My Chartreuse Blouse

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I am wearing a chartreuse blouse today. No, that’s not a designer’s name. It’s a color- a green yellow color that’s so bright, it’s blinding me. Basically, today I look like I’m wearing a reflector jacket. The kind nduthi guys or policemen wear. I can stand in the middle of the highway and hold my hand up and cars will come to a stop. Only, it’s a basic blouse. A fucking bright blouse. A fucking bright blouse that cost Ksh 50.

I hate bright colors. They make me dizzy. And they make me stand out. As if my nose doesn’t already do enough of that. I don’t like standing out. It makes people want to approach me, and people assume I am chatty and helpful and have the answers for everything. The brightest color I wear is beige. It’s relaxed. It helps me retain my composure. It even calms my stupid brain that keeps talking even when my mouth is shut. Such a helpful color. I can be pretend to be poised and relaxed and ladylike even when I am plotting a murder.

But today, today I wore chartreuse. Name as shouty as the color. For those looking for “cute baby names from colors”, here’s an idea; chartreuse. Don’t use it if you’re Kikuyu. You could as well call your child Charcoal. Back to my blouse. Every time I turn my head, the color pops in my face. I am so alert today my tiny ears can hear a whisper from across the room. Part of my mission has been accomplished- to be so alert of my surroundings… alert of myself; my inner self. I have been numb to all emotion for a while now. I think it is because I am scared. Scared of myself- of my reality… But most of all, scared of my feelings.

It has made me aware of the clothes I have on. This has made me aware of my body- my very uncomfortable body, trickled to being aware of my surroundings, and given birth to that dreadful ashy feeling of anxiety. Am I walking alright? Am I stuttering in my speech? Is my hair styled well enough? Is my makeup too much? Damn, he’s staring at me. Must be my forehead. Bigger than the cup he’s holding. But the happy sad thing is, anxiety, anxiety and fear, are better than being numb.

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But will anyone but me see my silent cry? Will anyone see my trembling hands folded across my bosom? Or the fearful dashing my eyes do across the room? Will anyone notice the way my voice gets stuck in my throat, or the numerous times I clear my throat when someone talks to me? I want someone to reach out. Speak to me. Ask me how I really am, underneath the layers of foundation and lipstick and eyeliner… underneath the chartreuse.

I am drowning, but no one seems to notice. But I am too afraid to speak up. How will people see me? What will they think? Or have they already declared me a gone case- the thin girl who always wears black.

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Nobody notices the pain behind their loved ones’ eyes anymore. We have become too focused on just the outside. Oh, look at her wig! Damn, his wristwatch is dope! Losing weight has become “getting in shape” and gaining weight has become “getting that flesh”. Going MIA has become “they’re too busy”. In any case, you have your problems, and you ain’t sharing them, why should you bother with mine?

But a few months from now, you’ll all flood my timeline. Asking WHY I had to leave so soon. Flabbergasted that I am no more. Pouring messages of how much you loved me. Trying so hard to force intimacy “I remember when you answered that question in class. I knew you and I would be friends”. as if you didn’t have time to ask or say any of that when I was alive. Then you will gather round my grave. Crying or just shaking your heads. Wondering when I “lost it” this much. And you will take selfies with my coffin or family or outside my grandmother’s house, captioned #LifeIsShort #EternallyRemembered #LoveYouForever but no. The only hashtags you should use are #KuufDead #SheTookHerLife #iForgotHerWhenAlive #TeamHypocrites

My chartreuse blouse is a flag. It’s that reflector you see on the highway in front of you; telling you to slow down. Yes, please slow down on your highway in life and look to the side. There I am by the roadside, waving frantically. Will you reach out, or will you wait till I slit my wrists? I am your sister, your brother, your child, your friend…

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YOUR MYTH, MY LIFE

If you’re African, you are constantly reminded not to sound or act “white”. Truth be told, our fear of “appearing white” has resulted into we Africans burying our heads in the sand and sweeping critical issues under the carpet. Stress and depression is a problem that has been ignored for a long time, and as a result, Africa continues to lose a great number of people through cancer, HIV/AIDS, depression, etc. I have lost a couple of friends through suicide. Having had my encounters with stress and depression, I can tell you it’s not a happy place to be.

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I may not reach the whole world with this post, but I believe that getting to two or three people will be a worthwhile first step. Ripple effect, if you may?1.

  1. S&D don’t mean a person is moody and sad all the time. Being sad and moody may be symptoms of stress and depression, but they are not definite SI Units. If anything, there are many people succumbing to stress and depression yet they appear happy and jovial. For a majority of people suffering from Stress and Depression, they are in a constant state of numbness. They are like a void- with only extreme feelings of anger or pain, and even extreme happiness.
  2. Stress and Depression is not caused by witchcraft. Yeah, I understand that we Africans hold our beliefs sacred, but sometimes, they have resulted in fatal mistakes. As mistaken as the belief that malaria is caused by spirits or that HIV/AIDS can be healed through rape, believing that S&D is an effect of witchcraft is misinformed.
  3. S&D is not a death sentence. Just because someone succumbed to the effects of S&D, in this case, suicide, it doesn’t mean that you will too. Anyone and everyone can recover from S&D, if and when appropriate steps are taken.
  4. Seeking professional help for S&D is not weakness. S&D is not weakness. It is a disease. Seeking professional help isn’t weakness either. Men, especially, get stigmatized for seeking professional help. At the end of the day, is it worthwhile living a troubled tormented life just because we fear what people think or say?
  5. S&D is not a hormonal problem. It’s not because you have flaring emotions, or because your hormones are barely ever in check. No. Even emotionally balanced people can have spouts of S&D.
  6. S&D is not a white-people problem. SIGH. Really. Africa is losing thousands of vibrant people full of potential to this menace. S&D isn’t a respecter of race, color or religion. Everyone is vulnerable. No matter how “African” they may feel.
  7. S&D is not the same for everyone. We all react differently to different stimuli and problems. It is the same for S&D. We will all have different manifestations and different processes. Our time and modes of recovery will also differ. Don’t compare yourself.

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Was this helpful? Do you know of persons suffering from S&D? Do you know of anyone willing to share their story? Why not share and help spread awareness? One person at a time.

 

Photos: Courtesy