Now before we get any deeper into my story, which is hard for me because I am such a private person, I want to please ask you all not to hold me accountable for anything in this article because I am certainly not an expert on depression, paranoia and anxiety or any other health condition. I more or less would say I’m ‘an expert’ on my own personal issues and I think that it is so important to take ownership of my (your) feelings, experiences (decisions and choices).
Everyone’s mental and emotional health issues are different; and I deal with mine by travelling – seeing the world, experiencing different people, cultures and environments – as often as I can. I think my worst period of depression was just after finishing university – which I believe is very common amongst many graduates. Post-graduation depression is a serious issue that isn’t spoken about enough. According to Top Universities, adjusting to life after university can be traumatic. When I finished university, I remember finishing exams and asking myself ‘what next’? What am I going to do with my life? You see, I don’t feel like these institutions prepare you for what we call life! I wasn’t sure what was out there for me and I was seeing my peers secure jobs. I felt lost for a long time and it was really hard for me to get out of that hole I found myself in.
I was applying for job after job and I was getting rejection after rejection. I slowly began to close myself in and hide from the world. It became me and my laptop with no one to really talk to because in my head no one really understood what I was going through. I asked myself a number of times, what I had done wrong. It didn’t make sense to me. In my head, I had gone to a good University, graduated with a 2.1 travelled to over 20 countries and had gained experience whilst at uni. In my head, I thought I was the perfect candidate for good jobs and a great career.
Despite having savings, I realised quickly that I needed to earn income. I began to apply for anything and everything. I secured a job in sales – BAD DECISION!!! You see, I wasn’t cut out for sales. Let’s just say I didn’t last long. I knew I didn’t want to do the job but I was happy to have a so-called ‘graduate job’ so I stuck it out for 3 months but was later left with nothing. I was back again at square one – with no job and steadily depleting savings!
I was back being unemployed, looking for work but it just wasn’t going my way. I know you are probably thinking this isn’t a big deal, but for me it really was! I was always the one that was doing something, so not working was weighing me down. I felt like everything I had worked for wasn’t going to amount for anything. I didn’t realise that this was just the beginning!
Rewind slightly, I hadn’t travelled for that whole year after losing my job in 2014 and I had hit rock bottom. I decided to take a trip to Nigeria to just escape my reality which I perceived as a nightmare. I can honestly tell you that it was the best decision that I made for myself. I spent time with the Nigerian arm of my family, people that I truly believe understood what I was going through. They advised me that I was still so young, with a great future ahead of me; and they still advice me this today. My Auntie Lola, in particular, is always reassuring me on how far I have come and how much further I can and will still go in life. It’s what keeps me going to this day.
It’s weird because when I got back, my mindset changed completely! I got another job and moved away from home. My home then was paradise to where I was going, but I needed to do that to move forward. I won’t lie to you, moving away from home was hard, I had no one around me that had my best interest, it was all for their own personal advantage; and once they were done with me, I was no longer needed. What kept me going was my drive, motivation for the fruitful future I envisaged and most of all, God. I knew the experience I was going to gain was going to take me places. So I bore it all, though I hated where I was and the people around me; but slowly I got myself back on track and with enough money, was able to book a trip to Dubai.
This was again another good trip, it gave me ten days to escape the harsh environment that I was living in. I was able to escape reality and (sigh)….. just breathe – trust me, when you are not enjoying your current situation, travelling can be a good escape and was/is my only hope. It is always a good form of escape for me. It helps me not to lose it! I was able to escape from the bitchiness and the heartbreak from a relationship which was no longer working.
Travelling is honestly a good escape for me. It helps me to realise what is important and what isn’t. An escape from reality is always needed for me to self-reflect. Life can sometimes be so hard that you just have to take time out to fly away and come back refreshed. When you come back you are better prepared to fight, fight all the bullshit and crap life throws at you. God has given me so much opportunity to see varied life and cultures in different parts of the world; to gain different perspectives. It has been amazing. At that time it was hard, but now life doesn’t seem all that bad.
Your mental and emotional health is so important. You have to always take care of your mental and emotional health – so that you don’t hit rock bottom and develop habits you can’t get yourself out of (like drug abuse); or do something untoward – which may even harm you, others, or mar your life!
Depression, paranoia, and anxiety have been my biggest enemies, but I have learnt to deal with them in a very good and positive way. I have also learnt to remove myself from toxic people and those who do not have my best interest at heart. If people aren’t good for my mental and emotional health, I will not allow myself to be around them. I hope to talk to you more, about mental and emotional health issues (because emotional health affects mental health – or vice vasa) in our community because they are real and they need to be properly and openly addressed.
For anyone who is experiencing anything similar, I recommend that you find something which is good; and which makes you happy and or allows you to escape – even for a while: and ensure that you stick to it – often. The brief respite it provides for you, maybe all that you need to get yourself back on solid/staple track. This isn’t the end of my openness with you all, in fact, let us just say it is just the beginning.