On ‘DEPRESSION AMONG MEN’ By Danstan Wasobokha

Dan Sonko wrote so much about this and it reminded me of the article I wrote March of 2015 titled: 'Who is a Real Good Man?'  I feel compelled...


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Dan Sonko wrote so much about this and it reminded me of the article I wrote March of 2015 titled: ‘Who is a Real Good Man?’  I feel compelled to share these thoughts about men to all ends of the world.

Sometime last year, a man I know bade his friends bye after having several drinks and went home. The following morning, his lifeless body was found dangling on the grills of the stairwell of the apartment which he lived in with his wife.  Rumor mills had it that he went home, found his wife and two guys who were her friends and a commotion ensued. He was thrown off from the fourth floor and hit his head on the grills to his death.

The second week of December, another guy I know left home for work. He didn’t return. To this day, the family is still looking for him. No one knows where he went or what happened to him. I was talking to his wife and she told me that she just wished she knew where he was. At least it would calm her down.

Same December, a friend told me about a friend of his who has been excessively drinking. His girlfriend, who he has built a house for, is moving around with another guy.  He knows it and he can do nothing about it. So he drinks it away. He drinks the pain away. He’s an upwardly mobile guy with a lot of cash.

At a rendezvous with my friend, after a night of taking alcohol excessively, when he drove my friend to pick a bus in town, as he was returning to his place, he hit a matatu from behind and his car was almost a write-off.

The husband of a prominent civil servant and scholar is reported to have jumped to his death from the sixth floor of a hotel. Nothing much is known about what led him to take such a drastic course of action. He was a distinguished scholar and researcher and lectured in Statistics.

We may never understand this but the rate at which men are committing suicide in this country has reached epidemic levels. Tough economic times. Pressures from relationships and family life. Mistakes. Shame. Lack of places to vent out and shoulders to lean on. A place we can feel at home.

We are dying and no one is even bothered. Men are sinking and those that should be holding them up, make them feel that they are one mistake or failure away from being booted. This is saddening. We see it everyday. I don’t wish to minimize the pressures that women go through or make this about men versus women, but one thing most people haven’t come to really realize is that it is also hard to be a man.

Our religions have kept hushed tones on depression among men. The society is unforgiving of a man that fails. Women victimize men who aren’t making enough and contemptuously dismiss them as failures. Which by the way is ludicrous because those at the top who have everything “under control” are a minority and cannot be taken to be the SI unit to us all.

Most men are struggling with something. If it’s not financial situations, then it’s sexual dysfunctions. If it’s not that, then sexual perversion. If it’s not that, then alcohol addiction or drug abuse. Or loneliness. If not those things, then they have a convoluted way of taking spirituality which has led them to sit piously high above and pontificate to the rest of us.

But I say this, let no one lie to you. The man sitting on the front of the religious places bearing the title of an elder is just encumbered with as many issues as the one seated on the bar stool taking liquor. We are affected by the same stimuli. We are confronted by the same set of challenges. Differently and uniquely but challenges nonetheless.

What I find to be amusing is the fact that we dismiss each other as men. We look down at one another. We tell bad things about each other and disparagingly walk out of one another. As soon as some men sense some struggle in their fellow brother, then they are gone. They won’t go anywhere near them. When the heat mounts and the challenges overwhelm, when the walls close in on us, we fall into depression and sometimes do the unthinkable.

I keep hoping and wishing that we don’t abandon one another.  That we sit tight and listen keenly, (without judging), to whatever challenges our fellow brothers are faced with and where we can, as long as we can, assist them with utmost understanding and empathy. This is not weak. That’s strength. This notion of looking at where we are struggling then interfering in each other’s marriages and relationships by giving other men’s wives or girls what they cannot afford at the moment, shouldn’t be.

Like when Lazarus was called by Jesus from the grave and he came out wrapped up in grave clothes, leaping and stinking of the dead, let us learn to not run away from one another. When Lazarus came out, Jesus ordered those around the graveside to “loose him and let him go!” The same call is extended to all of us today. Men, women and children.

Our daddies are coming out of their graves of failures, alcoholism and affairs. Our sons are getting out of their graves of drug addiction and sexual perversion. Our grandsons are coming out of their graves of mistakes and indifference. They are looking for open arms to embrace them. They are looking for nimble fingers to untie the stinking grave clothes of their nightmarish former lives, depression and deceit and accommodate them in our homes. Shall we rise to that calling?

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