“Depression is NOT an African disease” #MentalHealthAwareness

I’m sure many of you, most Africans have heard one or two people say this either as a dry joke or as a fact birthed by sheer ignorance. Either way, please, please, please, don’t be slow to shut this down! Don’t hold your breath, don’t keep your mouth shut and just think to yourself how stupid or how ignorant people who say stuff like that are. No, VOICE IT OUT! If they are confident enough to spill such bollocks, you should be confident enough to shut them down! I wonder from whose lips these words were first spoken from, but somehow it has become so widespread, so well accommodated that depression is not taken seriously anymore by some African folks. Our people out there are suffering in silence and no one is going to diagnose depression. WHY? Because it is a “white man’s disease?” !!! What in actual stupidity is that?

As someone who battled, and thanks to God, is free from the clutches of depression, I refuse to sit down and watch people carelessly scroll past depression because they think it is not real or worthy of attention as… a broken rib.

Depression is a silent killer, and it sucks that in this 21st century where almost everyone is claiming “educated” that there still is a need to emphasize the fact that being African doesn’t insure you against depression. I remember telling my friend I was depressed. No, I didn’t say it with that much certainty. I remember I said “I think I’m depressed” because you see, even I didn’t want to admit the realness of depression even though we were well acquainted at the time. “So you went abroad to contract white man’s sickness eh?” That was the reply I got. Even while I was yet recovering from this statement, he went on to try to talk me out of depression, because you see, according to him, I am African, and as such, couldn’t be depressed, so whatever I felt was nothing more than a bad mood that could be overcome by making me count my blessings-which he did by reminding me of all the suffering in Africa and the uttermost part of the earth. The idiocy! I just came upon a blog post on Google titled “Depression is not African Illness” or something in that line of ignorance. Whether it was a joke or not, it pushed me to address some of the myths about depression circulating in our so-called educated and the enlightened world today.

  • Depression isn’t a sign of ungratefulness: The popular misconception about depression is that it is a sign of a rotten character, a character of ungratefulness or weakness. You are rich, they say, so why are you depressed? You have friends and family who love you, you are successful, smart and some random person would rather be you, so why are you depressed? I don’t get it. Believe me, they don’t get it either. The reason I never spoke out about being depressed was because I didn’t understand it either. I didn’t understand why I could be depressed. I couldn’t understand why the dark clouds never disappeared; I never understood why despite having “everything” I still felt empty, dry, deflated, and dead inside. It wasn’t because I was ungrateful or blind to my many blessings. No. I was very aware of all I had, and not being “happy” despite it all instead reminded me of the futility of Life itself, which in turn made me even more depressed.
  • Depression is nothing but glorified sadness and mood swings: False. If someone loses their wallet, gets fired from a job, loses a family member, they are sad. Depression most times is not having any bad thing necessarily happen to you but yet feel as though something or someone has stolen your happy star and locked it in a jar buried somewhere beyond your reach. It is sadness so severe it doesn’t go away. Depression is the darkness that drowns the stars and embraces the moon in a hug that never seems to end.
  • “I can talk you out of depression”: Sorry, but no you cannot. A friend once told me while I was depressed, “Take a look at the world, there’s so much to live for” and I did, I guess I looked too closely because I saw the rot and decay at the core of the world. The more I looked at the world, trying to find the beauty in it, trying to understand my role in this great big world, the more I felt smaller and the more invisible I felt. It was then I realized depression speaks and it said to me “Imagine just disappearing, imagine just seizing to exist. Who would notice? Look at the world, just take a look out the window right now and let it sink in just how insignificant you are.” How do you talk someone out of a looming voice like this? How do you expect one to snap out of it? Just like that? Like they let themselves get into the web of darkness by their own will. No one ever wants to feel depressed. It’s not a happy place. It’s not a “cloth” people put on when they want attention. So telling someone to “snap out of it already” is the most heart-wrenching thing you could say to someone who’s depressed.
  • Depression is not real: I believe this is the most dangerous misconception about depression. Because you don’t see people with bandages and visible scars, tear-stained cheeks, and bloodshot eyes doesn’t mean they are not dying inside. Depression is a silent killer, it doesn’t make any noise, it barely draws attention to itself, it rarely cries for help but it’s real and it’s lurking behind the fake smiles and the loudest and seemingly cheerful laughs. Depression is a master of disguise. Don’t wait until you see someone bleed before you take them seriously. Show love, be empathetic, be supportive, do not hate on that friend because “she’s always in a mood”, it can be deeper than that.
  • Anti Depressant is the answer: I can’t honestly vouch for antidepressants because I never took any. I can’t vouch for therapists or councilors either because I never went to see any of them. I did look up some Therapists close to my area on Google but I never went to see any of them, mostly because I didn’t even know what to tell them if they had asked me what was wrong with me. So how did I get free from the stronghold of depression? Thanks for asking. I PRAYED. I know at this point many people just hissed or rolled eyes or even stopped reading, but hear me out, will you? I fought depression the only way I knew how, and which was on my knees. Some might say pfft, if you were a real Christian then you shouldn’t have had depression in the first place, you should have just “faithed it”. There, you’d be wrong because even Christians do suffer from depression just the same way they could also have migraines and flu, but I digress. Where was I? Yes, I repeat, I prayed depression out of my system. Did it disappear one day? No, it didn’t. It was one of my carryover prayer points and by that, I mean it was one of those prayer points I carried over to the New Year because it wasn’t answered the year before. I didn’t give up though, I knew this depression didn’t just appear, I knew it was a stronghold of the devil to still the Joy Jesus already assured me so I didn’t just let it triumph. I fed myself with daily scriptures, renewing my mind and finding out my purpose from my makers manual instead of looking to the world to make sense of life. I filled that emptiness I felt deep inside with my love for Christ and I let him fill me up too. I didn’t realize when or how my healing came but I remember darkness stopped feeling like home. I remember the dark clouds giving away to a star so bright it illuminated me from the inside out. I remember my laughs and smile became genuine and I became free, unburdened and alive.

About The Author

She is an African Canadian author that would rather remain anonymous

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