The PhoenixTiti Olajide Cole
- Despair: A state of mind caused by circumstances that seems too much to cope with- (dictionary.com).
About two years after my daughter’s death, I started having nightmares and hallucinations. Sometimes I would imagine that she woke me up in the morning like she used to when she was alive. I would actually feel the tap as if I was being woken up. Other times, I would imagine that she stood by the bedside. At some point, I had suicidal thoughts like ‘I don’t want to be here anymore’. The thoughts were scary to me, knowing that suicide was wrong biblically, morally and culturally. I knew I could no longer limit the talks to my husband and that I needed to see a mental health practitioner about it.
There is however a challenge with mental health issues in Nigeria and that is stigmatization. The stigmatization associated with mental health is so much in Nigeria that those faced with these issues would rather suffer in silence, which sometimes result in suicide, rather than seek help. There are many cases of suicide currently trending on social media, which could have been avoided had they sought out help professionally or even just talk to loved ones about what they are going through. Embracing help would go a long way to curb the growing suicide trend.
Depression can come on anyone at any point in time. In contemporary times, we are regularly exposed to vivid details of tragedies, suicide and killings on social media. It’s no wonder many are ‘walking wounded’, anxious and fed up. What is most needed when such feelings come on is the love of God and those around us. When tragedy knocked on my doorstep, I was not prepared and my faith was challenged on every level. I questioned God’s purpose for my daughter’s death and found no comfort in the consolation of my family and friends. When difficult circumstances arise, we are faced with the option of giving up and fighting through the pain to find answers. I chose to do the latter. While ‘fighting’ through the pain, I had thoughts of walking away from my faith as a result of the wounds the loss inflicted on me. But at the end, it was the faith that saw me through the messy emotional struggles. Even when we are in pain and so full of anger, questioning everything we have ever believed in, God never walks away from us. This is not a religious platform, however it was how I got out of the ‘hell’ I was plunged into. I felt the weight of God’s love at every dark moment, though it sometimes feels so unfamiliar.
The same question of ‘Why?’ I struggled with have existed since the beginning of time, but the bigger questions are: Where do I fit in all these? Or How did I come to this point in my life? I lived with anger when I stopped seeing a loving God, but could only focus on the circumstances of the loss. Secondly, don’t push away loved ones, thereby you isolate yourself. Believe me, it only prolongs the pain as it did mine. Reach out to loved ones and have a confidant you can talk things over with without holding back. Thirdly, seek counselling to deal with any mental health issues resulting from the loss you may be struggling with (That don’t mean you are crazy, people). And finally, whenever you have a need to ‘vent’ and there is no one around at the moment, talk to God. Pray or just talk, whatever works for you.
As you practice these consistently, you will notice changes that indicate a roadmap to your healing. In conclusion practice self love. If you love yourself, you will take good care of you.