Depression

What Happens When ‘They’ Have Faith in You


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After spending over three months without access to the internet, I can comfortably tell you that my life went on normally — sort of. I found out — among other things — the following:

1. My fear of failure easily leads me through a cycle : despair, then mild depression, then the search for the easiest exit.

In secondary school ( and even during my undergraduate years), I could do “mini-quits” — where I’d disappear from school from a couple of weeks, totally immerse myself in whatever new interest I’d had, then return for exams or catch-up with notes from my classmates.

Eh, good times.

Because I was smart enough to pass tests and major exams, no one noticed the momentary world I’d need to swathe myself through my moments of resistance.

This had always worked for me. Then I became productively accountable to another human — I got a job. What I found out with an employer ( who actually cares about you) is that you can’t climb into a self pity and stay home without showing up for work. You can’t carry a sad mane around the office and expect smiles and pats on the back. You can’t deliver sub-par work and expect cakes. Accountability demands and upgrade in dealing with self-inflicted despair. Which leads me to…

2. When you have people who expect much from you, you tend to do much.

“No expectations, no disappointment”– the popular maxim goes( I hope it’s not as popular as my brain thinks it is). This holds true for expectations in others — if you don’t expect much from anyone, you hardly get disappointed with anything that happens. You know, because you didn’t exactly root for or against his/her ability to achieve anything. This, my friend, is safe.

Too safe.

My boss expects a tonne from me. So do the members of my new family aka colleagues. I was navel gazing and licking my broken heart ( yep, doing it for the nth time), forgetting to see how much they’d invested in me. I almost irreversibly let them down.

The fact that you’re reading this means I didn’t. And that I have learnt more important things about love, life, work, family and friendships. Things like…

Real friends get worried when you quit too easily. They’re not afraid to tell you in your face.

Real friends don’t sugarcoat your laziness. They don’t make it a mean joke either.

Real mentors don’t babysit you. They show you the way. You have to walk it.

Weak ties are powerful. They could pay for your airplane ticket. But you’ll never know if you stay depressed in your room.

Business plans are important. Learn how to write one. It could save your life. Or fund it.

Same for life plans. “If you don’t know where goal post is, where do you shoot?” ( Somebody said that. I don’t remember who. 🙂 )

Resistance is real. Acknowledge it. Respect it. But do what you must.

You are responsible for how you handle your emotions. 

I now practice mindful meditation- I label my thoughts: “useless”, “useful”. I’ve stopped draining with replays of “useless” conversations in my mind.

If you think you don’t have friends, maybe you’re right. But maybe you aren’t a friend either.

 We all have 24 hours. You get to pick your family, gain weak ties and garner identity capital. It’s important to learn how to let go, how to be honest with ourselves.

Guilty as charged. 80% of previous paragraph comes from Dr. Meg Jay.

I have always rushed over my issues by writing every itty bitty tiny things that happens to me. Now I know better: everything takes time. Heartbreaks. Disappointment. Loss. 

Because we see our neighbours smiles and carry on doesn’t mean all is well. 

It’s better to stay on the road to recovery than to rush (with the mind) to the end. The whiplash may be lethal.

And love yourself. You’re worthy.


Tchassa Kamga lives in Buea, Cameroon. This part of the country just got its internet reinstated! Previously, he’s had to travel a long distance to post. However, this was written in his pyjamas. At home. Under myopic influence.

He’s learning the intricacies of curating events and documenting them at the fine dining restaurant and cultural hub- IYA Buea. He has three episodes on his podcast . He also takes blatant pictures on Instagram.

He co-writes with C. Befoune on this publication — Self-ish . Their goal is to share the lessons they’ve learnt from multiple sources in the domains of Self-improvement, Content Creation and Human Relationships.

Easily get him on Twitter.

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The Day I didn’t Want to Talk To Anyone

The Bimbia Slave Site Captured with my LG G4

I’m scared of the direction my life has been headed in the past couple of months. I dropped out from my graduate programme. I took my first real job working with a small (but impressive) team where we’re singlehandedly sculpting the cultural landscape of the country — the potential is huge.

