My Journey To Overcoming Mental Health Problem/Depression

I feel it important to share about this journey which I came to realize led to a mental health issue but I realized it several years after overcoming it.
I did my KCPE in the year 1997 at Kamurunyu primary school in Nakuru and I scored way below the average that I didn’t get admission letter to any Secondary School. Fortunately, at the end of February 1998 a neighbor helped me get an opportunity to join Bavuni Secondary School and though it was a great achievement and opportunity it gave way to another long term problem that would later affect my life psychologically. These are the problems:-
1. Bullying. I joined the school at the end of February and other classmates had joined at mid-January and having gone through their phase of bullying most of them treated me as a fresh mono so I was not only victimized by the other classes but also fellow classmates. It wasn’t easy. I had to use any means to get protection this included sacrificing my lunch and at some point being used by some form three guys to peddle drugs into school.
2. Poor academic performance. Have you ever scored 0% in Mathematics, Physics and Biology? It happened to me in First term. I looked stupid, I felt Stupid until I started behaving stupid. I remember Mr Machua asking me, “Young man, wewe ulikujaje huku?” Yani I lived a dull life and started believing I will never make it and never amount to anything. I remember a certain lady trying to help me learn how to use a logarithm table and at some point she looked at me, wept and said, “Khai, wewe unaeza saidika kweli. Unahitaji tu mungu wewe?” Logarithm was Greek to me. Insha and Composition am sure none of the teachers ever read the whole of them. They were messy with big ‘Untidy work’, ‘Improve on your handwriting’ feedbacks…I felt an outcast. Most dull students have a way of making jokes out of it or shining in other areas like noise making, sports etc but for me I found myself numb and living a lonely life. Ushamalizwa self esteem unakaa Zombie? Do you know what it means being position 39 out of 39 in class? You feel like you are in a certain prison and all odds against you.
3. Poverty. Do you know poverty, have you ever experienced the better version of it? Have you ever taken a piece of Ugali with boiled cassava leaves? Do you know how strong tea(without enough tea leaves and sugar) and no accompaniment can be taken for breakfast? Do you know what it means going to school having not brushed your teeth, no soap to wash and no even Arimis for your face. I will not mention how my sisters survived. Going back home every week because of school fees and several days you go back to school with Ksh 200. There is something called meal card that ensured I starved almost throughout in school but thank God to Gathigia and Jose who were our cooks they always gave me task to fetch water and wash Sufurias in the School kitchen during break and games time and would reward me with some left over Githeris.
One evening while going home with some classmates (Otan, Modibo, Mak-U and others), it rained heavily and because of the clay soil my shoe sole came out and so I had to carry the shoe and folded the trouser. On our way home I met some women who happened to be my neighbors and they stopped, looked at me and sympathized and one of them told me, “Kabugua, thina nduri miri wihe hinya.” I wasn’t able to respond. I felt ashamed, embarrassed and left my friends because of the pain I felt within and to be honest at some point I started shedding tears knowing very well even 5 shillings to repair the shoe could not be afforded. That night the woman came home with one of her shoe(dark green wedge ladies shoe) and thank God it did fit me and so I used it for a better part of my schooling. May God bless her.
4. Being the shortest in class. Do you know how it feels to be called a dwarf, Nikobey, Zakayo, atom, kadot, Kambugus by even primary school kids. They would laugh at me. I don’t know how I happened to be the shortest in the whole school but one thing that I later did is praying and fasting to grow tall. I would cry and cry to God and for sure my current height was obtained through a spiritual battle. Yani the whole school no girl would dare be my friend because of my situation and it really crushed my ego and self-esteem.

5. A lot of medical problems ranging from regular mild headaches to flu, panic disorder, gastro intestinal problems etc . Usha guruma tumbo every day kwa class sababu ya mawazo na stress… so embarrassing kwanza when doing exams.

6. Family Conflicts. Am glad I was not brought up by any drunk parent. Most of them messes up the destinies of their children. There is another problem though. If the man of the house is not able to provide for the family sometimes he will be affected psychologically and end up worsening the situation. He will react to things and end up causing more harm eg take a loan to help solve the problem and end up losing the property after being unable to pay the loan. This might end up having serious consequences. I was a victim of such dramas and chaos and they affected me a big deal. I would face my parents and threaten to kill myself and I remember at some point I told them face on that I did not apply to be born by them. Most of us blame our parents for our problems but we should rather take responsibility and encourage them to fight it out together. Let them know you understand and appreciate their effort and promise to play your part.

7. Rejection. Have you even been in a situation where no one ever recognizes or appreciate you, Teachers hate you, students hate you, young boys along the road victimize you, nothing working for you. Honestly even neighbors dogs could sense me from far and come over to deal with me. Let me not share some of the rejection experience because you won’t believe it.

