MENTAL HEALTH IN THE WORK PLACE

I struggled a few years back with an 8-5 corporate job. I struggled to wake up and go to work and be motivated, my lows became so unbearable that I saw myself seeking sick days quite often.  My fear was my boss or colleagues knowing that I was in bad psychological state and judging me for it or worse getting in trouble for it or fired. I was afraid to say anything mainly because I did not know what to expect and I was not ready for the worst-case scenario.

My fear stemmed from the fact that mental health is not spoken about enough if at all in the work place. People are dying and suffering in silence because they are afraid to speak out and ask for help. The main reason is that for those that have been brave to speak out about their mental health, they have gotten rude and heartless replies such as, “those are white people illness,” “do you know how many people would kill for your job?” “We have deadlines you cant afford to ask for sick days,” and the list goes on.

With the kind of pressures that we face at work and in our personal lives it is a shock to me that companies especially big organizations do not have an in-house counselor or some sort of system that caters for mental health. People are being worked like dogs and their mental health does not matter? Its shocking that this isn’t a priority for most organizations to have an in-house counselor because what use is a unproductive work force? In-house counseling could increase productivity as well as motivation of staff especially because they will know that their mental health matters to their bosses.

I don’t know who is reading this, if you are an employee or a decision maker at your job, but I would strongly encourage you to care about your mental health at the work place and to do the right thing and put systems in place that help achieve good mental health at work and save lives. Allow your employees to be comfortable to tell you that there are not okay or to feel comfortable enough to disclose their mental health without being ridiculed. DO THE RIGHT THING!

NORMALIZING MENTAL HEALTH

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THERAPY

It takes your friends dying or your loved ones failed suicide attempt to get people talking about mental health in Zimbabwe? It took over 30 years for the country to begin to talk about mental health openly? It took a dip in the economy for people to realize that their mental health matters? It took your friend’s divorce or loss of a job to check up on them? We need to do better as people and as a nation, I urge you!

On todays radio show “MENTAL HEALTH WATCH,” we spoke about the importance of therapy (btw you can catch me on air speaking about mental health every Tuesday at 12:15 on www.HSTV.co.zw). Therapy is the treatment of a health problem by talking or psychological means usually following a diagnosis. Therapy is a treatment intended to relieve or heal a disorder. Therapy, also called psychotherapy or counseling is the process of meeting with a therapist to resolve problematic behaviours, beliefs, feelings or relationship issues.

Approaches to psychotherapy fall into five categories namely; behaviour therapy, psychoanalysis, cognitive therapy, humanistic therapy and lastly holistic therapy with cognitive therapy being the most popular form of therapy. There is no treatment that works for everyone so it is key to work closely, openly and seriously with a trained mental health professional so as to be able to find the best treatment for you, I sure did!

A lot of people are embarrassed or afraid to go to therapy because of the stigma that has been put around the idea of mental health and therapy. Im here to tell you that I have been there alone and with my family and it has been such a blessing and help. It has trained me and helped me to heal, think positively and manage my depression and avoid another attempted suicide.

I hope if you need any help or a friend close to you does that you consider going to therapy. Therapy saved my life; it brought me closer to my family and really helped me to understand my depression and how to manage it. Therapy also gave me back my confidence because the minute I was able to vent and open up about it, it allowed me to gain my power back and it also took a load off my shoulder.

Sadly therapy isn’t always cheap especially in Zimbabwe so it is key to do your research thoroughly because there are options out there that are affordable or completely free, for example Connect or Christian Counseling Centre or our very own Parirenyatwa Annex.

I urge you to go to therapy before it is too late, it is always good to talk to someone especially someone qualified to help you and who gets it. You are not crazy, its okay and you got this!!

HOW I ALWAYS FEEL WHEN IN THERAPY 🙂

#NORMALIZINGDEPRESSION

NEEDLE NANCY

Continuing with the feautured stories. This week we have a glimpse into the life of a former drug addictNEEDLE NANCY

8 weeks in rehab is what it took me to realize that I had a problem. I was addicted to Pethadine. Pethidine is a powerful drug used to relieve pain and produce sleepiness. It can be used simply to relieve pain or it can be used before painful operations to reduce the pain that you feel. It can also be used during childbirth to ease the pain of contractions. Pethidine belongs to a group of medicines called opioid (narcotic) analgesics. Pethidine works by changing the pain messages that are sent to the brain.

