It is very ok to not be happy all the time.
I hear people say they wake up every morning with a conscious effort to be happy no matter what. While this is somewhat commendable, I do not associate with that league.
I think if you have to make a conscious effort to be happy, perhaps you are already border line, if not ‘crossed line’ depressed. Emotions of anger, sadness or grief are as normal as that of joy, pride or content. Both are to be expressed. So if you loose a dear one, it is ok to grieve. It is ok to cry for as long as it flows. No you don’t have to pull yourself together if you are not ready yet, and you don’t have to toughen up or “be a man”.
In secondary school I did quite well. I wasn’t the best student, but I always did well. Got a couple of prizes here and there and my teachers liked me. However, in my first year at University, I got my first F in a course that I really liked. It was also the year that I lost my mom. I was sad. EXTREMELY sad. Being a very private person, I didn’t tell many people about my mom’s passing. Infact we were graduating by the time some people in my class found out. I went for my mom’s funeral in the middle of exams and went back to school like nothing happened. In my class, only my dear friend till date Oyinkan knew. A few others in my hostel and church. God gives and God takes when he likes I was told, so I had to toughen up.
When my F’s began to pile up in semesters to come, especially in courses that were my forte, my worry grew. But again, my seniors said to toughen up.
“An F is too small a matter to be fussing over”, get over it they said.
So I did, or so I thought. I started to live in denial. I didn’t get an F, the professor gave me an F. So it was his problem, not mine. I started taking F’s with a pinch of salt. I didn’t care anymore. I’ll see a big red F before my name and say words like at least I’m still alive to be able to get F. I had learned to stay positive.
Apart from once, I never cried over my mom’s passing. In the months leading up to her death I had cried a few times mostly because I couldn’t do anything about the pain she was in. As a matter of fact on the morning she passed, at about the exact same time she passed, I dreamt that she died, but I didn’t cry. I prayed.
At her funeral we rejoiced and celebrated her life. That was the christian thing to do. Mourning was not allowed. So I went on with my normal life. By my third year, my normal life was one of retaking courses and having the hardest time of my life that I can remember till date. Having daily migraines and body pain. But I told myself I was alright. I was rock solid.
In all of these, I was NEVER a lay about. I studied freaking hard
Usually, around noon everyday, I often felt a bout of anxiety and sadness over my grades and my mom’s passing, but I was always quick to dismiss both feelings. Instead, I bounced quickly into this cheerful girl that I hardly recognised. I gave myself treats, I bought new shoes, redecorated my room space. I paid for a random person’s meal. I anchored many school events for free just because I felt I needed to be in a happy place, doing what I liked. I didn’t want to address the issue. I kept doing these things so I didn’t have to think about my many F’s. I was depressed and I didn’t even realise it.
Many times I wanted to die. I didn’t have the courage to slit my wrist or hang myself, so everyday I hoped for some calamity to befall me, to just slump and die or be hit by a car, so that I didn’t have to worry about F for another day. I was suicidal.
There was an Indian movie: 3 IDIOTS that was popular in school at the time. In the movie, one of the characters was so depressed because of his grades that he hung himself. And someone, while analysing the movie after watching said the character’s portrayal was unrealistic.
“It is not possible to be depressed that much, let alone kill yourself because of bad grades” she said.
So I started feeling like a looser, one who was capable only of unrealistic thoughts.
A lecturer asked me once to check myself cos he felt I was a bit off and I remember muttering to myself “I am alright in Jesus Name.”
I tried hard to suppress the evil thought of dying, but it didn’t go. I have always been skinny, so no one noticed I was skinnier. I wasn’t eating and I wasn’t sleeping either. I woke at the slightest noise and couldn’t sleep back.
I was a leader in my church, and I remember telling my friend Ayo that we needed to have more leader’s meeting than we had then. Truth is, I just needed an escape and those meetings provided it. No one who saw me would have ever imagined I had been thinking of death. How can a girl that anchored big school events want to die. How can a girl with all these nice shoes want to die. There was a little fire incident in my room once, and on one of the days I had this horrible bouts of emotions I wished the fire had escalated and something had happened to me. I was a mess. But I told no soul.
My new mom, who God blessed me with saved me. Literally. I always say that if I didn’t end up living with her in the years after my mom passed, I may have lost it completely. She emphasised inner peace more than anything else.
Healing for me began the day I decided it was ok to not be happy always. I quit using the christianise line; it is well. All was not well. I decided that if I failed, or if I was hurt I had every reason to grieve. I wouldn’t wallow in it but I wouldn’t live in denial. So one night, alone, in the middle of the night in my room, I mourned. I cried my eyes out and told God I was really sad he took my mom away. I told Him I blamed Him for all the F’s, that if my mom was still alive perhaps I would have had C’s atleast. It was the exact thing I was feeling and I let it out. I told Him he owed me, big time. Then I laughed. Till this day, I have never been able to describe the feeling of comfort I felt afterwards.
I decided that to be happy was more of how I felt and less of what was demanded of my feelings.
