From the onset, it is just a couple of bad days. You feel bad about yourself and everything else but you really don’t know why. It is an irritating rut, you may think. Sometimes you blame the weather for your predicament and it gets serious when what started as a few bad days relents; then life gets harder.

Like the relentless progression of nightfall, your sadness continues. You can hardly get out of bed and even your job, which hitherto, was the centre of your world, suddenly becomes your biggest headache. You can barely eat or sleep and your sighing is incessant. Little but slowly the world becomes ‘not-so-bright’ and vibrant. Yes, you are existing but life, in reality, is ever numb.

You isolate yourself increasingly and burst into tears for no reason. This struggle is something no one can understand. Really, everyone around you is so engrossed in their own routine they can barely see your pain; after all, you are still breathing!

One thing is that depression numbs you with so much sadness and agony in a manner that you do not see. It just steals your joy.

My own times in these dark waters, I have had a trillion sleepless nights and taken refuge in work; hard work that leaves you tired to the breaking point. And this I do in the hopes of catching at least, a night of sound sleep.

My depression is deeply rooted in my origin and sadly complicated by some traumatic events and experiences of my life. I am seeking help; a combination of therapy and medication. While some of my family and friends have been supportive, I also have around me, naysayers in their numbers – those who think I should stop taking the pills before l get hooked up on them, or that the treatment is too expensive, and others who believe I may not ever be able to snap out of it after wasting so much money. I haven’t lost hope, anyways.

The right medication and therapy can help, but I am also fully aware of the role I have to play because the difference between life and death in this situation is myself. I am the life jacket I need to stay afloat the sea in the midst of this storm.

What I am sad about is the way the world thinks mental illness; that it is dangerous and extreme. Well, every ailment is dangerous. Even malaria which is too common to us is dangerous and sometimes extreme. What society doesn’t know is that most of us who experience this survive, even though we do so quietly.

Have you realised the only time the public hear our story is when the extreme has happened? Remember that not too long ago the media was littered with news about suicide here, suicide there, suicide everywhere? When have you heard the media telling the stories of our survival? If you have, how many times?

Fighting the silent killer

So how I am surviving? I will not pretend to be an authority on depression just because I am battling the condition, however, the following have worked for me:

1. Staying in touch with (and looking for) people who make me feel special, a good listener. Someone who doesn’t judge or nag.

2. Actively keeping up with social events have been helpful. There is always the temptation to retreat into your shell when depression sets in, but that can worsen the situation.

3. Supporting others — helping when I can. Receiving support is great, but anytime I help someone out with something, I feel good about myself.

My name is Efe. I am suffering from recurrent depression. I have thought of and attempted suicide a few times but I am surviving. Truth is, I am not alone. I am only one face of this affliction called depression. What about you?