I just took a piece of paper and bled. It is what all writers do, I know. But this one time I am bleeding from the darkest part of my soul that no one has yet explored. I know I am worried I might explode. I know I am worried that people’s opinions might outpour this tiny vessel of patience I have barely had to outsource. I know that I am hoping for ears that listen more than tongues that have perfected the art of criticism. I know. I know. I know. But forgive me if I do not bleed from what I know but rather from what I feel I do not know. Forgive me, then read on.
Enter what I do not know.
Well, contrary to all that I know, more is what I do not know. I do not know, for instance, who signed me up for this contract called life. I do not know what sort of consideration was paid to have me wake up to mental battles, dogfights and struggles. I do not know why the mind and heart are not in sync so that I can read right through the ghost geniuses (a name I have made up for counterfeits and parasites that are life’s constant). I do not know why my lovely sweet fries have to be bad for my health while those green tasteless leaves called veggies have to be the constant guests on my plate. I mean, why do vitamins have to be bitter?
See, this is what every human being does not know. Sorry if I have arbitrarily covered you with an ignorance blanket. It is quite cold in Nairobi. I digress. And for most of you who have accepted that they do not have to know, be involved or give it a thought, I applaud you. You are normal. Normal is good. But there is a minority whose mental environment is not complacent. The weight of the world is on their shoulders. The weight of their own inadequacies and misjudgement is on their backs and the weight of the unspoken is on their necks.
I will tell you a story, a story of mental incarceration. Have you ever had to sit down with your clouded mind and begged it for some sort of normalcy? Have you ever walked down the streets while vehemently engaging your hands and feet in a monologue? Have you ever tasted fifty capsules of Piriton hoping to end it all? Have you ever passed out from panic for absolutely the ‘minutest’ of life’s challenges? Have you taken grass for lunch yet and chased it down with a warm glass of anxiety? Well, a certain echo is coming from this paper reminding me that I am alone.
Well, I dare not glorify mental suffering or exonerate triumph over it. Nothing is quite magical about mental deterioration. But I beg to differ with those humans who call out people struggling with their mental health as attention seekers. I wonder why then they do not hesitate to post their cute photos on social media if attention is not what they are seeking. These so-called attention seekers need help! And so, if you ever needed help and had to hide behind caves seeking it, I will pose and ask: Where is your audacity?
I have sat right through several funerals and read pages of death and burial announcements but 22 years now, I have not heard any report of people dying from the opinions of others. Yet, I know lives that have been lost to opinions. Others have died of deep loneliness while others have bowed to their insecurities. But this is not reported hence it is not accepted. The pathologist will say that he died of cardiac arrest while indeed he had been wallowing in self-pity. It was only natural that his body and soul signed off thus and said, “Cardiac, arrest!”.
It is easier to post cute pictures of your vacation at the Coast than it is to show your pain. There is constantly a conflict between what you know and what you do not know and paying attention to the latter is what I call audacity. Audacity is speaking about the demons in your head when all of you is surrounded by angels. Audacity is daring to be authentic. I used to fear talking about it. Look, how do you even start? It is easier to call in and say that you are down with flu but to call in shamelessly and say you are in the middle of a panic attack? Ah! You kid me not.
So fellow humans, forgive me if what I do not know is that your loose tongue is more important than breath of life. I would rather not know. Forgive me if I amplify my mental health awareness voice a bit louder for the sceptics at the back. Forgive me if I create safe spaces in your mind which you had filled with loaded bags of stigma. Forgive me because I promised my guts, my ink and my attitude that before the beats of my heart wane as they do at the end of time, I will break the yoke of mental health stigma.
So ladies and gents, I invite you to shy away from the face of stigma. I invite you to look the other way when they show themselves naked with ignorance. I invite you to cheer on the courageous souls at the psychiatrists’ when you could easily write them off as mad. I invite you to be a mental health proactivist. There is barely any prerequisite for this title, absolutely no university degree that could scare your sceptical soul away. All you need is a passcode which I am happy to share. It is called THE AUDACITY.
This article was written by Magdaline Muhiu.