REDISCOVERING YOURSELF How you can rebuild your life and beat depression

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Compiled by Angela Mutiso [email protected]

One thing is for sure, everyone is prone to depression, regardless of age. In Kenya, the prevalence of depression among the youth is growing rapidly. A recent study indicated that nearly half of Kenyans (young and old) may be suffering from some kind of depression.

In addition, a disturbing number of murders and suicides are reported regularly among the youth. The question is, why? How do you know that someone is depressed? Pay close attention to anyone who has undergone some kind of trauma; like death, sickness, a relationship break-up, lost money, divorced, failed exams or lost a job. These people can in certain instances, harm themselves without warning.  Depression is a serious problem and often leads to desperate behaviors, including suicide. Experts on mental health advise us to reach out to people suffering from schizophrenia, bi-polar, loss of interest in life and work, loss of money, those suffering from drug abuse, people who feel helpless, hopeless, chronically tired and those depicting a drastic change of behavior.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) depression is the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide. More than 300 million people are now living with depression, an increase of more than 18% between 2005 and 2015. WHO describes depression as a common mental disorder, characterized by persistent sadness and a loss of interest in activities that you normally enjoy, accompanied by an inability to carry out daily activities, for at least two weeks.

Another report released on world mental health situation, has placed Kenya as the sixth most depressed country in Africa. The report indicates that in Kenya, men are the most affected by mental illness. It may be undiagnosed because most people have no idea what symptoms to look out for.  Depression is a mental health challenge, and a fight we must struggle to win.

What are you as an individual or group doing to stem depression in your community?

I sought the views of Caesar Wanjao, an advocate of the High Court of Kenya, a motivational speaker and businessman with interests in the manufacturing industry and real estate. Wanjao is passionate about the youth. He observed this worrying trend (of depression, suicides and hopelessness) with trepidation. As a result, he decided to share his knowledge regarding the power of endurance and his business acumen; (having solved many cases and interacted with all manner of people) with those in need of his services. He specifically wants to help the youth, to rebuild themselves through mentorship, personal development and motivation. He also guides them on how to manage their finances.  He is happy that the response and results have been good, and is delighted to continue sharing his knowledge and experiences. Wanjao is a refreshingly positive person, and loves it when optimism replaces despair in anyone. He regrets that people criticize the youth without offering solutions to their needs. He warns that depression is real, however not many people regard it as a disease. Yet it affects your body and your mind. Your mind, explains Wanjao is your biggest source of wealth. If you cannot make it peaceful, you can suffer depression very easily, you must therefore be deliberate in seeking joy in your life.

Below are excerpts from his lessons…

What do you do to stay upbeat?

Self-approval and self-confidence, make positivity a habit. Focus daily on improvement and have a relentless passion for excellence. Within no time, people will look at you differently and say, this is good!

How about emotional intelligence, why is it a problem for many?

When you become conscious, certain things bother you. If you see people who are always defensive, it could mean they have a problem that is innate. You need to consciously act and understand your emotions. You don’t need people’s approval of your behavior if you believe in yourself and in what you are doing.

How do you develop self-esteem?

Personal development and growth is mandatory. It leads to good leadership. If you go through a process that aims at enhancing your own growth and enables you to understand yourself better, so that any decision you make is a value based, you will realize that good leadership builds your esteem. When you are not decisive, people will doubt you. A practical decision to develop yourself is not a walk in the park.

How do we awaken the latent power in us?

It is possible, but once again you’ve got to be focused and make a decision to do so. Make up your mind to be positive and encourage others to be optimistic. You’ve got to inspire and motivate others especially those going through depression. I have understood the importance and process of self-mastery. I know I am making other people’s lives worthwhile. You have a lot of power within you. You don’t have to live as a victim. Don’t blame others, don’t blame society, take steps that make a difference. Become more conscious, ensure you will influence people to vote wisely. Don’t be a follower, avoid making excuses.

There are so many fights, divorces and separations, how should society deal with these situations?

