Self Development

Opening Up About Sadness, Loneliness & Depression



by Jemimah Jatau

For most African societies, the only illness worth giving attention to are the biological ones, Malaria, Heart attack, Stroke, Typhoid, Fractures, Cancer, Auto immune disorders etc. Psychological/emotional illnesses are lumped up into “craze”, “madness”, “witch craft” etc. We are close minded about phobias, compulsions, grief, sadness, depression, anxiety, sociopathic tendencies and other such evolving ailment that are stealing many people’s happiness.

At religious meetings when people are asked to state their prayer requests, it is unlikely that you would hear anyone speak up about struggling with a heart break or feeling depressed because despite his attempts to get into a tertiary institution, it’s all proven abortive. In fact, most often than not, even in our own most private thoughts we do not admit to ourselves that we are going through spates of intense sadness or rage. We are hard on ourselves and so try to escape from it.

Some find respite in approaching it the generic way, hoping that all be well with them, that they excel, that they get a new job etc, because God forbid that they admit to themselves that such lack or loss is hurting badly and then try or seek help in letting go of the bitterness. This important prayer most of us skip.

We think, “oh no, there’s no way I will admit to being hurt, that is giving the devil a reason to cheer at my defeat”. Aren’t we being a bit too hard on ourselves? If it is okay to admit to your doctor that you feel a pain in your body, why is it hard to admit that your heart or soul is troubled?

The notion that we expect everyone to be strong always is what’s driving people crazy. Many people do not have the tools or the mental strength to handle stressful situations, but because it is expected of them to be tough, they hide behind a veil of perfect health when inside they are dying. For some it is the trappings of friends and society.

For those who seek respite in telling the world, while this tendency to over-share is definitely not the best route to go, if it gives you some peace then maybe you should attempt it but with the utmost caution. However, it will be advisable to find a confidant, speak to a spiritually mature person, see a therapist or find a group of like minds. This may go a long way.

Truth is, today happiness is a very tall order and so we are constantly in a struggle. Either to meet up with personally set goal posts or to build a façade that tells people how well put together we are, missing the point that we ought first to be kind to ourselves. We owe ourselves that much.


Writer: Jemimah Jatau blogs at

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