I felt empty most of the time.
Deep inside my soul, I sensed a vacuum. Soon, I started feeling like a plastic which air moves out of. Sadness, demotivation, and fear seem to have agreed to torment my soul. Happiness became a concept I saw in movies and read in books. Suddenly, like the lexicon figure of the word itself, “happiness” was abstract, but this time, I couldn’t even feel it at all. The universe had to be against me because something was not right.
Often, I would sit, looking depressed and tiredly tired. Other times, I would try suppressing my sadness by faking happiness. Cracking demeaning jokes and sarcasm was my new cocaine. At least, it temporarily relieved me from my misery. Instead of being truly happy, I tried to act happy, distracting myself from sadness.
For the first time in my entire life, I understood what it means to be depressed. Before my depression, I thought I understood how depression felt. After all, I’d seen movies capturing the depression experience. Memes about depression were not new to me. At a point, people had claimed to feel depressed to gain cheap clout.
Nevertheless, I didn’t realise how hurtful being depressed felt. But can you blame me? I grew up in a society that perceives depression as a thing for the “oyinbos”. To make matters worse, I’m a male in a toxic patriarchal society, so, it’s expected I “man up” and show no emotions.
My depression started before my birthday this year. While growing up, I had hastily written my life dreams. I listed all the things I wanted to do at different ages. Unfortunately, when I reviewed these plans before my birthday, the reality left me sad. Soon after, I became miserable as days passed by, especially when I scrolled through Instagram. Seeing those perfect pictures, guys, my age with Benz and people living their best lives, left me heartbroken. However, I tried to hide my depression by being the usual “funky and funny” Jerry.
A few weeks after my birthday, Carmel’s back broke. This time, I could not handle it anymore. After three failed attempts at relationships and constant body-shaming; my writing career soon became shambles overnight. It seemed like the universe perfectly ganged up against me as I disappointed my parents by not scoring excellent. My world crumbled before my eyes. “I can’t possibly continue this journey.” I thought to myself. I was at the brink of giving up. If I had committed suicide at that point, I wouldn’t have written this blog post.
Notwithstanding the suicidal thoughts, I thought of the consequences of my suicide on my loved ones and family ones – what my death will cost them. Likewise, reading the biographies of successful people who defied the odds despite their challenges, restored hope to my soul. Ever since, I have been trying to be happy, genuinely, this time. This does not mean my problems have miraculously disappeared; I just learnt the simple truth many depressed individuals may not realise.
Writing this blog post sets my mind back to 3rd August 2019. It was a sunny afternoon when I read the news regarding the death of one Opeyemi Grace Dara, an Obafemi Awolowo University student. She reportedly killed herself due to her academic failures. The announcement of the young lady’s death spurred up different comments.
- “Why will we kill herself for ordinary academic performance?”
- “That girl is foolish o, no matter how bad things are, I can never commit suicide.”
- “She just wasted her time as she is going to suffer twice.”
- “The school is to blame; everything is just unnecessarily hard in this system.”
Most of the comments depicted the level of insensitivity in Nigeria. Consequently, this insensitivity is one of the causes of the sporadic rate of depression in the country. People have lost a sense of empathy. They judge and see events and happenings from solely their point of view. This insensitivity makes people suffering from depression ashamed to talk about their problems to others.
- “What if he condemns me for this?”
- “What if I mistakenly cast?”
These are questions most depressed people ask themselves. Unfortunately, their fears are often confirmed. This explains the high rate of suicide in the country. The Western world is known for a high percentage of suicidal related death. However, for a continent like Africa, where religion is a means of escapism from problems, it comes as a rude shock that suicide rate is skyrocketing. Surprisingly, that is the reality in modern Africa, the sad thing about all these is that no one seems to be talking about the increasing rate of suicide in the continent. Everyone seems to be living in denial, secretly fighting demons behind closed doors.
As someone who has once suffered from depression, I can vividly see things from most suicidal people’s point of view. In the case of Opeyemi, it could be the pressure from the society and family that forced her to take her life. Perhaps, she could no longer endure the shame her academic failure was attractive to her. It could also be that her input efforts into her outstanding courses were not commensurate with the results. Whatever the reason for her suicide, it must have been a burden that she could no longer bear.
