By the time you read this, it might be too late…
These are words we hope not to read from a loved one – a suicide note. This begs the need for more people to speak up about their struggle with depression, and even more to listen.

FAQs about people with depression

“Why would someone take their own life? I don’t get it.”

“I have bigger problems and I’m not pulling out my hair and crying a river.”

“Why can’t they just be happy?”
“I never knew he/she was depressed. What are the symptoms?”

Facts about depression

  • Depression is a common mental disorder.
  • Globally, more than 264 million people of all ages suffer from depression.
  • Depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease.
  • More women are affected by depression than men.
  • Depression can lead to suicide.
  • There are effective psychological and pharmacological treatments for moderate and severe depression. Hence, it is the most treatable of all mental illnesses.
  • It’s not always about who has the most problems.

In this part of the world, people who battle with depression are often seen as attention-seeking whimps, or, to lean towards the religious angle, not “prayerful enough” or possessed. As a result, it still remains a hushed matter leading to the routine of bottling up things and a showing-people-what-they-want-to-see attitude. We can change that narrative.

What is Healing Under Water?

Everyone deserves to be understood and not made to feel crazy for something they can’t control. To achieve this, we need a safer, less judgemental space for people to connect and heal. In essence, people who get it, and can point you towards recovery. ‘Healing Under Water’ as an event and movement is one of such. On the 21st of December, 2019, the first edition of this event took place here in Lagos, with poets and creatives in attendance; karaoke, spoken word and pure fun in a comfy, and lively environment? Yasss!

Depression and Healing Under Water

Guests at the event. See someone you know?

 

Seen “Suicide Note” yet? No? Watch the video first, because it was the driving force behind ‘Healing Under Water’. Relatable too, to a large extent.

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Finally, let’s hear from the brains behind this whole life-changing idea, Faith Moyosore Agboola and Emmanuel Jolayemi a.k.a. Kormbat.

 

SUSAN: Give us 3 fun facts about the creation stage of ‘Suicide Note’.

FAITH: One: It was ideated, recorded, shot and edited in less than 36 hours.
Two: The audio was recorded in a toilet.
Three: The pastor scene was shot by an 11 year old house help with Kormbat playing the pastor. The others were shot by each of us, alternating it according to who was in the scene.

SUSAN: What obstacles reared their ugly heads in the whole process, and how did they get chopped off?

KORMBAT: The obstacles we had were minimal. Healing Under Water felt like a mandate for Faith and I and we decided to complete it irrespective of any obstacle. We asked for volunteers using social media and the response was amazing. We got amazing venue partners, photographers, a videographer, a food sponsor and we just worked on finalizing all other plans for the project.

SUSAN: There’s usually a lot of cliche and unhelpful remarks directed at people struggling with depression in Africa. How do you think friends or family can better help those ‘under water’?

FAITH: I’ll give four tips that I feel strongly need to be addressed.
1. People are different and so trying to belittle their pain with comparison to others in worse situations actually does more harm than good—it basically invalidates their pain.
2. Depression is not always tears and talking about pain. Sometimes you need to read between the lines. Why are they no longer motivated? Why are they always lost in thoughts in hangouts? Why are they all of a sudden trying to be nice? It could a sign of an impending doom.
3. Just listen to them. Sometimes when people talk about their pain they don’t really want advice they just want someone to listen. And help them process their thoughts. Don’t interject them. Don’t counter argue. Don’t belittle them. Listen and try to respond from a place of understanding.
4. Sometimes everything can be going well and they are still sad. They aren’t looking for attention, it could biological. The medical term is clinical depression. You need to encourage them to see a professional psychologist. Treat it the same way you’ll treat malaria or typhoid. Please don’t make their pain feel like a burden. Don’t spiritualize it and tell them to go for deliverance. Depression is simply an illness that needs treatment.
There are so many more but these are the most common.

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Guests having fun

SUSAN: Someone out there is asking: “So, I missed this year’s event, will there be a next time”?

KORMBAT: ‘Healing Under Water’ isn’t a one-off project. In fact, it’s one of the many continuous projects Faith and I plan to do in 2020. Due to our personal experiences with mental health, emotional healing and choosing alternate career paths, we can emphatize with the average young Nigerian. We understand what they are going through and can help with the resources we have. Hence, we birthed Social Empaths NG: a foundation to help the needs of young Nigerians internally. You can check out our page @socialempathsng on Twitter and Instagram to see our ongoing projects or get first hand information about the next. And if you want to be a volunteer, partner or sponsor, please send us an email on: thesocialempaths@gmail.com

Faith and Kormbat, who are they?

Faith Moyosore Agboola (@afmstories) is a storyteller passionate about healing hearts, lifting minds and inspiring destinies. She is also the founder of The African Writers, an award winning platform dedicated to raising millennial African writers and positively impacting the literary space through creative projects and services.

Emmanuel Jolayemi (@kormbat) renowned as Kormbat is a creative, poet, activist and TEDx speaker passionate about using poetry and creative forms to enforce societal change. He has collaborated with diverse NGO’s like Eco Warriors, My Beautiful Mind NG, Yemi Adeyemi Foundation among others to work on impactful projects.

Faith and Kormbat

Susan Nwaobiala
Author: Susan Nwaobiala

Susan Nwaobiala is currently a year-three Literature major in the University of Ilorin, Kwara, Nigeria. She reviews books, writes contents for blogs, is interested in mental health, and likes to interact with people through her bedroom window.

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