Stories on Depression: Suicide Is Not The Best Escape From Depression
Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact Mental Health Uganda at 0778 035 128 or 0701 748 185 or Call your closest friend, family member or search for Rehab centres in Uganda and get yourself admitted.
GOD is great, first and foremost!
Mental health can be someone’s ability to deal with life’s ups and downs. Every human being has issues; what seems minor to one person like misplacing a plate in boarding school, getting bullied at college, feeling humiliated by parents, flanking an academic test, losing shillings in sports betting or casinos, breaking up with a childhood lover, being mistreated by a stepmother, shattered plans to travel overseas, loneliness, failing to get attention from your family members, racial discrimination, unemployment or retrenchment from work, etc is a big deal to someone else. However, suicide is not the Best Escape from depression. Instead, it is a downward slide into the bottom of eternal Hell.
What we need are coping mechanisms. Either you find a solution for distress very fast or it eats you up night after night. Tears can heal the wounds in the heart, but you cannot cry all the time. You have to cultivate an alternative cushion for absorbing discomfort. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. If you have a problem, then just look up (oneway) to Heaven! Problems come and go; GOD helps.
The first attempted suicide I witnessed in my life was in the late 80s when a naked vagabond tried to bury himself with mud soil as it rained in the potato garden outside our Wilson Road fence in Jinja, Uganda. Some people came and took him away before he harmed himself. I saw the drama through the window and was only 5 years old. In the 90s, my parents moved to Spire Road and a Teso man named Ochorodo living in the corresponding apartment like ours on the East-side block locked himself in his room and consumed the black poisonous matter in dry cells. A back window was broken to get to his corpse; white liquid had foamed in his mouth. He used to host malwa parties in his home and smoked cigarettes; he probably committed suicide because his mother was dead. Also, a Rastafarian I admired drowned himself at the Source of the Nile where he would save people who fell in the Ripon Falls; his girlfriend had eloped with a Whiteman and left him heartbroken.
At some point in my Jinja life, I wanted to run away from home and become a streetkid because I hated beatings and castigation. My big brother who had moved with my dad to Bukoto in Kampala City actually ran away and slept at the Old Taxi Park because of issues at home. When we moved to Kyebando Kisalosalo in Kampala, I was 11 years old. Our oldest neighbour’s wife drowned herself in the river channel that cuts through Green Valley Kamwokya one early morning; I never found out why. Her neighbour downhill opposite Cleveland Hill School constructing a two storeyed guesthouse where we used to farm in the late 90s also committed suicide; I wondered why a wealthy person would want to die. Maybe money cannot solve some mental problems. Many people have committed suicide since the biblical Samson, King Saul and Judas Iscariot.
Famous suicides that shocked me include Kibwetere’s Kanungu Church in 2000, painter Vincent Van Gogh, Joan Gamper (founder of Barcelona FC) and Chester Bennington (lead vocalist of Linkin Park). Dennis Rodman almost shot himself with a gun in his lap inside his car around 1993 but dozed off and lived to join Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls for their second 3-peat.
A Ugandan Arsenal fan who had betted 500,000 UgX (about 250 US Dollars) killed himself after the Gunners lost 1-3 at home to Monaco in the 2015 UEFA Champions League Quarterfinal; heart-melting like they did to Manchester United in the 2009 Semifinal! A Lionel Messi fan in Kerala, India killed himself when Argentina lost its second game in the 2018 FIFA World Cup. If only he had lived to see his icon score in the next match and qualify to the knockouts plus win a record sixth Ballon d’Or in 2019, then life would go on.
Relatives ask why I withdrew physically from society unlike in the past even though I blog and draw cartoons for society, some even ask me if am depressed. Silence can be prudence, not just mental problems. Hearing voices can be telepathy; change of sleep patterns might mean being online after midnight.
