“I am here because I was not doing well mentally. Before I could not sleep, and sometimes I go out for a walk without any desire to return. Sometimes I spoke disorderly. But since I’m having the treatment, I’m fine… The centre has helped me with treatments. When I had no medication, it really bothered me. But now that I take it, I feel myself changing. I could not even work before treatment. Now I work well without problem from morning until evening.”
29 year old Lamboni Laré, a mechanic, lives with a mental health problem and attends Centre de Santé Mentale, in Dapaong, northern Togo.
It is the festive season, suicide rates increase during this season.
Lonely people feel more lonely because most people around them are spending time with their families and loved during the holiday.
Our mental well being, for many of us, is influenced by our self talk, by our goals, by the people we surround ourselves with.
A perfectly healthy person can work himself into a corner merely by worrying about things that are out of his control.
I have lost close people due to mental diseases, and depression.
I don’t take the topic of suicide lightly, if you have thought of doing it or know of someone who has attempted to do it, please send them this article or try reach out to them somehow.
Below are the realizations that I think will help. They certainly won’t work for everyone suffering from depression, but my hope is that they help some of you.
1. Call this number : 0800 12 13 14 or SMS 31393 [and they will call you back] . Have this number in your phone. It’s the South African Depression and Anxiety Group [website]. It’s available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in English and other official languages.
Sometimes, it just takes one conversation with one rational person to stop a horrible irrational decision.
If you are considering ending your life, please reach out to them.
If you are too embarrassed to admit that, “just to chat for a few minutes,” pretend you are killing time or testing different suicide hotlines for a directory you are compiling. Pretend you are doing research on the topic or something, whatever works, come up with an excuse to call them.
Speaking personally, I want to see the gifts you have to offer the world.
And speaking from personal experience of the hardships of life, believe me: this too shall pass, whatever it is.
2. Realise it would destroy other people’s lives. Killing yourself can spiritually kill other people.
Even if you are not the luckiest person on earth, to feel loved by other people, your siblings, kids, parents, young people you inspire from a distance, I think this is worth meditating on.
Your death is not perfectly isolated. It can destroy a lot, whether your family [who will blame themselves], other loved ones, or police who have to carry your body out of your house.
The guaranteed outcome of suicide is NOT things improving for you [or going blank], but creating a catastrophe for others.
Even if your intention is to get revenge through suicide, the damage won’t be limited to your targets, it will affect those you are not revenging on.
3. There is no guarantee that killing yourself improves things.
In a tragically comic way, this was a depressing realisation when you consider blowing your head off or gassing yourself or getting run over.
Damnation! No guarantees. Death and taxes, yes, but not a breezy afterlife, we don’t know that for a fact.
4. If you don’t care about yourself, make it about other people.
Make a promise you cannot break to someone you truly care about that you will seek help, at the very least realise this: killing yourself will destroy other people’s lives.
Practical day-to-day routines and tips
Now, let’s talk about the day-to-day tactics.
We all have mood swings, for some their swings are extremes and for others not, we also go through rough and difficult patches and seasons in our lives, divorce, failure, business bankruptcy, mounting debt, death of a loved one etc.
The fact of the matter is this: If you are driven, an entrepreneur, a type-A personality, or a hundred other things, mood swings are part of your genetic hardwiring.
It is a blessing and a curse.
Below are a number of habits and routines that help me.
They might seem simplistic, but they keep me from careening too far off the tracks.
They are my defense against the abyss. They might help you find your own, or use them as a starting point.
Here are some of my coping mechanisms for making it through the day:
1] Wake up at least 1 hour before you have to be at a computer screen. E-mail and social media first thing in the morning is the mind killer.
2] Make a cup of tea and sit down with a pen/pencil and paper.
3] Write down the 3-5 things, and no more, that are making you most anxious or uncomfortable. They are often things that have been punted from one day’s to-do list to the next, to the next, to the next, and so on.
4] For each item, ask yourself:
– “If this were the only thing I accomplished today, would I be satisfied with my day?”
