Nyiko Maluleke
Nyiko Maluleke is a South African journalist whose blog focuses on mental health, resilience, and the power of sharing personal experiences.
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The Day I Decided To Do Something Different

How I Survived From Myself

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This is the day I decided to do something different, very different. In the sense that I will end up questioning this move I am about to undergo. 

However, it is worth it for my brothers and sisters out there who are still struggling with whether or not it is depression.

I am writing this without any fear of acknowledging that I was once depressed in my life, with that, I can tell you depression is real. Not because I was there, stuck in the hole for so long. Not because I saw some of my friends suffering. Not because I lost friends that opted to total their lives. Not because I failed my attempts. 

It is a great risk factor that if you are looking from the outside you can assume those people are putting themselves in a pitiful realm of self-loathing for nothing.

I had problems of my own.  I failed to cope at school (from which I am still recovering, partially) I would always, deliberately belittle other people. I failed to understand the depth of humanity nor the entire concept of humility. And as a result, I risked my happiness, my love life, and most importantly, my JOY.

At first, I thought it was a joke or I was going through the stage of self-discovery because of how I craved solitude. But little did I know, I was halfway through digging my own grave while still alive.

Like everyone who is depressed, I too was at the periphery of sanity. I told myself I was done with living and tried to make a very stupid move to eliminate myself from reality. 

I failed several times. My failures on these attempts last occurred in 2016. It was a shitty road and that was almost the end. But it became the end of a relationship. It became the end of the person I once was. 

After many attempts, I realized that I had been depressed and I was in denial about the entire situation. Knowing that if I had acknowledged it, it would have been futile—my pride would have stopped me.

Every single day was a day of terror for me. Reality disgusted me. I felt like I was only living to plummet and everything which I built was the outcome of my meltdown. I could not grasp what was happening to me. My life confused me even more. I lived trying to complete the puzzle of my life but it would never be complete. Depression had stolen my piece of completion—my happiness.

I hated human beings and everything about them. I never wanted to be with anyone. Darkness seemed lighter than light itself within my soul.

I was in denial for too long. But one day, I woke up and decided on how I was going to tackle it down for myself to be whole again. I started writing at least four to five times a day. It helped a bit.

As a result, this built a train of escapism. Anything that would work? I would start doing it more than usual. I would start choosing newer stuff than what I once knew. Sex? It would work. Alcohol? Became an addiction. Sports? I found escapism within quitting. And when you’re depressed? It’s about what works, at that time. 

I started going out a little but the consumption of alcohol only made me escape reality and I fell in love with that state of euphoria and I was in all over again.

I sometimes felt like I was making my bipolar disorder up although it was self-evident that I was suffering and I needed help. I thought writing and drinking were helping until I showed a friend my writings and he came to realize my drinking pattern. I was now naked, my secret was out. 

I was done questioning depression’s existence in me. He suggested seeing a shrink of which I did. It went well for the first few days and thereafter, I wished I could just die after the fourth week. 

During every session, I could just sit there and start picturing her naked and a whole lot of silly things only to be far away from reality. My answers to most of her questions were spontaneous; it was then she requested to see my mother. Guess what? I started being vague during every session.

It was abrasively folly that I saw lying as a way out of her involving my mother. I was scared that my mother was to learn that her son is depressed and the cause being personal? I would have tried killing myself again at the rate I was boiling and the pain was so palpable.

Eight weeks after attending the sessions, I was getting better and the mistake I made was to QUIT. It was a mistake and an advantage at the same time. I began spending most of my time with a friend who worked there. Serving as a radiographer working towards his Law degree. 

Talking to him was always like having a mirror before me. I said everything that I couldn’t say to anyone. Writing became more frequent but ensured that I discarded every piece and then; I was getting better but far from being happy.

I started doubting everything from time to time. I lost a great number of friends and I was only thankful that I was still alive. Depression is not a choice nor is it optional, it is spontaneous. You cannot choose to be depressed.

