The year 2020 was very much anticipated and was supposed to change my life completely – well, it did almost change my life completely for the worse. It was that year I was to finally obtain my undergraduate certificate and eventually make sense of my life by working to support my aged retired parents and younger siblings. I dreamt of this year, and saw myself in a vantage position with unparalleled enthusiasm. Alas! If only I had known that my disappointment would know no bounds, and my mental health stretched beyond all possible limits.
It all began when the ever-pervasive industrial action of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) struck one more time, a week to my final examinations. At the initial stage, I found myself in denial, having become a regular victim of the devastating effects of the incessant strikes. As the reality gradually dawned on me, I saw myself pass through all the stages of grief, my woes compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent lockdown for several months.
‘My God! Why does it have to be now?’ I lamented, seeing how close I was to my graduation, yet so far now. I watched as my life got stagnated, and my plans faded away. In a bid to salvage myself, I quickly delved into extra-curricular activities and other hobbies in a quest for happiness. I love poetry and music and wrote poems almost every day. Sadly, I could only carry on for about two months before things finally fell apart.
I was struggling with my being. I found it difficult to sleep, while at other times I was sleeping for longer hours than usual. I lost interest in virtually everything that once interested me, and even went for a week without having my bath. I’d rather lock myself in my dark room, cry like a helpless child while bingeing on food and alcohol. I felt totally worthless for weeks and the irritability made me keep everyone including my parents away, even when they tried to intervene. I knew I needed help, but could neither help myself nor bring myself to ask for one. I was dying slowly, and wanted to hasten this process by taking my own life.
In the eighth month of the strike, my last persistent friend took it upon himself to ensure I spoke to a psychiatrist online where I was evaluated and a provisional diagnosis of depression was made. I was shocked, because I never thought I would ever get depressed in my lifetime. I thought I was perhaps too strong for it, but now I know better. I got my therapy in time and was prescribed some antidepressants which have helped a great deal.
I realized that depression – classically characterized by everything I felt – was real, and not a respecter of any. While we hope for a better tomorrow, always ensure to safeguard your mental health, and promptly seek help whenever you feel it is at a stake!
This article was written by Gabriel Edoh; connect with him on Instagram via here