Tag Archives: Depression

After everything is said and done, I am my own hero

Maybe friendship is overrated, maybe you would never find the perfect friend in someone. But what better friend can you have than yourself? When there is no one around to help you with your mental illness, you can decide to do something for yourself. I call it self-help.
Living with depression comes with struggles, ups and downs, good days and bad days, and you may not want to go through your struggle alone, but when no one seems to be there, the best you can do is to be there for yourself. Accepting and taking charge of your condition is the first step towards recovery.
I recommend these self-help tips

  • Keep a log of your day

Keep track of what you are able or not able to do daily, either in writing or by voice notes. Record your feelings, ask yourself questions about the progress you have made, and the drawbacks you’ve had.

  • Don’t be hard on yourself

Good days and bad days will come. The good days will give you the hope that you are a survivor and can make it. Knowing your good days will help you identify the things that made it good and how to achieve more of them. From bad days, you will learn about what should be improved and help you identify triggers to bad days.

  • Set little but achievable daily goals for yourself

Although daily chores may be hard for you to carry through, you can set them as targets for yourself. Little things like making your bed and brushing your teeth give you back some control over your life. At the end of the day, all you care about is you could achieve something, you weren’t that hopeless.

  • Be spontaneous

Even though you may feel comfortable and would want to stick to your routine, do something out of the blue occasionally. Do something you haven’t done in a long while. Allowing some variation in your life would boost your morale and give a sense of hopefulness, you are not a lost cause after all.

  • Give yourself time to recover

Recovery, be it being able to get out of bed or getting back to your life or being able to carry out tasks you used to perform in the past, takes time. Whiles taking your medication and availing yourself for psychotherapy be patient with yourself. Results don’t spring up overnight. The little efforts you make each day contribute to the bigger picture of your recovery.

Above all, remember to take each day at a time. There is no need to be in a rush to figure out how tomorrow will unfold. Concentrate on getting out of today alive. Tomorrow will take care of itself when it comes. But for now, it is today that matters. And when things don’t always go as you’d have wanted, forgive yourself. You will have another day to try again.
Keep living. You are not alone and when you can, talk to someone about how you feel.

 

Depression is ruining my Christmas

It’s the festive season and there is so much merry. Everyone seems to be happy, except me. Everyone is making plans, visiting and inviting family over. People are shopping, buying stuff for themselves and others. Gifts are being exchanged. People who haven’t spoken to each other in a long while reach out. Yet, here I am, locked up in my head and struggling to go about my daily routine.

And I ask myself, can I just be this way or do I need to pretend to also be merry. Am I allowed to be depressed during this time or should I fake happiness? Do I have to reach out to people who I haven’t spoken to in a long while, or keep thinking this festive season is overrated? Can I just not care about anyone but myself?

But then, this is the depressed me talking because deep down I’d love to be with the people I love and care about. I’d love to be with family and friends. So when I am this way, please be patient with me and permit me the space to be depressed. But don’t take your love away from me. You are family and I value our relationship.

Your love and care will help me heal. So before I get on your nerves and push you away, I would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a supportive 2018 with less drama.

 

I know I can count on you in good times, what about bad times ??????

We are social beings and we thrive on interactions and connection with others, be it family, friends, colleagues or acquaintances. We cherish moments with others and as such wherever we find ourselves, we strive to establish connections with others, either momentarily or long-term. We love it when we have people to share experiences and make memories with.

But how do we feel, when our desires to love and be loved, to accept and to be accepted are not fulfilled? And what about when a connection we had with someone is severed, such that it no longer is what it used to be? How about when you are going through a difficulty and there is no one you could count on, especially if you would have wanted someone in your close circle? It hurts to be disappointed, but it hurts more when your friends are not reliable enough to help you out of a difficulty.

It is easy to look to others for solace and comfort, but maybe, it is about time we ask ourselves if we are ever at any point in time, able to offer comfort to someone going through a difficulty, or better still someone battling depression (since it is the focus of this blog). It is very easy to lose your cool with a depressed person, the feeling that they are being insensitive and would want your undivided attention and care. It is not easy to live with a depressed person. They have special needs and they can only pull through and out of their condition with the right assistance.

In last week’s episode, I mentioned how you could help a depressed person (Click this link if you missed last week’s post Help me, but inform yourself first of my condition). And now that you know how to identify warning signs of depression, the next big thing you could do is to Talk with the person you are concerned about.

But then, it is not just about talking, it is about “listening without being judgmental”. This isn’t the time to play the “I think you are right/ wrong card”. Because you know what, knowing does a better job of devaluing themselves than a depressed person. They have already condemned themselves and you wouldn’t want to compound that feeling. Remember, it is not about you and it will never be about you. It is about a friend you are concerned about and want to help. Besides, you wouldn’t want to give the impression that what they are going through is a fault of theirs.  Instead, what they need from you is love, care and support. You may not be available 24/7 for them, but to a depressed person, it would mean so much more than companionship, to know there is someone looking out for them and someone to count on. After all, we believe recovery is assured when we have a support system and work collectively.

Together, we can heal. Be the help someone needs.

The paradox of depression

Life is filled with sorrows. No matter what we do, we will in the end die. We are, each of us, held in the solitude of an autonomous body. Time passes and what has been will never be again.

