The Untold Truth: Mental Health and Depression

black woman

By the rivers of Babylon from Boney M (1978)

By the rivers of Babylon
There we sat down
Ye-eah, we wept
When we remembered ZionBy the rivers of Babylon

There we sat down
Ye-eah, we wept
When we remembered Zion

When the wicked carried us away in captivity
Required from us a song
Now, how shall we sing the Lord’s song
In a strange land

When the wicked carried us away in captivity
Requiring of us a song
Now how shall we sing the Lord’s song
In a strange land

Let the words of our mouth
And the meditation of our heart
Be acceptable in thy sight
Here tonight

Let the words of our mouth
And the meditation of our hearts
Be acceptable in thy sight
Here tonight

By the rivers of Babylon
There we sat down
Ye-eah, we wept
When we remembered Zion

By the rivers of Babylon
There we sat down
Ye-eah, we wept
When we remembered Zion

By the rivers of Babylon
(Dark tears of Babylon)
There we sat down
(You got to sing a song)
Ye-eah we wept
(Sing a song of love)
When we remembered Zion
(Yeah yeah yeah)

By the rivers of Babylon
(Rough bits of Babylon)
There we sat down
(You hear the people cry)
Ye-eah, we wept
(They need that all)
When we remembered Zion
(Ooh, have the power)

 

It is barely two years since I lost my younger brother, driven to his grave by little voices that only he could hear. They took him captive and enslaved him, separating him from family, friends, work and everything else social. They built him a mansion and provided all his needs mentally. They trapped him on his bed and never let him see the light of day, nor did he eat, drink or talk to anyone. Sometimes when they had lost guard, he would whisper silently and hurriedly to someone, to pass on some of his own thoughts, but as usual we had taken him for a lunatic who could not be helped other than through an exceptional miracle, the only hope we had left. We had tried everything we knew and could, but none of us could buy him free.

He suffered bouts of depression(insanity) for about ten years, it had started about a year or two before the passing away of our dear mother. A woman we had loved without a second thought and whose respect and mentoring held us together as a family.

No sooner was she in the grave than  his situation escalated. So the following years saw him in and out of mental hospital, psychiatrists ,psychologist and the endless pastoral visits and daily medication. He worked and was a very industrious person and his kindness and love and generosity for his family and others was immeasurable. But sadly with the passing of years, his situation worsened and the treatments of the past known did not work.

In the last three years prior to his passing on,( June 2012) he was completely locked up in his room and only went out quickly in the night to help himself or to check on his fruit Shamba. Once more we put our brains together and one more time we managed to persuade him into a rehabilitation centre. Of course after having tried so many ways to find a solution, the differences in opinion within the family had increased but nonetheless we took turns to try what one felt was the best way out. Finances were not an issue, we just never found a permanent solution or suitable treatment.

In all these years we would talk with him looking for a suitable solution but he turned down everything and he would only agree to something so we could leave him at peace but more often than not, he refused to open up and talk. Food and drink delivered to him would be picked up again untouched and he always said he was neither hungry nor thirsty. But he was always tired and exhausted from all the voices that would not let him be for any one moment and every time he said what was going on, none of us believed him and he said the voices would get worse when he talked to anyone, he said they would scold him or shout at him endlessly. These voices were impersonating people he knew and that is how real they were to him. Whenever he tried to get out of his room and house, the voices would scold and scare him and I quote ” where do you think you are going? I told you not to do this ever again, you are being disobedient, go back right now to your bed”.

We never talked about this sensitive issues directly and openly to outsiders, we chose to maintain “his dignity”, more also the “family dignity”.

After he passed on from very high acids concentration and prolonged dehydration, we comforted ourselves that we had done everything we could have possibly done. And that has been a fact for me until three days ago ( April 2014).

I am on face book and a friend-( a lady I went with to high school, with a very noble background and a Masters degree graduate), was posting weird, ambiguous and perverse messages on her timeline. I mean she was at it every single minute. After sometime, I  inboxed her and asked her if she needed someone to talk to, hardly five minutes later she posted very ugly messages on my timeline, I blocked them and was contemplating on blocking her altogether but a second thought held me back after I read a comment from a family member of hers, cautioning her to stop looking for attention through Face book. It hit me suddenly that yes , she was looking for attention and memories of my brother flashed back in quick succession. I messaged her friend from FB and asked them to quickly check on her, then I also wrote her sister( I just went to family on FB profile).

Her sister replied and said family was on their way to her and she asked if I was in the same location. I replied and told her I was very far from her but I had lost a brother to depression barely two years ago . She was grateful for my concern but I wrote stating I was more grateful for her positive response and I was not out to meddle in family affairs but I felt concerned.

At that moment I realised I( and many others) have been “ holy friends” protecting “ dignity and public picture” and in its place loosing lives that might be saved.

Today I chose to lose a friend for life by tampering and smearing mad on her dignity, in an attempt to win her life, or at least in trying to win her life! 

I/we must learn to speak up for those who cannot, whatever their reason may be. There are countless children, women and men who are abused daily, suffering mentally, emotionally and in many other ways but often times we keep off  in order not  to be associated with them or even remotely be seen with them. These are our own; our family, neighbours and friends but we keep a safe distance not to be mistaken and to safeguard our “dignity” and our “upright standing”.

 

Here are help lines and emergency lines, write them in bold letters and hang them on the Fridge, in the kitchen store, anywhere and everywhere where even children can see them.

 Domestic Violence Helpline for Women: 0800 0116016

Sexual Abuse against Children Helpline: 0800-2255530

„Nummer gegen Kummer“: 0800-1110550

 Seelsorge (Someone to talk to, also offered in English): 0800/1110111 or 0800/1110222

Muslim Seelsorge: 030 44 35 09 821 

Helpline for people with a drinking problem (Also in English): 01803 AAHELP or 01803 224 357

Find a Frauenhaus in your area: Frauenhauskoordinierung.de

Jugendämter in Germany: Jugendämter.com

Alcoholic Anonymous meeting in your area: AA Meetings

That lonely woman /man always drunk at parties – she/he is probably seeking for help and doesn’t know how to express herself/himself or even where to turn to. That young star always looking confused might be needing your help.

Are you in trouble and you know it but don’t know how to get help? Walk into your local town hall ( Rathaus) and ask for directions, they have all contacts for groups and help centres.

 

NB:  By the rivers of Babylon ( Bible text) Psalms 137.

 

Real life stories column is here to open a platform for those needing/seeking help. These are stories told by the “Victims” or by “ Victim’s very close relations or come from official and reliable sources. These stories are not meant to “ demonise” anyone or to put a “ stamp” of guilt on the persons involved, they are  guidelines for everyone reading them and kindly spread them around to reach as many people as possible. We can and should make an attempt to reach out to someone in our midst. We must  and should speak up!

Most importantly note the help line numbers or centre names. 

 

By Kawira Njeru

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