All these seriously affected my self-esteem and at some point I got myself into drugs and immediately we joined form 2 in 1999 I dropped out of school and that is where my life got messed up for four good years until I gave my life to Christ and went back to school in 2004. My character changed and I started living a lonely life, abusing drugs and doing crazy things to create attention. I remember one time I burnt a house somewhere. Most people would see me walk from home(Murunyu) through Mariguine, Umoja, Lanet, Free area, town and back home on foot carrying a saw and hammer I don’t know which spirit was that. I would go to Menengai crater and spend the whole day there waiting to see Satan hoping he would give me wealth. I would spend the whole night listening to Metro FM and not sleep. I remember there was a time I went for 4 nights without sleep just listening to Reggae whole night. This was a serious problem. At some point I started weight lifting and later I realized it was part of the mental problem. NB, Some of the people you see bleaching their skin, working out to keep fit etc are going through a psychological problem because of rejection and low self-esteem.
My recovery process was easier because :-
1. I gave my life to Christ and by the help of the Holy spirit there was a great inner transformation. Praying, fasting and meditating on the word of God did great to me. It gave me life, hope, peace and the joy that comes from the Lord. It is hope that keeps us going. God’s peace is greater than what the world can offer. The joy of the Lord is my strength.
2. I took personal responsibility of my life. I decided to never blame my parents, government, uncles, situations or anyone for my problems. I became my own cheer leader and number one fan. I worked hard, got some cash, went to look for a school and did odd jobs all through to pay for my school fees until I cleared form four. By the time you realize your dad was right and genuine you will have a son who think you are wrong and is not doing much to improve his current environment. Avoid giving pressure to other people and to your parents. Take responsibility of your life. You can do without them.
3. I got great friends who helped me through. Friends who were positive and great achievers and so they mentored me through. I love surrounding myself with people who are working on their passions, talking about their passions, just all around passionate people. Passion is contagious, it’s a strong magnetic energy and you can actually feel it pulling you in when it’s present. Friends who stir the seed of greatness in you. Friends who appreciates your baby steps and cheer you up. All people feel better and do better when you give them attention, affirmation, and appreciation.
Having gone through all these and overcame them, these are my recommendations to you who could be going through a difficult path: –

a) Life really does get a lot better when you stop minding so much how you are perceived and focus on improving yourself. Handle your life like the game of darts, golf or javelin not like football or rugby. You are the one to make it count not a team work. Work on yourself, Be Disciplined. Study hard. Get mentors. Save and invest. Focus. Be determined. Be diligent.
b) Don’t allow yourself to speak to yourself in ways you wouldn’t accept from anyone else! Be positive, Cheer yourself Up and always see the bigger picture of the person you wish to be. Set your mindset right. Put up a champion stamina and spirit knowing you are more than a conqueror.
c) In your pyramid of niceness, you should be TOP. Accept the faults in you and those surrounding your life then work out to improve and make them better. Turn the scars into stars. Take responsibility of improving your current situation. If you feel depressed are aren’t working it out. You aren’t depressed, you are stupid.
d) Persevere, Endure, Be patient, persistent and aggressive in improving your life. It surely will not change overtime but every day do something that will count. We live in a delusion where we want to make progress without it being hard. The Pap and Microwave generation. That’s never going to happen. Discomfort is necessary. Start building your tolerance. Work on your way up step by step. Baby steps count – what actually matters is you’re making moves day by day and soon you will be flying.
e) Anything that is human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. Have some few trusted friends who are honest and willing to hold your hands. They are there and actually I have found friends in my life who have cheered me up and have watched me go far past them and they still keep on cheering and supporting me even in prayers. They make your support system. If you have such friends and family, then you are rich.
f) Don’t be in denial. Kama ni mbaya ni mbaya. Accept you are in a mess and shout for help. Someone is listening and is ready to help. We must face the fears that scare us the most, for failure to do so will result in them taking over our lives. Acceptance is a HUGE part of our healing because once we accept things for what they are we are no longer in denial. When you are no longer in denial you have nothing to fight against.
g) Set your mindset right. Be positive. Be a POSSICAN(Possible and Can be) person not an IMPOSSICANT(Impossible and can’t be done) person. A hero in which you can find a zero, yet still bestow upon the title of hero, is a true hero indeed. There is a hero in you. There is a great potential that requires to be unleashed. The devil knows this very well and that is why he fights the potential in you because he knows there is a seed of greatness in you.

My summary is a slogan that I call DIPTHA
I. Desire – Have a serious desire to succeed and be great. Nothing will stop you.
II. Imagination – Imagine yourself becoming great. Have intentions to change the status quo and Inspire yourself to rise up high.
III. Perception – Create a bigger picture of the person and outcome you want to be/achieve and start living it now.
IV. Thirst – Be thirsty of success and greatness
V. Hunger – Be hungry for success and pursue it.
VI. Appetite – Having a deep craving for change and prosperity. Aspire to be something/somewhere and take step from now.
Finally I went back to school and in form two first term I got a grade D(Dundori Donkey Dancing a Dandora Ndomboro Dance) but I kept fighting and scored A in my KCSE. This guy who got 0% in Maths, Physics and Biology got A in almost all the subjects apart from English(B-) and Business studies(B+). This guy who couldn’t understand Logarithm table went to one of the best universities in Kenya and Pursued Pure Economics and came out with a Second Class Honours, This guy whose composition was Mathogothanio has written several best-selling motivational books and this young man who didn’t understand anything in biology later was awarded as the best First Aid instructor in the region in the year 2016. Nothing is impossible.
Take responsibility of your life. Stop blaming people, government, circumstances, parents, uncles etc. Cheza kama wewe. Run your race, Keep up the momentum and stick to your lane. If you have got God, Time and Yourself you can absolutely achieve anything. Get up and keep moving!

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About the Author


Amb. Steve Mbugus is an enthusiastic Ambassador of Safety and wellness with in-depth training, safety advisory and Workplace Safety Behavior Change Coaching experience. He is the am the Founder and Executive Director of Makinika Afrika Int’l , a Health and Safety Training Firm in Kenya  and Group CEO  Nairobi Safety Shop Limited, the largest Security, Safety and Health Store in the East and Central Africa and Managing Director, Stewa Safaris Kenya Limited a Premier  Tours and  Travels Company in Kenya.

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