By Tom Osanjo
Depression is a major problem and some people only realised they were depressed after they read my story
“I am very proud of you my brother.” This comment from my younger brother Osborne Osanjo, who is based in the United Kingdom, when I posted on Facebook about my struggle with depression, was one of the most touching. Although he lives thousands of miles away, Osborne has been a key pillar in my journey towards recovery.
The story which appeared in last week’s Sunday Nation and was shared online by NTV, opened a door through which many reached me with their own stories of depression or having loved ones live with the condition. They are stories of shattered dreams, fear as well as courage.
A stranger stopped me on Koinange Street on Tuesday having seen my photo in the papers.
“You really encouraged me with your story,” the gentleman said, mirroring the in boxes and e-mail as well as phone calls I have been receiving.
My assessment is that depression is a major problem in this country. Some people only realised they were depressed after they read my story.
Another gentleman who did not wish to give his name has been toying with the idea of death since 2015.
“I think I am a coward and that is why I have not killed myself. Otherwise I have been very depressed and I see no reason to live,” said the man who was introduced to me by a mutual friend.
His case is no different from this lady friend of mine who approached me and declared that she wanted to kill both herself and her daughter.
Thank God I managed to talk her out of it. However, there are some of my friends who felt that by going public I was exposing myself too much.
But exposing myself is a small price to pay when I consider the many people I have spoken to.
At the beginning I tell them that I am not a counsellor and that I am only sharing my experience.
A top lawyer in the city who has dealt with depression of a family member invited me to her office and prayed for me saying she believed mine was a ministry to reach out to those suffering. She extended an invitation to go give a talk in the church she serves in.
In her encouraging message, Princess Melissah said: “We have not been given the power of fear, but love, self control n confidence. Trusting in God and casting your burden unto him is the best thing, don’t worry about things you can never change.”
Mr Charles Biunari Kirera said, “Does depression have a permanent effect to one’s health? How can someone know some of the permanent effects of depression? How can one get helped? After I suffered deep depression, I used to break things in the house. I broke several phones and other electronics. I broke utensils too. I did this every time I got angry with anything. I have noticed that this persists to date. Do I need treatment?”
Also being religious, Abdihakim Ali wrote, “Allah knows what is best for us. He is wise and all knowing. Sometimes we hate the grief situations but it can be good and beneficial for us. Because he knows and we don’t know. Allah says. And it may be that you dislike a thing that is good for you and that you like a thing that is bad for you. God knows but you do not know.
Of course Facebook being Facebook there were the hilarious too like the Kenya Independent Political Candidates Alliance who thundered: All Uhuru Kenyatta needs to do to end corruption in Kenya is to order DCI to go to any meeting Mr. XX is holding and arrest all people seated at the dais starting with Mr. xx as well as all politicians there. That will mark the end of corruption of Kenya because DCI will have netted virtually all the corrupt people in Kenya.”
Come Tuesday and I appeared before the Senate Committee on health an gave my views on the Mental Health (Amendment) Bill.
Eternally grateful to committee chair Senator Michael Mbito and the members for that chance.
In the same week, music star Justin Bieber went public disclosing that he was battling depression.
“Just wanted to keep you guys updated a little bit hopefully what I’m going through will resonate with you guys. Been struggling a lot. Just feeling super disconnected and weird. I always bounce back so I’m not worried just wanted to reach out and ask for you guys to pray for me. God is faithful and your prayers really work thanks. The most human season I have ever been in facing my stuff head on.”
Meanwhile, a study published Thursday in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology found the percentage of US teens and young adults reporting mental distress, depression and suicidal thoughts and actions has risen significantly over the past decade, reported the National Public Radio.
The study findings suggest a generational shift says psychologist Jean Twenge, with San Diego State University who headed the study and is author of the book iGen.
To see a significant increase in negative psychological states “among our vulnerable population of teens and young adults is absolutely heartbreaking,” she says.