“My mind was a ball of suicidal thoughts”

By Rena Stephanus

Imagine you’re in a dark place, you are screaming at the top of your lungs but no one hears you. Yet you are so close you wish they could save you, but they cannot because they are not in the dark pit with you.

Mental Health America defines mental illness a disease that causes mild to severe disturbance in thoughts and/or any behaviour of a person resulting in an inability to cope with life’s ordinary demands or routines.

Mental illnesses such as Depression, Post-Traumatic Disorder, Anxiety are widely attached  with Western origin in short, Namibians or Africans at large are still very much in denial when it comes to the realization of the existence of  mental breakdowns within the African culture, for  it is seen as not African.

“It was right after I lost my father when I realised I was not the same anymore. I felt like a part of me had been taken from me and it started to take a serious toll on me. I felt like the world was not the same anymore, my dreams have been shattered and they were never going to be fixed. I smiled a lot when I was around people, I just didn’t know who to open up to, and honestly I didn’t want to open up to anyone. Whenever I got into a solitary place, I cried at every thought of never seeing the sight of my dad. But no one really understood I felt alone, and the people I thought I could run and cry to had totally abandoned me. It got so bad that I started to imagine a world where I didn’t exist, I stopped eating. My mind was a ball of suicidal thoughts and no one seemed to notice. When I looked in the mirror I saw a different person. This was not me, I use to be happy. I made jokes and made people smile. There was another part of me that wanted to be free; it wanted to be noticed once more. Some days I went seeking to be healed, to find someone out there who would notice. I started talking to my friends, of course some did not understand. I started talking more, I began to reach out until I realised that I missed my old self, before all the hurt and all the loss. I was not going to be the same as I was before but I figured that this is what life was all about. Nobody is yours to keep and you will never walk along this path without slipping and falling

Depression is a disease that’s created by oneself, in one’s own mind. And only you have the power to heal yourself, but you need others to help you realise yourself, your true self. Opening up is hard, especially to people who truly have no idea what you’re going through. But it’s not opening up to someone that you are afraid of, but yourself. So if you’re going through a hard time, call up a friend, see a psychologist- Immanuel Shifotoka

Major Depressive Disorder (Depression) is one of the mental illnesses that is not easily identified until you seek medical help, because of this an individual can live with depression for years and it takes a toll on the person’s personal and social life. In most cases, depression is associated with personal issues such as job loss, dealing with a loss of a loved one and many other aspects of life.

Depression Symptoms and Warning Signs:

  • Suicidal attempts
  • Insomnia
  • Avoidance and Isolation from people
  • Self-destructive rituals (alcohol/drug abuse)
  • You tend to drop interest in things you once found pleasurable
  • Persistent sad, anxious or empty feelings

Namibians are reluctant on speaking to psychologists as most African cultures consider it as unnessary and a waste of money. Compared to women, men are not open to speaking to someone or seeking treatment as most of them consider it as a sign of weakness, the man is supposed to be strong and talking about how their feelings portrays them as weak.

Depression is real and does not only mark a certain gender, in short depression does not discriminate against gender, race or social standing.


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