The bigger conversation to have which most of us never want to have is our mental health. Recently I was watching a song that is based on a true story about a guy who broke up with his girl for cheating on him with a sponsor. However the said lady is said to have suicidal tendencies. The lady thought the song was directed to her but that was not really the intention.
Someone commented about this video and this is what they had to say
“I personally believe that people who try to or commit suicide are generally selfish, no matter what one is going through.”
For the purpose of this blog allow me to call this lady Martha though this is not her real name.
I will copy-paste the conversations as they were on the social platform.
Firstly, Martha’s outburst was unnecessary –she was congratulating musicians for a job well done but ends up talking insensitively.
Secondly Martha’s comments tell us how the society we are in views mental illness.
My reply to her comments on the said issue of suicide being equated to selfishness
“Martha seems you don’t what depression is I hate the way Kenyans despite the fact that mental illness exists.”
As if that was not enough she went ahead to say
“@Lorraine Oh, I know it too well. Most of those that do tend to have thoughts like nobody cares about them…. most of them tend to take the easy way out of whatever they are going through instead of facing it or sharing it with somebody. Whenever help is offered wanaona tu hakuna mtu anaweza wasaidia. (Some don’t even ask for help). Fact is everybody has problems… somebody somewhere is going through far worse as compared to whatever they are going through… It is such a selfish thing for someone to contemplate suicide or even commit suicide (most of them even leave a note)…… It is not like once you are gone, you’ll come back to life. How about the people you leave behind… Watch ’13 reasons why’, it’s a web series.”
My response to her based on the above comment was
“Martha seems you have the knowledge because all you have said is true but you need to understand it is like Cancer it eats up your esteem, your thought process and even your conscience I know about thirteen reasons why that is not enough education ( if it is ). Search for psychology books on how problems develop and you will understand.”
I know by now you must be wondering what Lorraine is talking about.
It is the reality of mental illness. The fact that it exists.
I have spoken with many people who are struggling and later on called me to say ,if it were not for the support you gave me and you being there to listen- honestly I would have taken my life away.
I write articles and poems. Someone once opened up to me about their pain after reading one of my poems and I am glad I am changing lives. All glory to God.
You do not have to have been rescued from death to help someone who is at death point. NO …. All you need to do is listen. Be present in the moment with someone and allow them to shed their tears. Offer the comfort of your presence and provide empathy. This will bring change to their mental health.
Accompany the individual to seek help and walk with them through their journey of healing.
Do not let them do it on their own. Because the more alone they are the more harmful it is for them. Do not just tell them to seek help – lead them to help but DO NOT force. By showing you can be with them they see that in you actions speak louder than words.
However there are few questions that weigh heavily on me where mental illness is concerned
- Does society really know about mental illness? (or are we all like Martha)
- Do people know what to look out for to determine one is mentally ill?
- Do people really know who to contact for help
- Does society contribute to the increase in mental illness? (i.e Africans labeling people based on weight does it contribute to eating and feeding disorders)
- How can we help people with mental illness as a society?
- How can those who are aware such as counselors and psychologists make society aware about mental disorders?
If you realize someone around you has a mental illness. Do not stigmatize but help them to cope. You should be their main social support. Labeling them as selfish is stigma because it shows you do not understand and are not ready to understand their crisis. Being there and listening may be all it takes. It may also assist in the next step which is seeking professional help for their problem.
Meanwhile I will leave you with a hotline if you notice any red flags in your friends and loved ones or if you need someone to talk to call NISKIZE 0900 620 800. Niskize is a 24 hr counseling call center ( which means you can call even at 1a.m or 3a.m when people are asleep and you will still find someone on the line to talk to). They are there to listen and might refer you for one on one therapy.
You can also leave answers to the six questions above in the comment section or if your answer is too lengthy drop an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Stay tuned for scenes on more …( i mean your responses become articles)
all photos from the web no copyright intended