Facing stigma, struggle of depression
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.