Pethidine should be given to you by injection by your doctor or specially trained nurse. The injection may be given into a vein, into a muscle or sometimes under the skin. You should be lying down when the injection is given. That being said and done, I used to inject myself while driving or in the comfort of my home, I just could not live without it. Even then I didn’t think or feel I was addicted all I knew is that I needed my $5US to get my daily dose.

The first sign of overdosage is usually a marked slowing of your breathing. In some cases fits can occur. And in my case I passed out in my car only to be found by family and friends and that’s when my battle with drug abuse became real to me. Something I did everyday almost became the death of me.

Pethidine for me was an escape, any escape from reality. It made me feel happy and free until it almost killed me. It not only broke me but my family too. Rehab was my saving grace, I got to learn more about the drug and its harmeful ways while at the same time having notime or freedom to be able to get the drug which helped in weening me of it. As painful as it was it was worth it.

I am a drug addict, I survived, im clean and I hope this tory will motivate you to stop and get the help that you need.

NORMALIZING DEPRESSION

PTSD: WAR EDITION

Todays post is a story about PTSD and how it affects mental health. The writer was very vulnerable but decided to share his story with us to help other people especially men to speak out for help, do not be ashamed.

BY TAWANDA NGOSI

If I had to tell you about war I would probably tell you about  a war movie I have watched before but I have never been near one, and I have never felt the pain of holding a friends head on my lap and watch him gasp for his last breath looking at me for help. I have been trapped in a war zone of my own, a war I thought I would never win.

I suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and this is a disorder characterized by failure to recover after experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event. I usually have flash backs once in a while but it became worse to the point that sometimes I could not even sleep with my light on or I would not even want to sleep at all because when I did  try close my eyes in the dark I would hear screaming, crying and loud footsteps of people chasing each other. I was a young boy about six years old when I started seeing guns, knives and violence  in the house.

I am a son of an ex soldier and war veteran; sounds nice to say  but wait until you hear this. One beautiful evening Iwas looking at the sky outside I don’t know why but just had a bad feeling about that night because always when my father came home at night the house would just turn into a war zone. I was watching tv the I heard the gate open and the sound of my dads car around 8pm so as usual I ran to my room to pretend like i was sleeping because he terrified me. He came into the house and demanded his food from my mother, she heated it up as he was eating he says this food is too hot, do you want to kill me?  After a few moments I heard voices shouting. My mum walked away as she tried to get to her room she was dragged into the bathroom, he started to punch my mother so hard I thought someone was hitting their head against the wall, my my mother started screaming so loud I wanted to come out of my room but I was too scared to come out so I was trying to peep through the air vent but could not see anything. After a few moments she started shouting out my name very loud that I had to come out. I went to the bathroom where I saw my dad punching my mum so hard I could see her face swell up. Her clothes ripped off and she was completely naked  after some moments I shouted stop! please!  A few seconds after my mother managed to get away, she ran to her room and stood on top of the bed she then told me  go to your room because she was naked and she was breathing heavily and  crying  at the same time. My father came in and said, “I want to kill you,” with a very loud and harsh voice he then got his gun and said, “I am going to kill both of you,” and I am standing there failing to even move . My mother then says let the child go, so she tells me to go to my room and I walked slowly to my room thinking what is next? I go back into my dark room and sit on my bed, I start to hear noises again, a few moments later my mother managed to run out of the house I start to hear screaming outside and footsteps of people running around the house, I tried to close my ears with my pillow but it did not help  much. Eventually my mum got away then we managed to hide her in the yard and she slept on a chair under a tree with a little blanket. I told my mum lets go  even if we sleep in a a car I don’t care lets leave this place.

Sometimes in life we all need someone at some point, doesn’t matter who but we need each other. All my life I have hated and lived in anger but as a man I need to forgive. Its a very painful processes but I told myself I will not live a life of hate and anger of something I can not change. I am better than that. I got to a stage where I am not ashamed of my past. I just want to encourage people to not be ashamed about what they are going through, get help reach ,out to someone and have faith. I am still going through therapy  and I really hope I have touched someones heart to take a step and do something about whatever they are going through, your not alone! I know there is something out there for me. I am going to look for it and I am going to find it! This is my story …     

NORMALIZING MENTAL HEALTH

The Journey (By Mufaro Chifamba)

Continuing with the persoal stories shared by others, this one in particualr I had to note was written by a man. It highlights how mental health is not only a females woe but it does not discriminate age or sex. Its not often that men are open with their mental health struggles so I hope this will open up the dialogue more.

