“Depression”, when it loosens its grip music sounds differently

Often people with a (mental) illness turns to personification as a way of coping with it. The illness becomes an entity with a life and a will of its own. So Tanzanian author Delphina Robert writes a letter poem to her despression that has suddently left, after being with her for a long time. Nobody informed her of this “departure” but this new absence makes itself very clear: music has a very different sound now. And despite initially feeling akward in this condition, the loosening of depression’s grip leaves room to relief and to a blank space ready to be filled up with new words.

“A letter to my best friend” is a letter to oneself, a hope for healing

Tanzanian author Leah Gerald Soko recounts how she wrote this poem at night, her mind storming and troubled. Feeling useless and unable to do anything about her challenges in life and above all, feeling she had no one to talk to, she turned to writing. A letter to her best friend becomes the chance to open up about her innermost feelings, to face her difficulties and encourage herself to accept her pain and be responsible for her own recovery. In Leah’s words, writing has been “a breakthrough towards depression and anxiety” and it represents now a way “to heal and feel strong about myself”.

“Bitter sweet” is the skin cut that suffocates the screaming soul

Mental illness can include a variety of symptoms; sometimes self-harm can occur. In a vicious cycle, the individual punishes his/her own body – the shell containing a suffocating inner distress – and takes somehow pleasure in it. In this poem Mercy Bibian describes with brutal honesty the “journey” to self-harm in scenes of cinematographic inspiration. So the reader witnesses the first cut and then the following ones, up to the establishing of an addiction to pain, to blood, to cutting – an act that almost inconceivably provides relief of unbearable thoughts and feelings of anxiety and depression.

“In This World of Ours” society teaches us vanity and isolation

“No man is an island” reads a renowned verse by the English poet John Donne: we are all part of something larger that is humanity. But modern communities are organized in societies that tend to highlight individualism up to the point of leading people to isolate, especially those who can hardly handle cruel social pressures. This is the context of Nigerian author Ayomide Inufin D’great’s poem, its key word being “loss”. We lose our head, our energy, our course, our core values; and we look for a foothold in vanity, in the decadence that envelops us and from which we can still – maybe- save ourselves.

“Poetry, Pain, Blades And Grace” a night of silence and screams

Day follows night incessantly and with no mercy for those who don’t see the point of this alternation. Society crashes – with its questionable demands – the frailty of those who feel inadequate compared to the world around them and to others. When these feelings become overwhelming, there seems to be only a solution: suicide. But society labels and judges even this extrema ratio. So, in the words of Kenyan author Young Nino, what is left is “drinking your soul away” or anything that can soothe that pain “that takes away your will to live“.

Overcoming post-conflict trauma with art: three African case studies

In volatile environments such as conflict-torn North Kivu, post-genocide Rwanda, or Sierra Leone, experts and humanitarian aid workers are now employing art to support the treatment of mental health conditions caused by violence. In many areas of the African continent, people with psychological illnesses lack effective therapeutic support – left alone in dealing with the sickness and forced to fight every day against the stigma. In these circumstances, art therapy can represent an important ally to cure pathologies such as PTSD, depression or nevrosis.

Migrants, stress post-traumatique exaspéré par les hotspots

La plupart des migrants qui sont arrivés en Europe par la mer depuis 2015 ont subi des violences: des problèmes de santé mentale émergent pendant la période de réception dans les pays d’accueil, notamment le troubles de stress post-traumatique. Grâce à une étude récente, nous savons que ce qui attend ces personnes à leur arrivée compte, tout autant que leurs expériences le long de la route migratoire et dans leur pays d’origine. La vie dans les grandes structures, telles que les hotspots et les CARA, peut avoir un effet négatif sur les traumatismes antérieurs. Les associations sont d’accord: il est temps de supprimer les obstacles à l’intégration, en changeant radicalement l’approche frontalière proposée par l’UE.

Migrants’ post-traumatic stress is aggravated by hotspot system

Most of the migrants who have arrived in Europe by sea since 2015 have experienced violence: mental health problems emerge during the reception period in host countries, particularly post-traumatic stress disorder. Thanks to a recent study, we know that what awaits these people upon arrival matters just as much as their experiences along the migration route and in their country of origin. Life in large facilities such as hotspots and CARAs can negatively affect previous traumas. Associations agree: it is time to remove the obstacles to integration, radically changing the border approach proposed by the EU.

