Look at her, she’s laughing and taking selfies… she must be happy right? She wouldn’t laugh so freely if she was sad, would she? Depressed? Does she look depressed to you? She’s laughing and teasing her brother… Nope, she’s good, it’s written all over her.
There’s a reason the saying “appearances can be deceptive” is repeated many times daily all over the world. When I took the selfie above I had a lead weight in the centre of my “heart”, and there was no apparent reason for that feeling. However the feeling wasn’t strange, in a number of ways it was and is as familiar as my name.
I have a certain condition known as Stein- Leventhal syndrome or Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), it’s a common condition that affects millions of women around the globe (I really should write about this here). It’s not as bad as you’d think *honest*, if you read the link you’d see so many symptoms and might begin to feel sorry for me… I don’t have all the symptoms. However PCOS disposes sufferers to mood disorders, one of which is depression.
Yes I get depressed sporadically, often without a root cause. Most times its a lead weight that keeps me numb, but I’ve had episodes where I couldn’t leave my bed. When it gets bad I curl into a ball and try to pray, reading Psalm 46 helps a lot because at that point it feels like I’m in the middle of a raging storm. Thankfully, it rarely lasts for more than an hour or two. What about antidepressants you might ask, I don’t like taking drugs… Sue me 😉 (I wouldn’t advice anyone to toe this line though, my doctors and I discussed this and we worked out modalities of therapy and being a pharmacist didn’t hurt in this matter), secondly the side effects and addiction potential of some of these drugs aren’t worth the trouble for my own situation.
Yesterday morning I went to Balogun market to buy beads for a necklace I wanted to make and my dad dropped me off at Iponri bus stop where I boarded a bus to Ajah park, I woke up sad and tired and I was listless all day. On getting home, all I wanted to do was sleep but when I tried to, I felt the stirrings of a familiar black pall. Hero called, I’d played a prank on my friend and there was hell to pay. I was shocked to see myself laughing heartily at the threats, happiness coursed through every cell in my body. Eventually the call ended and I felt worse, bereft and aching I reached for my phone and opened the bible app to read Psalm 46.
I must have lain in bed for two hours, maybe I even slept, those hours are a blur. When I woke up, I got the urge to call my friend Ajuwa. I’ve known him for many years and he’s helped me through many an episode. As we talked, I started crying, in huge gulps like my heart was breaking. My parents were home and my mum came to my room and held me while I sobbed, when she realised I was crying without cause, she prayed for me and held me even more.
Ajuwa works in Apapa but he came to the Surulere mall to get me out the house and cheer me up
After the storm, my swollen eyes had deflated.
That friend that sticks closer than a brother… Thank you.
I wasn’t going to share this experience or talk about it here, normally I’d think of posts like this as TMI (too much information) or over sharing. Yet I had a burden in my heart to write about this. I ignored it and went about my normal business. I found myself on twitter this evening (I haven’t been there in a while, I just share my posts there and run), and I saw a two day old tweet by Frances of Imperfectly Perfect Lives about sharing our struggles and I asked the holy spirit to forgive me for not yielding to his tender nudging and here we are…
Funny thing is I found out why I was so sad yesterday, remember how I said there is usually no root cause? In this case there was. I was chatting with another friend earlier today and while I was telling him about some mundane day to day stuff, I saw why I was so sad. Oris is a very practical person and he totally made those issues look small even though he had no idea that they loomed larged yesterday. God indeed answers prayers, not only did he calm my storms, he made me see they were tempests in tea cups.
In conclusion, while my depressive episodes might seem slight, a large number of Nigerians, yes! Nigerians! Suffer from this illness. It is real and it’s not a “white man’s illness” or an attention seeking excuse. Quite frankly the awareness and treatment options are still rudimentary in Nigeria but there are resources online to know more about the illness and the federal neuropsychiatric hospitals scattered around the country are brick and mortar places to seek counsel.