Mental health is a mostly avoided and greatly misunderstood topic in African countries. Some of the beliefs are steeped in years of cultural practices that make opening up difficult, when you read and hear the stories people have to share, you realise people struggle by themselves.
Generally speaking, when you speak of mental health it is assumed you are referring to the kind of mental illness which leads to one being committed to a mental asylum under heavy sedatives or roaming the streets in ragged clothes in deep conversations with the unseen. Word on the street is this caused by anything from genetics, stress, taking drugs, committing murder or adultery, witchcraft, as a sacrifice in a money making ritual or forsaking your ancestral kin.
If you randomly ask someone about their mental health they will look at you as if you just asked them if they are crazy……..
We all have that or have heard of that uncle or aunt whom nobody really talks about who occasionally gets whisked away to get treatment and medication, when the moon is a certain way. I remember reading something a long time ago about how the moon affects lunatics not exactly quite unlike the way of werewolves.
They say Lunatics comes from Lunar…. (The lunar lunacy effect)
Even William Shakespeare had something to say about this in Othello:
“It is the very error of the moon.
She comes more near the earth
than she was wont. And makes
Othello Act 5 scene 2
I have an uncle, he taught me Latin when I was six years old, I thought we were speaking gibberish and I indulged him because as I understood it he got headaches. I only discovered when I went to a Catholic boarding school that I could recite the Lord’s prayer in Latin. He is a genius, he studied at a university abroad, on some scholarship in the 70s, smoked some weird stuff and never got quite got back to himself.
The last time I saw him, he was trying to build a resonance machine, which would vibrate your brain cells at the natural frequency of a genius mind and if you had not studied mathematics at high school level your brain would blow up, leaving a world of only intellects…….
Conversations with him are always intriguing, I understand what he is talking about sometimes, maybe because I know how resonance works; someone else just listens and decides he speaks gibberish, when he actually speaks fluent German. No one quite talks about it, I don’t even know what he studied. Sometimes I worry I have those genes, a crazy genius who might take a bad trip and never come back?
Then we have the silent killer Clinical depression which has a list symptoms indistinguishable from what people generally call being moody, sad even lazy and yet battling darkness at their core. Its easy to look happy, when everyone wears a mask. I have seen people who refuse to accept that depression is an actual medical condition and not some made up excuse to be sad
No one seems to take it seriously right up until the time someone ends their life. Then suddenly people are trying to understand when you got such dark thoughts or how they didn’t realise that the extent of your depression was not just sadness but something deeper darker…..Needed treatment/therapy not just telling some one to man up or be positive or simply try harder
Unfortunately no one ever really knows whats going on inside you, the case of The Strong Silent Man.
It’s Ok to say “I am sad and I don’t know why”……… nothing to be ashamed about. You could even write it down, it’s a form of therapy, some of the best writers are really tortured spirits and paper was the only friend that listened and offered no judgement.
Day 14 of my blog everyday challenge
if you are in Zimbabwe and need to contact someone you can try The Samaritans.
Or Find other free organisations in the post by The Quarter Wife
If you know of any other please add them……. What are your experiences with mental health like?