“Run out naked, just go crazy, you are worthless, no one loves you, you are such a failure, you ugly creature, oh don’t even bother praying for you deserve nothing from God”.
These were the commands voices in my head had barked at me. Today, I consider them to be such terrible thoughts but they nearly drove me to commit suicide. I may probably not have lived to tell my story.
It was initially surreal but the ideas morphed into reality. They run through my mind over and over until I became dizzy due to their weight on my conscience. How powerless I felt when I listened to those thoughts. Then there was a break, just a little breather where I mouthed a prayer hoping I would be freed from the clutches of the thoughts.
The trauma of the past, the pain of the present and the uncertainty of the future weighed me down. They were too much for me.
I would scream and cry my eyes out until my head bangs and hurts. A voice later emerged strongly telling me how I could be freed.
“Kill yourself” it whispered. What? It went ahead to tell me how I could execute this devoid of the Hollywood style-drama. No fanciful Chuck Norris styled-killing.
“Yes! End it all and be free. Your options? Take a whole bunch of pills, you could slit your wrist too or better still, walk into the sea and go as far as you can until you drown. Just make your death as dramatic as possible. After death failure won’t matter, none of the pain you feel will matter… everything will be peaceful”.
Why did death appeal to me? Why did I have such thoughts? Was I possessed? Was I losing it?
I medicine it is called depression. I was depressed Google had told me. All the tears I shed, the anger and occasional outbursts, the sense of worthlessness and the suicidal thoughts turned out to be symptoms of depression.
Many people have been driven to take their lives not because no one cared for them but that no one cared enough to identify their challenges. Depression is killing many Ghanaians each and every.
Statistics have it that there are more than 300million people who are suffering from depression globally. Another staggering 260million people are also suffering from anxiety disorders, many of whom live with both conditions.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), depression is a common mental disorder that is the leading cause of disability worldwide. But little is being done globally to address that, the world health body has noted.
In Ghana, like many other countries, mental health receives little attention from the government and other health agencies. Funding for mental health-related issues is meager to the point that the Ghana Mental Health Authority has been on its knees begging for national support.
The consequences are that when you are depressed, you either suffer alone or die alone. If you dared visit the under-resourced mental hospitals, you may be given drugs that would worsen your condition. You may end up being declared insane after a week if not the moment you were put on admission.
So I was depressed and it wasn’t like I could easily get anti-depressants like it is shown in foreign movies. I also didn’t have the luxury of going to lay on a comfy couch and hear the soothing voice of a therapist encouraging me, “how does this make you feel?”
‘Thera…what?’ In Ghana?
So I carried the thoughts around and some nights when I was overwhelmed by them, I cried myself to sleep and woke up with puffy eyes.
The funny thing is, in that state, all the many books I had read didn’t help. All the philosophical quotes on keeping your mind positive didn’t help either. Truth is when you struggle with mental health, in reality, no philosophical quotes or blog advice would come to mind. They would just flee from you. The urge to succumb to the voices in your head would be so strong that they would push everything farther from your mind.
For me, I prayed more than ever to the God of the universe and listened to songs that spoke to my soul. It sounded a difficult process but it worked for me.
Mental health is serious business
Mental health is crucial to the survival of every individual. The mind is such a powerful organ but it can succumb to attacks by negative thoughts that access it.
The things we digest and process in our minds determine the course of our life. We can only be free when we come to this realisation. Until then, we will all walk around in our polished clothes and drive in our coveted cars. Oh! What a beautiful cover our material possessions give us. But, once we are alone, our minds become a battlefield for competing thoughts and we would need to fight with pain and tears and a heart that feels like it would sink into our stomach.
If the positives in us out-compete the negative thoughts well enough we will live to see the next day. Pathetically, those who succumb to their negative thoughts never see the light of the next day.
Well, I’ll tell you to guard your heart and mind. Don’t allow everything to pass through them. Also guard your thinking process diligently and live a life that shines brighter and brighter unto a perfect day.
We all need to strike a good balance in life. That’s why Sharon strikes to maintain the equilibrium so essential to life.
Columnist: Doris Naa Tackie