. It had dwindled to zero but now it’s slowly coming up again and I know it will be up there one day. Am getting back my confidence too. I try to give my testimony every time I get an opportunity and that has helped with my confidence a great deal.