Side Note: Poor – rich, happy-sad, stupid—smart; it doesn’t matter, depression can hit you at any time. Neither of us is immune to it. It is such a shape-shifting trickster by nature, you are never certain how it looks and feels like. 

People must understand that it is impossible to truly remember the complexity of depression unless you’re deep within it.

Just like a thief holding you at gunpoint, you think the thief is going to kill but no, they just keep coming back and doing the same thing. Many people succumb and bend with the pressure and kill themselves unaware that the big bad thief has a gun with no ammunition.

Depression in itself is like a gun, it scares you but it will not do anything to you. It will force you to do things to yourself. 

Back then, I lacked knowledge of what the Lord can do for me, right now if I feel troubled. I kneel and start communicating with the Highest—the Creator and all my problems  become meaningless.

2 Cor 13:11 ’’Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.‘’ 

With that, I learned that even I cannot comprehend the value of life. Life alone is evident that I must live to be complete, being one, and with peace.

My Four Factors of Depression

Disclaimer: Obviously, this isn’t the Guinness World Records so don’t expect anything out of the ordinary. This is solely my experience and most of the things that come from here, are surely from my experiences. Depression is not a competition. The factors are different as humans. Herein are my top five takes

Fatigue 

During some of the episodes I faced, I would randomly get tired. I would do something utterly futile and I would get tired. This would eventually result in bodily pains. 

I would randomly have backaches and feel entirely sore. This wasn’t as a result of pumping 100 kg’s and probably doing 200kg’s on squats. This  was not as a result of my lack of sexual experience and probably my low body count. 

This was through my endless stressful nights that I would have to face the big bad thief, again and again, this mental exhaustion eventually became that of my physical. 

Overthinking 

Growing up watching a lot of Prison Break, I picked up that solitary is most probably what depression would be in a physical state. You have nothing but your recurring thoughts. You feed to nothing but your self-loathe. You feed yourself hatred. You never have positive thoughts therefore overthinking becomes your daily routine. 

Overthinking will centralize you in a drastic drop of your self-esteem. Everything you ever thought you are capable of, becomes history. It places you in a position that you do not trust people anymore, and worse, you become less of a human fan. 

I was battling with my mind. People felt the wrath. 

Lack Of Appetite

Oh em Gee, Nyiko—how do you lack appetite?

It probably sounds unreal. But there are days where you lack an appetite for everything. Whatever you would long for—Now becomes a demanding thing for yourself.

Food does not become something you enjoy. Sexual appetite drops drastically. You would go from having sex as though you are having a ribs buffet—to completely having an unstable boner when it was time to engage in sex. 

The way you used to see friends with friends? Completely changes. The changes won’t linger on the starting times. A process that takes place with time, efficiently. 

Duh? Due to a loss in appetite—you recently lost a shit load of weight and that is not because of dietary changes but because  of retrenchment. It was not because of eating less but—you were stuck in the internal depth of the realm.

Nightmares 

The aforementioned points do not only end there. Everything that occurs becomes an intertwined pattern of what you will suffer at night. When I first had nightmares: it was through overthinking. It was through the lack of appetite and mostly, It was through living in my head that I was never adequate as a being. 

Meaning, I was not adequate as a basketball player aside from all my accomplishments. I was not  good as a writer despite having blogged for 11 years and working with various niches. I doubted that I was ever good enough. 

Depression, anxiety, and panic attacks as I suffered nightmares became my everyday life.  To the point where I somewhat decided to cut my entire sleeping pattern to something I would rather live with.

I started sleeping less during the night and I would opt to sleep during the day. This messed up a lot of my functionality and I continued on the route I knew better—disliking myself through any chance I would get. 

Did I miss sleeping? F*ck yes, but there was not much of an option. It is not nice to sleep and wake up feeling bodily pains due to fighting panic attacks, fighting to be alive, fighting to stay afloat, and sadly—maybe, fighting to stay alive. 

Nyiko Maluleke
Nyiko Maluleke is a South African journalist whose blog focuses on mental health, resilience, and the power of sharing personal experiences.

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