As someone who’s struggled with depression from my teens, I found it imperative that I participate in adding a voice to the #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek2016. I, alongside six other African female bloggers have come together to share our experiences for 7 days, under this year’s theme which is: RELATIONSHIPS. The motive is to hopefully spark a conversation, to change perceptions, to reflect and to empathize not only about our own struggles but of those in our lives as well. Please read below and share your thoughts in the comments section
The pictures I will use this week as the blog post cover photos were taken for another Mental Health Awareness Website. Thank you to both of the creatives for allowing me to use their work
My anxiety is feeling the walls close in. It’s unreplied text messages because not even a hundred smile emoji’s can replace the emptiness I feel. It’s unanswered calls, staying away from my shaky voice when I’m asked ‘how I am doing’. My anxiety is lying in bed all day because sometimes all I need is some down time when going to class will do me no good.
Often times the anxiety comes unexpected like the rain. One day I’m laughing at a joke, and the next all I want to do is cry so all the hurt I feel, hopefully flowing out with all the tears. It helps that I live alone at university, which means I can practice self-care whenever I am having a bad day. Whenever I get heart palpitations because of the anxiety and start feeling like I can’t face the day, I stay in and watch cute baby videos on You Tube or even text my best friend about how low I’m feeling. And with a tub of ice cream in hand, I basically nurse myself until the errant episode fades away.
It’s a totally different case when I am home because the African child does not have the luxury of just lying in bed all day! My mother does know that I have these anxiety attacks because I tried to explain it to her. How then do you explain to your mother who believes that prayer solves everything, and that bad days are the result of overthinking. She has also at one point mentioned that I am ‘too soft’. This means that I feel too much and maybe that’s why I sometimes I have these episodes. This came from a good place. She, like me still doesn’t know how to deal with this yet. My siblings on the other hand know that when I want to be left alone, they should oblige.
Having healthy relationships with the people I love is both an easy and yet challenging exercise. I love being home because as much as it’s harder to deal with everything when I’m with them, it’s still the only place I always want to be whenever I feel down. I imagine though that most people with mental health issues have the same problem or they have it harder than me. It’s hard to explain this to family members and loved ones especially when you are still trying to understand it yourself.
According to an article by the World Health Organization mental health policies in Africa , most parts of Africa’s attitudes towards mental health issues are based on traditional beliefs. There is a need then for education to be the first step. I really hope that more is done to sensitise people on mental health issues. I believe this will also help improve relationships for people with mental health issues. If we no longer ignore mental health and stop treating people with mental health issues as outcasts and finding ways to explain it then we can help save so many lives.
I am sending love and lots of warm hugs to anyone who is dealing with a mental health illness and has no one. Please take care of yourself. Much love ☺
Kearoma Mosata (Botswana)
Is an almost 23 year old Motswana writer. I ramble about all the books I want but can’t afford here and I contribute for Arts and Africa. My Twitter handle is @mido_mosata (if you like tweets about books, feminism, Africa and cheesy bacon sandwiches).