Nothing Lasts Forever
At 6:30pm on a chilly Wednesday evening in September 2016, just as I shoved open the door and was happy to be finally in the warmth of my house, I received a call that numbed me to my core. My sister, my always cheerful, always coming through for everybody, extremely empathetic and thoughtful sister, was on the other end of the line.
“I have been diagnosed with depression and I have to be admitted in a mental institution with immediate effect.” She said.
Her statement was as cold as ice which made me realize that it really was not an April Fool’s Day joke. I froze.
She was 25 years old then. What on earth would depress a 25 year old?
“Where are you?” I asked.
“In my crib. Came to pack a few things before I check into rehab tomorrow, but I have been advised not to be alone tonight.”
“Of course, you shouldn’t be. I am coming for you.”
Luckily, the kids were upstairs having a bath and the mister was at work, so I just did a U-turn back to my car. Much as I had one million questions in my head, I did not want to upset her any further given her fragile state. So, I called a friend who has always amazed me by his ability to ask the most unnerving questions while also making a most uncomfortable situation seem like commonplace. I picked her up, then picked my friend up and we all sat down for a drink at Explorer Tavern. She was at ease and constantly giggled at his jokes. I saw nothing depressive in her, except that her eyes looked tired-like she was either hangied or hadn’t slept for days.
My sister Brenda unfolds her narrative below:
My depressive episodes started early in 2015 but it was towards the end of the year when I finally acknowledged that something was wrong, and almost a year later when I sought for help.
It was a slow and alarmingly progressive state at the same time. The event that triggered the downfall was a heartbreak I seemingly couldn’t get over. Much as I tried I couldn’t find an outlet for all the anger I was feeling. The thing about suffering heartbreaks is that you can’t rush the process. You have to hurt before you heal. I did not have time to hurt, so the next option was to ignore it.
I was fortunate enough to land a job a few months after my graduation. The salary was a dream! We were paid on commission which was always hefty. Life was amazing the first year (2014). But that wasn’t to last. The commission structure was scrapped off. I would now earn a third of what I used to get. The worst part was that we weren’t told in advance, so I obviously wasn’t prepared. Being the big girl I am, I wasn’t going to waste time weeping over spilt milk, so I did what I did best: ignore acknowledging my situation.
To add on to my career life, I didn’t feel fulfilled in what I was doing. To put it simply, I felt like I was just floating through life. Like, I was living on someone else’s time. I couldn’t figure out where I fit. Neither could I make peace with my situation. I didn’t even like what I did. I didn’t know what alternative I could choose. All options came down to going back to school to start afresh. Starting afresh meant school fees; money which I didn’t have. So, I was stuck where I was-so it felt.
When I first came to Nairobi, I didn’t imagine I’d live in Kileleshwa. The first time I heard of the place was from Vioja Mahakamani when Ondiek Nyuka Kwota would brag about his numerous apartments in the area. At first I stayed with my older sister but she moved out when she got married. Our house was spacious and equipped enough. I loved it there.
When she moved out, I had to as well (the house was falling apart and the land lady couldn’t care to repair it). She (my sister) left behind all of the furniture, which I had to move with, of course. The SQ I moved into was not as spacious as our previous one, so I had to cram everything in there. I even left some furniture behind. It felt like a hoarder’s house. To say I hated the place is an understatement. It felt claustrophobic and stuffy. In the four years I lived there, aside from my sister and mum, only four other people visited. I couldn’t fathom someone else seeing the hovel I was living in.
So, here I was in a situation where I couldn’t find an escape from my woes. I hated work, I couldn’t just chill in my house for peace of mind since that was another cause for stress, my love life was ancient history. To top it all, seeing as I am not a very outspoken person, I didn’t talk to anyone about these things. Whenever I wanted to bring it up, I’d convince myself that it wasn’t so bad that I’d tell someone else. My sister was always the first person that I’d think of confiding in, but then I’d tell myself that for someone with a husband, a kid, an 8-5 job and a side hustle, they already had enough on their plate without my non-issues. And there went my chance(s) of opening up.
All the harboring I was doing would manifest itself in various ways. I stopped having regular sleep patterns. Actually, I didn’t have a sleeping pattern at all. I resorted to either drinking or smoking or both so that I’d at least blackout and have some semblance of sleep. I’d drink Monday to Monday, alone in my hovel. Sometimes crying, because drinking and high emotions happen to be friends. There was always alcohol lying around somewhere. When I went to rehab, I left behind a whole litre of Vodka in the house. It’s like I had a small wine and spirits in my house.
