No shame in seeking help for depression
The mouldingWhich is not to say that I stopped caring for the car altogether. Not at all. I still kept up with all the service appointments and made sure that it was treated for every major injury. I’d do all the things that mechanics recommend to keep a car in good running order. And then one morning somewhere near Wangige, a rock – or something of equal density - made contact with the rear window, back left of the car. That triangular window at the corner as you move towards the boot. The window itself stayed in place but the moulding was dislodged and it dropped off. I didn’t stop to see what happened at the point of impact so it was only when I got to my destination that I realised I was minus a moulding. As I stood there looking at my ugly, mould-less window, something fell like a shelf in my spirit. I suddenly felt defeated. There was no energy to even think about fixing the damn thing, so I left it alone.
Taken abackPretty soon, I was ignoring many other things. One day, my horn went silent and I left it alone. Then my fog lights went out. I left them alone. Next, those nozzles that spray water on the windscreen wouldn’t spray anymore, and I left them alone too. And then the power window switch malfunctioned. Guess what I did? I left it alone. My wheels were also hopelessly imbalanced, but I left them alone too. And oh yeah, I was well beyond 10,000km when I remembered that I used to do a thing called service. Basically, I was driving the car into the ground. I shared this state of disrepair with my sister, rattling off all the things that had gone wrong with my car and she was taken aback because she knew how finnicky I used to be about it. “I think you need to see where you’re at with your mental health … that’s not like you at all,” she said. And that is how it finally dawned that I was depressed. I’ve been depressed before – I have even been medicated for it – so I know what it feels like. I know how it can manifest, and I recognised my don’t-care attitude about something I used to cherish so deeply about as a sign. Until my sister mentioned my mental health, I had chalked the whole car situation up to stress. This year has been stressful, but I had to acknowledge that the tree of stress had borne fruits of depression. Once I accepted that, my first stop was the garage to fix my poor car. You have to start somewhere. The next steps have been internal, where some housekeeping has been long overdue. Will I need therapy or medication? I’m not sure yet. Either way, there is no shame in being mentally unwell, and no shame in seeking help for it. Ms Masiga is Peace and Security Editor, The Conversation Africa
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