Thereafter, whenever I felt the need to cry, I did. If I needed time to be alone, I took it. If I didn’t feel like going out, I stayed in my room. If I wasn’t ok with something, I said NO. If I was, I said Yes. And if I wanted to go out to have a great time, I went whether any friend agreed to go or not. I no longer escaped into anyone’s world. I expressed genuine emotions whenever it hit me and that for me was happiness.
*Depression is not an oyinbo thing. It is real. It destroys your mental state and makes you who you are not.
*If you ever have bouts of anxiety, worry, sadness, or the wish to die, please speak to someone, you are not alone..
*In the same vein if someone tells you they are depressed, hold on on whipping up the let us pray line. Please ask them questions.
15 Comments Add yours
Ooh Tope,im at a cycle meeting in this grand hotel shedding tears.
You hit the nail like always on the head….
Depression is real,escape is the easiest way out…fear of going to hell after suicide has held some hands back….
People call you weird, bipolar,aggressive,harsh, some say you have ocd….
Healing is one hell of a journey,more painful than things where when you could bury your head in the sand
Thank you so much for sharing this. It’s annoying how people always say the “it is well” line. Sigh. It’s okay to be depressed, and several people in the bible were. Jeremiah was suicidal and extremely depressed. Elijah asked God to take his life. David has several psalms, which could literally pass for rants. Why then do we subject ourselves to unrealistic standards of happiness? I ask myself all the time. I sit through things I absolutely hate, and I smile even when I am literally about to explode inside. Then I feel bad about how bad I feel, and the cycle continues.
It takes a lot of courage to share what you have just shared. Thank you so much. So so much.
Tope I remember clearly how we first met, and when you told me your mum had passed(i think I must have inquired about your family). We became friends and after then I always wondered why you never made mention of your mum and memories you had of her. I expected you to at least talk about how much you missed her and all, but being the very careful person that I am, I refused to ask you anything. Reading this story, I could only wish I had shared some of my thoughts with you, maybe you would have felt better. But we thank God for his mercies, and bringing you out of depression. Thanks for sharing. Bless you…
PS: to those who have lost loved ones, I think it is totally okay to talk about them as often as you can, it will only make u stronger. Don’t bottle up your feelings..
My dear, you captured it excellently. A friend and I were discussing emotional and mental health just this afternoon. This is one of those things we ignore around here. I’m glad you overcame the depression. Keep on striving!! All the best dear
Temi tope. .. Just this morning Iike every other day, I wokeup wandering y God hasnt said somthing. Well I think he just did. I think am currently in that stage where suicide is a daily thought. Yes am tired of people telling me it’s well. IT’S NOT!!!! I have made mistakes, bad decisions, lost lifetime opportunities, things have happened, yes! But can the world just let me be angry and mourn? I am depressed, can they stop making it look like a terminal disease whilst pushing me into denial? I have prayed for miracles and yea it dnt happen the way I expected atleast not yet. But for some reason I read ur post (reading isn’t somthing I have done in a while) and yea I have tears in my eyes with a mix of emotions in my heart but I also do have this peace somwhere that someday everything is gonna be fine. Right? Thank you for writing tonight….
Funke. Thanks for your comment. Depression turns people into who they are not. Those suicidal thoughts are not you. Please speak up all the time. If society makes you feel odd just continue. Your peace is what you are aiming for, not what society demands from you. Healing is a process. Please be fine. The world needs you input. Love you lots
Tope, it’s so good for you to share these. Somehow our society has conditioned us to think that grieving is not permitted…some form of ‘taboo’ or that one isn’t strong enough. Like you said, to grieve or feel sad is as normal as to be happy or excited. The fact that most people who have had to grieve have had to bottle it up is what most times leads to depression. I have been a victim and really those were not my best days…having to tough up on the outside but dying on the inside. It’s been years…17 to be precise but the memory of a loved one never fades. Expressing the grief thou, goes a long way in the healing process. I know now that it’s okay to be sad, it’s okay to cry for someone or something lost without feeling ashamed, because sadness or tears are ways of expressing our emotions, which most times leads to our acceptance of the situation and eventually helps us to move on.
I think like you said, it’s very much important to admit to ourselves and possibly to our faith that we are actually depressed. Nonetheless, I’m persuaded that a positive mental attitude and sincerity to that fact is very much important in attaining that much needed recovery….that’s a brilliant and expository one….kudos
Nice piece tope…true talk..sowi bout ur mom..
Tope thank you so much for sharing this.
Very realistic write up. Yes, the bible is there to build up and strengthen our faith but not to make actors and actresses of us. We are supposed to face reality all the time and act correctly. If someone has just lost a loved one but start to smile or laugh and behave as if nothing has happened, the person is simply derailed. Nothing more. He needs urgent attention. Good write up, girl. Keep it up. More power to your elbow.
Reblogged this on Duchesstemi's Blog.
Wow. Awesome. Yes it’s possible to feel unhappy and overwhelmed even as a Christian woman. It’s the denial or unconsciously ignoring the feelings that cause harm and that’s what the devil uses. I can totally relate and healing came for me when I realized I needed help. And sure enough the Lord was close
Good Lord!That was really touching but it’s so true-it’s always Ok to let it out. I’ve always read your posts but I had to comment on this.