As i sat around….( T. Ndangana)3 min read

As l sat around the campfire for the first time in ages l felt safe, l felt like this was home and that these broken, hurt and unhappy young adults were my family. They knew that what l felt was not imaginary but rather real and l was not trying to be a problem child. For them feeling worthless had became a part of their lives, they would toss and turn in at night or spend the whole day in bed. Some days were good days but some days were not. They could get angry over a silly issue, lose their and temper and cry themselves to sleep and feel that something was still missing.

We had lost something, something that we deeply loved and things would never be the same. Our own families told us that we were ungrateful, spoilt and that we want to attract attention. How does one attract attention when they are hurting inside? Why could they not help us and be there for us when we needed them? Did they want an open wound, blood to ooze for them to truly believe that we were not well? There was a wound inside our minds and our hearts, a wound that you did not see with your physical eyes but a wound that had been caused by loss. Our families had somehow given up on us and consequently sent us to The Spring Rehabilitation Camp.

The beat of the drum, ululation and the dancing warmed our hearts. It reminded us that we were still special in some people’s eyes; it reminded us that our inner child could be set free .We danced and clapped around the campfire and we let the children in us live again. The warmth of the campfire made us feel safe; it made us believe that this was home. Droplets of sweat began to trickle from my forehead, but that did not bother me l was happy and no one could take away my happiness. Mother earth smiled as she watched us dance and laugh so hard. Our brokenness had separated us from our societies, it had made us feel inferior, but in this moment we were happy.

The whistle brought an end to our dancing session and we quickly sat and caught our breath. Now it was time to share our experiences with others, to tell them our stories, to own our truth and be ready to move on. Bob stood and told us how he missed playing video games, eating fast foods and hanging out with his friends. He had everything he was a rich heir but he felt like he was drowning. The long meetings made him feel sick; he missed his old life of being a young adult, he was slowly losing himself.

She stood and smiled and began to sing, she told her story through song and everyone who sat around the campfire became emotional. Ruth told us how she gave birth to a baby which had only forty eight hours to live. What had she done wrong to deserve this? Ruth still sees her baby’s face in her dreams. Richard told us how he had since given up on his life to be his mother’s caregiver and he believes that when she passes on he will never be happy again.

As l watched these young men and women narrating their stories l felt that we could help each other. We were a family now, we had to support one another and be there for each other. We needed to be ready to face the world and fight, to fight until our societies believed that our pain and brokenness is not imaginary.

Tomorrow we would wake up and leave the camp. It was now time to go and educate our societies about depression. Maybe they needed some enlightenment, maybe we did not need to run away but rather face our fears and criticism on the road to recovery. We all sat around the campfire in silence. Were we prepared to go and fight in the battlefield, l wondered.