Depression affects people of all classes with public figures being on the receiving end for because we expect them to be ‘perfect’.
Recently, more and people including international celebrities have committed suicide due to depression.
Among celebrities who took that route include Kate Spade, Ike Turner (Tina Turners son), Anthony Bourdain, Avicii, Adolf Hitler and Robin Williams.
Depression can be caused by many factors noteably bereavement, domestic strife, divorce, lifestyle debt, drugs, malicious gossip, spiritual emptiness, suicidal thoughts and cyber bullying.
Local TV presenter Michael Oyier is among Kenyans who have had to fight depression and for him the tough and draining journey lasted for 7 years.
According to Oyier, his depression was triggered by challenges of fatherhood and not having mourned his parents when they died.
He recalled how he reached the peak of his career in 2006 having had the show he hosted being rated second after the music show The Beat emerging top.
“I reached my peak, or so I thought, the peak of television life. The TV news show that I had hosted was rated second only to the music show The Beat for those of you who remember. I enjoyed the work, I really loved what I did so much so that I would tell my colleagues this job is like a well-paying hobby.”
But Oyier later realised that his colleagues, whom he was telling how what he did was a hobby, were the foot soldiers who had woken up 12 hours before he rocked up, wafting cologne, ready to read what they had worked the whole day to put together through some riot or a boring press conference.
Behind all the glitz and glamour, Oyier was going through some private and personal struggles despite the life he lived as a TV personality and an active church boy.
Fatherhood had knocked and that is when the real struggles began.
“As a father of two daughters with two mothers,I refer to my first-born daughter as my gracious gift because on the day she was born, I asked myself, ‘whom have I become?’ We had the public picture, but then there were also the private struggles. I was leading two lives, and the question that nibbled at me was, ‘which one are you?’ Then my second daughter was born and I called her my healing balm, because with her birth, I finally found the opportunity to be validated as a father.”
He goes on to explain that despite having had a clear picture of what and how he wanted his family to be, the circumstance under which he had becoming a father was making things hard.
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“I grew up in a context where being a father and the picture that I had given myself about how I will be a father and what I would do with my children, were key. It was so important, yet the circumstances of my children’s birth did not allow for the picture that I had in mind.I could not even hide it. It was all out. So, I continued with a life of sadness and pain, of being in the house alone, spending long days and not being interested in doing anything, not even eating. If you called me, I wouldn’t pick the phone.”
Oyier did not have the energy to do anything beyond the necessary, which included meeting his daughters on agreed days with their mothers. He also continued reading bulletins, emceeing at events and even offering counselling, when in reality, he needed the counselling the most.
His healing came after vigorous bible study and the support of good friends around him
“I can’t tell when it exactly began or the exact reason for the depression. It might have been because of unresolved mourning. I didn’t mourn correctly and completely for my mother and father when they died. It’s like yeast, you don’t see the dough rising, but you notice the difference.
That’s where I was, in this dark lonely place. But there were a few things that I was able to do consistently that helped me. I went to Bible study consistently, I also listened to a preacher every day in my dark room. It gave me the sense of hope because I had reached a point where I wondered whether it was even worth living.”
The reason to rise and get going was spurred by the desire to give his daughters a “father who is healthy in mind, body and spirit. That has been my journey.”
Michael states that his adoptive parents were very supportive and that along his healing journey he lost a lot of friends but he is glad of the new ones he has made and the man he has come to be.
“My adopted parents took me in and helped me a lot. My adopted mother would call consistently. I avoided most of her calls, and when I eventually picked all she had to share was love, care and concern.I lost a number of friends “when I was in my depressive state.”
But he is thankful for the new friends who accepted his different phases, and his daughters who gave him hope.