My journey with depression certainly wasn’t the easiest to deal with, but it was a journey that came with lessons, lessons I greatly treasure.

My journey with depression began at the end of 2016, at that time I didn’t know that I was going through it but I knew something was wrong but I chose to ignore it. Largely because I was busy with a major music event for my record label.

That event came and passed and I still had the feeling of anxiety, emptiness & loneliness. Fast forward into early 2017 I began working on a recording project for my friend and creative partner and started finishing up other projects.

I remember sitting in my room after everything was complete and I remember being hit by depression in that moment and feeling extremely hopeless and completely down and out.

I went through this phase for a few months, feeling lonely, anxious, overwhelmed, with the pain of abondoment and heartbreak flooding in. 

During this time I didn’t tell anyone what was going on, I would put on a smile and a façade to cover up the pain and the anguish, this was out of fear of being ostracized (especially as a man) and being looked down upon by other people.

As I began to recover I began to tell people about my struggle, and I received alot of support, but I still hadnt dealt with the root cause – rejection (by people, romantic partners etc)

A year later I relapsed into depression again, and it forced me to take time off everything and just heal and recover and thankfully I had a crew of friends who stood by me and prayed for me. 

As of now I’ve recovered from my depression and I’m in the process of dealing with and healing from my issues with rejection and it’s all because of God’s grace and unfailing love.

NORMALIZING DEPRESSION

POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION

As we continue with some personal shared stories from others I would like to note that this one in particular really touched me. It not only touches on abuse in relationships but also on postpartum depression which is for those that don’t know Postpartum depression (PPD) is a complex mix of physical, emotional, and behavioral changes that happen in a woman after giving birth. PPD is a form of major depression that has its onset within four weeks after delivery. This post is so important because MANY women struggle silently with this and their partners either don’t know what to do or sadly sometimes never notice or don’t care. As for abuse in relationships which is a common trigger for depression, we will tackle that soon i promise.

The below story was written by a phenomenal mother and woman and she truly hopes she brought comfort to a struggling woman or mother, you are not alone….

Many people don’t know my story , my pregnancy journey and that I suffered from depression during pregnancy and after pregnancy. 

I can bravely and proudly say I am a victim and survivor of mental health and abuse . When we were dating I used to think my sons father was the sweetest of hearts, heaven sent and a quiet human being . Funny my grandmother used to warn me about quiet men . My friend used to warn me about this guy, she clearly saw the red flags but when a woman is in love you become naive . 

The relationship was all rosey until I told him I was pregnant. The moment I announced my pregnancy all hell broke loose . I called my sons father and told him the situation at hand that’s the day everything changed . I would constantly call him to tell him we need to discuss the pregnancy but he would avoid me . One afternoon I decided to go to his apartment where he was staying with his cousin because the guards were familiar with me and knew I visited him often, so they opened the gate for me. He wasn’t at home so I called him and told him I am at the house so he could come and we talk, he started raging with anger . 

He got to the house yelling and calling me a prostitute, how he doesn’t want anything to do with me or my child. He told me to go find my child’s father and started hitting me while his cousin watched quietly. Being the quiet guy he is I knew nobody would believe me so I decided to voice record this incident . 

After being kicked in my stomach and pushed around in my pregnant state, insulted and called all sorts of nasty names with tears rolling down my eyes I got into my car and drove my car to the police station to press charges against him. . 

He was arrested his cousin as a witness was called to the police station to make a statement. That is when the most shocking discovery was made. The girl he introduced me as his cousin was actually his other girlfriend!They claimed they had an open relationship and were living together as boyfriend and girlfriend . 

So called girlfriend/ cousin made her statement and court was set for the next day. Because of the chaos and violence my family was aware of everything including the pregnancy, they sat me down and pleaded I drop charges for the sake of relations with my sons father. Next day we went to court and I did exactly what was asked of me. 

My family sat down together decided to follow who the culture and “tizirisa” me. Because of all the drama my sons father was now back at his family residence as he was running away. We got to his house and his whole family was there, we presented our story and no shock at all my sons father denied everything so both families decided it was only fair to conduct a DNA test.

As weeks went by in discovery this man had not only gotten me pregnant but his so called cousin/girlfriend & another girl pregnant. Three women pregnant at the same time with the same man that broke me . 

Emotional abuse started again from the other pregnant girl, “You Will give birth to a dead chilld, as long as I’m there that bastard you are carrying will never see his father.”