“Mental 360”, in Kenya against youth depression and suicides

Mental 360 is a non-profit mental health awareness organization that has been active since 2016. Among its activities there are physical wellness, counselling, art therapy, yoga and dance, all aiming at promoting mental health and emotional stability. The end goal is to establish a society where mental illness is not stigmatized and treatment is affordable to the common citizen everywhere in Africa. We talked with Bright Shitemi, co-founder of the organization, who explained us the inspiration behind the NGO and the objectives, obstacles, results achieved to date and future goals.

“Living Death”, a hopeless life with sadness weaved into the bones

One Global Voice reaches Botswana with this poem dedicated to the fatigue of living. When not engaged in her work, Maipelo M Zambane dedicates herself to reading and above all to writing: she keeps a very active profile on Twitter and collaborates with the digital magazine Afrolutionist, which aims to contribute to inclusive development in Africa and in the African diaspora through the perspective of human rights. “I don’t remember the day i stopped embracing hope,” thus ends this painful piece from her recent Life and Everything in Between collection.

“No title”, when words dissolve in the whirlpool of deep depression

A poem entitled “No title”, because when one suffers from depression there seem to be no words to describe it. The world around seems to dissolve and words are deprived of their meaning and unfit to describe one’s feelings. This is the theme at the heart of the poem by Alum Comfort Anne, a young and talented Ugandian poet who has been inspired by her personal struggle with depression. She takes us in the middle of a stormy night, torn by the desire both to live and to die, until the break of dawn. The final verses convey not only the despair behind a suicide attempt but also the invincible faith in human solidarity and mutual support, because “we are all just human, anyway”.

“La dépression c’est pour les blancs. Ici on l’appelle Folie”

Nanda est une artiste gabonaise singulièrement plurielle, poétesse Slameuse, chanteuse, Chroniqueuse médias et écrivaine. Elle est de celles qui osent croire au pouvoir de l’oralité, de la parole poétique rassembleuse, éveilleuse de rêves et d’une humanité meilleure. Elle a pris part à plusieurs festivals dans plusieurs pays du monde. Elle est aussi co-initiatrice du Collectif Slam Action du Maquis Bibliothèque et et Membre du collectif Kidikwa. Dans ce texte elle parle de la folie comme on l’entend en Afrique pas en Occident et raconte l’histoire d’une femme isolée et jugée à cause de l’amour d’une nuit. “Maladie Mentale”?/Le terme ne court pas les rues ici/C’est une friandise que mâchent les bouches intellectuelles/Ici on dit “Folie“.

“Left without”, a woman inside the imaginery cave of depression

Akimana Divine is a Rwandan poet, mental healthcare advocate and human rights activist. Her works have been published on numerous magazines and anthologies. The poem “Left without” allow us into that imaginery cave that is depression: a dark place where one is left without anything but his/her ghosts and fears. Divine has had her own hardships in life, first as a young girl being bullied for her weight and then as a single mother raising her boy alone. These painful experiences led her to find comfort in poetry and to write her own poems as a way of struggling against depression.

“My mother’s depression”, inherited on the night of the blood moon

Carolyne M. Acen, aka Afroetry, is a Ugandan Spoken word poet, writer and counselor. She has dedicated her life to poetry, which for her has become a form of activism to raise consciousness about delicate and complex issues: among these the condition of women, the search for freedom and all the prejudices coming from a patriarchal and macho mentality, not only African one. In this text, “My mother’s depression” she explores the theme of psychological distress linked to the family situation and, in fact, to a form of life oppressed by social constraining.

Eleazer Obeng, “The Devil’s Snare”: that silent, oppressive evil

“The sun is up, it seems like a new day sigh. you are still here. It’s not. How did you get in? I cry. Hubbub waters my anxiety. Sprouting doubt, and the traumas of my past I thought I buried.” This poem, as Eleazer Obeng tells us, “was born as annotations in which I tried to make sense of a facade created to remove an empitenss that I felt inside and that I could not explain to myself”. Dennis, this is the name in real life, defines himself as a “gender fluid” and in Ghana, the country where he was born and lives, he is an activist for queer rights.