Single parenthood and mental illness

“I’m tired of being strong I need help I can’t do this alone” these are words usually uttered by single parents who find themselves overwhelmed by responsibilities. Depression is a common mental illness that many of us single parents suffer from yet we have to be strong for our children. To be honest I still break down here and there and sometimes consecutively when the road gets tough. Mental illness is regarded as a subject solely for “mapenzi” (psychiatric patients) especially in Zimbabwe. It’s such a shame that there is stigma around this topic that needs immediate attention because it is a major cause of suicides. Being a parent is challenging let alone being a single one, you automatically become the life source of your child who learns at a young age to adapt to the situation. It hurts me when I breakdown in front of my son his little being is filled with so much compassion for his “ill” mother and hugs me wholeheartedly. I have been fortunate enough to have a great support system that has always been there for me especially my beloved mother. It is true what they say that it takes a village to raise a child.

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I sometimes lay awake at night thinking actually dreading the day when my son will ask me why me and his dad never worked out, the mere thought of this brings tears to my eyes because I don’t think I will ever be ready to answer such a question not because I don’t have the answer but because I was too strong for too long. I am still in awe with the way my son is so receptive to a lot of things in his life and so far he is not a difficult child to deal with at all. I suffer from a common mental illness called depression and I am getting the help I need at the moment. I would to talk to just one single parent who is suffering in silence and I want to tell them that mental illness is real and it is nothing to be ashamed of. Mental illness just shows that you are human and it’s okay to break down when things get overwhelming. You may find yourself unable to communicate properly with the people around you. You might also find yourself constantly unhappy and always emotional and sometimes emotionally disconnected to the world. Some may look for a sense of belonging in alcoholism an escape route in drugs and yes sleeping tablets are also drugs. I want to say to you honey you are not alone and help is on the way. There are times when I wanted to kill myself because I just couldn’t hold it together I could not even hold a conversation later on a stable relationship with my family members and also romantically. My soul wasn’t happy I began searching for fantasies that only existed in my head which is why I was happy alone. I would take my son on long walks just so that he could sleep and so that I spend time alone and depressed. Things have changed now I actually enjoy quality time with myself and I tend to get paranoid when I’m not with him he is my life line my happiness. This has caused me to want to wake up every morning just to see that little bundle of joy happy. Long back I used to dread waking up in the morning simply because I didn’t see any happiness in my daily activities.

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Life had become so mundane and a bit boring it had become a tough pill to swallow. They called it postpartum depression that I never got any help for because in Zimbabwe it’s a disease for white people. This depression spilled into my education and I was not able to concentrate in classes but I kept to myself because no one understood me. I am so happy right now to be able to say that this is all in my past now and I am on the road to recovery. First step to recovery is to accept that you ill and you need help. It is important to also go out there and look for other single mothers who are going through the same and get help together. I remember when I told my mother that I was not happy and I felt depressed she gave me an amazing hug with tears rolling down my chicks saying, “It will be okay you just need to pray to God to give the strength to take each day as it comes, there is no need to give up mwanangu.” To be honest I felt hope inside me blooming but that was not all I needed I also needed counseling and to see a mental doctor. This is where i am now I’m getting the help I need and my son is well taken care of. I am glad that I am now better balanced than the off balance person I was. I hope sharing my story has helped someone out there going through the same or even if you know anyone going through the hardships I went through. Do not suffer in silence! Stay blessed single mummies and daddies we are all in this together.

 

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