“Congratulations my child! You made it!” These were the first words my mother told. I jumped for joy. I had finally made it to campus. I would pursue my dream course and later secure a job with a reputable company, I thought.
Back in high school, I struggled with mood swings and questioned my existence. Depression was an uncommon phrase in my life. It never hit my mind that I was depressed, I thought I was just stressed. Fast forward to campus, life was awesome for the first few months.
I went out, had mad fun, made new friends, experimented with alcohol. For my money, I thought this was the life, but circumstances would prove me wrong. I had a disagreement with my guardian over my behavior and he kicked me out of his home.
With no place to go, I’d keep my few belongings in my friend’s room and sleep in the common room. This is where depression started to resurface. For a while I criticized myself but the nagging thoughts were too much. I had to find a cure or some distraction. I resulted in alcohol and would take a shot before class, after class, and before bed.
Even though I’d forget my troubles for a while, they’d creep in once I was sober. I started drinking heavily and soon my bank account was empty. I made up stories to convince my guardian to send me money of which they worked for a few months until he discovered I was using the money for drinking.
Desperate, sad and confused, I withdrew and started missing classes. I’d stay in bed the whole day and thought about the hell I’d ever gone through. My childhood was a wreck as I suffered emotional abandonment and physical abuse. This continued through my high school years and I thought campus life would be different.
I never realized all the wounds I’d been hiding would show up at this time, and they were painful. I pushed people away and avoided anything that would result in a group setting. I skipped classes that demanded group discussions and if I had to, I rarely did the talking, in fact, I loved writing.
My classmates realized the change and some came to comfort and encourage me but others mocked me. Sometimes I’d question why I was born and the thoughts of suicide slowly started to blossom in my mind. I’d text my guardian just to know he still cared but my texts went unanswered. This was more painful.
Even though he paid the school fees, he had little time for me. He never cared to know about the hell I was going through. To him paying school fees was more than enough. Soon, I was a heavy drinker, borrowing money from friends to satisfy my alcohol cravings. I couldn’t keep up with the pain and I dropped out of campus.
This made things even worse, my friends, parents, and relatives scorned me. I was called a good for nothing person. I wish someone would have taken the time to ask why I had made such uninformed decisions but none bothered. My weakness was exposed and I became extra vulnerable to suicide.
You see, living with depression in campus is tough. Your peers think that this is the time to have fun but you are there lost in thought, questioning your existence, asking God why you cannot have fun as they are. The issue of mental health was overlooked on our campus and I realized that there was a counseling department, long after I had dropped out.
There’s no notable progress addressing mental health in our campuses. This is why students commit suicide while others drop out. We need structures in our institutions that lure students to seek guidance and counseling. If this was the case when I joined campus, at least I’d have graduated and secured a job.
Looking back, I wish I had stuck it out and shared my troubles with someone trustworthy. I wish I knew that life happens to all people both just and unjust, the difference is how we respond to circumstances.