Fighting Depression as an African

A tiny boat bobbing up and down in a raging vast ocean. The licking waves slaps the belly of the boat and it capsizes The ocean is relentless, a wave engulfs the little boat tearing it into half. It begins to slowly sink into the dark under world. Drawn to the bottom by an over powering force. Unable to rise to the surface, sinking, sinking and sinking. Swallowed into the cold wet darkness. Despondent, dejected and hopeless.
Depression. A condition of mental disturbance characterized by such feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy. These feelings to a greater degree are a drive force to suicide, lack of energy and interest in life. Difficulty in maintaining concentration and human interaction. I would know. I was once that little bobbing boat. Wallowing in dark thoughts, sinking in a black hole of self pity, heart ache and sadness. The most difficult time of my life when I had a miscarriage. The ordeal was horrific The Portal to Satan’s Lair I am quite familiar with the road to hell. I lost my baby under harsh conditions of a third world country health care system. The aftermath almost killed me.
I sunk into depression for almost a year and nobody knew. I hid it so well from friends and family. As Africans, depression is considered as being weak. I remember after the whole ordeal someone asked me if I was okay. I told them physically I had recovered but emotionally devastated. They said what was important was my physical health and I will get over the rest. Wow. I never received post miscarriage counselling. Apparently my mental well being was not important. I mean they put me in the baby weighing room soon after my miscarriage. So I watched as they brought every new born for weighing albeit, I had lost mine within the same day. I cried every day for almost a year. I had no-one to talk to, after all nobody knew what I was going through. I wrote several suicide notes and toyed around with a few creative ways of offing myself. Life was not worth living, I was haunted by memories of my baby cradled in my arms. Everything was bleak, all black and white. In public I pretended to be all happy and smiles. Alone at home I would literally spend the whole day crying.
African women are expected to be strong. We don’t crumble under such millennial white people conditions as depression. Look we are taught to endure abusive cheating husbands, to be the pillars of our homes even as going as far as mutilating our genitals to please men. Our culture is so patriarchally driven that women teach their daughters to further perpetuate this crippling system of society . Crying over a miscarriage is petty and weak. Hence I had to wince several times at the insensitiveness of my people. Someone went on to ask, ” Hey that baby you lost, was it a boy or girl?”, another, ” Are you going to name your baby after your miscarried child?” A healing wound that is constantly peeled and bleeds anew. Hello guys, I am trying to get through this, can you not remind me of the worst time of my life? That would be great.
I stopped interacting with people, family and friends. I was withdrawn and could not stand crowds or public places. Although I pretended to be fine, If anyone bothered to pay attention there were tell tale signs of depression. Someone told me not to cry in the presence of my husband because I would pull him down in my misery and drive him away. He never knew. I started smoking. 5 cigarettes a day turned to an entire box a day. Somehow I could deal better. There is a time it got so bad that I emptied the drug cabinet and sat on my bed sobbing hysterically. I cried at how my life had come to an end. I was going to die. Those days there was an Econet free Twitter promo. I had no credit to call anyone so I reached out on Twitter. I tweeted ” Somebody help me. Please call me on this number immediately” I don’t know her but she called me,I was a mess, crying on the phone, I told her I was depressed and about to kill myself. I was 4 months pregnant and I had taken a good amount of chlophernamine tablets. She consoled me, told me it was okay and sent me credit to call for help. She kept checking on me. A stranger from Twitter saved my life. She said she will be praying for me. I just know her Twitter handle @lolo_sav. Thats her in the below image. The angel that saved my life.

This piece is not a pity party attraction story. It is how we as Africans should take mental well being seriously. To be able to check on people especially those who have gone through traumatic incidents. Telling someone to pray about it and moving on with business as usual is unhelpful. I am a christian but there are down trodden moments where prayer doesn’t even suffice as a solution. Rather pray with them, encourage them, be patient and yes black people its okay for someone to break down. Do not judge them but be there for them. My entire pregnancy with Malik was terrifying because I was afraid of losing him. I had to stop smoking, went for counselling for the sake of my baby. I realised I had to live, my baby had to live and although I battled with depression I knew I had to live! Africans perceive suicide as stupid and selfish. In our Shona culture, if a person commits suicide they beat up the corpse with sticks as punishment. Some don’t even hold funerals because they don’t deserve it. Such a stoic and insensitive culture drives more suicide statistics because people suffer in silence. A people that tortures a soul by beating up its corpse. Depression is real by the time a person commits suicide, they would have been long dead.
Malik saved me. The day I held him in my arms is the day the face of God shone in my life. Its the day I resurfaced and reached the shores. The birth of Malik was the day break after a long dark night. Let us pay attention to our loved ones, they maybe going through hell and fighting demons unknown to us. They may give subtle hints or reach out in a pseudo manner. Let us be alert. Depression is not a sign of weakness or shameful. It is a real condition.
Zimbabwe suicide hotlines
Bulawayo: (9) 650 00
Harare (Toll-free): 080 12 333 333
Harare: (4) 726 468
Mutare: (20) 635 59

28 thoughts on “Fighting Depression as an African

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  1. Thank you for this.
    Thank you for sharing your story.
    I am happy that you are still here, I really am.
    You, your voice is everything.
    I wish nothing, but sunshine for you.?

  2. Thank you for sharing your story. I read through holding my breath. It must have been really hard but thank God for the sunshine that came. So many people struggle on in silence, needing help but not knowing where to get one. And we can be really insensitive at times maybe because of our cultural beliefs that promotes “strongness” and gives no room for weak moments.

    1. So true, this stifling & insensitive culture of ours has no regards for mental health. Thank you for this. I hope we can raise a better and knowing generation.

    1. Thank you lolo. I wish there were more people like you, this world surely needs your kind. May God grant you all your hearts desires and wishes. You really saved me!

  3. Wow. This sounds so familiar because black American women aren’t encouraged to seek help either. For some reason, we’re all expected to be strong for ourselves and others (as you mentioned about your husband). I’m glad you were able to move through this and are here to write about it <3

    1. This culture of dismissing women’s mental health is really a disease in our society. We will fight for better and less patriarchal world with our writing. Thank you so much for reading. I really appreciate!

  4. Wow…this couldn’t have been easy to write. I’m glad that you had the strength to share this, and most of all that you didn’t take your own life. Although we come from different cultures, it seems to me that asking for help when you need it is a sign of courage. It’s not easy to humble oneself and admit to needing help.

  5. What a strong, emotional post. I am glad you felt saved by your baby. Depression is a battle that one fight with themselves and when you feel most alone. Thanks for sharing this post and sharing with everyone that having depression and feeling suicidal is not a sign of weakness but merely a call for help and support.

    1. Thank you, even the happiest of people might suffer from depression. It is important to pay close attention to our loved one. Especially after a traumatic experience, people do not snap back that fast! Thank you for reading and sharing this Post!

  6. Thank you for this important and often unheard perspective! Sending love and healing vibes your way. If you need any support or inspiration, please visit my blog and contact me any time. xoxo

  7. i applaud you for writing this because I know it couldnt have been easy. Many of us out here are facing the same fears but different causes and writing about it seems weak. after reading yours weakness was not what i got, but a brave woman who conquered. You’ve given me hope. Mind if I reblog?

  8. As a soft tissue specialist, movement analyst and performance coach who runs his own clinic, I commend your honesty and subject matter.
    I don’t often say this to many people and am not the type of person to usually comment. Spoken from the heart and you have my respect.
    I have a recent post you may enjoy called “I used to be a body builder, before I grew up,” it’s a 6000 word spiel, but it deals more with the clinical element of soft tissue principality, biotensegrity and psychology.
    Give it a read some time if you are ever free. If you like it, if you agree with it, then let’s work on some online ideas together? I have a platform through my clinic and I’m looking for more people’s stories to be able to share for motivation, to help others.
    If not…then take care and keep doing you!
    From reading the comments on this feed you are obviously inspiring people, which inspires me.

  9. I’m sure that was very hard to write and share but by doing so.. I bet you have helped several people…including myself. I just had a miscarriage in October 2017 so I can relate to your pain. I don’t think it’s something I could over but I’m dealing with it the best I can and through much prayer. My most recent post is on depression by the way. You should check it out sometimes

    1. Awwww I am so sorry about that babes! Hugs! That’s so true, we never really get over these things but adopt to some sort of coping mechanism.
      I will definitely check out your blog!
      Much love!

  10. Thank you for sharing this, it means quite a great deal. I went through a minor ordeal which accentuated my suicidal thoughts. Reading this has made me want to share what i wrote, and i will be doing just that. Thank you!

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