I’ve tried writing about this one too many times and failed miserably at painting my biggest challenge to date with pretty words. The reality of my battle with depression is that it is not, has never and probably will never be easy. It’s a roller coaster of emotions including intense low periods of unhappiness and fits of tears.
The first signs of depression for me where evident when I first started university, it started off disguised as home sickness, then as a hate for the course I was studying at the time. However when I’d finally found my feet and was surrounded by amazing friends and still felt so low and alone, day in and day out I knew something was wrong.
I’ve always been the introvert quiet girl who avoids giving off or saying too much, but maintained being the go to girl for others when they needed advice with anything. It felt good to be the agony aunt helping to uplift and empower others to keep pushing forward . However being so introvert meant when I had problems of my own I never felt comfortable to turn to anyone for help.
I can now honestly say there is nothing worse than knowing you need help but not asking for it, because feeling alone when surrounded by people is not something I’d wish upon anyone. Depression was a word I heard used so loosely growing up and the negative connotation attached to it made me hate the thought of using it as a means of describing my own mental state. I reached an all time low in university where depression was the only thing that made sense of my situation. Lecture days became bed days because leaving my bed and the darkness of my room felt like a complete struggle. There was a point in 2nd year where everyday for a month straight I’d lock my self in my room after smiling and laughing with my friends and I’d just cry. Sometimes it would be because I was simply tired of feeling so unhappy and so low, other times it would be because I’d managed to convince myself that no one cares about me or I’d get myself so worked up and convince myself I was unworthy of being loved by anyone.
I lacked the motivation to do anything but in front of others I’d still smile and pretend everything was good. Then it got to exam time in 2nd year and the low I’d reached at that point was different, I felt like I needed my family around me. I had passed off my depression as home sicknesses. I remember writing a note fir my friends that I lived with at uni and leaving, only to get back home and not even want to be around my family. I felt empty and felt that I had no purpose.
The worse part of it all was feeling caged in, at university I lived with 5 of my friends each of which had great big personalities, and at home I was the 3rd youngest of 5 on my mum’s end and 3rd youngest of 10 on my dad’s end. So wherever I turned fitting in felt like a complete struggle. It became so difficult to live with my thoughts and not have anyone know, but at the same time I didn’t want my family to feel guilty for not knowing something was wrong or my friends to feel like they couldn’t turn to me anymore. It weird because I kind of found purpose in having people come to me when they needed help, it really made me feel needed and at the time that’s what kept me going.
I’ve always been the sort of person who finds joy in helping others and I guess at a time when my own thoughts seemed to be failing me, with the help of my friend Jaimeel Olivia I decided I’d use my voice and thoughts to help other people. She started up the Speak out spoken word society at the university of Birmingham, and with it came part of my recovery. I found the confidence to start writing and performing again. I even gave myself the stage name ‘FreeSpirit Ekundayo’ partly cause I longed to feel free mentally but also because my Nigeria name Ekundayo means “tears become joy” and I definitely needed to start believing that.
No one knows but in October 2015 I started counselling, I figured my mental health was far too important to be played with. That wasn’t the first time I’d had counselling session, I’d previously been referred to my school counsellor in sixthform after witnessing the murder of a friend at the funeral of a childhood friend. It’s crazy! It took finally deciding to deal with a great deal of my past that I didn’t know I was holding on to, to finally feel ok.