– “Will moving this forward make all the other to-do’s unimportant or easier to knock off later?”
5] Look only at the items you have answered “yes” to for at least one of these questions.
6] Block out at 2-3 hours to focus on ONE of them for today. Let the rest of the urgent but less important stuff slide. It will still be there tomorrow.
7] TO BE CLEAR: Block out at 2-3 HOURS to focus on ONE of them for today. This is ONE BLOCK OF TIME. Scrambling together 10 minutes here and there to add up to 120 minutes does not work.
8] If you get distracted or start procrastinating, don’t panic and freak out and get into a downward spiral, just gently come back to your ONE to-do.
9] Physically MOVE for at least 20 minutes each day. Go for a long walk, lift weights, take a free online yoga class (YouTube), anything. Ideally, get outside.
10] Schedule at least one group dinner with friends per week. Get it on the calendar no later than 5pm on Monday. Ideal to have at least three people, but two is still great medicine.
11] Take a minute each day to call or email someone to express gratitude of some type. It can be a one-line text or a 5-second voicemail.
12] Cut down on social media, cleanse your mind, and your emotions from the clutter and noise of other people’s seemingly “perfect” lives.
Congratulations! That’s it.
Those are some of the rules I use, and they help steer the ship in the right direction.
Routines are the only way I can feel “successful” despite my never-ending impulse to procrastinate, hit snooze, nap, and otherwise waste my days with useless things.
If I have 10 “important” things to do in a day, I will feel overwhelmed, and it is 100% certain nothing important will get done that day.
On the other hand, if I can reduce my to-do-list to about 2-3 key things, I focus like a mad bull and get a it done and done well.
And when, despite your best efforts, you feel like you are losing at the game of life, never forget:
Even the best of the best feel this way sometimes.
When I’m in the pit of despair with new book projects, new curricula for LORA to write etc, I recall what iconic writer Kurt Vonnegut said about his process:
“When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth.”
Keep on writing, despite the circumstances.
Don’t overestimate the world and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think.
Tupac Shakur captures my thoughts very well in this poem:
You try to plant something in the conrete, you know what I mean?
If it GROW, and the and the rose petal got all kind of
Scratches and marks, you not going say, “Damn, look at
All the scratches and marks on the rose that grew from concrete”
You gon’ be like, “Damn! A rose grew from the concrete?!”
Same thing with me, you ‘what I mean? I grew out of all of this
Instead of saying, “Damn, he did this, he did this,”
Just be like, “DAMN! He grew out of that? He came out of that?”
That’s what they should say, y’knowhatImean?
All the trouble to survive and make good out of the dirty, nasty
Y’knowhahatImean unbelievable lifestyle they gave me
I’m just tryin to make somethin..
When no one even cared
The rose it grew from concrete
Keepin all these dreams
Provin nature’s laws wrong
It learned how to walk without havin feet
It came from concrete
Did you hear about the rose that grew from a crack in the concrete?
Provin nature’s laws wrong it learned how to walk without havin feet
Funny it seems but, by keepin its dreams
It, learned to breathe FRESH air
Long live the rose that grew from concrete
When no one else even cared
No one else even cared..
The rose that grew from concrete
Storm are not permanent.
If we let the storms pass and choose to reflect, we come out better than ever.
In the end, regardless of the messed up actions of others, we have to reach within ourselves and grow.
It is our responsibility to ourselves and just as critical to those who love and surround us.
You have gifts to share with the world.
You are not alone.
You are not flawed.
You are human.
And when the darkness comes, when you are fighting the demons, just remember: I’m right there fighting with you.
The gems I have found were forged in the struggle. Never ever give up.
Wish you life and life ever abundantly.
Long live to you and your dreams.
P.S. If you have tips that have helped you overcome or manage depression, please share in the comments below. I would love for this post to become a growing resource for people. I will also do my best to improve it over time. Thank you.
I also recommend this book: Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt. Here is my review of the book: Book Review: Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig
Here is one of my favourite TED Talks by Kevin Briggs talking about: The Bridge Between Suicide and Life: