I’ve been off posting for two whole days, I’m so glad to be back. However, it wasn’t writer’s block, I was just buried in grief and thoughts. The fact that Babe and I had a falling out was just like fuel to fire. I had gone through instagram and came across these posts by tatafong.
I imagined these people, waking up in the morning and saying to themselves “hmmm, today looks like a good day to die“. I tried to imagine the conditions that must have driven them to this decision, taking their lives. Who they told, how they had reached out for help but their hands were left hanging. When did they first start conceiving these thoughts in their heads, where did they learn this?
Dear Fellow Nigerians,
Depression is a real thing, and it is quite unfortunate that being an extremely religious country, in our ignorance and religious intolerance, we treat mental health as something from the pit of hell. We mock the people and judge them.“It is the white man’s disease, it doesn’t exist in our country”.
But everyday we see, hear and read the stories, more people sinking in this quick sand, fathers, brothers, daughters, lovers, cousins, best friends. I can hardly keep typing right now, I feel I may burst into tears.
When are we going to stop treating mental health as alien? In secondary school, the girl next to my bunk cried every single night, and one day, she told me if she doesn’t wake up the next day, I should know she has committed suicide. 16 years old me then was scared as hell, all I did was hug her and tell her she could always talk to me. In my mind all I really wanted was for her to stop crying so I could read at night, but I listened regardless. It became an everyday thing, listening till she fell asleep. I didn’t feel it was doing much, but years later when we chatted on whatsapp, she told me “thank you for those nights“.
And until Babe stormed into my house to drag me to the clinic, I didn’t realize it could happen to anybody. It was just 4 minutes more, 4 minutes more and I wouldn’t have been here today. It can happen to anyone. Do not mock a pain you haven’t endured.
Things to say (and not say) to a depressed person (courtesy of health.com)
- I’m here for you – What to say: You’re not alone in this.What NOT to say: There’s always someone worse off than you are.
- You matter- What to say: You are important to me. What NOT to say: No one ever said that life was fair.
- Depression is real- What to say: You are not going crazy. What NOT to say: So you’re depressed. Aren’t you always?
- There is hope-What to say: We are not on this earth to see through one another, but to see one another through. What NOT to say: Try not to be so depressed.
- You can survive this- What to say: When all this is over, I’ll still be here and so will you. What NOT to say: It’s your own fault.
- I’ll do my best to understand- What to say: I can’t really understand what you are feeling, but I can offer my compassion. What NOT to say: Believe me, I know how you feel. I was depressed once for several days.
- You won’t drive me away- What to say: I’m not going to leave you or abandon you. What NOT to say: I think your depression is a way of punishing us.
- I care about you- What to say: I love you. (Say this only if you mean it.) What NOT to say: Haven’t you grown tired of all this “me, me, me” stuff yet?
- We’ll get through this together- What to say: I’m sorry that you’re in so much pain. I am not going to leave you. I am going to take care of myself, so you don’t need to worry that your pain might hurt me. What NOT to say: Have you tried chamomile tea?
If you need someone to talk to when you are depressed or you are reading this and you know of a friend who may need help with their depression, here’s a Nigerian hotline courtesy of NSPI (Nigeria Suicide Prevention Initiative) – +2348062106493. It’s the only hotline available in Nigeria, I combed through the web for this.
Finally, to all those who have lost loved ones to suicide, be it mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, co workers, roommates, neighbors, best friends, daughters, sons, even people we barely knew and all others I failed to mention, my heartfelt sympathy goes out to you. I can only imagine what you must have gone through, the loss of someone dear to your heart is not an easy loss. But I promise, after a while, our torn hearts heal. Keep staying strong, it’s the best we can do for the ones we’ve lost.