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The 10th October 2014 was Mental Health Day. The day is used to create awareness and reduce stigma surrounding mental health. I have never paid much attention to this day, until this year. I was shocked to discover what the World Health organisation (WHO) calls “premature death”. This phrase is used to describe how individuals suffering from mental health have a shorter lifespan of between 10 to 25 years. Some caused by physical ailments and side effects from medication, but mostly due to suicide.

In the beginning of the year, I decided to go and see a psychologist. I told my mom about it, but she didn’t really support the decision. She can’t understand why I needed to talk to a stranger instead of talking to her. How does one explain the need to talk to a stranger? Maybe it’s the need to talk to someone that won’t judge your thoughts and feelings. Maybe it’s the ability to cry without the feeling of being judged. I didn’t know how to explain to her then why I needed to speak to someone different. Someone outside of our family. I however did try and explain to her what my psychologist saw with every session. And when I was again diagnosed with sever depression, I tried my best to explain to her what depression was.

Like many people, my mom did not really understand what depression was. She too thought depression was simply feeling sad. That you can step out of it with a little prayer and some laughter. She did not understand that depression was like being in a deep, dark whole. A place that is filled with darkness that no light can penetrate, and the air is saturated by silence. She couldn’t see how it ate me from the inside, carving away bits of my soul until very little was left to keep me alive. I could not verbalise the emotional pain that tormented me, but with one event my mom finally understood that extent of the disorder.

That day started like any other, with my mom dropping me off at work before she went off to start her day. I went through the day feeling slightly overwhelmed. Everything seemed to push me closer to the edge. I just wanted everything to stop. I just wanted the pain to go away and be at peace. I wanted to sleep and never wake up. So I took one pill, then two more, than three more. Then all I could remember was darkness. But with the darkness came peace and silence, something that I craved for in years.

In the morning my mom was angry, but more sad than angry. She asked me what I had tried to do, and why? I could see how she fought her tears, and hugged me tight. She finally understood my pain, my daily struggle to survive. She cleaned me up and took me to work, and from that day our relationship changed.

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Ros Limbo
mulemwa.limbo@gmail.com