Depression is a birth and a death: it is the new presence of something and the total disappearance of something. Birth and death are gradual, but the birth and death constituting depression occur at once. When depression strikes, the first thing that goes away is happiness. You cannot gain pleasure from anything and soon other emotions follow. You lose the ability to trust anyone, to be touched, to grieve. eventually, you are simply absent from yourself.

Rebuilding of the self in and after depression requires love, insight, work, and, most of all, time. Depression exists as a personal and a social phenomenon, and to treat it, one must understand the experience of a breakdown, how medications work, and the most common forms of talking therapy.

 

Excerpt from “The Noonday Demon”- Andrew Solomon

Poverty, the foe that plunges us into depression

Last week, I published a  post on how depression cuts across all social classes and the fact that no one, whether rich or poor is free from depression. After a couple of shares and discussion on the topic, I received a feedback on the matter that poverty is the issue in Ghana and not depression. The comment may have been meant as a joke but I still decided to focus my next article on the relationship between poverty and depression, and also to clear the myth that our only problem is poverty. Poverty is, in essence, the beginning of all our woes, ultimately the enemy pushing many of us into depression.

It is a well-established fact the relationship between poverty and depression; with socioeconomic factors like owning properties, the stability of one’s income, ability to secure basic necessities and the ability to keep a job playing a major role. The presumed stresses of the rapid development of our towns into cities and changes in our culture have also produced negative effects on both the physical and mental health of the average Ghanaian. Unfortunately, the mental health concerns—although an important part of daily life and the well-being of human beings —have been overtaken by other health problems, of most concern infectious diseases.

In the past, researchers claimed depression wasn’t present among Ghanaians but in those times there were more complaints of anxiety and tension, feelings of guilt and self-reproach. Physical symptoms such as irregular heartbeats, burning sensations and difficulty falling asleep were also common. However, these symptoms were not considered to be signs of depression because our knowledge and understanding of depression were limited. In a recent study by the Kintampo Health Research Institute, depression was identified as the leading mental health problem in Ghana contrary to the belief that madness is.

Depression is a relevant mental health concern and should not be neglected. It affects the quality of our life (e.g., low marital quality, low work performance, low earnings), increases our risk of a wide range of chronic physical disorders, and contributes to early mortality due to suicide.

 

Further reading
1. U M Read and V CK Doku, (2012), Mental Health Research in Ghana: A Literature Review. Ghana Med J., 46(2 Suppl): 29–38.
2. Heather SipsmaEmail author, Angela Ofori-Atta, Maureen Canavan, Isaac Osei-Akoto, Christopher Udry and Elizabeth H Bradley, (2013), Poor mental health in Ghana: who is at risk? BMC Public Health, 13:288

 

Irrespective of your social class, you are not spared of the rigors of depression

I have heard a number of critics say depression is an ailment of western developed countries and third world countries should not concern themselves with it. After all, they are faced with other pressing issues. I believe this assertion is false, and this perception stems from the fact that there are more research and discussion on the topic, and as a result, there are more treatment options available in developed countries. This only implies that you have more people reporting to facilities for diagnosis and treatment, which advertently increase the number of cases statistically.

Something can also be learnt from the cultural determinants of disease complaints. For most Africans, particularly, Ghanaians, clinical depression simply doesn’t exist within our realm of possibilities. We are supposed to be strong, cheery people. And our culture favours certain patterns of illness such as malaria, fevers, food poisoning, body pains, and others rather than attributing depression to be the basis of our “not-feeling-good”. Plus anything else we can’t explain is attributed to witchcraft or bad lifestyle choices. And in most instances, these generalized conclusions mask the depression leading to its misdiagnosis.

“Depression is the result of a genetic vulnerability, which is presumably evenly distributed in the population and triggering circumstances, which are likely to be more severe for people who are impoverished. And yet it turns out that poor people are mostly not being treated for depression.” –Andrew Solomon

Whether rich or poor, no one is spared of the challenges of life. The difference may be how we respond to these life events as and when they occur. Depression cuts across class boundaries, but its treatment doesn’t and this variation may make recovery difficult for a poor person who cannot afford treatment.

I am not an expert, can I champion this cause????

How best can you promote a cause you have no experience with? How can people trust you as a confidant if you have no idea how they feel and cannot really connect with them on the problem you are trying to help them address? I have been asking myself these questions ever since I began this campaign on Depression. For one, I have not been clinically diagnosed, although I have had times when going on was not an option and everything becomes overwhelmingly impossible for me to do. I do speak to a couple of people about it, but that is it. I’ve never seen a doctor about it, and that’s where the story ends for me.

The closest I came to dealing with depression was when I met someone going through therapy after diagnosis. She is on the road to recovery. But it is not an easy one because she can’t openly talk about her condition without being tagged as a nagger, an attention seeker and someone trying to play the victim. Compounded to her worries, is the fact that her mom sees it as one of her teenage dramas, and not a condition that needs medical attention, and makes it very difficult for her.

After all is said and done, I may not be an expert on the case but that doesn’t in anyway undermine the fact that there is so much stigma attached to depression and it is about time we had open discussions about it. And so for the good of everyone, it will be one day and one experience at a time. My questions are legit and they may be the driving forces that will push me beyond my comfort zone to question the status quo and also change the perception about mental health.

Why don’t you get involved? Share your experiences with us by sending them to “Tok2someone@gmail.com”. We will be glad to hear from you.