Witchcraft, bad luck, family curse, crazy fool…. and many more are the titles given to someone suffering from mental illness where I come from.
Well, mine started with a beautiful story where girl met boy, girl and boy fell in love, they moved in together, living a simple but comfortable life, they both had great jobs, loving families and friends. Long story short, girl (me) got pregnant with boy (my man); all looked great at the start UNTIL one day boy told me we could not be together because one, he was not ready for parenthood, two, he didn’t know how his family would react, three I was not the one apparently (B.S right? Hihihihi). And during this whole shocking time for me, he also had his ex-girlfriend “pregnant”, or so he thought. As much as I was hurting, I told myself, I will manage on my own if he bails on us, and since I had a job, money was the least of my worries. (I was very wrong).
When I was about 8 months pregnant, the N.G.O we both worked for closed office due to lack of funds and that meant we had to leave and return to Kampala to look for other jobs but remember I was 8 months pregnant, no one is going to hire a pregnant woman. Anyway, boy and I travel back to Kampala and I remember that was the longest drive I ever had with someone. I loved this man; you know the kind of love Romeo and Juliet had? But had he already broken me into pieces, I could not stay with him. So I lived with my brothers and he lived at his friend’s house with his pregnant ex. Months later, I had our baby and when I called to tell him the news, he was upcountry with his ex. They both traveled the next day and came to where I live to visit.
He didn’t pay any of my bills, I remember him telling me to borrow when I asked him for the hospital bills. Good thing, I had savings which catered for all my bills. However, as time went on, I could not afford any thing not even a pint of milk for our baby yet on the other side, boy was prepping for the birth of their “ daughter” in a fabulous way, posting every step on Facebook.
During this whole time, I couldn’t hold it anymore, I was broke, lonely, raising a baby on my own, no home yet my man was happily spending on someone else. He rented a beautiful apartment in one good neighborhood. He had made it in life! I started getting all these strange thoughts in my head; ‘What if I just commit suicide? Noo what If I kill myself and our baby instead?” I wrote suicide notes, and kept in my suitcase just in case it ever happened because nothing else mattered to me.
I stopped eating; yes I would only take a cup of tea in the morning not because I didn’t have appetite but because I wanted to starve to death. I lost so much weight, my friends stopped communicating with me for reasons I still don’t know, I didn’t see the life I ever wanted for me ever happening so clearly there was no need to live.
Oh I forgot to tell you, my man and his ex had their lovely daughter and again I saw all the pictures on Facebook and seeing the compliments they had from family, friends (some that I thought cared a little for me ) and from our ex colleagues made me realize no one actually cared about me from the start of our relationship. I was a living but dead I tell you. Have you ever been in love so deep that you drastically lost it and crashed you? This is a man I saw a future with, wanted many babies with and he totally left us for another girl.
My family, on the other hand was supportive, but as the months went by, I was turning out to be a burden to them, always whining, not eating, keeping myself away from everyone but they never really understood that I was in a terrible place. I would isolate my self a lot from those around me. I once hit my phone so hard on the wall and when I scattered all over the place I cried like a baby! I remember once wanting to walk out of the house and go jump in front of a moving trailer with my baby; the only thing that stopped me that day was that it rained cats and dogs until late.
I would call my man sometimes just to share some milestones of our baby but all he would say was “awwww”. And then he would have the audacity to tell me about “their” baby too! If he ever visited us, he would sit for less than 30 minutes then leave without leaving even Ugx1,000. I remember his mom and brother came to visit my baby and I but I guess when she saw me, she would not want her son next to a skinny miserable looking lady.
I was a very happy person, loved life but then I had turned into a let me say a zombie, I was not me anymore, my self esteem went from what 10 to -10, I never wanted to go out in public.
Two years down the read, our girl was to start school. I informed him about it and thank God he obliged and paid her full tuition after I insisted on the school.
On the other side, it turned out that their “daughter “was not his child yet that was the apple of his eye.
During all this time, I continued the search for jobs, it reached a point I just wanted to be some body’s house help so that at least I could get out of my brother’s house but even those opportunities were not available. It was too much for me; I felt chocked up in that house, with nowhere to go, no friends to hang out with, no money, no job, nothing! Whenever I was called for an interview, I would never be called for an offer, I also started to believe that I was cursed.
