I have been writing long reads for a while now, always with an intention of ending it in a lesson, advice or something nice to hold on to. I tried so hard to do the same with this one, but this particular piece made me rack my brain trying to consolidate the perfect ending, yet I couldn’t. I needed to vent in a space where I felt most vulnerable. A space where I could air my darkest thoughts, raw and unedited. Thoughts that consist mostly of thorns than of roses, because in these thoughts undoubtedly exists pieces of me.
No one really warns you that depression is not just a word carelessly thrown around the streets of Twitter or Instagram until it hits you. I know that immediately you read this first line, the voice in your head mockingly made a comment about how cliché and millennial that sentence seems. I get it: totally. Depression has become increasingly infamous in the recent months that the matter is no longer accorded the appropriate amount of seriousness. My friends casually throw in the word depressed to substitute stress; I mean, we’ve all been guilty of that. When you have two triple-classes back to back, you subconsciously plug-in this word as you describe how hectic your schedule is; or when you think about the hustle you have to go through Moi Avenue at rush hour to get a matatu back home and in annoyance, you tell your bestie how you are depressed just thinking about it.
I highly doubt that we think through our sentences sometimes; or by our human nature, we tend to exaggerate the situation and forget how much weight a single word carries. Depression has been defined as feelings of severe despondency and dejection. When you’re despondent, you literally have low spirits from hopelessness. Away from the literal dictionary meaning, nobody warns you: that when you’re depressed you become numb; that you’re not necessarily sad, but empty; that depression is when the voices in your head stop and your mind goes blank. It’s like drowning except that you can see everyone around you breathing.
Nobody warns you that depression is not always easy to notice; that it is not all about slit wrists or suicide notes or even pill bottles that you subconsciously hide from your inner circle. Depression is sometimes stellar grades, the ever-outgoing extrovert or the clown of the group who always has a joke up their sleeves. You learn that depression isn’t always at 3am but sometimes at 3pm when you’re with your friends out for lunch and you excuse yourself for a bathroom break where you break down because you’re unable to keep up the charade for one second longer. It’s when you feel like your heart is balancing a tonne of baggage and your throat has an ashy patch and forms a lump. It’s when you must battle with yourself what to answer when they ask, ‘How are you?’ Whether to tell them that you’re a ticking time bomb or that you don’t know any more, but you reply the regular ‘I’m fine’ because it’s easier than telling the truth.
Nobody warns you that depression is in the struggle to do simple stuff like getting out of bed. It is a permanent state of exhaustion that sleep doesn’t fix, it never goes away. It’s when you start skipping meals and ignoring the people close to you because it seems simpler than dragging them into this nasty mess. It’s when you must lie that you’re sick and have a cold but really, you’re just depressed because people understand if you have a cold but not depression. When you constantly must laugh and show them how you have your life together but inside you’re battling years of hidden depression and are falling apart silently. Nobody ever tells you how silent depression can be until you burst into tears over something so minute or that you cannot control, like the weather. Depression makes you question who you really are, and it has never been a choice.
Nobody really warns you that depression is like feeling homesick and not knowing where home is…
Kosen Stacy Sanaipei (20)
Student (BSc-Actuarial Science)