In the event that I’d lack sleep, I’d cry my eyes out for however long, until either dawn breaks or I pass out from fatigue from all the crying. One day I cried for three hours straight. That deep, painful, teary crying that emanates from deep in your core. I’d be sad that I can’t even hack at sleeping and I’d start crying. Then every other reason that would make me sad would surface. It was always thoughts akin to what I can’t do right. Would I be in this same position forever? If not, how I’m I going to get out of it? I need money for that, but even the proverbial church mouse had better luck with that- so it felt. That is where my engaging thought process would end. From there the negative thoughts took over and they would ‘talk at me’ It was never a discussion. My mind was giving me its 2 cents: What makes you think you can make it out of this? I wouldn’t be surprised if this is all you amount to. What are you good at, even? If you were asked to talk about something that you are passionate about for 5 minutes, what would you say? Nothing, because that’s what you know”
That and more negative talk really pushed me to the dark side. I didn’t have the willpower to fight those voices. For one, they sounded right to me. Second, I just didn’t have the energy to waste on issues I felt I couldn’t solve. It felt easier to just give in and numb the pain. I felt that at the end of the day, one of us would have to give in: my issues or myself. All I lived for was making it through the day.
I used to be overly emotional over anything and everything. I’d get very agitated at people and situations for no reason- especially if things didn’t work out in my favor. It felt like the world was conspiring against me. I was so mad at the world and everyone in it. I’d feel better if I was just angry instead of trying to rationalize the source and cause of the anger. I also realized that if I appeared angry, people wouldn’t bother me unnecessarily with pointless engagements. I used the anger to mask everything that was going on inside me. I was one sad person. At some point I forgot how happy felt like. I was bordering on somber and pissed.
My social life died too. Whenever I wasn’t at work, I’d be in my hovel either getting high or blacked out from having gotten high. I’d leave work on Friday and lock myself in my shoe-box size house the whole weekend. I’d leave on Monday for work. I would only leave the house to get more alcohol or to buy food. At work, I’d do my due diligence: arrive on time, do my part and leave in the evening. Up to this day I always wonder how I managed to keep my situation under wraps while at work. Aside from like two colleagues who’d sensed something was up, the rest were shell shocked after they learnt I had been admitted for depression. How!!? I think that’s another thing that helped encourage this downward spiral: the fact that I could hide it so well. My family was shocked as well. My sister almost had a coronary. She learnt everything on the eve of my being admitted – only because someone had to know. I believe if the nurse I’d talked to hadn’t insisted I get admitted, I still wouldn’t have told anyone.
Nothing lasts forever, someone wise said. The night when things came to a head was one September night. I had been in this situation for close to two years then. That night I had my usual drink and passed out. Normally, I used to ‘sleep’ late so that I increase my chances of blacking out till morning. On this night, however, it wasn’t to be like that. I woke up from my stupor four hours later with three hours to spare till my rising time. I woke up drunk still and I couldn’t coax myself back to sleep. I lit a joint and got as high as humanly possible. But I still couldn’t pass out. So, there I was, heavy pounding in my head, bloodshot eyes that couldn’t even see clearly and a mind so mucked up I couldn’t even think straight. On top of that I am as high as a kite but my mind had reached the end of holding on. This was the night I cried for 3 hours straight. I couldn’t believe the bad, bad world couldn’t afford me sleep for 3 hours at least, so I started crying. Then I couldn’t stop crying. You know the crying that gets you so worked up and out of breath that you take a break? Yea, that was the situation. Eventually, I got tired of all the tears. But those tears refused to be tamed. So I gave in and just cried away. You don’t want to know the headache I had that morning. It was that night that I decided I’m never having another night like that. Never again was I going to be crying unnecessarily instead of sleeping.
About 3 months before, I’d admitted to myself that I needed help. I had Googled all the facilities that I’d heard of. As luck would have it, there was one right next to my workplace. I had never noticed it before. After my emotional spell that night, I decided to pass by there after work: which I did. In my mind, I figured I’d just be assigned a therapist whom I’d be seeing occasionally. It was around 6 in the evening and the resident therapist had already left according to the nurse I found. She advised that I go back the next morning. That wasn’t what I was expecting. I was hoping that at I’d atleast talk to someone who’d prescribe sleeping pills or something. I wasn’t prepared to go back home as I’d left, so I just broke down in tears-tears that I’d been balancing the whole day at work. The nurse sat me down and asked me to talk to her. That was the beginning of the end. Haleluya? Amen!