Again death thoughts started flooding my mind. The climax was this horrible day, where I walked to a pharmacy next door and bought sleeping pills and tried to over-doze on these. I wanted to die and I didn’t care about any one at that point not even my baby; I thought she would be okay without an angry, sad mother anyway. Just as we were about to go to bed, I passed out in front of my daughter and my brothers, and the next thing I remember, I was at the hospital bed with a psychiatrist and I overheard her tell my sister I need to visit a mental hospital.
“Oh god I am alive and they want me at a mental hospital? Noooo!”
I was taken home to relax a bit as I get counseling. I was crying all the time because I didn’t succeed in the suicide and here I was at the very place I was running away from, my baby all looking beautiful with her sweet chubby cheeks not knowing her mama just returned from hell. What hit me hard was when my baby asked what happened to me, why I fell on the floor that night, she also asked if I will fall again. That is when I realized I had to stop this self-pity, blame-game bullsh*t.
I started my job search again; my brother enrolled me back in school. At this point “my man” would come visit as usual with the same stories of he loves us but leaving nothing to show. However my anger towards him and feelings of sadness were not as intense as before; I didn’t really care much about what he did or did not do.
Nothing had changed by the way, I still had no job, no money, no friends, no house of my own but I had my baby, yes mine, and I had my siblings and my parents; what more could I want at that moment?
I started school; it wasn’t easy because I was not sure if that was what I wanted at that point. I was instead looking at getting a better job than what I had before our baby, my own house, get our baby to better school, dress well etc. All I wanted was to live an independent rich life and I was sure I would get there. Sometimes I would pray, sometimes I wouldn’t and as much as I knew God would make a way, I felt like he too had rejected me just like my man, my friends, my job, and my good life.
But deep down I knew that if I was to get where I wanted to, I should not give up, and whenever I felt pain in my heart, I would cry my self to sleep and ask the same God who put me in that situation to make me feel better in the morning; surprisingly he did. I would stay home with our baby, play, laugh the whole time, clean the house, watch cartoons all day and what I enjoyed most was seeing every milestone of that girl, and never will I trade those moments for anything in the world.
After almost 7 years since losing my first job, I got a job through LinkedIn from a stranger whom I had never heard of or spoken with before, no mutual friends, nothing! But like the bible says, God’s timing is the best. He used her to get me out of unemployment. Right now, I am soon graduating, my girl is at one of the best schools in town (baby daddy pays her tuition once in a while but my siblings did most of the time and now I can afford it on my own).
Oh, my man even got married and has 2 more babies. I still love him by the way because I share a special being with him but I feel better away from him. I moved to my own place too. Am not where I want but I know I will get there, and nothing I mean NOTHING will take me back to that dark place ever again.
Whenever I feel stressed, I pray a lot, I look back at my pictures and compare them with where I am today. My daughter is older now so we do all these goofy dances together, and when she notices am stressed, she will offer to make me ice-cream. She even promised to take me to Paris one day! She is doing so well in school.
The thing I appreciate about that phase in my life, it taught me to be an emotionally strong person. It taught me that nothing lasts forever, some days are good, some are bad but doesn’t mean you should cry foul when they are dark, I learned to appreciate God even more. I learned that as human beings, people will like you or not like you for no reason so don’t dwell on whatever someone does to you, when life gives you lemon please make the sweetest lemonade.
Challenges are here to taste our faith. Right now, I enjoy my life the way it comes. If you ever feel like giving up, taking your life, remember there are people out there who love you too much and will suffer a lot if you ever commit suicide.
Never feel ashamed of talking to someone about how you feel no matter how terrible you think it is. If you believe in God, pray and pray even if it is in silent mode, even if you cried already, do it again. God already knows a lot more than you think, and also it’s very okay to seek medical help.
NEVER EVER let your current situation create a monster in you or a wreck in you, people will judge, people will hate but don’t let them take away what you got for free (LIFE), you are better than that. Mental illness is just like any other illness, therefore seek help. It’s not witch craft, not a curse it’s a condition that can be addressed.
Note: The author of this article wishes to remain anonymous.