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Opinion / Columnist

We May Look Sane: We Are Not

28 Jun 2023 at 14:20hrs | Views
I am a Zimbabwean citizen by descent. I was born and raised in this country and have lived through decades of political turmoil (just two actually), economic collapse, and social injustice. For as long as I can remember, my people have been struggling to survive under the oppressive rule of the ruling party.

We may look normal on the outside, but we are not. Every person living in Zimbabwe today is struggling with mental health issues caused by the massive challenges we face every day. The constant fear and uncertainty that permeates our lives have taken a toll on us that runs deep.

Our parents remember the days when the days were better. These were the good times, the times before our government betrayed us. The economic situation in Zimbabwe is catastrophic, and it has only gotten worse with each passing day. The country is now bankrupt and in a free fall.

The government has been responsible for the abuse of our people, it has subliminally killed, and kept the majority who voted against them hungry, jobless, and hopeless. The mismanagement and corruption by our leaders have led to the collapse of our economy, and the people suffer the most.
For many Zimbabweans, this has resulted in trauma, depression, and anxiety. We are a people whose minds have been stretched to their limits, grappling with fear and chronic stress. Our lives have been thrown into chaos because of the cruelty of our government, and we are struggling to cope.

Even when our stomachs are empty, and the heat of the sun bears down on us mercilessly, we are still not allowed to speak out against the system. This pressure and the strain from keeping quiet has resulted in many Zimbabweans struggling with mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other related conditions.

To make it worse, the majority of us have limited access to mental health resources. There are very few facilities that cater to our needs, and even when they do exist, the costs are generally prohibitive for most families. Our healthcare system has collapsed along with the rest of our infrastructure, and this has severe repercussions for our mental health.

Many of us have lost our ability to dream about a better future. We have been trapped in a cycle of hopelessness, and the trauma of our daily experiences have shattered our hopes and dreams entirely. We are constantly overwhelmed by a sense of despair and helplessness.

It has become normal for us to see people standing by the roadsides, waiting for hours for a bus or a little bit of food. But most of all, it has become normal to us to see loved ones, friends, and family members die from treatable illnesses simply because we do not have the means to seek help.

Our children are scarred by their experiences and exposure to violence and trauma; they lack proper education, leading to a bleak future. We are a generation that is committing suicide through substance abuse (alcohol, cough syrup, marijuana), stress, and despair, and the impact on our mental health is staggering.

The struggles that we face every day are not just physical but psychological as well. Many Zimbabweans have lost their self-worth, their sense of identity, and their humanity due to the suppression and manipulation of our government. We are living in a state of severe collective trauma, and our mental health deteriorates with each passing day.

The crisis we are in shows no signs of improving, and the challenges that we face as a people only seem to intensify. The trauma piles up day by day, and the mental health concerns we face as a nation are mounting to an unimaginable level.

Many have lost the motivation to start over; the hope that tomorrow will be better; the belief that change is possible. But even in the midst of all the darkness, some of us refuse to give up. We work hard, and we rally for change, to make a difference; to reclaim what is rightfully ours.
If you are a Zimbabwean like me, remember that you are not alone in your struggles. It is important to know that you are not weak or incapable of fighting, but the system has broken every ounce of willingness, optimism, and resilience in you. Remember that it's okay to reach out, to talk to someone about what you are going through. There is no shame in seeking help or taking care of yourself mentally.

To SADC, we have been silent for too long, and we need your support. We need you to speak out against the injustice that is happening in our country. We need you to help us fight for a better tomorrow, for a free Zimbabwe, a Zimbabwe that we can all be proud to call our own.

Mental health in Zimbabwe is not just a clinical issue but a socio-political issue. It is a silent crisis that has shattered the lives of millions of Zimbabweans. Our minds may be broken, and our spirits worn down, but we will fight for what is right. We will resist until we take back our country, and we create a Zimbabwe that we all can call home with dignity, pride, and hope.

Kumbirai Thierry Nhamo |
Writer, Blogger, Poet and Researcher
Call/WhatsApp: +263780022343 | +263716984317
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Source - Kumbirai Thierry Nhamo
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