In rehab, I got the much needed rest I was lacking. I had time to think back to when things went south. My coping mechanisms were clearly wanting. Since high school, I used to write my diary every day, or almost daily. That was a way of acknowledging whatever was going on with me. When the period around the onset of my depression set in, I’d only write it once or twice a month. That was a sure sign that something was wrong. But I wasn’t looking for a sign. Those one or two entries were so negative it is no wonder I didn’t write much-because my mind can’t bash me then I validate it by writing it down.
I was assigned a therapist and a counselor, both of whom were great assets in my healing journey. I credit my counselor more since he equipped me with the coping mechanisms I so badly needed. My therapist did more of prescribing drugs.
The counselor said to not entertain negative thoughts. Whenever I have one or more, he advised to ask myself whether it’s a fact or a conjecture. It’s always conjecture. I had to always be on the lookout for them since, at that time, it was hard to counter them as soon as they formed. I started journaling again; writing down everything I felt and thought, however mundane. I still do. My diary since then reads like a whole discussion.
[Another upside to journaling is that it helps me be honest with myself. In my diary I acknowledge what I’m dealing with and what I’m ignoring. I find that as much as I still ignore some things, I atleast admit that they exist.]
He also said to avoid negative situations like sad movies, negative people, sad jokes as that would be a trigger.
On top of all that he advised on having a solid support system of friends and family. Mine came in the form of family. There was no judgment, only love and support.
The motivation I had was the reminder of that fateful night. By the time I was stepping into that rehab I had already made up my mind that I would never be in that situation again. If you are in such a place, where you are fighting for a reason to keep on, you need a personal one: one that has meaning for you. I believe mine is what pushed me to want to become better. There was no way I was going back or looking back.
It has been an arduous journey of staying on course and checking in with myself every so often. I am out of the woods and slowly venturing into open air.
The mind is a powerful thing. Once you set it on something, it shall work with you. For anyone struggling, just believe in yourself. And if you feel like there is no end to your troubles, just remember that nothing lasts forever.
Mental health is a serious issue especially among the youth- more so among the male youth. I urge anyone that feels they need help or need to talk to someone to reach out. Not necessarily to someone you know. It could be counselors in (but not limited to) any of the below facilities.
Chiromo Lane Medical Centre ,Chiromo lane
Bustani (affiliate of Chiromo Lane), Lavington, Muthangari Drive
P.S. We’ve been nominated for BAKE Awards once again under the Lifestyle Category, 19.b. If you think we deserve it, please vote for us here and let’s take this baby home.
Wow….only a strong person can stand up and share their story to encourage the world.
Sending many hugs your way, Brenda.
Truly, nothing lasts forever.
Wow! This story. This is typically me right now! At first I almost thought you were writing my story!! Thank you! Thank you so much! I can’t even hold my tears right now. It’s been a rough patch of my life. I was actually having a conversation deep inside that I need help! I surely need some! I can barely sleep! Thank you Bree.
Ciku, I’m sorry for what you’re going through. But now that you’ve decided to get help, things will fall in place and start making sense. The best part is once you make it to the other side, all the troubles you had will be behind you. At some point you’ll even forget. All the best
Sending you love and warm hugs :-). You went through hell and have come out on the other side victorious. Thank you for sharing your story and may God continue to do a new thing in your life.
Thank you Rwinu 🙂 I appreciate
I have been struggling with depression for some time now. And unfortunately I can’t find a friend or family who I can share my problem with. At work nobody can sure tell if am depressed too. I hope to find the courage and take a life changing step in my life soon….
Hi Nyangenya. If you don’t mind, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Bree you are such a warrior! No matter how difficult the situation got you still had the strength to seek help and reach out to those who love you? That right there is strength! Celebrate yourself mami! Waah!
Tote, i never realised that that’s a quality I possessed till then. I do celebrate myself every day \o/
Such an inspiring story Bree thank you for telling it and emerging as Victorious as you did. Our mid twenties today are a battle by themselves, don’t let the Insta strories and snapchats fool you. I remember your big sister also encouraged me a lot as I struggled with making some crucial decisions at 24. You truly have a great support system and am sure to your cute nieces you are the best Aunty they could ever ask for. We appreciate the courage it took to press that button and share that story to help someone and for you to… Read more »
Thank you Rosey ??. About AMTN, when I was 13, I wrote a letter to Tyra asking to audition, only I didn’t post it /o\
Having struggled with depression before myself I could absolutely relate with this
Am so proud of you Brenda and hopefully this will help others struggling with this condition.
