Mental Health Awareness Week 2016

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❤

Cover Photo By: Sipho Biyam
Model: Asithandile Mbalu

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 ❤

As a writer, and an idealist. I am forever looking for the silver lining in every cloud, making metaphors out of pain. But my mental health is one area where nothing is ever in my control. I have been battling with depression for five years now and, there are only ever so many ways you can make metaphors out of loneliness. Some days the poems come to my rescue, and the pages house my pain with such enviable grace. Unfortunately, I am not that strong. I run out of places to store all this emptiness that seems to permeate my every waking moment. This heaviness and pain that seems to weigh me down. 

Depression is lonely. It’s a different kind of loneliness that grips you when least expected. It will catch you when you are surrounded by people you love the most, and there’s nothing they can do to pick you up. I often say, it is a kind of loneliness where company is not the cure. It catches you off guard and demands to be felt. 

I can’t keep holding people hostage with my pain. I forever feel like I’m in the same place, and I can’t expect anyone to be stuck there with me. It’s exhausting feeling so much pain all the time. Sometimes I just go quiet and don’t talk to people. How do you explain going from being so happy one moment, to wanting to disappear the next minute. There’s no one that can help me with this, and I’d never let anyone go through the pain of trying. I don’t want anyone to suffer the pain of not being enough, not being what I need. I confide in my journal because it can handle it, it lets me bleed. I forever wanna be allowed to bleed on everything I touch. I don’t need people to be bandages. I’m not broken, I don’t need to be fixed. I just need to constantly shed off all this lonely I seem to carry around wherever I go. 

Some days you just don’t wanna fight anymore, you just wanna let the darkness swallow you up. Let the loneliness engulf you, allow the sadness to permeate every single cell in your body. Maybe it will hurt less that way, maybe it will be over soon. 

It’s this feeling everything all at once that has me wanting to disappear. Writing has been my saving grace, sometimes feeling in figures of speech takes a bit of the heaviness out of the soul. But there will always be those days when even writing is not enough, and God seems so far away. On such days, I hold prayers like breath underwater, because I cannot bear for my spirit to be as empty as the rest of me. It is on these days that I don’t look for the silver lining, because I am the cloud itself. 

Sometimes breathing is enough. 


Thando Nojaja (South Africa)

Writer • Recovering optimist • I subtweet myself • Cynicism is my superpower.


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