If you have a relationship (any) make it work …with your spouse, friends, siblings, parents, workmates, etc. Make a decision that will save you the pain that stems from procrastination. A bad decision is better than no decision at all. Give it your all. Make it work, if it is not working, make it faster, deal with pending issues. People are holding on to relationships that don’t work. There is usually a fear of insecurity and it can dehumanize you. Don’t cling to a destructive relationship or one that has resulted in the loss of self-esteem. You can lose property, money and all manner of things you can think of, but no loss exceeds the loss of self-esteem. Self-esteem is the engine that gives you a sense of being as a human being. It is the engine that makes you live with dignity, it is your essence – losing it can be a big loss. A billion cannot buy self-esteem, there is no price you can place on self-esteem. As far as marriage is concerned, no one can really claim to be an expert. Some people live together for 1 year, 5 years, 10 and even 50 years, then part. But I can say that the totality of marriage breakdown, is a result of failed communication. When you do not communicate your issues to each other, marriage becomes a difficult affair and a break-up is the product. This is because other issues arise from this, so my advice is to deal with issues as they arise. Increasingly, do things together. The regularity with which we communicate and seek to solve problems, matters a lot. It helps to have an outing with your spouse every fortnight or so. This gives you a forum to deal with certain things, otherwise, matters keep arising until you don’t care. For instance, you can come home late every night, until you stop caring. Everything then becomes an escalation of that.

How do you improve people’s lives?

My real happiness comes from my desire to help people to help themselves. I have been involved in; personal development, mentorship and motivation. I recognized that this talent comes to me naturally. So a year ago, I founded Serenity of Dreams; a company that has various useful components. We aim to establish a third platform for men where men can relate with each other. We intend to find ways and means of supporting the boy child and to stabilize relationships between men and women especially, in marriages. This will result in a stronger society. Women can support this a lot.  Remember, where there is a strain in a relationship, there is no friendship.  Let me pose these questions…How many of us are happy? How many of our wives are happy? What can we do to be happy? Women have support systems, like chamas, baby showers, etc. men rarely have care systems where they can open up. I am a life coach, and a motivational speaker with a keen interest in leadership and self-mastery. My main aim is to help others find their passion in life.

We want to help people to take care of their finances as well. So we are involved with this company known as Money Clinic…headed by a young author called Amos Ngahu. He teaches people how to relate with money. It is one of the most dangerous and difficult situations to handle. We know of people who have been killed or have died because of money; because of not knowing how to deal with it. Some people stumble into money and die. Money clinic helps people to relate and develop a pattern of behavior that helps them use money for their welfare and for positivity.

Ngahu gives the following overview in his book; Research shows that 95% of the world’s working population will never be financially independent. The same spend more than 105% of their income monthly. For instance Kenya in the 2015 Economic survey consumption rate is 102%.

80% of them don’t have written financial goals. Employers and lenders have more details on this research and they spend resources sorting out messes that have been caused by poor financial decisions by employees on personal finances. Broken families, debt collectors, theft of funds, corruption are among challenges faced by the employer. They aim to train your staff on ethical and responsible personal financial management. The result is that participants are armed with the necessary knowledge that will set them firmly on the path to financial freedom. Emphasis is put on practical and simple solutions that are sustainable.  They believe that this knowledge is a prerequisite for life, the creation of a positive financial future, entrepreneurship and retirement.

Ngahu believes it is everyone’s right to be able to ; identify personal financial status; and priorities; prepare a personal budget; control spending habits; manage cash and savings; understand debt and practical ways to reduce and avoid debt. You should be able to evaluate possible investment options; learn the basic steps on the road to financial freedom and have financial blue print/ goals. You’ve got to know how to manage your personal finance, financial planning, develop a personal / household budget and how to make the Automobile and Housing Decision.

You may have already heard the statement that failing to plan is planning to fail. The tips in this feature may just be what you are looking for to help you change your life and end your depression.

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