From Repression & depression to revelation and elevation now!

It is a few months after my graduation. It has been exciting to complete. The only dream I ever had was to have a good education join the University and of course happiness and wealth shall follow me, or so they told me. The truth was however very far from this.
I have just got a place to stay in Zimmerman. The Thika Highway many young people will tell you is a highway of discovering that we need to let go what we hold for a moment. For the past few weeks I have not been eating well. I have not made a penny and so all I have is wheat flour. My meals are pancake and strong tea. All without sugars. I spent most of the nights fighting with mosquitoes and most of the days crying about my problems. This slowly morphs into lack of appetite and days go without me eating. I am on this mattress all the time and it has been about a week since I last stepped out. My mind is filled with thoughts. Most confirming to me how unfortunate I am to have been born, how lacking is in my nature and everything that goes to show that I was responsible for my misfortunes.
There is a different thought that has mutated from this negativity. I, a lot of times wish I could just have something detach my head so I could stop these thoughts. I wish I had a gun and I could shoot my brain off this awareness of my helplessness. I wish I could stop my mind just for a moment so it ceases to exist. The whole village had gathered when I joined university. They all had advises. What stuck with me was that I needed to come back and help them. Here was I good for nothing wallowing in my useless education.
After several days of not eating not sleeping, a friend invites me for dinner. I didn’t even think I had any friends any longer. As was my nature in my ability to say no, I just accepted this offer. I dress without even caring how I look. My hair is shabby, I am crossing the drainage just outside my house, the niff hits me and it reminds me how stinky my life really is. Two men on the side, a strong smell of cheap alcohol and weed comes from them. I know they are in the same situation as I am or how else would they allow themselves to be drunk at this hour.
At my friend’s, he asks me how I really am. Somehow this provokes a stream of tears down my face. It has been very difficult to respond to this question lately without lying with the normal fine answer. I tell him that I need a job and then I can’t stop crying. He takes me to his house thereafter. I spend most of the night reading a book as I do not want to engage him and bring out the filth in my life. He leaves me in his house as he goes to work in the morning. I decide to wash dishes. It is in this small activity that I am awakened to the realization of my state of mind. I spend so much time washing the knife. Most of this time I am in my head contemplating how difficult it is to successfully kill self with a knife. I am wondering what other options could just help me shut my mind down and fully so I am not awake to this state of agony. The activity of washing dishes, is very helpful somehow as these thoughts on my mind undergo a different process. Through this activity I realize the role of my actions towards addressing my situation.
Moving from the moment of repression to active processing of my situation was the awakening that these few months of my depression had led me to. Depression had taken me away from awareness of my self, my abilities and just the moment of breathing and being alive. It had turned this into work that keeping myself alive was the most tedious thing.
Now that I look back, I am happy I went through this moment. I stand here today talking about mental health because my experiences led me to understanding what the truly valuable things in life are. It was not my education that was valuable, not a job, not money, what truly is valuable is being self aware, living in happiness and spreading the love and joy. Somehow through this everything is brought into perspective.

Photo taken at the banks of Tana River- Garissa County

The brain is a very powerful organ that has the power alleviate us from our suffering. I remember when I was young and I would here quotes like the, ‘you can only make yourself happy’ and indeed at that time I didn’t understand it. To put this into perspective, 81% of people with depression who were put under placebos responded as though they were on antidepressants. That says a lot about what believing in that drug had on the healing process as the brain was producing chemicals that acted as antidepressants for these individuals. The mind is what the brain does. Your senses all bring information into this processor we call the brain. The brain processes this and reacts with an appropriate response. The brain will use the existing database from memories known and unknown to us and the system runs itself. Now the brain listens and takes instructions from all these sensory organs then computes. If you send sensory information based on your thoughts it will respond as though they are real. If you send thoughts of being attacked by a lion for instance, with the emotion of fright and all perceptions around this, the brain will indeed respond to protect you as though it is an actual attack. A lot of times we are sending signals based on our past experiences rather than present realities. We think of that low moment growing up, the poverty, the lacking, the conflicts and then get stuck on that thought and emotion. The brain does its job, computes constantly and puts you in a state of freeze as it would when you were a child to protect you from that harm you could not battle against.
Well when we talk of the freeze response, it is one of the stress responses the others being flight and fight. When a danger signal is sent, the brain prepares the body to fight or run away from the danger. In other instances it prepares it to play dead. It is a survival mechanism learned over the centuries of our existence as a species. During the freeze response, the body slows and shuts down or rather kills several internal processes except a few vital ones to keep one alive. While these responses are fundamental in times of danger, if we get stuck on them because of our thoughts from past experiences and not actual danger, the body at some point becomes incapable of self sustaining.
We now have many of us stuck on these responses. We are paralysed from addressing our situations as we are either stuck with the negative emotions of the past or worries of the future. To recover from these patterns and heal our minds, we need to bring ourselves to this moment. We will learn to exist in the thought and emotions of what we want to create and challenge ourselves when we go back to those patterns of our histories that are not relevant to our currentsituations. For some it takes journeys of self discovery, for some it takes life changing experiences and for some it requires support of loved ones or a therapist who can work with them in replacing these patterns learned over the years. What remains true is that eventually in whatever approach one seeks this process, the solution is within, in self awareness. During this mental awareness month, let us remember the endowments that we hold as humans, of self awareness, of imagination, of independent will and of conscience. Let us use them for our enlightenment, empowerment, for our awakening, for inner peace and for peaceful coexistence with others.

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  1. nderitukingori October 13, 2018 at 12:04 am

    Excellent article. Mental health is critical.
    I’d love to invite you as a guest for #RCKU to talk about it

    1. sharpbea October 13, 2018 at 8:25 am

      Thank you King. Yes I would love to talk about it. There is need for the talk and more awareness.

  2. RV October 13, 2018 at 2:39 am

    A very good peice. Mental health is quite an issue and we need to support one another.

    1. sharpbea October 13, 2018 at 8:26 am

      Very true. Thank you for reading RV

  3. RV October 13, 2018 at 2:39 am

    A very good peice. Mental health is quite an issue and we need to support one another.

  4. Choge October 13, 2018 at 1:30 pm

    Nice one Brenda sharp, encouraging

  5. Partiony October 13, 2018 at 7:02 pm

    nice piece Brenda, expectations vs reality

  6. JACKIE October 15, 2018 at 5:47 am


    1. sharpbea October 15, 2018 at 6:51 am

      Thanks my namesake.


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