Sunday 22 September 2013

Thought Picnic: Are those blanks signs of depression?

Much talk no hearing
A few Sundays ago, I was in church and whilst I appeared to go with the flow, when it came to the sermon, I did not get anything of what the pastor had to say.
In the multitude of words, I comprehended nothing, besides the fact that he was speaking English – my thinking could not connect with what he had to say.
Somewhere along the line, he did ask if we were getting something out of what he had to say, I probably was in a minority not knowing his preaching style to be sure of how it worked for others.
Present and absent
It reminded me of a number of episodes in my academic life when I appeared to be present in class but not present in mind or objective.
There was one instance where I do remember drawing a complete blank. On reflection, I was going through some sort of crisis but there was no one I could talk to about what my experiences were to be sure if I could get help.
Lost without help
My parents would never have understood it, my father being a brain-box just would not have appreciated that I was attending class and not getting it, he would have had me off to vocational classes with the usual excoriating remark redolent of my slow development and my slow responses probably connected to my premature birth – who can say?
My mother would have had me visiting prophets, seers and marabouts trying to ward off evil, real or imagined, besides drinking copious amounts of holy water, some so rancid that it sickened to the pit of my stomach.
The effects of depression
This rotten mental block persisted for about 3 years, and eventually lost me 5 years of tertiary education after secondary school. I would have tortuously recited an interminable number of times Psalms in Yoruba over bowls, buckets or cups of water – it made life less than fun to live in every dimension possible.
I am yet to understand what I really went through; depression comes to mind, something we Nigerians have yet not begun to understand in the slightest.
Ignored emotional needs
Yet, we are under constant pressure of competition and comparison, expected to perform because every other encumbrance has been removed as tuition, board, sustenance, provision and many other parental responsibilities that have been equated to love meeting emotional need.
It was a dark time of my life and in all; it took the best part of 10 years to realign my course not having understood but taking religion and kept a stoicism about things that they will all turn out right.
Understanding the rhythms
These cycles of darkness and light have come and gone through what has become my story. At times, I am so sure of what I need to do and at other times even what I am sure of doing does not seem to produce the results that once came without much exertion.
I have a constant process of assessment and re-evaluation going on, hoping a Eureka moment will dawn on me and with that, the answers to the puzzles of frustration I have long endured.
Thankfully, this Sunday, what the man spoke about was very clear, easy to understand and useful – I need to renew my thinking again.

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