I was in the middle of writing a critical analysis on nation-building and transitional justice in Namibia as my opinion for this week. However, I felt a disconnect between what I was writing and what I really wanted to write.
While it takes courage to be vulnerable, I have discovered that I am stronger when I call my insecurities by name and reject them.
Despite having a background in media and political science, today I want to talk about mental and by extension emotional health.
My thoughts on the subject are inspired by my own personal battles as well as witnessing loved one’s wrestle with these issues.
I am sure the question most people ask when they hear about mental health issues, is “what caused it?”. Psychologists I spoke to inform me that it is a built up of multiple issues that can manifest themselves in different manners, some being mild and others extreme hormonal imbalances.
From my experience, specific “traumatic” events that occurred in my life close to each other resulted in a desire to protect myself from such future events.
To my mind dying was the best guarantee I had for not experiencing trauma again. So, I recently returned from two years of adventurous studies in Europe with two Masters degrees in Political Science added to my name.
I have always dreamt of being a voice for the voiceless as well as adding much needed value to good governance and public policy in my country.
After all, I am young, able-bodied and ambitious to boot so it should not be difficult to find myself living out my dreams. Or so the plan I carved out for my life read. As we speak, it has been three months of job hunting coupled with depression and anxiety for dreams that looked like they are just that, dreams.
I never thought, I will ever be depressed. I recall talking to a friend about it some years back and saying that I don’t know what depression feels like nor do I understand why people kill themselves. I confess I believed it was selfish and that seeking help is not difficult.
That was until I asked God to just end my life one fine day not too long ago.
I had to ask because whilst the end goal was to stop existing, I did not have the courage to do it myself because the way my life was set-up, ‘I will probably not die immediately’, I thought. Instead I would just end up paralysed or something along those lines, so I needed a higher power to just snuff me out. After God bluntly ignored my request for death, I had to humble myself and share with my Family and friends about the state of my mental and emotional health.
Seeing their reaction was the wakeup call I needed that things could have escalated very quickly for me and my loved ones would be left confused because nothing outward about me indicated that I was in a dark space.
The events leading up to that point are a handful and perhaps a conversation for another (book) day but the point is, strong and independent woman that I am, I needed to get help and fast.
Asking for help is NOT easy because we are simply put, prideful creatures but people really care and can help if we just let them in. s
Shockingly, I discovered that it is EXPENSIVE to consult a private psychologist for an hour!
The rates ranged between N$ 780.00 to at least N$1050.00 if you do or don’t have medical aid. While a Psychiatrist for more serious cases I am informed, charge at least N$ 3000.00 upwards.
Folks, help me understand how treatment for the mind which is what makes you function as a human being is so costly?
I am aware that the state also has psychologists but if the state -of- affairs at most public hospitals is anything to go by then of course I do not trust the system to take care of my mind!
The challenge of accessibility could explain why people do not open up when they are experiencing mental health challenges because the trending stereotype in society is that the minute you start to share what is happening to your mind (dark thoughts, hallucinations etc) then you are admitted at the psych ward.
Not to forget the lingering stigma that “you once went mad or had emotional issues” that will follow you for the rest of your life.
I think if more people start to openly share their experiences and counselling services as well as medication becomes cheaper, then we could make strides on mental health awareness in Namibia.
My experience left me wondering, ‘how healthy are we really as a nation’? I mean we rank high on the continent with alcohol consumption, we have many homes economically depended on women and not to forget gender based violence but to highlight a few issues.
How can we not trace these issues to mental health?
I can only thank God, family and friends for listening to me and practically going out of their way to help me.
I believe in God so studying the word as well as praying for myself and hearing people pray for me encouraged and strengthened me immensely, to the point that I can now write about my experience.
I sincerely hope that someone who can relate to this will be brave and seek help because outside of wanting to raise awareness on mental health, my heart behind this is that we demystify stigma and ignorance on the issue.
Depression or psychotic breakdowns can happen to anyone!
So, if we can access cough syrup easily and cheaply, we should also access a psychologist/therapist easily and cheaply because mental health is just as important as physical health!
Rakkel Andreas is a political Analyst and writer with dual M.A.’s in European and International Studies as well as Development and Governance from France and Germany respectively. She motivates that poor leadership on the continent qualifies (not excuses) Trump’s shithole comment on African immigrants.