-Mental illness and suicide rate feature in a digression from Samantha's sex life
So Nick was a bust. My golden shower days are clearly over. I need a new hobby. Men are not working out for me anymore. I need to reset.
I spend the next few months throwing myself into work. It pays off. The magazine is doing great, with some of the highest circulation figures we have ever had. My boss is ecstatic and gives me a well-deserved raise. It’s a Monday and we are at an editorial meeting, where someone brings up depression.
“There’s an upsurge of suicides lately,” the young reporter says. “A village in Bungoma has elders performing rituals to cast out evil spirits.”
“And how is that working out for them?” I ask with a smirk.
“The suicide rate is increasing,” she says.
Mental illness is the singularly most misunderstood disease on this planet, so one can’t really blame the villagers. With other illnesses, one sees what causes pain. The disease will manifest itself physically. If you have cancer, your hair will fall out, you become gaunt and frail. You may have blood in your urine and persistent lumps or swollen glands. If you have diabetes, you have blurred vision, nausea and slow-healing wounds. If you have arthritis, you have chronic inflammation of your joints. If you cut yourself, you bleed. If you break a leg, an x ray will show you the broken bone.
But what happens when your brain is the organ that’s sick? When the chemical imbalances are not right? When the signals that cause joy are crossed and all you feel is pain? It’s not something tangible that you can see, and, therefore, it’s not treated like other diseases, yet it’s just as bad, if not worse. Other diseases come with bandages and ointments. Mental illness in some cases is like an open wound not tended to, that festers until the limb rots away and the pain, now having become unbearable, makes one take their life. But from time immemorial, humans blame anything they can’t understand on evil spirits.
For four millennia, seizures in babies were believed to be of supernatural origins and were dealt with by exorcists. Amulets against the so-called ‘evil eye’ were placed on the infants. In many tragic cases, the beating and torture of the infants was encouraged to drive out the evil spirits, always leading to their deaths.
The fact that some villagers in Bungoma want to blame suicide on evil spirits is the way of the world. Let’s be thankful that the subjects are already taking their own lives instead of having the hoard of villagers descend on them to end said lives themselves.
I recall not too long ago, they were killing old people because ageing was considered evil, and people sporting grey hair were considered witches.
“Let’s put a different face on depression,” I say to the team. “People tend to understand things better when it’s happening to a well-rounded individual, whose problems can’t be blamed on bad circumstances.”
With the next publication agreed on, the meeting breaks up and I head back to the office. I’m surprised to find a huge bouquet of flowers. It’s from Nick. Yes, he of golden shower fame. It’s been months. This is very unexpected. The note reads:
“Let’s have a drink!”
I put the card aside and pour some coffee, staring at the flowers thoughtfully. It’s been a very relaxed few months without having to deal with men. I have taken care of my sexual needs with my trusted vibrator, that frankly, is older than the company that sent these flowers. But do I really want to go back to the drama that comes with dealing with sexually deviant men?