A few weeks ago, I was at the bank to pick up my debit (ATM) card. The ladies who handed it over to me told me I didn’t need to change my PIN and I could go ahead and use it immediately. I took their advice and returned to the supermarket where I was before I realized I didn’t have cash and had an expired card (that’s story for another day). Long story short, I got there, couldn’t use the card as transaction was declined several times. The Contact Center asked me to visit any of the bank ATM points and change my PIN. I got to one, joined a long queue and when eventually it got to my turn, I was told I had tried a wrong PIN the maximum number of times for one day! Can you beat that?
I nicely turned away and started walking towards my car, planning what I was going to say to the poor customer care executive that would pick my call. Before I could take the first few steps, a ‘gentleman’ called up to me and told me, ‘Madam, that’s not the way! You gave up too quickly. You should have tried again. ‘They’ asked you a question and instead of you to answer the ‘machine’ you got angry and left.’ See my life! There was I minding my business and trying to contain my anger with my bank and there was someone offering advice on a matter he didn’t know anything about. First of all, he must have been paying an unhealthy ‘close’ attention to my transaction and secondly, ‘what is his business?’ I actually stopped to ask him how he was so sure of what he was saying and he told me, ‘because I was watching you!’. My dears, I just turned and walked away. I just felt, I didn’t have the energy to add him to my list of issues for that day.
I got into my car and decided to call the Contact Center before leaving. Perhaps, they could come up with a miracle that would enable me still get cash from the ATM. In the middle of waiting for that call to be picked up, that ‘gentleman’ finished his business at the ATM and then made a beeline to my car, gestured for me to wind down. I still cannot understand what sort of jazz the guy used on me, because I actually wound down my window and then proceeded to listen to him lecturing me about what buttons to press in response to ATM prompts! Did I have moron written on my forehead?! When I’d had enough, I motioned for him to kindly go and lecture another poor soul!
Why am I whining about this now? It’s been weeks! I’m whining about it in the light of the event that happened a few days ago. A fellow Nigerian like you and I, for whatever reason took his life…and as is usual with us, we have taken on the role of judge and jury. We speak to matters we do not know, do not understand and have no inkling as to how they came to be. We talk authoritatively about these matters and don’t care to ask questions about whether our opinions are predicated on facts or fallacy. I didn’t see much sympathy or understanding from people. The first set of comments I saw pointed to the fact that his wife must have been ‘something’. It turns out the gentleman was not married! Then, there were insinuations that he must have been the quiet type, not sharing his thoughts with other people. It turns out the guy was not necessarily introverted. I haven’t seen the next set of theories!
Guys, let’s get this…mental health problems exist. They affect the seemingly normal and the not so normal. Being classified as one of the happiest people on earth does not make us immune the effects of depression and it certainly does not give us the right to judge people who are depressed, going through stuff or just going through life! Actually, it just doesn’t give you the right to judge and assume…like the gentleman that was giving me lectures without knowing nor understanding what my real problem was…not that it was his business, anyways!
And now, a refresher course on depression….
Depression is a mood disorder that is beyond the ordinary ups and downs experienced daily. It is a serious health concern. Some people have described depression as “living in a black hole” or having a feeling of impending doom. Can you imagine how that feels? Surprisingly though, some depressed people actually don’t feel sad at all—they may feel lifeless, empty, and apathetic; men are more likely to feel angry, aggressive, and restless.
Do you wonder how people get to this ‘black hole’ of depression? Here are some issues that can lead to depression:
- Conflict. The presence of conflict in any area of our lives could lead to depression,.
• Death or a loss of a loved one, naturally leads to grief and sadness. This however, increase the risk of depression.
• Genetics. Studies have not been able to conclusively show how this contributes to the disease, but a family history of depression may increase the risk.
• Major events. I’m sure we can all understand how losing a job or income, getting divorced, or retiring would lead to depression. But what do say when the opposite is the same? You would think that events like starting a new job, graduating, or getting married would make you excited and raring to go, yes? On the contrary, it could lead to depression.
• Other personal problems can lead to depression and they include, the feeling of social isolation for whatever reason
Depressed people usually lose interest in daily activities. They have no interest in former hobbies, pastimes, social activities, or sex. This person clearly loses the ability to feel joy and pleasure.
There is a bleak outlook on life. It appears that everything is bad, getting worse and will never get better. There is an increasing feeling of helplessness and hopelessness
There is a change in weight or appetite. This could be in either direction as a result of differing effects in people: it could lead to increased appetite and subsequent weight gain in some and reduction in appetite and subsequent weight loss in others.
Depression again affects different people differently here and thus could lead to inability to sleep or over-sleeping.
Tolerance level of depressed people is usually low and so they tend to snap at little issues, feel irritable, restless, angry and oftentimes, violent.
Unfortunately, it may not always be possible to prevent depression. But some strategies may be helpful.
• Know your personal risk of depression. If you have a family history, you are more at risk.
• Develop a strong social and spiritual support system. Join activities in clubs, churches, art centers etc.
• Exercise regularly and reduce your stress. If the latter is not readily viable, improve on your stress coping mechanisms.
• Get treatment for alcohol and drug abuse if this is a problem for you.
• Eat healthy and get the necessary amount of sleep daily (7 – 8 hours)
- Please see your doctor as soon as possible. There are medications for depression, depending on the findings of your doctor. Don’t be embarrassed to seek help.
If you do not have this problem but observe a friend going through this, please help. Provide a listening ear, do not be judgmental and help the person seek help too, where possible.
How else do you think you can help people dealing with depression? Grandmothers in Zimbabwe are using ‘friendship chairs’ to help people dealing with life’s issues. Read more about it here http://www.aljazeera.com/video/news/2017/03/grandmothers-fight-depression-zimbabwe-170314082121081.html
What can you do?
Have a good night, y’all 😀