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Stress, Depression and Anxiety- What Kenyans Are Battling During Lock-Down And COVID-19 Crisis

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Stress, Depression and Anxiety- What Kenyans Are Battling During Lock-Down And COVID-19 Crisis

Been awake since 2:00 AM. Throbbing headache, multiple thoughts, and introspective thinking. All signs of a stressed-out person. The same day I started rolling btw. It’s such a long night. I don’ wanna watch or listen to anything but somehow I need to drown the voices in my mind and silence them for a moment. I grab a cup of tea, sit on the bed, and start typing away.

I bet this is happening to most people rynnow, not only in my country but in the world over. This place they call earth is stressful btw. (to those yet to be born, don’t even think about coming here.) It’s during this pandemic that so much regression has happened. Faster than anyone could have thought. You wake up to being homeless, confused, and depressed. We’re ranging from young, dumb and broke to old, dumb, and broke. Age is the only difference we have now. Everyone is stressed out and worried about tomorrow. A tomorrow that is not promised. We walk the streets with masks as the only thing separating us from the virus and for most Kenyans, feigned ignorance. They say ignorance is bliss. I get it now. Sadly, we can’t unknow or unheard, and for some of us, inexperience

Everyone falls victim in one way or another but mostly, indirect. The lucky uninfected ones fall prey to lifestyle diseases. In a few years’ time, hypertension will kill faster than the virus itself. Depression and stress have become our today common cold. Mind you the normal pestilences that were ranked deadliest BC (before corona) are still with us, and even deadlier now that attention has shifted to one single issue, the epidemic. Reggae has finally stopped. Who thought that’s how it would stop? We’re battling with the spread of the virus globally and that is crucial. But wait a minute. Could it be that what we’re demeaning now is the iceberg under the water?

Walking around (which is highly discouraged or you’ll die) you see faces. Faces harboring emotions, emotions that can barely be hidden, a clear indication of exactly what is going on in the minds of many. (many here might mean all.) Ranked as the happiest country in East and Central Africa is my country Kenya. The creases on the foreheads of many can’t help but increase, the faces, downcast, smiles, faded. It’s gotten to a point of survival and trust me everyone is trying so hard. Some of us just can’t hold on any longer, some of us keep wondering till when, some have already despaired. Looking at the headlines, what you see are suicides, homicides, murders, and the stories behind them? Petty. Rynnow all it takes is a trigger, a slight finger on it and everyone goes rogue and wild. These are times when we realize how fragile humanity is or rather humaneness.

The economy is nose-diving and we’re all diving in to save it and in the process save ourselves and secure our tomorrow. Too much to the extent that we lose track of time, ourselves, our loved ones, the little we have at the moment, and those among us who are really struggling. How often do you see a sad face and ask the simple question “are you okay?” You don’t have to provide a solution and I know y’all asking why bother. makes sense. But coming to think of it. Is minding your own business worth it if it costs a life? A smile goes a long way. It may remind someone how it felt to be happy and if that is what it takes to keep them alive for another minute, hour, or day before things get better or they grow stronger, then be it.

Memes make me so happy, we all say. Let’s admit it. We have normalized hiding behind memes and statements such as “si ni life, bora uhai, we move regardless,” and the rest. How many of us move until they cannot move anymore? How many bora uhai through life until they have no uhai anymore? We have classmates, roommates, colleagues, relatives and friends who commit suicide every day. “(s)he was such a happy soul, funny, intelligent, whatever.” I’ll explain what was happening this whole time.

You walked next to a corpse, ate with one, had sleepovers with one, went for plots with one, laughed your souls’ ama ni hearts out with them and you were too busy hiding behind the “seek your own happiness” vibe to notice that they were already dead inside. You know suicide is not a thing where you wake up one morning and you’re like “I’m looking for an extreme sport to practice.” or “I want life to feel dangerous.” or “how about a rope to my neck for breakfast.” It’s gradual. You seek reasons to keep living and things to wake up to until they run out.

You get tired gradually until life becomes a burden, a script where you have to role-play. You put up an act until you can’t do it anymore and to many it comes as a surprise, a plot twist. They broke. That’s what happened and that’s why laughing and statements such as “najipenda” or “napenda maisha yangu” are not a solution even for yourself. Take care of that person seated next to you, make them feel accepted and loved and appreciated. Give those around you an environment where they can express themselves freely and be that listening ear to a troubled soul. If you can’t save lives at least don’t take them away in every aspect, I mean. (Body shaming, character assassinating, profiling) Don’t.

(Written and edited by Regina Wangari.)

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