How did I deal with this depression? Writing. Not long-winded stories but short excerpts on how I felt at that moment
I’ve always heard about depression but never really paid attention, it was simply something I knew existed but never experienced. So when I was around thirteen years and I started dealing with bouts of sadness I never suspected depression until five years later.
My bouts of sadness got worse when I was sixteen and I had failed my first UTME(Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination) and it continued like that for two years. I didn’t have anyone to talk to because for one thing I wasn’t sure what was going on with me and my parents weren’t exactly patient listeners but definitely quick in their judgment, and my siblings were too caught up in their own issues to bother about mine. I was also very quiet and didn’t have any friends. So I dealt with this immense sadness on my own.
When I suspected I had depression, I was eighteen and had just gotten admission after two years of fitful search. I was naturally elated but yet the bouts of sadness still came, In fact, they had gotten worse. First I’d be numb, then came the overwhelming need to cry and after that, I’d feel drained. So frustrated with it all I surfed the internet on depression and it’s symptoms, I found this online self-screening and tried it. It asked some questions which I tried to answer as honestly as possible and then the result came. Apparently, I had depression which could get worse if I didn’t see a professional. I remember crying, I just cried till I was exhausted.
I still didn’t know who to talk to. How was I supposed to explain that I thought I had depression because the internet diagnosed it? Not long after I stumbled on MANI (Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative) and after a long internal battle I reached out to them and immediately one of their counselors contacted me.
Truthfully, I didn’t completely open up to her. I had gotten used to dealing with this on my own and was skeptical that anyone could actually help me. But she did help, she helped me balance my thoughts and I realized just how toxic my family was to me. I love my family, but they didn’t get me and truthfully I don’t think they made that much of an effort to, the few times I tried expressing myself they didn’t understand and ended up invalidating my feelings. I needed a change of environment and my admission couldn’t have come at a better time.
How did I deal with this depression? Writing. Not long-winded stories but short excerpts on how I felt at that moment, music, picking out comforting scriptures from the Bible, and occupying my mind with plans for my future. I’d sit and plan out what I’d like my future to look like, coming up with alternative plans for when my original plan fell through and constantly modifying the plan. A lot of people say I overthink and I definitely do but those moments when I would sit, my headphones plugged in and map out my life were my moments of peace.
And then I started school and faced hurdles. I was suddenly in this new environment that I had to wade through on my own, do school assignments, study, and somehow balance that with other extracurricular activities. I was constantly overwhelmed, and in the process of achieving all of this, I lost sight of other things. Soon my moments of peace was completely forgotten and I started cracking, I started listening to a lot of depressing songs.
Oddly enough, I didn’t get help from MANI this time (I was actually so caught up in my problems I completely forgot about them). I actually received help from the most unlikely of places- friends. People I had seen as just casual friends I laugh with once in a while reached out to me. Calling me when they noticed my absence during service, asking about my well being. There was this girl who was a senior colleague in my department who would always ask after me, she was paying such close attention to me that she always noticed from my face when I wasn’t in a good mood. Because of these new friends, I didn’t feel completely alone. And once in a while, I go to them when I have a problem though I still haven’t completely opened up to anyone. And as a friend once told, “No matter the success you have achieved on your own, you can never be an island”. Of course, I still bump into the not so good kind of friends but I’m slowly filtering them out.
Slowly I found my moments of peace again and started channeling my writing to more expressive areas other than pouring out my tumultuous feelings. I still get bouts of sadness and this immense feeling of hopelessness and I don’t think it will ever completely go away but knowing that I prefer the future where I’m smiling over a bleak future where I have given up keeps me going. And whenever I feel overwhelmed or have a problem I can’t handle I reach out to a friend, maybe someday I would find a friend I can completely trust. Either way, I know the complete peace I yearn for will find me one day.