It was my second day in the ward. I could see all the distressed faces— my mom, my dad, and even my brothers looked sad. I shut my eyes hard, trying to picture myself in another place. A peaceful place. A quiet place. Where is that white light they say people see when they’re about to crossover?
I’ve dreamt of a place for so long. A place where my pain will come to an end. A place where I won’t sound insane for telling people I was sad without a reason. A place where this weight would be taken off my shoulders.
Surely, I felt it was just the sad songs that made me sad. Or maybe that unfortunate movie that dampened my mood. Or was it the job that had become a tiresome routine? I don’t know anymore. All I know is that the sadness was sure to come every single time. Year on year, pages upon pages, I scribbled furiously, trying to describe the monster that lived in my mind. The monster dark as night. It gnawed at me everyday. Only at night, was I free to sleep.
How do you constantly tell someone you’re sad? I could overhear my mom talking to the doctor. She said, ‘ I never knew she was this sad. I just thought it was a slight unhappiness at her new place. But I, but —‘ she broke off in tears. This is why I didn’t tell them. Even my friends that knew, looked weary from my copious messages saying, ‘I don’t feel like today.’ ‘I’m depressed.’ ‘I’m just tired.’ Even I got tired of sending them. No one had to know.
When I finally opened my eyes, the barrage of questions rushed in. ‘Why didn’t you take a break?’ ‘Why didn’t you tell us?’ ‘Don’t you know suicide is a sin?’
‘Yes mom. And depression is of the devil. You’ve told me this countless times’.
I had stopped reading those devotionals she bought me. I was so sure I was a sinner, no matter what I did right, the devotional always had something to condemn. And while I know God is love, I wasn’t hearing much of that. And even when I heard it, I thought of it as diluted messages from pastors who needed their congregants to like them.
Although I had kept the feelings of sadness to myself, I always felt hurt that I was all alone. That someone had put me on this planet with nothing! Nothing to look forward to, nothing to hold on to, and nothing to keep me going. No warning, no guidelines, I was just dumped here. Alone. And just as we are born alone, we die alone.
That’s why I made sure the room was double locked. My flatmate and his wife were celebrating their second honeymoon after a big fight that had lasted 6 months. I had started taking sleeping pills to help shut the monster in my mind when I slept at night. But this time, I was determined to kill the monster—even if it meant losing myself in the process.
As an overly cautious, OCD person, at first I picked out three of the yellow and green pills. Three was safe. I didn’t need safe. I added more. And some more. I don’t know what happened afterwards.
‘The Doctor said they’ve discovered 18 of those pills from your stools. They fear 6 more may still be in your system.’ My mom’s voice echoed through the thin walls of Jos teaching hospital. She was worried. I hated seeing her this way.
The thing about a foiled suicide attempt, is that you live to face the questions—Why?
‘Why did you do it? Don’t you know we love you?’ My father’s usually calm baritone voice had been reduced to mere whispers.
You also have to face the judgy looks. People at church were sure gonna give me one of those because I had attempted to go to hell.
And then you get the pity looks. That’s what my little brother was giving me from across the room as he fiddled with his bottle of coke.
‘I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you guys or cause you any pain.’ I meant those words.
But while I didn’t mean to cause them any pain, I was grimacing on the inside. The monster was growing bigger by the day. For now, I was clinically diagnosed with depression and was scheduled to start seeing a therapist.
I’m afraid that I’m way too far gone. If you still see me here tomorrow, someone in the skies must be pulling some strings.
Written by Mfon Etuk. (Mental health advocate).
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