Our Mistakes on Victims of Depression
August 8, 2023
By Abdulwarees Solanke
Incidents of people, victims of depression commiting suicide especially through jumping into lagoons have been rampant lately despite several campaigns and advocacy.
It is indeed depressing that another tragedy of a Nigerian flipping into the Lagoon from the top of Lekki – Ikoyi Access bridge in Lagos has been recorded.
This recurrence from that point or place and similar area where desperate citizens conclude to end it all requires that such prone zones need to be constantly monitored and patrolled with safety, rescue and interventionist structures in place. But it is not just about government interventionist structures alone. It is more about re-evaluating the collapse of social safety system, which used to serve as protective shield against depression in our culture.
Especially in the urban areas where we all live in concrete jungle behind real or artificial prison walls, life is that of everyone is *O-Y-O, a life of konko jabele, kaluku lo n se tire you’re on your own.
This forced me to ask:
Is the present anomic social system helpful? No. We must return to the authentic communalistic way of life of our past when everybody is his brother’s keeper and the problem of one is the problem of all. This modern culture is anomic, alienating many people and aggravating depression in people because the value system is patently a hedonistic manifesting in show off or boasting and pride. It makes the underprivileged sick and depressed. Few years ago Samson Orija, an Assistant Director and my colleague in the Strategic Planning & Corporate Development Department of VON shared a post on our department platform which affords me another opportunity to share knowledge on things one has read in books and had written to guide others from slipping into depression.
It’s better not to experience it than to be dealing with it because it’s too complex and time and resources consuming. It is the worst path to thread in life. It is a Dark Alley. It is frustrating. Everything about one in the grip of depression is bland and colourless. He no longer sees hope even when he is surrounded by multiple grace. He no longer sees any reason to be grateful to God, even when he surrounded by Gods mercies.
Sadly some of them end it all just when light is beginning to show at the end of the Dark Tunnel. This is because storms of life have blinded them to redemption and salvation. This is also because they have been isolated by the World around, left behind in the race for survival, forgotten entirely for not being relevant in the scheme of life.
Many who came out of it have to start life all over again because it eats up whatever one might have accumulated before. They often need to have A FRESH START in life: a new relationship or love, new life, new job, new environment.
The growing incidence of suicide in the country over situations of hopelessness or helplessness is indicative of the collapse of safety net that once was a hallmark of our socio-cultural system. This anomie is best classed as an emotional health issue especially depression. Unfortunately, Emotional health is hardly taken so serious in many cultures or generally misunderstood, the occurrence of which leaves many casualties in its trail or needless wastage of scarce resources on victims.
Where we are supposed to understand the victims, we show indifference. Where we are supposed to deal with it in creative ways to lift them out of the blues of this emotion, we resort to those who exploit the situation, ripping off victim’s families. When we are supposed to show them love; we alienate or cut them off. When we are supposed to cheer and encourage or give them hope and assistance, we snigger, backbite and humiliate victims in our attitude towards them, calling them inconsistent, lazy, unambitious or careless.
Yet, depression is a most debilitating and demobilize condition that enslaves or leaves victim powerless even over their own fates in life, faithless, embittered, self-judgement , withdrawn, melancholic, colourless, disorganized and self-abandonment to tides and storms of life, the extreme of which is becoming suicidal.
Mostly the depressed person lacks the capacity to love, to enjoy life. They can’t be animated by any interest nor do they have the appetite to the best cuisines which they used to enjoy in their normal or good times or mood. It is a mood disorder.
They lose appreciation for fashion and beauty nor do they think of their health and hygiene. Often too, they lose consciousness of time, indeed procrastinating and disinterested. They just waste by the day, wishing for death, waiting to die.
So it always requires that loved ones and associates of the depressed travel into the depth of the ocean of their blues where tides are sweeping over them to bring them back to life. The irony is antidepressant chemotherapy or drugs, it is difficult to sustain because while many are expensive, some with devastating side effects.
The best way to deal with the depressed is love, patience and understanding and perhaps must have travelled his path, pass and past before so you could relate with his feelings because often, you hear them say, you don’t understand. Or, I’m tired. You have to tell them how you were in their shoes or plight and how you came out.
Ehn ehn, you too? They may unconsciously tell you. You have to be able to connect with their past and their present and open to them a vast vista of hope and recovery, a new life, a promising future. So it always requires that loved ones and associates of the depressed travel into the depth of the ocean of their blues where tides are sweeping over them to bring them back to life. What they need is a helping hand; like a toddler, to guide them through the tough times and strong buffeting tides of life.
So when someone near you is in a financial mess, don’t make a mess of him again. Offer succor when his or her marriage is complex, or when his or her children are failing, his or career is floundering or business crashing, he or she is childless or battling with miscarriages or is visited with all kinds of disasters, even recurrence of deaths in the family, we should provide them shoulders to lean on, be steadfast in standing by them in their trying times, praying for them and with them. And we will witness miracle of their recovery.
Abdulwarees Solanke from Voice of Nigeria wrote in from Abuja.
Wise Whisperings of Al-Waarith 1445/2023