It’s mental awareness month and this is something that has been a big part of my life for the past year or so.
Mental illness in Kenya, let alone Africa is a largely undisclosed disease. No one wants to talk about it let alone fight it. Having suffered through depression for many years before I actually sought help, I always assumed it was my hormones wreaking havoc on my teenage body, or the stress of med school, or the impact of breakups that marred my early 20s.
Looking back now, a lot of signs were glaringly obvious but because of uneducation coupled with ignorance on the subject matter neither my parents nor myself realised what was happening until it was too late.
Fourth year was the moment I had to seek help because if I hadn’t, I don’t think I would be alive to be honest. Life was kicking my tooshy. I was out of my depth, sinking fast into quick sand and I felt I couldn’t breathe. Many friendships died because I couldn’t and wouldn’t talk about what was happening, leading to me pushing people away for lack of honesty and personal resentment on how peoples lives were seemingly perfect and mine was breaking apart at its seams..
Nothing I did gave me solace or peace. If I wasn’t asleep I was either binge eating or crying myself to the point of puking my guts out in self hatred.
Life was hard and when I found myself at the edge ready to end it all thinking that was the best way to end the pain and the endless suffocating moments in my life, I knew I needed to seek help before I broke the hearts of all the people I loved and loved me back.
I won’t lie, stigma is high. It’s everywhere. Its at the psychiatrists office in the waiting room staring back at you waiting for your moment of weakness.
Its in your friends eyes as they try and look at you different but can’t because now you have a big sign over your head that you aren’t “normal”
Its in your parents eyes as they tell you to pray because such notions do not and cannot exist in their house. It must be a devil they say.
It’s looking back at you in the mirror as you fight to smile but find no reason to.
Stigma is everywhere, but what better way to fight the shadows than to get out and shine a light on it.
Lets end the stigma around mental illness. Your brain is still an organ in your body. Treat it with the same respect shall we?
Peace love and avocados
#EndTheStigma #DonotQuarantine #abnormalISTheNewNormal #support #MHAW