Just like many typical lovebirds, Joyce had a special code name for her boyfriend. She called him ‘Air, My Air’. She wanted him to be everywhere, every time in her mind; so she put ‘Air’ as her screensaver. She saved him ‘Air’ in her contact list, in her mail list. She wanted to breathe his presence in the church, at home, in class and in the loo. She had created a need for him that no one else could quench like nothing else can replace air. Air’s numerous night and wake-up calls left a huge impression on her. She sat back reassured about his love for her, often times than she deemed necessary. Joyce was sure that the only way to survive, the only way to see tomorrow was to breathe air, and breathe she did.
They were about to go the way of lovers; of “…times of happiness and of sorrows, in times of health and sickness, till death do us part…” when tables turned. To Joyce, it was skipping a heartbeat. No more air!
“You’re going to be a mother…” the doctor had barely finished his recommendations when an instantly shocked Joyce interrupted.
“What!” she gasped. Silence.
She tried to catch a breath, but Air was lost in action.
Joyce went home that evening feeling broken, destitute and sickly hopeless. She went home a mother in waiting, with a special message for Air who, she hoped was a father in waiting.
That evening was the beginning of her battle with chronic depression.
“The evening after my visit to the doctor’s, I sent a text to him about the new developments,” Joyce says of a man she is not willing to remember his name. How things change! She adds, “He didn’t revert. He didn’t call to wish me goodnight. For a moment, his silence shocked me. I had no one to immediately talk to, partly because I had not started synthesising my shock leave alone recovering from it and partly because he had grown to take the space of my confidant and I had no other person to pour my heart to or to share with my shock.”
A newly admitted first year, her campus life had begun with what she acknowledged to be a low note. Joyce had just gotten her first boyfriend and before she knew it, she was pregnant and he was gone.
“The time responded to my text after I broke the news to him, he asked rudely, ‘’Unataka nifanye” what do you want me to do?’ a statement that left me cold and dumbfounded. For a very long time thereafter, I didn’t believe myself. I think I spent most of my now twice long nights doubting myself than I did trying to come to terms with my new reality,” Joyce, now a 3rd Year student in the school of education recalls of her dark days.
Labour of Love turns painfully sour!
Her friends would soon cut themselves off from her, or should I say they stepped back? Soon they’d start backbiting her. They pointed at her- the pregnant girl. That consumed Joyce and she withdrew. She started cherishing her lonely, thoughtful and withdrawn life. Painful as it was, her wordlessness was complemented with tears that bust from her heavy eyes without notice, from anywhere: in the lecture hall, in the office, along the academic highway… anywhere, her tears could fall down her fast-shrinking-once-chubby cheeks. She had since convinced herself that no one understood her, and she had settled at the thought that it was not even necessary for anyone to understand her yet. And she didn’t bother.
When one morning she couldn’t take the pressure anymore, she didn’t exactly know it. She felt feeble. She felt vulnerable and helpless. She was in the 3rd month of her pregnancy.
She had just closed the door to her room and had begun walking towards the gate for her lessons at school when she fell down with an astonishing thud that attracted her neighbours’ attention. She had collapsed.
After she had been attended to, she could not take care of herself. As it is, family is king. It is where you were accepted first when you came into this world. And so she could not sit on the reality that was haunting her and had gotten a toll on her, any further. Not while her mother was ready to drive her back home in Nairobi.
She had not smiled in months. Her mother discovered her withdrawal, unwillingness to communicate with others and her constant bust of tears. It raised a red flag and Joyce was booked to a psychotherapist, where she could visit three times in a month while taking antidepressants.
Her traumatising dreams began to reduce and she could afford a smile once in a while. Although specialized treatment for patients with depression was ungodly expensive, she treated, thanks to her well-off parents.
By the end of six therapeutic months with endless trips to the doctor’s, she was ready to go to the labour room, although her blood sugar levels and pressure had risen to abnormal levels.
“Looking back, I am grateful I wasn’t consumed by rage and depression was noted just before it pushed me to do odd things that I was gradually resorting to; for myself and my unborn baby then.
And yes, things might be tough now, but they’ll get better with time. The urge to quit was strong. I still do not believe that it is my thoughts that stretched to the point of meditating suicide. I thought that I did not need help. I’m forever grateful that I found assistance at the most critical moment. The best thing one can do is to speak up about what they’re are going through. You might feel like you’re all alone, but there is always someone willing to lend a helping hand.
So yes, speak up!”
Editor’s Note: Don’t go through depression alone. There are a couple of places you can get help. There is no shame in that.