The book “Second Chance with a Difference” can be summarised as the answer to a question that was asked by a future journalist, Leopard’s last-born daughter, Shirley Muhonja Zaina Ambindi, During its book launch.
“How did you come up with the idea of writing a book?” she asked.
“Four years back, I fell into depression after a multiplicity of what my first son Andes calls a series of unfortunate events. I had a strained marriage, a strained father-son relationship, a business in a recession, a closed-down church ministry, and a fallout with the family of pastors in my town.
I lost everything that defined and validated me causing a prolonged period of sadness, stress, bitterness, confusion, loneliness, fear, and anxiety.
“As someone who was well positioned to inspire others through music and the gospel, I had the difficult task of understanding what was happening to me; that I could no longer feel the taste and meaning of life, function in my strength, no longer focus to accomplish my tasks and had lost my creativity to solve problems and innovate new ideas. This confusion and moments of loss provoked a stubborn question of who I was; having lost so much that defined me at the time.
“The study of identity as a subject was so expansive that while at it, I realized how much of a whole discipline it was to explain identity and personality development as a continuous process from infancy to old age. At one of the stages of identity and personality development, I came across the mid-life stage where the cliché that “life begins at forty” became a reality in my introspections. I appreciated that I was going through a midlife crisis whereby my hopes and expectations in life had not been met and I was feeling unaccomplished as a result of these failed or disrupted life goals and social economic projections necessitating a midlife crisis in my spiritual, social and economic endeavors.
“Most intriguing was the similarity between the signs and symptoms of a midlife crisis and those of depression which expanded my scope of inquiry to determine and isolate whether I was only facing a midlife crisis or I was depressed. I validly determined that I was depressed and this was compounded by a midlife crisis. Studies in counseling psychology and clinical psychology helped me understand myself better.
Self-awareness and a passion to know myself
- New Rotary president to focus on mental health during his tenure
- Short walk a day keeps depression at bay, research on older adults finds
- How brain exercises can improve motor balance as you age
- FDA approves first postpartum depression pill
As I analyzed where I was coming from, I was pleasantly astonished at the fact that I was still standing in circumstances that would otherwise have consumed an ordinary person and pushed them into self-destruction; something I had considered but was yet to engage the self-destructive gear. This realization provoked my curiosity to articulate what had sustained me and preserved the little that was left of me. I learned that I had survived the depressive onslaught due to a very strong support system around me; that I had many people at my disposal who were willing to listen to me and offer encouragement, counsel, and correction. A sense of self-awareness and a passion to know myself even more was realized opening up my mind to the realization that there existed basic human emotional needs which I had deprived myself of through my relationships. The whole understanding of whether I was protecting or not protecting my emotional safety became vividly clear in my mind and I knew where the rain began to beat me. The process of self-awareness helped me to rediscover and redefine myself from the lost and confused version of myself to a more aware and intentional version of myself.
“The process of self-awareness and an understanding of my personality development process helped answer a lot of life questions that had lingered in my mind that I was ready to confront the ugly and unpleasant parts of me in a structured manner. The self-acceptance of who I was even in my ugly state became an important tool to fuel a new process of forgiveness for myself and those who had offended taking away a huge burden that I was carrying.
Forgive and unconditionally love me
“A lot of people know how to forgive other people but judge themselves with so much guilt and shame. I was able to forgive and unconditionally love myself to give myself a second chance despite my flaws.
“I found so much solace in the word of God and his promises towards me. My creativity was back and life was fun one more time even though the moments of fulfillment were oscillating on and off from time to time. I was suddenly able to set out on small and major assignments and stay the course. Eventually, I was able to celebrate once I had accomplished my tasks. I finally became productive again causing a major rebirth not only of who I was before but also loaded with lessons of how I systematically restored my life and relationships with God. As a student of psychology and a graduate of Biochemistry, I kept relating the various facets of my life and wishing that one more person knew what I now know.