I’m pregnant, I’m broken, I’ve been through too much physically and emotionaly so I reported the case to the police and the girl was arrested and pleaded guilty in court and paid a fine . 

Monday the 12th of March I went into hospital due to serve cramps and had dilated to 6 cm and after 15 hrs I went into labor, no cramps and no pain but my baby was distressed and tired so my gynecologist requested an emergency caesarean . 

I went into surgery and my son was delivered and sent straight to the nursery for observation because he couldn’t breathe properly. At this point the only thing I could think of is “you will give birth to a dead child “.. in fear I prayed so hard, God being a God of miracles he answered my prayers. 

Hours later still haven’t seen my son, it’s visiting hour my aunt and grandmother came and tried to go to the nursery to see the baby but the nurses declined and said only the father of the child was allowed . With everyone so worried hours later no one has seen the baby we decided that my cousin pretend to be the father and he finally got to see the baby and showed me pictures . RELIEF!!!

The next day I was given my son and I named him Eli which means my God or jehovah is God .

My first months of motherhood were a nightmare, that is when I realized me and my child had been rejected and rejection is not an easy thing to swallow and it took a lot for me to count my losses and move on . I had many questions, “ why should my son grow up without a dad?“  “Why has God forsaken me?” “Why do I deserve such?”

At times I hated my son and never wanted to hold him. I would refuse to breastfeed him or look at him, he would cry and cry and my grandmother would take him and cradle him until he fell asleep. This continued for a while until one day I decided to count my loses and move on with my life.This was 8 months later . 

I’m sad that I missed the first months of my child’s life because I was depressed but I don’t regret having my son. Anyone who knows my son, knows his the most lovable human being full of life always stealing peoples hearts,meveryone loves him. Whenever I go out with him everyone asks to hold him.  My curses were turned to blessings.

A year down the line the father still denies him and won’t even do a DNA. He married the other girl and they have a son too. His in the others child’s life but refuses to be in my sons but that’s his loss because fortunate for me Eli has an amazing su[port sytem.

Depression is real and so is post partum depression and I have now learned that help is out there and it can be dealt with in a better way so that you are never absent in your childs life, especially in the beginning. I chose to share my story on this plartform in the hopes that a mother out there can find hope and light at the ned of the tunnel, don’t be ashamed or afraid, get help!

NORMALIZING DEPRESSION

SCOTT

HAPPY NEW YEAR,LOL!! As I indicated before that the next few posts will be dedicated to telling other peoples journey with different mental health cases and these are people I fortunately got to meet while at Borrowdale Halfway House and elsewhere. Some chose to be anonymous while others you may or may not pick up who they are. What is important to know is that you are not alone and I hope their story resonates with you and pushes you to get help and speak out. If you would like to share your story anonymously or not, please do email me on : gagachina11@yahoo.com

By Scott….

The most amazing feeling is that of peace. Peace is the point of coherence between your mind and the physical. I decided very early in life that I was never meant for such a place. It was simply beyond my abilities. I used to dream of the world of my place in the universe. This is the beginning of my search, which lead me to be an addict.

I personally hate the word “addict”. I prefer the term “escapist”. Escapism is the concept that we are not ourselves unless we have some mind-altering drug. Some may have coffee, cigarettes etc. I have the alcohol and marijuana to seem “normal.”  The question is what is normal. Is it just being like everyone else or are we truly unique”

My weakness was increased by a condition called Depersonalization. This is the phenomenon little understood. It is borderline schizophrenia. Less than 1% of the population suffers from it. It makes you move as if you are in a dream. It is like a lucid dream except you know it is reality.

You avoid “freaking out” like you do an anxiety attack. The precursor is a headache, a déjà vu and next you are no longer in the room, in the world or in yourself. Alcohol was my temporary fix for that. It released the hold of it; it relaxed me in order to gain confidence, positive energy and coherence even if for a limited time.

Sometimes I feel it is an excuse. As my depression soon followed, I wish to know why with all that I am blessed with, I see no light. I wish to understand why successful individuals see a forest in a conglomerate of trees. Hope in light of failure and peace within oneself. In my recovery I fear myself actually realizing my potential. Putting the negative that once was, and turning the energy to drive further.  Taking the unbalanced force caused by alcohol and turning and using that very same magnitude and drive to find my escape from the abyss of depression.

That’s my story as best as I could explain it as an “escapist,” and depressed man.

NORMALIZING DEPRESSION