When you are seated there with your mobile phone texting someone you have not seen in a while and you ask “How are you?” Is it just out of formality? Do you actually want to know how they have been, how they really are? What they have been going through, do you actually want to know if they are really happy at that time or sad? Do you really? Do you ever sit there and actually want to know how someone is doing with an interest in their lives that stems out of care and concern for that person? It is something small really, you might say ‘I am sure when they tell me that they are fine, they are doing OK..” But do you delve deeper into the lives of the people you claim to care about and see if they are actually doing well in whatever they are going through? Do you get concerned that your friend seems to always smile with her lips but with a lot of sadness in their eyes? Or you just overlook it all and enjoy the moment because they have not told you any major bad news happening in their lives or its just a shout out to remind them you still exist?
Everyone has something they are fighting with and yes we all handle our problems differently in fact there are people who you will assume do not have problems at all just because they have a wonderful public face that they wear whenever they step out of their homes. At night when they come back, home alone in that bed enveloped in the darkness and feeling alone is when the real comes out. The pain they feel or how lonely they feel even if they are surrounded by so many of their loved ones, because deep down there is something haunting them. Something they cannot seem to fight alone and need someone to bring a little ray of sunshine.
Depression is an actual illness that we Ugandans take lightly, I say Ugandans because I am not well versed with the rest of Africa. Google describes it as feelings of severe despondency and dejection”self-doubt creeps in and that swiftly turns to depression.” There are so many people in our lives that suffer with this disease in silence because they are going to be judged; someone will actually tell you to snap out of it, “shit happens” and you are not the only who has gone through a bad situation so be a woman about it and move on. Well, some people don’t just easily move or snap out of it, sometimes it might spiral out of control and they will start showing signs of self harm just to be able to feel something. There are certain signs and symptoms you have to look out for;
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
- Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
- Decreased energy, fatigue, being “slowed down”
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Appetite and/or weight changes
- Thoughts of death or suicide, suicide attempts
- Restlessness, irritability
- Persistent physical symptoms
Depression varies in many people, to some it is a short bout of sadness that they will step out easily and for some it is not, take a woman who has just given birth but does not seem to be jumping into the role of a mother and does not show affection to their new bundle of joy, that is referred to as Postpartum depression and sometimes it might as well go till the baby is above one year. There are rare extreme cases where the mother either kills herself or kills the baby. Like any other mental illness, depression can be treated and that means you have to seek help from a Psychologist who will recommend what medical prescriptions you have to be put on. It is not allowed for any mental health patient to have over the counter medication without proper advice from a medical profession.
One of every five people suffers from depression, it might not be very severe and comes every once in awhile but it is still important to seek medical support whenever it happens. So when you see that friend, always be sure to genuinely check on them or when they reach out be there for them. It is so hard fighting with the voices in your head alone.