JUNE: DEPRESSION AND ITS RELATIONS

If you have ever had a duel with depression (it does not matter who won - even though I think no one really wins with depression, she [ yes, I think she is a she, because only a female can be that intense] just recedes to the sidelines), then you would understand how comebacks are. Those brief periods when you believe it is going so well and gradually you realize how wrong you are, how not so well things are going.

A couple of weeks ago, I asked a question on my Whatsapp status. Does depression ever really go away? A friend replied, No. He added some sentences that made a lot of sense. Sentences that I resonated with.

If you have had duels with depression then you will understand. You never know when she schedules a rematch, but you know she's coming. You feel it before you see it. Her arrival is legendary. She does not come unprepared. She comes with guns blazing, knives brandished, grenades on the ready, arrows dipped in lethal poison. and then there's you. Going on with your life, moulded from the pieces left from your first encounter. Or at least there was just me.

I think I have a slight flair for dramatics which is why I cannot envision her in my duels. I think she is the embodiment of horror. The kind of horror that writers describe as beautiful. If you are a reader, you'll know what I'm talking about. When writers say, "it was horrifying, nightmarish in its essence. and yet in all that intensity she held us in awe. In that horror laid beauty, indescribable." (I am not saying depression is that enthralling though, quite the opposite actually). and so, since I cannot envision her, my brain pictures me in a sea. A sea with layers, like every other sea.

In my first duel, it felt like the main deal. Shipwreck kind of main deal. There was thrashing, flailing, monsters. This is the stage almost everyone is familiar with. Especially Nigerian youths. We know demons. We know monsters. To some, this is even home. They've been here so long, it has become familiar. And familiar becomes comfortable. But not to me, I hated that stage. I hated it mostly because of the bad days, which were very, very frequent. Bad days raised questions. Bad days made people ask me questions when all I really wanted to do was just keep quiet. Bad days left me exhausted. Exhausted made me anxious. Anxious made me tired. And tired made me cry. I hated every bit of that stage. I wanted so badly to be better. I wanted that sunlight and oxygen so badly.

Instead, I sank. I went below in my dramatic sea. To a place of quiet and nothing else. To a place of floatation. Because that was what it felt like. I was fine in a sense. There were no more tears. No anxiety. No exhaustion. Just quiet. This should have been good enough. But it was not. It is like knowing you are no longer bad, but knowing you are not good either. So it was no longer the essence of my being, it just remained in the shadows occasionally gnawing at the hem of my soul. Until June. When she came for a rematch.

This time, it was a rollercoaster of mixed feelings. I was supposed to be older and probably should have been able to handle it all better. But age was no factor. However, location was a factor and my current living arrangement too. The exhaustion was there. So was the anxiety and the tiredness. But the tears were an issue. You cannot cry in a room full of people without questions arising. And I hate questions. So my mood was deeply affected. There was no release, so there was anger in the mix too. And that made it bad. I did not want any form of association - physical or social media. Thinking about writing made me tired, so it was put aside. I had an end of the month deadline to meet that unnerved me. So when my laptop battery and keyboard spoilt, some dark nonsensical part of me was thrilled for the excuse. Reading too was burdensome. Everything I had to do and loved to do was in the dust.

But then, my mother says, when a killer approaches, a saviour would follow closely behind (well, it sounds cheesy in English; but it makes a lot of sense in my native language). And it proved true in my case, God sent me help - two wonderful people.

I have a three worded motto: Learn. Unlearn. Relearn. This motto also applied in that month. There was not a lot of learning though. But they helped me unlearn and relearn. There is a saying, the first step to solving a problem is knowing you have a problem. I have added, the second step is to want to solve the problem. This is the main thing I learnt. I already knew I had a problem, but it turned out I was not really doing anything active to solve my problem. Which is what I have decided to do - active effort in fighting her.

The essence of this writing is to just tell a story. I am no therapist. It is not to garner sympathy. It is to unfurl. It is part of my active effort. I accept that there will be bad days. But then it is necessary to have a support clan. People or a person who will be there to pull you out of whatever hole she tries to throw you into. Who will remind you of how valued you are. You need friends. True friends.

My name is Ose Andrea. I am a writer, aspiring to be a published novelist someday. I believe that reality is limited imagination.