It was startling and extremely disheartening to learn that a friend’s husband committed suicide three days ago. He shot himself and it wasn’t by mistake. It was a premeditated action.
To say the least, my mind meandered from pillar to post. I couldn’t even begin to fathom the horror his wife and daughter must be living through. I couldn’t even begin to think of how brokenhearted they must be.
It’s a nightmare that never goes away. The questions of ‘why’ will forever dance around in their heads. The first question that popped into my mind was equally why and the second question as foolish as it might sound was ‘how did he get a gun?’
Guns are not easily obtained back home in Nigeria and I have only ever had a gun close to me when armed robbers pointed it to my head and I found myself staring into the nozzle of the gun and praying as fast as I could in my mind.
Jokes apart, I stared my death in the face and I grew cold. I know that it’s Grace and Mercy that saved me. That Grace and Mercy stopped the robber from going trigger happy and coldheartedly shooting me.
In my ruminations, I realised that for a partner or anyone to decide to take his/her life then their sense of despair must have been horrendously hopeless. It’s just sad. It also makes me realise that a lot of artful concealing of emotions and self-deceit must have played a role until things got out of control.
The worst deceit that one can indulge in is the artful deceit of self. Indulging in such cover-up cheats one of the ability to be true to themselves and to reach out for the help they need. The saying ‘fake it until you make it,’ has always made me ask the question, to what extent should someone fake it until they have to pause and take stock of their fakery?
How long should one walk around wearing an artfully decorated mask that smiles, laughs, chit-chats and conceals the pain going on behind their mask? There are days that I felt a small wild animal growling in my head about one thing or the other but yet, I apply my gloss, wear my glad rags and get on with my to-do list like the World is all bright and beautiful. However, I’ve learnt to express and share my emotions when I feel overwhelmed and it’s not only cathartic to do so, but also offers the opportunity to hear good counsel as well.
Here was an upwardly mobile young man, who by all appearances had things going well for him, but for some reason, his thoughts fell apart to such an extent that he felt suicide is the only way forward. If he had sought help is it possible that he wouldn’t have resorted to this?
In core African societies, mental ill health is grossly overlooked and neglected and it’s almost seen as a taboo to insinuate that a person has Bipolar disorder or PTSD. Its results are far-reaching though suicide is not particularly a common phenomenon possibly due to the strong social and family system in existence, nonetheless, the dearth of professional care in this regards especially with the increasing level of stress and societal dysfunction in our present World makes this a cause for concern.
SOC’s prompt for this week coincided with my thoughts on the art of masking emotions based on the suicide incident.
© Jacqueline Oby-Ikocha
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Jacqueline Oby-Ikocha’s poems portray images that stare us right in the face. Images of love, joy, death, pain, challenges, violation, and freedom. She writes in a language that’s rich in imagery, earthy, honest, vulnerable, yet full of the promise of hope, of loving and of Grace. A collection of light and dark soulful prose.