A while ago, Kenya was ranked sixth in a report compiled by The World Health Organization detailing cases of depression. Many people are struggling with depression with a majority unaware of their plight. While there have been great steps in creating mental health awareness, there is so much more to be done to ensure that people seek the help they need.
One of the issues that is becoming quite clear is that depression affects men and women in different ways. Unfortunately, men are often times more affected because it goes undiagnosed since many do not know what to look out for as symptoms. This is due to societal pressures and misconceptions about men and how they should handle their problems.
I recently came across a video on Engage Talk by a well-known newscaster and editor Michael Oyier. In the video, he shares his story with his struggle with depression, and how he was able to get help. If you have a couple of minutes to spare, you should check it out. Here is my take and a couple of lessons I was able to learn from his story.
Depression is not always visible
In the video, Michael says he cannot quite point out when he got depressed. He just remembers feeling not up to doing things he would normally enjoy. However, he still went about his normal business. He went to work, spent time with his daughters, and worked as an MC in various events. He was even a chancellor in the church and still continued helping those who came to him. To an unsuspecting stranger, he seemed fine. Living the life of a normal healthy man.
Depression is not like a fancy dress or a new hairstyle. It is not something that can be noticed from afar. You may think someone is fine unaware of the struggles they are dealing with. While we have no control of some of the things that befall our friends or family, it is our responsibility to check up on them. Actively seek them out. Then maybe, just maybe when they need help, we will be able to notice the subtle changes hidden behind their smiles.
Share your success story
When we are inspired by someone, not many of us thank the person who inspired us. It is not mandatory but it would not hurt. Depression can make someone feel worthless. Like their lives do not matter. However, even in that dark state, one is still capable of inspiring others. Thanking someone for inspiration might not seem like a big deal but you never know. Probably, at that moment, it serves as a reminder that life is not so worthless after all. We cannot always thank those who have inspired us but when you can, drop a word or two. You never know what impact they can have.
Patience is key
When a friend has a cold, you ensure they get lots of rest and drink lots of fluids. The remedy is quite simple. However, depression is not that simple. You see a friend in pain and you want to help. But there is no manual, no prescribed way to help. Michael talks about his family and friends being his support system and sometimes that is all you can be. Listen to them when they need to talk, hang out with them even when they do not want to talk, help them financially when they need it, check up on them, and take them to seek help. It is not an exact science and the best you can do is just be there. No matter how long it may take. Mental Health: 7 Ways You Can Help A Friend Going Through Depression
Depression is a continuous battle
It is said that some people are more prone to depression than others. Either because of hormones, genetics or even childhood experiences. Additionally, you can suffer from depression for a very long time. For Michael, his struggle lasted for about 7 years. For others, it is even longer. Like most mental illnesses, you work to mitigate and treat the effects.
Check out How To Cope With Depression