Coronavirus made the social withdrawal uniform but mine is still a concern because am not yet married though am getting older and lack a job in town or places to frequent like before. Others suggested that I go for a mental checkup in an institution like the one next to Arua Hospital. Some think I no longer want to work for anybody because of unpaid jobs from the past decade. I used to be active in school as a Class Monitor, Headboy, sportsman, choir singer, Timekeeper and member of clubs, but nowadays I stay indoors for weeks. Truth is, I only go out when I really have to.
Secondly, I try too hard to be low-key. My father thought I would become a doctor or engineer because I loved reading. Meanwhile, mama thought I would become an MP or footballer after soccer made me famous and a captain in my previous neighbourhoods. Unfortunately, I gave up my football dreams because of canes in my first boarding school and focussed on reading books instead. I wouldn’t say I want to commit suicide after letting down my parents but I always try to resist depression when it attacks like a headache. I decided to use the time I have left on this Earth to do more Art (another talent I discovered) instead of roaming aimlessly. If you are looking for me, you can find me online! I’m a firm believer in GOD even though I have never seen JESUS, but I’ve met the Devil on Buganda Road (in KLA City), so I know I have an enemy lurking who is the Wolf, red man, dragon man and golden snake. He walks around like a lion looking for whom to rob, kill and destroy.
Depression is like a mental jail where the Devil and his demons lock you behind bars. It’s very dark inside depression; makes you feel at the bottom like a shoe: No money, no love, no hugs, no peace, no joy, no hope, no attention, no acceptance, no future, nara!
When I was jailed in 2005 for trespassing on Government property and resisting arrest, the Police in Kauga (Mukono) took away my belt and shirt so that I do not commit suicide, but I was not even thinking of killing myself. A workmate once asked me in 2012 if I wanted to die when I fractured two left toes during a farewell football game for a supervisor and I told her No; very pleasant women like her give me a reason to live despite all the excruciating pain on Earth. I did not make it to my dream university (Makerere) on government sponsorship even though I scored 18 points in Senior 6, felt betrayed by the system.
So, at Uganda Christian University (UCU) Mukono where my sister Christine applied for me in 2003, I revised feverishly during 1st semester, day and night like my life depended on it until I got a partial West Nile bursary for academic performance (300 US Dollars per semester for four semesters out of six); it was better than nothing. At least, I relieved my parents a bit and eased my memory of failure to get government sponsorship. In my 3rd month on Campus, I fell in love with a classmate some months older than me. I wanted to marry her: She smelt sweet and fresh, carried herself gracefully plus supported Arsenal FC from London like me. She was not my tribemate, am Lugbara and she is from the Rwenzori (which I later visited twice in 2008 and 2012) but I wanted her against all odds.
Some campusers called her my wife before she had even consented to my plan but 16 months later, we started growing apart. I used to go to her hostel room (My Wonderland) almost every week and wanted to give her everything I could get. However, after pocketing one of her photos stealthily, she called the deed my Waterloo in a note the next morning; I returned the photo before 4 PM – the deadline she gave me. The heart wants what it wants and instead of backing down, I procured a custom-made T-shirt gift she had asked from me before the miscalculated blunder – I thought I could draw her portrait as a surprise and return the photo before she found out but her roommate’s cousin on a night visit had snitched.
When I took the gift she asked for in a white box with her name calligraphed on top by me as penance a week later, she rejected it and coldly assured me that she “will get everything” I want to give her “from another man”. I started imagining that maybe she only wanted a man who can afford a RAV4, not just a T-shirt. That night, I ripped my obsession with her out of my heart and searched for love in other arms; I did not kill myself. She used to respect my intelligence but then started to “despise” it. Her snub was welcome, that’s how much I respected her; I did not intend to rob nor hurt her. I had requested for her photo many weeks behind but she lied that she does not take photos.
