Recently, I got asked to produce an article on Depression to get published in my Church magazine. Then it dawned on me that I haven’t really touched Depression on its own on my blog. Research has shown that globally, more than 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression. Infact the World Health Organization estimates that depression will be the 2nd highest medical cause of disability by the year 2030, 2nd only to HIV/AIDS. Can you imagine that?! DEPRESSION does not care about your age, geographic location, demographic, or social position. I have decided to start off with a story/scenario inspired by true life events and it’s got a safety tip too! So here we go!
Sandra has had it with life. Sandra lost her parents in a ghastly motor accident when she was just 6. She was raised by her uncle and his wife who were too poor to offer her more than secondary school education. They encouraged her to learn a trade but Sandra wanted to study nursing so she could help people. Sandra had to struggle to send herself to University. There she met Jeff and by the time she was 25, they were married. Sandra and Jeff had 3 boys and were very happy until tragedy struck one Monday evening. Sandra now a nurse was on a night shift that Monday night. Jeff had to look after the kids. Jeff decided to cook some rice that night so the kids could have it for lunch at school the next day. Jeff slept off while the rice was still cooking. The rice boiled and boiled and began to burn. The smoke alarm never went off.
Sandra returned the next morning to find everyone still “asleep”. Jeff appeared to have slept off on the couch in the living room. She called him, he didn’t respond. She touched him, he was so cold. Sandra froze. She screamed and ran into the room to find the kids still in bed. She got a bad feeling that something horrible had taken place. They were all dead. Sandra’s life was never the same again.
So what exactly happened? The burnt rice kept on burning that night. It got burnt to the point that it began to release toxic smoke (Carbon monoxide). Jeff and the kids didn’t stand a chance. The smoke they inhaled killed them.
At 35, Sandra had lost all her kids and her sweetheart. She felt like giving up. She lost interest in life. She found it hard to enjoy the things she used to enjoy. She began to self harm and even thought of committing suicide . She was always exhausted, restless or agitated. She lost her appetite and was losing weight at an alarming rate. She couldn’t even close her eyes nor sleep anymore. Life was a pain.
Do you feel life has been unfair to you? Have you had things go from bad to bad and often wonder why you? Do you often experience any of these things Sandra was experiencing? If your answer yes, then it is possible you have met me – I am DEPRESSION, the wear and tear of your body, soul and mind. If you let me, I could consume you; I could be fatal. I come with and without reason – It could be due to relationship breakdown, loss of a loved one, loss of a job, debts or you could just be the panicky worrying kind who worry about anything and everything. The truth is, continuous exposure to tragedy, violence, bullying, neglect, abuse, or poverty may make people prone to DEPRESSION. These experiences could make you unhappy but know now that unhappiness is not DEPRESSION.
Everyone feels unhappy from time to time but letting it linger into prolonged and deeper feelings of unhappiness could lead to depression.
How do I know if I am depressed?
Many people know they are suffering from DEPRESSION but live in denial. After all, Black people don’t get depressed or commit suicide right? Wrong! (It is common belief in Nigeria that Black people love life too much and would never commit suicide).
DEPRESSION comes on gradually so it might take a while for one to realise they are depressed. Many try to cope on their own but it only gets worse because they go about it the wrong way – Many try to keep busy and spend long hours at work in the hope that the DEPRESSION will disappear but this only leaves you stressed, tired, and ill. Remember those unexplained headaches?
DEPRESSION has led many to take their lives and that of their loved ones especially those who don’t seek help or those who have sought help but do not get better. Yes you can get all the treatments in the world but if you don’t do your part, DEPRESSION will not leave you alone.
I am depressed. What can I do to help myself?
Treatment depends on how depressed you are.
– you can help yourself by not hiding the fact that you are depressed. You should keep active and exercise regularly even if it’s just a walk/run up and down your street – this can help you get to sleep if you are struggling to sleep.
- don’t revert to drugs and alcohol. They are only a temporary solution to the problem. When the drug and alcohol wears off, the problem will still be around to taunt you.
If unable to cope, sometimes self-help books/materials or talking to a counsellor, your pastor, a friend or family member might be all you need. If you are severely depressed and at the point of self harming or committing suicide then you will need to see a psychiatrist who can prescribe antidepressants. Antidepressants can help you to feel less anxious and cope better so that you can begin to enjoy life and effectively deal with problems again.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is a drug free problem-focused talking therapy that helps people change their negative thoughts by changing the way they think and behave.
Are you a Christian? You can spend time in God’s presence. Read your Bible and Pray without ceasing (1 Thess 5:17). This might not be easy at first but be determined and take it one day at a time. It is better to read your Bible than be deep in thought or focusing on your problems. The Psalms is a good place to start. Many of them were written by King David when he was in despair, in trouble and even running for his life.
Be hopeful. If you don’t give up, you will definitely come through whatever problems you are facing. You will come out stronger and will have learnt to cope better than you have ever been able to.
Getting help and treatment is highly recommended as many depressed people take their own lives and in some cases, that of their loved ones.
Do you know anyone who is depressed?
Then don’t judge them. Support them the best way that you can. If you know a way out of their problem then help them. Listen to them and encourage them to keep going. Sometimes all a depressed person needs is a listening ear. Don’t make them become the gist in town – be their confidant. They must be able to trust you.
On a final note, if you think they are severely depressed or not getting any better, get them to see a doctor before it becomes too late.