This Thing Called Depression

Two years ago, a friend of a friend committed suicide. He had posted what was to be his last post on Instagram  alluding that he was about to end his life. From his last words, you could tell that the decision to end his life was not something that had been jumped into overnight. It was something that was arrived at after much pondering and discerning. You could sense the level of dejection and frustration one must have undergone to resign himself to such a fate.

Of course people were left asking themselves questions. The biggest toll must have been on his parents. Why would their seemingly happy and successful son take his life? Had he lacked anything? What could have been disturbing him? Surely, they had done their best? Why, God?

I understand the parents’ pain. I understand his reasons for taking the “cowardly exit”.

I quote “cowardly” because IMO, committing suicide is not as easy as people think. It’s one of the hardest and bravest decisions.

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Among the leading causes of suicide is depression. Now, in an African  setting in general, depression is not considered an illness. You’ll be called out for “sulking” without reason and might end up getting a thorough beating especially if you’re a teenager. You mother/aunts/father/uncles will literally punish you for being so moody.  Most parents think that things like low self-esteem , bipolar  and depression are “white people problems”. That there, is the cause of the problem . They shut the door for their children to approach them about issues that may be eating their souls away. Parents are quick at wanting to solve the problem instead of delving deeper and understanding where the problem emanates from.

For instance, when a child drops in performance, most will face reproach first and even if they are asked to give reasons, it will be done so in a harsh manner. This leaves the child feeling hopeless and stupid. The result, degraded self-esteem.

I digress.

The whole reason why I am writing about this is to help shed some light about depression. People take it lightly; they think that depression is something that can easily be brushed off. It seems easy; well, until you suffer it yourself.  For those who think depression is just about being sulky, sad or moody; no , it’s not always that simplistic.  It is that constant feeling of feeling inadequate, empty and frustrated. You feel you don’t belong anywhere and that people will not understand you, so you decide to shut yourself from the world. Not always the brightest decision.


The intensity  of the hopeless increases when you’re alone. Your thoughts haunt you; the failures , worries and frustrations echo in your head. You direly seek for a means of escape. That’s when addictive behaviors kick in; you gravely dig out an escape route just to block out your thoughts; albeit momentarily.

Most of the times; these behaviors are adverse. While some resort to drugs, others to sex, others will sleep their lives away; others yet, begin self-depilatory acts such as cutting, uprooting their hair, burning etc.   You end up living your entire life running away from yourself; trying to deceive the world that you’re fine , wearing a fake bright smile every morning; in the end , and in the process you end up hurting yourself more and more. The emptiness sucks you in up until a point where you just cannot take it anymore; so you decide to end the pain once and for all.

It is possible to feel all alone even in a crowd of people you love – Photo by Benstake

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