THE VOICES IN MY HEAD.
“Depression, anxiety and panic attacks are not signs of weakness, they are signs of trying to remain strong for far too long!”
Mental health is a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being. Research from the World Health Organization has concluded that 1 in every 4 people in Kenya suffer from mental illness. These are scary statistics considering that Kenya has not yet adopted the necessary platforms and health care services for helping victims of mental illness conditions.
Hence the conception of Naked Souls.
Naked Souls is a Creative Lounge that was forged by Njeri Ndonga; a storyteller and mental health advocate, to give creatives a safe space where they can discuss their mental health journeys and build a community that promotes mental health wellness.
The event was hosted by Creatives Garage and was facilitated by Njeri, who was able to engage panelists; Liz Kilili (Creatives Garage Chief Mechanic) & Eric Otieno (Rixpoet; a mental health champion and the founder of Fatuma's Voice.) The two narrated their experiences on battling mental illness and how they were able to simultaneously thrive in their different creative vocations.
The discussion was intense and sensitive as we all hearkened to the touching stories of how both panelists suffered from depression and came close to near death experiences. Both had to fight the feeling of loneliness, dejection and dark thoughts from suffusing their minds. Fortunately, they were able to conquer the challenge through expressing themselves creatively through art, design and writing.
Both panelists expressed that writing acted as a gateway to freedom from depression. Eric uses his poetry and influence to initiate conversations around mental health, ensuring more people know about the problem and that a solution to the systemic challenges that make mental health a big challenge in our society can be found. Liz on the other hand, teamed up with a number of ladies and together, they came up with a good read called Femmolution. Femmolution is a book that contains songs and poems about love, loss & violence just to name a few topics. Liz was also inspired to design a shoe line that goes by the brand name ‘Shoejaa’.
Njeri, the facilitator, noted that creatives have the capacity to produce quality art when they are both at their best and at their worst.
“Your struggle is part of your story! Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.”
Both panelists encouraged people going through the same challenges to share their problems. Sharing helped them realize that they were not alone and it gave them hope that they too could reach out to someone in need of comfort. Another thing noted was that while suffering from depression and (or) anxiety, it is advisable to cut off all negative energy directed towards you and have a good supportive team that helps you speak up. Seeing a therapist is also recommended as professional mental health advice is beneficial in your healing journey.
“Don’t be ashamed of your story, it will inspire others!”
If you are suffering from mental illness, despite what you feel, you need to keep in mind that; you’ll have good days, bad days, overwhelming days, too tired days, I’m awesome days, I can’t go on days and every single day you’ll still show up because you are strong enough to! Fight for the will to live for where there’s a will, there’s a way.
To you who is lucky enough not to be experiencing mental illness, be kind to everyone. You don’t know what they are going through.
“We brush and floss twice a day but do nothing for our mental health.”
We all need to keep in mind that; mental health is as important as physical health.
BREAK THE STIGMA.
SHARE YOUR STORY.Piece by Louisa Gitau