Kenya is named by the World Health Organization as part of the topmost countries in Africa with more and increasing cases of depression.
According to a psychologist Ruth Nkatha who works with Befrienders Kenya, an organization that offers emotional support to individuals with depression, she says this mental condition often affects men but is often misdiagnosed as not many people are familiar with the symptoms.
“We have observed that young adult men are more prone to depression compared to other demographics. This is mainly due to societal expectations and pressures placed upon them. Joblessness and the low economic base also play a role,” She said.
A number of Kenyan celebrities on that note have happened to experience the depression in their lifetime that some almost lost hope in their lives.
Let’s take a look at some of the topmost celebs who battled depression and are slowly opening up and creating awareness on the condition.
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The singer recently admitted to battling depression in silence as he went on with his ‘happy’ online life.
Speaking in an interview on Radio Maisha, Otile said he tried his best to maintain his outward appearance as he battled the condition mentally.
“Vera sitaki nimzungumzie kabisa yaani lakini kile ntafahamisha watu ni kwamba depression is real. And kile watu hawajui ni kwamba for the longest time, toka mwaka jana mwanzo mimi nimekuwa mtu ambaye siko sawa. Alhamdulillah nimekuwa napiga hela mambo yanakwenda nini lakini kiakili, emotionally, physically yaani nimekuwa ni mtu ambaye sijatulia na unakuta kwamba sisi wasanii huwa hatuna watu ambao tunaweza wafungukia,” he said.
Other than the expectations from the society, Otile brown said celebrities find it hard to open up on mental health issues for the phobia of being shamed and trolled.
“Huwezi ongea maana wewe ni msanii alafu kuna vile watu huwa wameshakuchukulia na sehemu ambayo watu wamekuweka tayari na unahisi kwamba huwezi ukamfuata mtu ukamuelezea shida zako na saa zingine, unataka tu mtu akushauri maana kule kuongea kunatuliza roho coz the moment unazitoa moyoni unabaki na amani. Lakini unshindwa mtu ambaye unaeza share naye hivyo vitu maana hujui umuamini nani. So kwa muda mrefu mwenzenu nimegundua kwamba niko depressed,” said the Kenyan singer.
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The media personality opened up on falling into depression deeply after the divorce of her parents. Julie says after the divorce, her dad remarried while her mother emigrated, leaving her with no home to go back to.
“I was in the throes of deep depression. My parents divorced, dad remarried and Mum emigrated. I had no home to go back to. I didn’t have enough money to complete my degree. I was frightened and anxious,” she wrote.
With prayer and determination being her core principles during that time of hardship, she was able to overcome the situation and tells her story, encourages and inspires anyone going through the same situation.
“I lamented with God, I told Him I was so angry with Him, but I still loved Him and I asked Him to hold me tight and never let me go.”
The award-winning rapper acknowledges falling into depression a few years ago after he was forced to drop out of school due to lack of funds.
“Maisha ilikua hard I remember I was having a conversation with a DJ and I told him mi niliachia shule form four not because I wanted to but because of the circumstance at that particular point.
“Just like I said, things never used to be the way they are now. Things used to be hard we had to undergo a lot of trial and tribulations and all that to elevate to this position but now we are happy God is good we are making moves,” he said.
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After the death of Churchill show comedian Njenga Mswahili who had confided in his fellow comedian Eric Omondi that he was depressed, Eric opened the lid on some of the causes of depression and how the condition has affected individuals, especially in the entertainment industry.
Speaking to Milele FM, Omondi revealed that expectations from society subjected to fame are driving many young and upcoming acts over the edge.
“If you are a public a figure with no steady income, chances are high that you will sink into depression. You have nowhere to go, considering your celebrity lifestyle. It eats you up from within. I remember when I started featuring in Churchill Live, in the first five months, I was very famous but very broke. I could not walk in the streets. I would board matatus and many would think I was shooting an episode but in the real sense, I had nothing. I was soaking in sweat,” said Omondi.
According to him, celebrities need mentors that will walk with them throughout their lives and careers.
“These upcoming entertainers whether comedians or musicians need mentors, someone to talk to,” he advised.
For Jackie, the former Tahidi High actress, depression hit her in 2015 after the birth of Zari Wanjiku, her firstborn child.
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Being a mum for the first time ever, she explained that she had no idea how to go about motherhood which led her to fall into post-partum depression.
“I had these conflicting feelings of constantly wondering whether I should have waited to have a baby and when I tried going back to work, I felt like I was not being the best mum. I would wake up and cry for about two hours and I couldn’t get myself out of it,” Jackie said.
According to her, the condition took a toll on her marriage as neither she nor her now ex-husband understood the mental condition.
“It even caused some friction in my marriage because we were young first-time parents and during that period there wasn’t much awareness about such things.”