I was not sick but I knew something was not right, I knew I was stressed. Several things in my life were not working out as I had intended and I was upset and distressed. My neighbor was a medical nurse, so her declaration that I was not well sent alarm bells.
I had a case of very bad sinus for many years but this had got very bad in the last few days. Mombasa is very hot and so most offices are air conditioned, that did not favor me at all yet the outside was again unfavorable due to the heat. The only place I enjoyed most was the beach, the ocean breeze amidst the coastal heat and walking in the sand was very therapeutic. The beach soothed my mind and soul. I always felt carefree just walking in the sand and water and I would walk for long distances and feel great. Immediately I got back from the beach a new life that wasn’t so thrilling would become my life.
I dreaded night time as I wondered why I couldn’t sleep for days. When I did sleep, it’s like I would be semi asleep. I would get out of bed in the morning, shower, dress and go to work.
As days went by, sleep eluded me more and the morning ritual became more dreadful. I would crawl out of bed, shower, crawl back to bed, rest awhile, then crawl out of bed, oil myself, dress and lie down again fully dressed. After a while I would leave the bed, and leave for work.
All this time, the sinus got worse, and eventually my chest got whizzy. I self-medicated on celestamine the anti-histamine tablets but with very little improvement. My neighbor got concerned and they would be shocked that celestamine had no effect on me.
Sinus causes blockage of the airwaves, so the brain doesn’t get sufficient air which can lead to tiredness. By this time, I would say I had insomnia, I could not sleep and the morning ritual got worse.
I bought lucozade an energy drink. I would get out of bed, shower, crawl back to bed, rest awhile, crawl out, dress , take a glass of lucozade, dash out of the house and drive to work. What I don’t understand now, is how I could work till late in the evening, I believe it took me longer to do things. Then I would go home, switch on the telly and stare at it, avoid phone calls as I could not understand the conversations.
All the time my mind would turn over in my head all the things that were wrong in my life, there was nothing good in my life. The only light I saw was when my grandson was born. I was so happy I cried that God had allowed me to see a grandchild. He became my source of joy and I would miss just being a child. Things are so easy and simple. Someone takes care of you totally, you have no worry, no twisted perceptions. I would look at him and marvel at how God creates such wonderful people and then we are so busy messing up with them.
The period I stayed with my newborn grandson was the happiest and my neighbor had peace as finally I had company.
Eventually they had to leave .My life alone continued worse than before.
One day I went to a shop near where I worked, and felt darkness overwhelm me. I managed to sit down with goose bumps all over my body. I didn’t understand what had just happened but it was like I was about to black out and fall. A workmate found me, got concerned that I looked sick but I convinced her I was just tired a little and was waiting for service. So she left. That evening I was travelling to my village as we had scheduled a laying of the cross and a memorial service for my late dad. I had booked a flight to Nairobi, and then we would travel by road to my village the next day.
I requested a friend of mine to drop me at the airport. I went home after work to prepare for the trip but all I could do was lie on the bed, having done nothing. The next thing I heard was a knock on my door; it was time to get to the airport. I was so tired, I dragged myself to the bathroom, threw some clothes into a small bag and off we went to the airport, barely catching my flight.
Early the next morning, I linked up with my sister and we left for the village. On my way the nurse called me to emphasize on the need to see a doctor. I promised to do so. We had our function and travelled back to Nairobi the next day. I can’t fully explain it but I opted to stay in a hotel, which I believe was driven by my desire to be alone. I was to travel back to Mombasa that night but my heart was not in it.
That night I didn’t sleep and had my worst night, my mind danced but to the wrong rhythm. I had so many thoughts and the thoughts of that night were disheartening. I felt rejected at my work place, I felt I had failed as a mother, I had failed as a wife, and I had failed with my life totally. Everything in my life was just failure, failure, and failure.
As my thoughts were competing to list down my failures, I got a telephone call from our village pastor whom I had met during the memorial. He informed me he got my contacts from my mum. He was so impressed with my speech at the function. He then asked if I had published a book yet and I informed him I had not. He urged me to do so and mentor people. He told me that I had a gift of influencing people positively and I should not let it go to waste. I promised to work on it.
That call challenged my looser mentality at that point because in the midst of condemning me, someone I don’t know had seen something great in me that I knew all along was tucked away, not utilized. All night I was restless and for the first time I felt mental anguish as well as alone and helpless.
When I got out of bed that morning, I had aged drastically, I had no life, no energy, no desire to dress, I was beaten totally. Deep in my heart I knew if I didn’t get help, something was to give way. I took a cab and went to see a doctor.
In retrospect, I was very unhappy even though I seemed happy. I was very irritable most of the time but I had mastered a way of hiding it. I was angry but I would have sworn I never got angry. I had mustered the art of masking my feelings and expressions. One time my children had visited me during school holidays and noticed my forgetfulness. I forgot almost everything and would confuse their names, my eldest daughter commented during one of those confusing moments that if I didn’t do something about it , I would forget who they are by the time I turn age sixty. We laughed about it but I knew something was terribly wrong with me.
I had noticed that my trust for people kept declining and I didn’t trust anyone or anything said. I would avoid people as they were always harboring bad feelings about me, this was what I had concluded. I became suspicious of everyone.
As time went by the fear of death gripped me. I was afraid of dying as I slept, as I crossed the street, when driving or even in a flight. I tried to figure out why death had become so threatening and so prominent in my mind.
It is worth noting that I had indications something was wrong with me, but the strange thing was that I could only remember one symptom at a time. As it became clear something was not right, I started carrying a note book where I could note symptoms that I could share with the doctor so that my ailment could be diagnosed.
The week I travelled to attend dads memorial, I looked at the notebook and decided to google on the symptoms. They all pointed to severe depression which I rejected immediately. However on the day I took a cab to go to the doctors, I chose to see a psychiatrist which means that as my rational mind rejected my self-diagnosis, my subconscious mind recognized that my sickness was mental.
The Doctor was not in when I arrived. I was advised to come back later as he would take three hours before he started off. I opted to sit and wait, I knew if I left I would not come back and my life would never be the same again.
The doctor finally came and soon it was my turn to see him. That’s the day total darkness engulfed my life.
The doctor inquired on why I had gone to see him, who had referred me to him. I told him I just went to him directly as I had seen him on TV and had attended a forum where he was a speaker. He encouraged me to speak after taking my family history. That is when I broke down. I cried buckets of tears while he patiently waited for my flood gate of tears to end. It was so refreshing to finally let go.
I asked the doctor why I had broken down yet I have been very strong all along. He explained it was because I felt safe at the doctors so I was able to let the burden go. I then talked and talked without holding back. I did some assessment quiz. Then he dropped the bombshell. I had severe depression and had to be hospitalized. I had never thought I needed to be hospitalized at all. Something was wrong but I wasn’t sick.
Just like that I had mental illness. How was it possible? Isn’t that a sickness for other people? My mind rumbled on and on. Then I told the doctor I wasn’t going to hospital at that point, I would go to hospital the next day. I needed time to come to terms with this illness and the idea of being in hospital. The next morning I checked in the hospital that became my home for the next one month.
The hardest part of being depressed began after diagnosis and commencement of treatment.
To be continued
Fay Days 249,248, 247,246