Thank you ?
I know I need help too.Thanks Brenda for reminding me that Nothing lasts forever.You go girl!
Now the next step is finding it. You gat this!
Quite an encouraging story there Brenda. I’m happy that you gathered yourself and sought help and you’re now emerging victorious. I had to pause severally during this read and cry which is something that has become an almost every day thing for me. I can totally relate to your case having a brother who has gone and is still going through mental health issues, relatives, friends and now it’s slowly creeping in to me that I no longer identify with myself, Trying to identify what’s causing it for me always gives me bitterness and anger that always ends up being… Read more »
I know what you mean. It feels like you’re no longer in control and things are just happening around you Take heart. It is always darkest before dawn. Believe that you will make it out, and I know you will. Like the post says, nothing lasts forever 🙂
I’ve been nodding all through Brenda’s story. Thank God you got over this?
Thank God indeed ?
Ever read a piece and felt like someone was telling your story? With a few twists here and there Sleepless nights The crying every single night The unending negative thoughts I had to pause somewhere while reading this… and cry my heart out. I’ve known for awhile now that I’m depressed But somehow always found a way to put the thought behind me every morning Only for them to surface at night Why at night though? That’s one thing I still can’t fathom. And being an introvert just makes it worse. Talking it out is really not something I excel… Read more »
Hi Rach, I’m so sorry about what you’re going through. The one good thing out of this is that you have acknowledged that there’s a problem. Just keep having positive thoughts that you’ll make it out. That’s where it starts: your desire to make it stop. I wish you all the peace of mind you can handle.
I have been wiping tears through this post. I really do hope that no one I know is going through this. It must have been a very tough phase but I’m so so glad she’s out of it and doing well. Depression is real. Sometimes we lack sleep and cry all night without particular reasons but we don’t even know that we are depressed. That really sucks! Thank you for this Joy. God bless you.
Inspiring story Brenda. I’ve just learnt that depression doesn’t choose who and when to attack. We are all struggling with a lot however trying to deal with this situation becomes harder when depression kicks in. But with what you’ve shared I know many will relate with this and come out strong. Sending light your way.
Thank you Fezitch. I appreciate your support 🙂
This came just the right time. I had been battling with emotional depression for 3yrs. Only my closest friends (2) knew what i had been going through .Early last year i started opening up to people who were like mentors and to new friends and it started getting better. By the end of the year i had the courage to finally exit a relationship that was the root course of all my turmoil. I exited in the worst way possible and i may have fallen back into emotional depression but this time i had such amazing support from friends ,… Read more »
I’m proud of you Sheyce for the progress you’ve made so far. And I totally understand about the inner peace. It’s only going to get better, you wait and see.
So proud of you Brenda!! Thank you for sharing your story with us,it is very informative and encouraging. Indeed, nothing lasts forever!
I was so apprehensive posting this. Thank you Limwechela.
Thanks for sharing, glad for all the progress ?? you go Girl! Looking lovely ?
Thank you Christine! Slaying is a lifestyle. :-p haha
Bree… I must admit this is really sad. To me you are the most free spirited human I have met so far. I’m happy though, because you are doing better now. Lots of hugs. Plus you look so good in the photos.?
Thank you for all the compliments Lils! 🙂
Wow! I froze too when I read the first paragraph. I literally stopped everything I was doing to read through. Thank you Brenda for sharing your story, the courage to open up will definitely encourage someone else who’s in the woods. Glad to see the post ending well. Wishing you the very best on your healing and recovery journey. Seeking help is the first step and glad that’s going well for you.
Helping someone else open up was the main reason I agreed to share this, which I hope it does. Thank you Eve for your well wishes
Wow. That is an unbelievably sad story. Can’t even imagine what she must have been going through – and I’m hoping that she’s dealing and coping with it now. Good luck Brenda! Wishing you so much happiness for the future…
Thank you Darshani. I am coping much, much better now 🙂
Wow! I’m so sorry you went through that dark period, I can’t imagine how hard it was to look sane on the outside but deep down everything was shattering ?. But hey, you came out of it and that’s all that matters. Congrats on making that big step to fix whatever was broken ?. Also, you look stunning!?. Wishing you all the love and light ?
The thing is, at that time I didn’t realize I was hurting. That was the norm for me. After I got better is when It dawned on me.
All the same, thanks, thanks and thanks! ??