No one knows what its like to be the bad man, to be the sad man, behind blue eyes.
That’s a line from one of my favourite rock bands, Limp Bizkit and it’s very appropriate for this post. I grew up too quickly; saw things a young girl shouldn’t have seen and had stuff happen that shouldn’t have happened. I quickly became my own best friend, keeping stuff inside till I became consumed with feelings of emptiness and worthlessness. I got into boarding school and found myself strolling to the junior block after junior prep every night because I knew it would be deserted. I contemplated jumping over the balcony and in my mind’s eye I’d see me die, see people find my lifeless body, see my mother wail when told and would even imagine my own funeral. Things came to a head the night I put my legs over the balcony of the top floor and made to jump. The only thing that stopped me was the sound of approaching footsteps.
I carried these feelings with me into college and it got worse when I got raped in my second year by someone I thought I knew. I practically skinned my scalp and told everyone that I wanted a new look; they believed me. I made friends easily and nobody guessed what was wrong. I tried many times to talk to my friends but the words wouldn’t come out and they couldn’t see the pain through my eyes. No one had a clue how deep this pain was etched in my heart…not even my mother.
Depression has been termed by Nigerians as a white man’s ‘thing’; we believe everyone has problems and can deal with them…. I disagree….I so disagree. I’ve spoken with a number of people over the years and I can categorically state that depression is a disease; one that becomes more evident as time passes. One that is hardly noticed till it is too late.
Its easy to criticize people who get depressed but not everyone possesses the inner strength; people who we see as “strong” men and women are usually the ones who have an ongoing battle with it. I grieve when I hear people say things like ‘abeg what is depressing her?…stand up jo’...as they continue to have a callous attitude to those who suffer silently….they are suffering and smiling in the words of the Late Fela Anikulakpo-Kuti; while we watch them each day not realizing they may be one step closer to ending their own lives.
Often times it only takes true friends to know what’s going on, after all the parties, male-gisting, fashion wishing; a true friend would know that something is wrong and all the laughing is only a defensive front. People suffering from depression only need someone to talk to, to share their pain and pull them out of it, they know something is wrong but they cannot come out of it all alone. They are trapped in a wall of emotions, a cage with no key with feelings of sadness, emptiness, hopelessness, worthlessness and maybe guilt.
Maybe if we stopped using ‘how are you’ as a cliché and started being truly concerned about people around us, especially those we call friends or maybe if we stopped living in our concrete quarters with our selfish desires and gave someone a genuine listening ear, or a smile from the heart, we’d probably save one person a day from the clutches of depression.
It would only take a bit of your time…nothing more.
P.S – This piece was written by a friend….I just edited and added some things….:)
You can save a life with a smile…it only takes a second