If you are a GoWoman then you love you some Chimamanda and you are very excited to see what Lupita does with Americanah, having thoroughly enjoyed reading the book. You can’t wait. You probably have seen Half of a Yellow Sun and are likely to be happy you read the book first. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a legend for many of us. She is a feminist icon and a woman we love. When she talks, we listen because she almost always has something deeply meaningful to say. Today she took things a step further by letting us into her personal space. In a very open and honest article for The Guardian, she shares her struggle with depression. A great read and we love you even more for this Chimamanda. (Please see UPDATE below.)
Depression is a serious illness and like most illnesses, it doesn’t care about the colour of your skin, your bank account balance, your privileges or your social standing. But what is even more serious is the stigma it carries. The stigma that forces many to crack a smile while suffering in silence. In our African communities, depression is not something we are supposed to suffer from. We are tougher and we have thicker skin. Lies! We are grateful that someone like Chimamanda can chose to share her story and shed some light into an issue that affects us more than we would care to admit. And I hope that this will encourage us to review how we deal with mental health issues within our communities. We need to create an environment wherein people can seek help when they need it without the fear of stigma or abandonment.
It is in silence that you find torment, worry, confusion, doubt and danger. There are so many people walking around with half smiles, pretending to be okay, instead of getting help or leaning on a friend. One of the most painful things that can happen to anyone is for them to be surrounded by people yet still feel very much alone with no hand to hold and no one to confide in. That feeling of being insignificant, unloved and unworthy, as though you have outlived your purpose, is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. The statistics say that one in three people suffer from depression. So today we are thinking about all GoWomen who may be fighting silent battles. May you never stand alone. May you find yourself surrounded by loving people whom you can lean on. May you find in your social circles, people who understand you and will stand with you and hold your hand even in your darkest moments. And if you are lucky enough to find yourself in the remaining two, may you be a blessing to someone who needs you.
If you need some help, you may be able to get some from one of these organisations.
If you know of any other organisations that we can add to this list, please leave a comment below.
UPDATE: The Guardian has since deleted the article that I quoted excerpts from and initially replaced it with the following:
This article was deleted on 1 February 2015 because it was launched in error, without the permission of the author following a technical error. The Guardian apologises unreservedly to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
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As Editor I have been in two minds as to whether I should take the story down completely as a sign of courtesy and respect for Ms. Adichie or leave it. I have decided to remove the excerpts but leave the story because I do believe based on the social media response, that someone somewhere might find it helpful. As and when I discover them, I will be adding to the list of organisations offering support. Thank you.