My poetry collection sits in this same computer unpublished. I haven’t posted anything on the internet in weeks.

Oh, and I got dumped. I could tell you about how painful it was. Or what I wish I hadn’t said or done. Or the lessons I learned or how much I would miss her. Truth is, up until recently, I thought I had ‘survived’ this. I hadn’t. I may not. In fact, given my propensity towards extreme emotional engagement without building the initial required foundation upon which most long term relationships are built, I woke up a few mornings later and sobbed.

I cry when I watch emotive movies or read texts with similar properties. I cried when I received a surprise birthday cake for the first time with my name on it.

I still consider myself cold and unemotional. I’ve trained myself to not express surprise, fear or elation unexpectedly. Dealing with subtle forms of rejection in secondary school and during my first years in the Uni gave me that skill.

That morning, I sat up and prepared to head to work, I don’t remember the exact sequence of events that led to my sobs, but I felt a deep sense of loss, like my reason for existing had been stolen. I could not find words to describe what my mind didn’t comprehend. As I struggled to make sense of it, I muttered to myself in hope that words would soothe the excruciating feeling that boiled in my abdomen. It made no sense. Yet, the tears flowed. They were hot. Enough to make me stop. Enough to let off a little of the pressure from within. I’d never cried over a breakup before.

Great. One more item off my bucket list.

I washed my face and wore the adequate thespian features. Then I left home.

Because that wasn’t the day I couldn’t talk to anyone.


Last month, someone on twitter interviewed me for her dissertation. She said she’d come across my writing on the web and her work focused on black writers living on the continent. Another amazing writer said I was quite a talent. I felt important. This is not to say that I have a bad case of low self-esteem.

Because I do have a mild case of it.

I don’t think I am particularly handsome. It is for this reason that I feel very nervous in front of anyone’s camera.

I don’t think I am a good writer. I sometimes fear that I may die and never accomplish my dreams. Of course, you will tell me it is probably a legitimate fear that everyone has. Honey, I get you, but I am not everyone.

I am me. I’m scared.

I feel like a fraud. I try hard to hide it behind jokes, and smart talk ( boy, do I steal from books). Which is why it takes me a long time to trust anyone to open up and really get them to enter my world.

(Fun fact, you ( yes you reading this) probably know more about me from reading me on the internet that most people in my immediate surroundings. That’s how much of me I am able to hide from everyone around me)

On the other side of this deep fear of disappointing my inner self, I also have a sense of things I can do that no one else could. I play with words in ways that never seizes to amaze people around me. I speak two languages and I ( sort of sing). I am also sort of funny — when I’m not depressed.

As you can see.

I am very much in touch with the things I don’t like: I find it hard to do work that is algorithmic. I thrive with creative tasks. However, I have recently observed that even heuristic tasks if given constraints, offset my juices and literally- believe me when I tell you- render me totally incapable of making coherent sentences.

Yesterday, during a workshop, I had to create a story from a theme I absolutely hated. I think my brain died for the next half of the session. My ideas mortified instantaneously.

But, it wasn’t because I was scared of dying alone, unfulfilled and without dreams that I decided not to talk to anyone. I was because I had had enough and I was exhausted. For the first time in months, I’d reached the trough of my mild depression and I decided I didn’t want to do anything. Except this.


When I woke up that morning, everything was the same; the car horns through my window, the sun’s sly smile pouring through. My eyelids were heavy, but my stomach too.

“I could read a few pages before I go up there”, I thought to myself as I grabbed the Samsung tablet on the table.

A journey to the loo wiped the thoughts of another dive at the warm covers. It was my special moment with myself. While I did my business, I flipped to my ebook app, ‘Born Standing Up’ was open.

As much as I’d never paid attention to Steve Martin’s work as an entertainer, I noticed that his writing gave me insights into his life that would never leave me. I quietly continued my not so challenging multitasking ordeal.

8.15am

I knew because my phone alarm started ringing as soon as I got into the room. Steve was saying something about Nina Lawrence and her change of name. But I knew I couldn’t afford another sluggish read.

8.30am.

Fifteen minutes couldn’t have gone this fast. I knew something wasn’t right that morning the moment I started freezing during my workout. I wasn’t unlike the rushing antelopes away from forest fire deep in the country. Or the birds leaving the island before the volcano.

Even when I took the cab, my head moved with difficulty. My smile felt plastic. I could hear my voice. Even I didn’t believe my destination when I told the driver.

In a sudden rush, I wrote an email to my best friend in over 11 years. The network was shitty but I was grateful for Gmail’s HTML version . I told her what I was going to do. I know what I wrote in the email, but I couldn’t believe I was going to do it. When my phone rang and I saw my superior calling, I silenced the device and turned the screen face down.

I wasn’t in control anymore. That was when he told me what we were going to do that afternoon.
End of part one.


Tchassa Kamga lives in Buea, Cameroon. This part of the country hasn’t had internet in over two months. So, he’s had to travel a long distance to post this. He’s learning the intricacies of curating events and documenting them at the fine dining restaurant and cultural hub- IYA Buea. He has three episodes on his podcast . He also takes blatant pictures on Instagram.

He co-writes with C. Befoune on this publication — Self-ish . Their goal is to share the lessons they’ve learnt from multiple sources in the domains of Self-improvement, Content Creation and Human Relationships.

You can easily get him on Twitter.

The five steps I took to Beat Depression

Image (c) Flickr User: Hernanpc

Image (c) Flickr User: Hernanpc

No medical doctor has declared me clinically depressed. So, who am I to judge and label myself with such a serious and often painful condition?

I know what it feels like to be hopeless. To be frightened by the unknown future and the sick feeling that nothing you have ever done matters to anyone. The sudden feeling that the world sucks and that the only thing to do is sit in your corner for as long as possible. And avoid all human contact . Maybe this is mild for you. You might have heard of people who have had suicidal thoughts coupled with such feelings. A feeling that the world is against us and nothing but despair reeks out of the fabric of life.

I have felt that way. Not to the point of wanting to kill myself. But, to the level of neglecting my wellbeing for days.

So, you’re right. I have no idea what I am talking about. Who am I to be giving lessons on how to overcome feelings of despair? You have the right to ask like Will McCavoy in The Newsroom: “Are you somebody??”

Yes. I am somebody. I have felt sick in my stomach for reasons mostly explained by psychology and yes, I have been able (recently) to get off my state without medication.

I don’t know if I will be able to do so every time I get into the ‘dark room’. What I am writing here mostly is a reminder to the future me:

“Dude, we did this once. We beat this depression whatever thing. We can do it again. Here is how we did it the last time”.

In 2010 I was studying Medical Laboratory Sciences. I had  switched from Biochemistry. After taking my second semester results, August that year, I was utterly disappointed in myself. I sat home, watched TV and ate only when I really had to. I took no baths, spoke and left my room rarely. I didn’t answer phone calls. Even from my parents. For one week.

This behavior spooked the hell out of my father. He travelled overnight from Bafoussam to Buea just to discover that had totally over reacted.

I felt that way again two days ago and I wish someone would have told me what I found out yesterday. I monitored my steps as much as my melancholic state allow and here is what I got:

 

1. Watch someone/something you aspire to be/do/become.

Because I have been working on preparing a promo of a new radio programme titled: “Meet the entrepreneurs”, I have been stocking quite a lot of TED talks and videos from personalities like James Altucher, Sir Richard Branson, Dave McClure, Rebecca Enonchong etc. Home, in my dingy hostel room, I forcefully double-clicked on  a montage of snippets from Will Smith’s interviews.

“I love living…I think that is infectious”  –Will  Smith.