Some years later, she apologised for acting like a “bitch”, her own words not mine, and treating me the way she did; of course I had already forgiven her but she was no longer my “Sweetest Woman on Earth”. She invited me for her wedding to a stranger but I did not go; we still communicated via Yahoo Messenger and Facebook though. She’s the one who convinced me to join WhatsApp. I feel for people who commit suicide due to rejection or unrequited love: Good friends are many; when one dumps you, find another! I did not let my heartwreck in 2005 depress me, instead I used it as motivation to perform better academically than before in the remaining three semesters, something that made me the 2nd Best overall (though Top Male) in my 2006 Graduate Class of Mass Communication.
Jobs did not come easy and even the ones I got never made me rich like my parents might have wished but I keep on doing my Art. The pressure to earn millions makes you feel worthless when you do not get paid well despite working very hard and diligently. The first time I got fired from a job was in 2009. Sitting behind my office desk, I prayed to God for help and got a sudden phonecall before sunset linking me to one of my Top 5 career role models; I dashed out in two different taxis to meet him. After listening to his advice, I returned home in a traffic jam that lasted 30 minutes on Kira Road, enough time to marvel at GOD.
Philo, my Makerere College School Old Boy from Advanced Level (Class of 2002) hanged himself in May 2014 because of debts; the story was broadcast on Bukedde TV’s Agataliko Nfuufu. My cousin Drabo also hanged himself in Arua on 1st September 2016 because of unsatisfactory income; a Mukiga friend who knew a lot about me since 2001 including my romantic relationships joked that I would be next but I did not laugh.
Two years later, I got a dream that I had committed suicide, then woke up immediately to news about a namesake from South Sudan who had hanged himself during the night a few minutes away from where I was after his laptop was stolen from his Arua Campus hostel; I thank GOD am still here in 2020 dream surfing.
Throughout school, I cultivated a tough skin to buffer against abusive words because I know am not perfect but in 2010, an elder first cousin I honestly love called me “useless” just because I visited my blood sister who I follow by three years only twice in five days at International Hospital Kampala (Namuwongo) after she broke her left thighbone in Lira. I prayed for her healing at Victory City Church Ntinda one Sunday morning and took only 2 litres of Splash Pina Colada juice which she gave her visitors to drink in the evening; that’s all I could afford. LORD forgive me if I do not visit the sick enough.
The unexpected snipe from my cousin felt like a knife stab in the gut even though she was sitting two metres away from me. She is not the only person who has called me useless or lousy but I take the stabs and heal like Wolverine. One Sunday, my dad returned from Church which I attend sparingly – usually to take back GOD’s money (10 per cent) and found me sweeping at the entrance. When he rebuked me with the agony that I was not “important in society” because I withdrew from public activities, I felt spiritual strength leave my body and almost fainted.
Parents are like a representative of GOD on Earth but words cannot kill unless you let them. To avoid falling down dead because of shock and the guilt of causing his misery, I walked a few metres further inside to sit down on a plastic stool and recover. I have been abused harmlessly very many times but one thing I learnt from trash-talking is that: You either drown in the ocean of depression or sail on it like a cargo ship; Haste Forwarders! You are the captain and crew of your ship.
Strut in the open air, breathe-in fresh Oxygen from trees, work, be generous or kind to people, rest and drink water! If you are feeling suicidal and want to talk to someone, call or text 0781-345712! When pain attacks, go through it to the happier side! Suffer patiently! No matter how dark the night, the sun will rise again.
You can have peace in your mind during a storm. Count your blessings; they are more than the failures and poverty! Thank GOD for life, very many humans are already dead including Lazarus (the one JESUS resurrected), Gutenberg (printing press inventor), Marconi (radio), President Idi Amin plus your great a’bi [Translated from Lugbara: grandfather]!
Story by Anonymous
For immediate help
If you think you may attempt suicide, get help now:
- Call 0778 035 128 or 0701 748 185 immediately.
Every Friday, we share and talk about depression among young people! Share your story with us via firstname.lastname@example.org