“He wasn’t depressed, he was possessed.”

I remember years back, reading a story about a young Zimbabwean man who committed suicide. He left a note explaining the depression that he was going through and didn’t know how to deal with. It turned out his parents ignored his plea and told him what he needed was an exorcism. He gave up, he took his life.

A year ago, my little sisters best friend committed suicide. She had been in school studying something she hated, she did for her parents. I assume she had tried to communicate and choose something she loved but she wasn’t heard. It weighed her down and she battled with depression until she couldn’t take it anymore. She overdosed herself and died.

Do you know what’s worse? That when our parents hear the term, ‘mental health, ‘ they think it’s about someone completely losing their mind and walking the streets naked. Yet that very term applies to them too because they have been depressed and have never known how to deal with it.

I know of someone who was in an abusive relationship at a very young age. When they finally ran to safety all safety did was throw her back into the world to sort her life out. Safety never said go to therapy or you need counseling. Safety said, you have a child now and you also have to live so live. The past is the past. Mental health, nowhere on the list.

Mental health is very important but not in the African home. In the African home, you must be strong. In the African home, tears are a sign of weakness. In the African home when they beat you down, you stand up and Voltron through life. And that’s it! A sad but true story.

I hope change comes. I hope we raise our children different and not carry the same toxic traits with us. I hope we learn to listen and to talk to our children. I hope we stop confusing fear for respect. I just hope I’m not the only one. CIAO!

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