Watch the video for yourself and see if you can grab a few recurrent themes from books like: ‘The Alchemist’ by Paolo Coelho and ‘Think and Grow Rich’ By Napoleon Hill.

What I realized, is that when I am sad or depressed, I am essentially scared of everything. Life. The future. Living. Failure. Even success. I am just scared and I want to roll into a ball of energy and just disappear. Inspirational videos with people you believe in or look up to just have a way of pulling you back to ‘the now’. They make me realize: they’ve done this, I can too! There is no time to wallow in this dark pit of soulless tar. I need to wake up! Call a friend, your spouse, your mentor, and/or your parents. Listen to a trustworthy speaker. Read spiritual text.

Feel your heart leap out to bask in the wisdom of the universe and realize your journey is not complete.

 

 2. Write ideas down.

After watching a couple of videos, I was still laying in my stinking, sinking ship. I decided to do two lists: What are the 25 skills I need to acquire? (Outrageous right? I know!) And Businesses I want to start. (Yep. What can I say? I am a born dreamer).

I did not complete the lists. I wrote 5 items on one then 6 on the other. However, what I noticed what that I started thinking. Focusing. What are the next steps? What skill in really important? What next? I was no longer feeling ‘doomed’ but rather starting my time-travelling machine. Not a very good habit either, but far better than wallowing in self-pity. I can handle a burst of enthusiasm. Isn’t that what we all need?

James says you need to write 10 ideas every day. He walks with a waiter’s pad and does that every, single, day. According to him, the idea muscle atrophies when it isn’t exercised every two days at least. And, after six month of daily  practice, you become an idea machine. *clears throat* Let’s just say I am an ‘idea knob’ right now and that putting down those 6 and 5 items flexed the muscle a little.

Pick up a pen and a paper and PHYSICALLY  right down ideas. Ten ways to cry. Ten ways to use the color blue. Whatever comes to your mind; just flex the muscle and watch it stretch out. It is painful, but we both know for a muscle to grow, pain is required. No pain, no gain. (Now you know why I don’t go to the gym).

 

 3. Take a bath

This sounds like a no-brainer. But, I had to will myself into the bathroom and, felt much better afterwards. Try it. A cold one if you can. If feeling bad is your unrequited mental state, a shower might be all you need to remind you there are other feelings associated with living. Not just melancholy. Plus, you get to visit the loo and smell nice. Totally worth it.

 

 4. Talk to people who respect/love/believe in /admire YOU.

When I was writing my list down, my sister called. We’d not spoken to each other for a couple of months now since she is in boarding school. I had to fake my happiness. Don’t get me wrong. I was happy to talk to talk with her but, if I did not heighten my sense of happiness so as to let if show in my voice, I know she would have sensed it.

When someone believes in or admires me, I feel the desire to keep that promise. I can’t seem weak in front of my sister. I can’t afford to be sad after all this time we’d not spoken to each other. So, I fake my joy. The call did not last more than a minute.

As soon as she dropped, I looked around my room and started packing up. This nonsense had to end.

Fake it until you become it. Period.

 

 5. Take action buddy!

Get up! Get out! Live! Breathe! By the time I was done writing lists and watching videos, I packed my room and took a bath. Then, wrote my radio script for a programme I was to present that same evening. De-depressed Kamga was back!

I believe we all have a purpose. We all have a choice on how we live our lives and whether we achieve our dreams or not is entirely up to each and every one of us. Depression is just one of the many obstacles we face. For some people, it is worse than for others. The end is sometimes fatal. This post could seem like an insult to others.

But, I will end with what I know to be true. It is a quote from Confucius, I stole from Will Smith:

“The man who thinks he is can, and the man who thinks he can’t are both right”.

I think I can break the chains of  depression  with these five steps. What do you think?

Depression is real.

(c) Flickr User: surrealisticsoother

(c) Flickr User: surrealisticsoother

This will be my shortest post so far.