Undoubtedly, the reasons for the depression rate in Nigeria are often tied back to money as the root factor. However, this does not happen all the time. I believe the reason for most people’s depression, myself included, is because they are illusioned that the world expects a lot from them. Some people want their lives to be better than others. Subconsciously, they enter an unnecessary rat race with others. Often than not, they get hurt in the process. This is inevitable, because, the bitter truth is that NO ONE IS SPECIAL.
The reasons for depression in Nigeria falls back to money as the root factor.
For every unique talent you possess, there are several millions of other people who possess such ability, sometimes, even better than you. Another reason for some people’s depression is the fear of disappointing people who have placed high hopes on them as their “saviour”.
Similar to the case of Opeyemi, there are several thousands of people that attempt taking their lives daily. Back in 2017, a man committed suicide by jumping into a lagoon from third mainland bridge. According to W.H.O, about 800,000 persons die from suicide. By implication, suicide accounts for the death of a person every forty seconds. This fact depicts how worse things are becoming. We live in a generation where there is different technological development available to make our lives easier, yet, depression and suicide rate seem to be skyrocketing. People are becoming more depressed by the day, and it is high time we acted against it.
The paradox about suicide is that it does not solve your depression or your problems at all. Instead, suicide creates more problems for the survivors of the deceased. Suicide is paradoxical as it is the end to someone’s struggles with issues that they didn’t finesse. This is why living and traumatised victims of suicidal efforts suffer lifelong sadness and regrets.
Suicide is paradoxical as it is the end to someone’s struggles with problems that they didn’t finesse.
I am not entirely against suicide; arguably, everyone has the right to take away their lives. But I believe there is more to life than running away from life issues.
If you feel like giving up on yourself at the moment, you should know that:
You’re bigger than your problems: Let no one deceive you. You are more prominent than whatever problems you are facing. Well, if you believe in the negative, then go back down the memory lane and think about the different times you had experienced little victories in the past. “Those were next to nothing” you might say, small or big; it proves that you are capable of conquering big problems. Like the famous David-Goliath fight, you can defeat that Goliath-sized problem of yours that seems unbeatable.
Things will get better: In my country’s colloquial language; ‘e go better,’ hence, try to focus on the positive things in life. Even if you think there is nothing positive in your life, look deeply, there is. Always remember that even the darkest hour merely has 60 minutes in it.
You should not end your story early: Have you ever gone to the bookshop or an online store to buy a book half-completed or downloaded a half-completed song? No right? Similarly, your life is one masterpiece that you shouldn’t end early. You need to stick through the tough times and push through. Fight to finish your story and write it to the best of your ability.
You are someone’s role model: Whether you like it or not, you are someone’s role model. Someone is watching you, looking up to you. Wouldn’t it be a sad tale to let such people down? You may be their reason for trying; how would you feel if you gave up, so they did too?
Your thoughts about yourself may be wrong, after all: The mind has a funny yet powerful way of playing tricks on us. The more you affirm a feeling, the more it is embedded inside of you, and thus, it becomes difficult to get rid of. The beauty of such a scenario is that it is always not true; your negative thoughts are not real. Yes, you didn’t score the perfect CGPA, but that doesn’t mean you are not intelligent. You have physical flaws, but that doesn’t mean you are ugly. You didn’t get achieve things at the ‘normal’ age, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be successful. Learn to challenge negative thoughts in your mind. The more it stays, the lasting its effects.
If you are ‘normal’ or not suffering from any form of mental challenges, try to check up on other people. We all have our respective strengths. Some people are better fighting personal demons than others. In your dealings with people, be less judgemental in your approach. Learn empathy and the art of listening; it will make you more approachable. People with mental issues or depression fear opening up to people because of the fear of being judged. No one should ever leave your presence feeling judged. Instead, they should feel loved and better than they were before they came to you. It is high time depression awareness becomes aggressive in Nigeria. No one is talking. I am confident that many people would ignore this post. Only 10% of the people who clicked on this post will read to this point.
There are more ways to solve your problems and taking your life should not be an option. You were not born a coward. You are a winner. Now, stand up, take note of your problems, and strive hard to conquer them. Above all, try to be happy. You matter — your existence matters. You are valued! Try to surround yourself with good vibes, and let bad energy stay far away.
N.B. If you are feeling depressed or suicidal and you have no one to talk to, kindly reach to someone at the Nigeria Suicide Prevention.
- Address: Suite 8,2nd Floor Peace Plaza Mbora EFAB Estate, Nigeria
- Phone: +234 705 059 1082