Fac­ing stigma, strug­gle of de­pres­sion

The Sunday Independent - - WORLD - LE­SEGO MAKGATHO Are You Heal­ing or Dis­turbed: To Live While Alive. Tsha­bal­ala can be con­tacted on @ Mx­o­laPOWER on Twit­ter and Mx­olisi Em­manuel Tsha­bal­ala on Face­book

A DE­PRESSED bread­win­ner is pour­ing his heart out about his strug­gle in his self-pub­lished book,

Mx­olisi Tsha­bal­ala, 28, de­tails how de­pres­sion af­fected him and his fam­ily and how it be­gan in 2015 when he lost his fa­ther.

“Af­ter the loss, I could man­age, but los­ing my fa­ther was dev­as­tat­ing be­cause we were very close. We didn’t have the means to bury him. I didn’t give my­self the time to grieve and to deal with his loss,” says Tsha­bal­ala.

With a 21-year-old sis­ter do­ing her first year at the Univer­sity of Jo­han­nes­burg, a 17-year-old brother in Grade 11 and an un­em­ployed 30-year-old brother, Tsha­bal­ala shares how he pro­vides for his fam­ily and puts their needs first.

“As I am bat­tling de­pres­sion, I re­alise I’m not the only one (like this) at home. My mom is de­pressed, my sis­ter has told me that she too, thinks she has de­pres­sion,” he says, re­flect­ing on de­cid­ing to speak out and help oth­ers deal­ing with men­tal ill­ness.

Tsha­bal­ala de­tails how be­ing the bread­win­ner in his fam­ily has been a chal­lenge and a bur­den, as it is with many young black peo­ple who are bread­win­ners in their fam­i­lies.

“I find the more I speak about the ex­pe­ri­ences and emo­tions, it eases ev­ery­thing. I’m in a space where peo­ple are ask­ing how I over­come it. Talk­ing about it is ev­ery­thing for me. I live in Tsakane with my sib­lings. I want to move out, I feel like it is time now,” says the pro­duc­tion as­sis­tant.

“Be­tween us young peo­ple, I think there’s this wall. I don’t think we know how to talk or nav­i­gate our way through de­pres­sion. Friends I usu­ally spend time with haven’t asked me what’s been hap­pen­ing, de­spite them see­ing my (so­cial me­dia) posts where I ad­dress the is­sue. We’ve al­most been con­di­tioned to not face our is­sues head-on and hide how we are feel­ing. We need to cre­ate con­ver­sa­tions among our­selves.”

Tsha­bal­ala says ever since he came out about his de­pres­sion, he re­alises peo­ple tend to feel sorry for him and he wants to re­move the stigma around men­tal ill­ness.

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