For the past 48 hours, I’ve been depressed. I wrote a pretty sad rant on my computer-the kind you write and then hope no one reads. I haven’t reread it yet. It’s really depressing.

4 hours after the rant and I am at the radio presenting a health programme with honest enthusiasm.
How was I able to switch so fast?
I monitored the steps. This, unfortunately, is not the post where you find out about those steps. It’s the next.
I believe my upcoming post will help many who like me ( or even worse) sometimes feel this sense of helplessness, sadness and utter hopelessness. I once wrote on  how to solve it and  I thought I had conquered it.

I felt it again two days ago. And it sucked. Depression is real.

So is the path out of it.

Friendship 101 ( or solving depression)

From http://www.digitaltrends.com/music/best-songs-friendship/

I love you too!

I am lazy. I admit. I wrote this post a few weeks ago and I think this is the right time to post it. I just heard some disturbing news. Still reeling from it. We’ll talk about that later. For now…
I don’t feel too well today. It’s not malaria. I hope. I just wish I could talk to someone. I have one person in mind actually. He’s just pretty far and a phone call won’t do. It is during these kinds of times that my desire( or is it stubborn lust?) for a girlfriend exacerbates. I want my friend. In fact, I want him to buy me food and bring home because for the whole damn day I have been sitting on the same spot and watching movies.

I think I am depressed. Well, I have had bipolar symptoms for a while but some days, it gets worse. Some days I wake, and I feel this wonderful energy. Like I can do anything I set my mind to. The world is so bright. Full of potential.
And, some days, like today, I just want a hug and a friend.
A hug from a friend. A hug and an ear, someone who gets that I am not mad with the world. That I am just scared of the future and that I just need to listen to my soul.
No man is an island. I have a nasty temperament sometimes. I get rude, impolite and even harsh. It is as though I am constantly in puberty. I think I have been this way for a while.
Then again I am usually wrong about many things.
My parents love me. I am extremely lucky to have parents who would literally do anything for me.
Truly.
They would kill themselves if that would make me happy.
It is invigorating and sometimes saddening because they would go to the ends of the earth to do what they deem best for me and my future.
But, who knows the future? Who knows one’s true calling?
No one.  Only God I presume.
So, it is quite scary when I think of the they fact that they would spend all their savings to make sure I get a good education with the underlying hope that the education would secure a future for me and my family.
Shit.
I am scared. What if they are wrong? What if this degree is not the right one?
But…worse…what if I am wrong??
What if they are totally correct , endowed with the wisdom and foresight of age and me with my puny 25 years of existence jeopardizes all their sacrifice because ‘what I am doing doesn’t feel right’?
I am scared. Everyday.
I run. Hide. Laugh and make jokes just to ease the fear but every once in a while, when the effects wear off, the question marks pop right in.
And, in these quiet retreats when I retract from human interactions, I need a mirror.
A friend.
Someone to help me figure things out. Who isn’t scared I would be angry at the truth. Who would ask the right questions because he or she knows they would help me figure shit out.
I miss my buddy. He is the only friend who gets me.
As much as I want to have a best friend I could kiss( a.k.a girlfriend), I am very deeply grateful to have my buddy.
Sometimes, I don’t even think I deserve him. He is the smartest human I know.
Apart from me of course.  🙂
He’s funny, cool, outstanding, totally gets my jokes and I could call him at 3 a.m. knowing he would pick even though I know he spent the whole day treating patients at the hospital.
Maybe these thoughts are a reminder. That to earn such a friend, I need to be a friend myself. That I owe humanity the sum of the people I have met in my life.
My mom, dad, and my friend.
I  won’t die for any of them.
Yet.
But I definitely know they have my back.
So while I return to my solitude and binge watching, I would like you to think of your family, friends or anyone who cares about you deeply.
Give them a call. Tell them they mean the world to you.
Mean it.
It helps sometimes.
It helped me today.
Thanks for being my friend Tsi.
And to all of you who know how much you mean to me. I am grateful.
Thank you for being you.