DEPRESSION: A FRIEND IN THE SHADOW

Doctor: You’re suffering from a mild depression

Me: What’re you talking about? I don’t have depression! I’m not depressed! I’m perfectly fine! 

This is going to be my respond, if a doctor told me I’m suffering from mild depression four years ago. But now I’ll just say ”I’ve my suspicion”. From where I’m standing right now and with the public health knowledge I’ve now, I’m certain that I have being going through depression for a long time. 

Depression is not just about feeling sad, unhappy or fed up for few days. Majority of people go through these signs for weeks, anything more than this can be classified as depression, for example going through these signs for months instead of few weeks. Depression is not a trivial thing, it’s a serious health condition and is an element of mental health issue. You can’t snap out of depression by pulling yourself together and is not a sign of weakness as others think. You can be suffering from depression and continue to have a normal life especially when it’s a mild depression. Even though we can’t tell if someone has a mild depression or not, we can observe it through its signs and symptoms. The symptoms can be psychological, social, or physical. 

Among the Psychological symptoms of depression are: continuous low mood or sadness; feeling hopeless and helpless; having low self-esteem; feeling tearful; feeling guilt-ridden; feeling irritable and intolerant of others; being not motivated or interest in things; finding it difficult to make decisions; not getting any enjoyment out of life and feeling anxious or worried. These are some of the psychological symptoms and I’m afraid to say ”I have checked all the boxes”, if not most of them since high school. These symptoms plus the Social ones which are: not doing well at school or work; avoiding contact with friends and taking part in fewer social activities; neglecting your hobbies and interests and having difficulties at home and family life. Okay! I haven’t checked most of these boxes but some. Another symptoms of depression is the physical ones: moving or speaking more slowly than usual; changes in appetite or weight (usually decreased, but sometimes increased); constipation; unexplained aches and pains; lack of energy; disturbed sleep – for example, finding it difficult to fall asleep at night or waking up very early in the morning. I don’t have all the physical signs. For example, I’m the opposite of speaking slowly due to my short-fuse and lack of patient; I have low appetite and weight but this is due to so many reasons one of which is ‘’my sickle cell condition’’. I don’t eat often, this make my parents worried most of the time about my health status. Another thing was unexplained pains and aches, well, this one I can’t explain it because I can’t tell when my sickle cell pain starts and when normal pain or sickness start, the line here is blurry. In terms of disturbed sleep, I don’t have issue with this, because when I’m healthy I’m always tried because of school, whenever I get home from school I always sleep like a baby. However, at the time of my crises sleeping is not an option because of the pain and agony I’m going through at that time, except when anesthesia is involved that’s the time I get to sleep peacefully. 

For years, depression has been shadowing me around without even knowing it. It became a friend that live in my shadow masking itself with my sickle cell disease and disability. Allowing me to portered it as my condition and sometimes in-lined it with my physical disability. Most of the time when I felt anxious, anger or bored my mom always asked ‘’are you okay’’ or ‘’why are you angry’’. The only answer I normally gave her was ‘’I’m fine’’ at that time I don’t know anything called depression nor did my mom. Any pain I perceived having at that time, I treated it like the sickle cell crises, fact, I manage it the same way I manage all the sickle-cell crises; with painkillers and hot bath. Now, I’m proud of myself, because I handle it well better than how I may handle it now even though I’m still a victim of it. At that time, I put all my energy and free time into building and assembling electronics from creating touch activate alarm, AC power supply and assembling an FM radio all with help of my two high school teachers; both named ‘’Muhammad’’ – another day discussion. 

Now at institution, I channel all my mild depression into my university life even though some people consider university as stressful. Among the causes of depression are: stressful events, personality, family history, given birth, loneliness, illness, alcohol and drug use. There is no single cause of depression, it can occur for many reasons and has many triggers. Some people suffer depression due to financial reasons, divorce, redundancy and job worries can be a cause too. In my case, it must do with my condition and disability, living in a society that don’t value people with disabilities. People living with constant stigma and discrimination because of their disabilities or medical conditions like mental health; depression is obvious and common among these people. Individuals with disabilities live in constant pressure and stress because of the way people without disabilities views them and how they are being treated at home or care homes. In Kano state and surrounding states, people with mental health are being kept in isolation or left roaming on the street and end of getting killed through hit and runs. They are being kept in isolation with no means of treatment or care by the parents or the isolation staff members. Sorry, I’m getting off topic, I’ll discuss this more in detail later. The point I’m trying to make is people with chronic diseases or disabilities in developing nations are more likely to have depression. 

Other people get depressed due to stress, I handle my depression by stressing myself and distracting my mind with reading, research, blogging and writing unpublished papers. University is stressful of itself without any third-party involvement, like depression or mental health in-between. Well, for me that’s all I need, the stress that will help in masking my depression, which is studies (i.e. university). The perfect thing in my case is Public Health, it’s all about research, write-ups and finding new things; this is where I found out that I may be suffering from depression. Before I was studying engineering, which was difficult and stressful as public health but now that I have looked through the rear-view mirror of my life I can say otherwise; I’ll depend this notion some day. Now I’m handling my depression through reading books, online research, writing and blogs like this. I’m working on a lot of things, all relating to my studies, whenever I’m done with something I tend to find something new (this included). 

The point of today’s topic is, we may be suffering from depression but this doesn’t mean we should limit ourselves or let it take over our personal and professional life. Yes! You have depression and things are not going as smooth as you wanted them to go, but doing nothing is not going to help you achieve anything and letting it take over our life is only going to cause more harm than good. Leading to isolating ourselves from the community and family. We can manage our depression by finding something to keep your mind busy and if you start losing interest on that thing find another thing; don’t let your depression take over your life. ”Be the pilot of your life” and let the depression be the passenger in your life journey or if possible drop it at the next intersection. There are many ways of treating depression and the good news is you can get rid of it for good. You can get rid of your depression through exercise, and self-help groups, this is mostly for people with mild depression. Most people with mild depression like mine are being advice to see a therapist like cogitative behaviour therapy and counselling, you can be referred by your general practitioner or doctor. People with severe or moderate depression are being prescribe antidepressants; referred to mental health teams and combination therapy. 

if you have a mild depression you can help yourself by finding things you love doing and do them. Also, by finding someone that you trust and talk about your feeling with them, it will help with your depression (for me, I talked to anyone that may listen to me and what I’m saying, it helps me a lot) and mental health in general. This is where therapy and consultation comes to play. 

If you need someone to talk to about anything health related, I’m here to help just sent me a message via any of my socials and I’ll be happy to talk to you. Talking about our mental health will help our state of mind and reduce stress and depression. Find something you love doing and engage yourself, it will help you with your depression, as it helps me with mine.

As always leave a comment about your thought on this matter and share it with friends and family that may benefit from this experience.

8 thoughts on “DEPRESSION: A FRIEND IN THE SHADOW

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