Same Script Different Cast(part 1)
For my cousin Nyaruai Gitonga and my Uncle Mwai
Your mom gets home one evening and tells you to open
that Facebook thing and find a controversial video that your cousin has posted.
Wait, what? You’re confused. Controversial? Like Kim Kardashian controversial?
You don’t have Facebook on your phone because you decided it’s for lame people
and creepy Indian dudes. However, you really want to see this video. Screw any
notions you had about Facebook. You sign up and open an account.
Your cousin is easy to find. Her page is under her
actual name. Nyaruai Gitonga. PS I still don’t get why people go through the
trouble of coming up with “cool” names for social media. Princess Pwetty peng
ting and guess what honey, you still have 104 followers and 2 likes. You scroll
almost frantically through her page ignoring everything else looking for that
one video which you never found or you did find but there was nothing “controversial”
Watching a video of my cousin balling her eyes out in
front of a bunch of strangers on Facebook definitely wasn’t on my bucket list.
I mean, now that I think about it, if it was a game of truth or dare I would
have probably made her do that because I’m crazy like that. Unfortunately this
was no game. I was finding out with the rest of Facebook (make that three weeks
after everyone else) that my cousin was depressed and contemplating suicide.
Nyaruai of all people! Hell naah…. She’s tall, pretty,
eloquent, nice eyes, great smile… Duuude I’m not even exaggerating. She could
bag a twenty five year old at fifty. Plus she has a master’s degree and her
folks are loaded. Makes absolutely no sense right? How you could have all that
(beauty and brains) and still have suicide as a forethought.
Oh wait a minute… I’m pretty and smart too (not trying
to sound cocky.) And guess what? Yeah you guessed right you little sadist, I’m
depressed too. I mean, not right now. I’m writing. It’s 3am. Depressed me
wouldn’t be caught dead writing shit (kids excuse my French) about nothing.
You don’t leave your bed for a week unless you’re
going to pee or get more food to stuff your face. If it were up to you, you’d
move your freaking bathroom and kitchen into your bedroom. You don’t draw the
curtains, showering is off your list and as for your teeth… well, you couldn’t
care less. It’s not like you’re going to kiss anyone anyway, you’ve isolated
yourself from everyone.
You spend an entire week deciding which would be the most painless way to kill yourself. You don’t want blood. That would be too traumatizing for your mom, she couldn’t handle walking into a room and finding you in a pool of blood. Pills sound like a good idea but they might pump your stomach and you end up surviving. You don’t like the sound of that. You’d be labelled a freak, your neighbors would keep their kids away from you. Your pious auntie would probably suggest they take you to the pastor because you’re possessed. Your entire family would be ashamed of you, but of course they’d never say it to your face they’d discuss you over phone calls and in WhatsApp groups. So no pain, no blood and no pills. Even for death you still set the bar high.
But that could never be you, right? Of course, because
that was me at sixteen. That is what my first episode of depression looked
like. I had no idea what to call it then. I tried to hide it but I think my mom
noticed, she never asked though. I don’t fault her. She probably had no idea
what it was either. I think it’s safe to agree that anyone who watched The Bold
and The Beautiful and listens to Maina and King’ang’i is not wired to handle
modern problems. (Do you see why we need to talk mental health?)
Hey I’m really trying to make this story about
depression not sound depressing. How am I doing so far? Did you say fantastic? Awesome. Moving on
Seeing my cousin breakdown on the internet in front of
a bunch of strangers hurt. Yeah, we’re back to my cousin again. Still
following? Of course you are. It hurt not just because I had no idea what she
was going through but also because it resonated so much with me. If the roles
were reversed and I was the one on Facebook she’d have been shocked too (friends
and family alike.) So yeah, her story (suffering in silence) is my story. Same
script different cast.
This is a safe space, feel free to share your own experience and comment.