By Sheryl Christine
As a teen I went through ugly moments while in high school, having to change schools to the village boarding school was the genesis of my depression. I’d say I wasn’t everybody’s cup of tea, and that’s how they gradually pull you down. I withdrew myself from basically anything that brought us together ,just not to encounter anyone. I would only get to class when we had lessons. As time passed it got more unbearable, more naysayers and more depression, sometimes I feared the night because I wouldn’t sleep .I would sometimes sneak out of the dorm at 3pm to go to class and then next day what you’d hear about yourself was enough to self loathe.I would definitely give them an “A” for creativity,Ironical right? And at the same time felt sorry for them, because they had so much spitefulness.I would hear them say that i had hard eyes, because I wouldn’t cry or share, that’s what they wanted to hear and see. Little did I know I was concealing so much hurt and resentment to the world, I wasn’t letting myself feel it, my emotions was becoming repressed I was unknowingly creating a whirlwind deep inside my heart until it reached a point where I failed to know how to reconnect my heart and soul.A midst all that I experienced a loss and with the addition of ,the continuous taunting, I was in shambles. I would have sleepless nights, frequent headaches, nightmares, I would skip meals for days and days in school until I developed stomach ulcers.I didn’t even care about my physical appearance. My grades were becoming too hideous because they had pretty much killed so much in me from my self-esteem, confidence, my freedom of association and speech .I had to single handedly stand up with the only things I had left, my dignity, principles and willpower. That’s when my emotions became expressive .Art decided to manifest itself at a full capacity, in as much as I started writing in primary there was a period I stopped. I could write poems, short-hands, and stories of emotional servitude while crying. It was my battlefield. I couldn’t become the damsel and the villain as well.in as much as those were my heavy and darker times, and was a threat to my whole existence, I had to fight for my sanity. I dubbed most of them “The art of pain”.Found so much solace and strength in my new discoveries. And came to learn that we can recreate ugliness into beauty, even scars can be beauty marks.I figured by suppressing the emotions I didn’t like ,such as fear and uncertainty and pain, I was slowly taking away the shading of my own image, was denying myself the beautiful picture that needs the contrasts and shadows in order to be complete. That’s when I learnt my battle will always be mine if I didn’t want a premature death, unproductive brain or an inherited legacy of mental illness since I envision better things for me.
See, one in four Kenyans experience mental health issues at some point in their lives. so many youths are battling mental health issues.And we fail to realize the essence of self-love without the presence of our body plus mind and soul in one place is baseless and has no basis of coming into fruition.Human right commission estimates that 25% and 40% of outpatients and inpatients suffer from mental conditions, the most diagnosed of mental health are from depression, substance abuse, stress and anxiety. WHO on the other hand reports, Kenya is ranked 5th among African countries with elevated depression cases with a global statistic of approximately two million people suffering from depression and this keeps on accelerating rapidly. Additionally world population reviews places Kenya at 114/175 countries with escalated suicidal rate like attention deficit, anxiety, hyper-creativity disorder, conduct disorder increased mental health as a result of drug abuse, aggression, depression, sexual and gender based violence and self-harm.the solutions lies with government and we youths, that is if we don’t want a depressed generation by;
The government should sets privacy standards that prohibit abuse and fight discrimination as well as promote civic and social liberties and inclusion in schools, companies and organisations. Take up roles in funding; mental health services, research and innovation on mental health issues and activities. Formulate legislation and regulation that might provide oversight across the Kenyan federal agencies to help implement the laws and to include a number of groups like schools, institutions, treatment providers and companies. Create research opportunities especially to the youths to intensively study the causes of, treatment for and the recovery from mental health issues. Offer protection to the severely affected youths on mental issues through reasonable accommodation, meaningful engagement and also support those who medicate them. Formulate an act something like a rehabilitation act, mental health parity and addiction equity act. Not to forget a national health program that solely deals with mental health and depression issues. If the government of Kenya fails to provide a safe space and environment that promotes psycho-social support to mitigate the negative mental illness and depression outcome ,then we’re slowly creating an epidemic that will rob the youth of their productivity to the economy.since according to the Kenyan mental health investment case 2021, mental health costed Kenya 62.2 billion shillings, which went to medical bills for health conditions.
Youth on the other hand should always try to make social connections most especially face to face, always appeal to their senses, take up a relaxation practices, make leisure and contemplation a priority, find purpose and meaning in things like a relationships with people who matter to them and spend quality time with them, care for others, volunteering can also enrich our lives engage in work that makes you feel useful and most importantly seek help when you feel need it from loved ones or a support system, this is the phase where we feel that trust is a bizarre word but we need not to conceal and don’t skip sleep because sleep keeps our body and mind rejuvenated and recharged and this can only happen if we take breaks from TV, phones, tablets, computers .nevertheless people shouldn’t always be ready to put others down because of their weakness, fear and anxiety that they once expressed to us .Older people should understand that our youth hood is filled with so much uncertainty, youth are trying to figure out where they belong who they want to be and are also afraid of mistakes and failures.
We create so much fear, self destruction within ourselves that we fail to identify the potential within and define who we truly are. We endure our past and present pain day in and day out while we are hopeful and waiting for change. Change doesn’t come from us soiling our pillows at night from crying nor does it come from shutting ourselves from the outside world neither from concealing but from feeling because if we conceal so much then we’re creating our own demons from many repressed emotions. Have you ever thought of the difference between emotional confinement and military confinement? They are not different because both of them spell bondage, loneliness, anger and isolation. Have you ever thought that the key to your emotional liberation lies within you? Have you ever thought of being emotionally intelligent?. “In each one of us lies good and bad, light and dark, art and pain, choice and regret, cruelty and sacrifice….no one can live in the light all the time.” Libba Bray. So don’t conceal but FEEL IT. Because if you don’t, you’ll realise that the term “self” is multifaceted, and there isn’t an assurance that there’s a single “True self,” but habitually hiding aspects of oneself can certainly lead to problems with one’s self regard.