A Girl's Memoirs With Demons (My story for World Mental Health Day)

Theresa Takafuma
Posted October 16, 2018 from Zimbabwe

In the middle of one night I sat up in bed with a startle—the demons were out to get me and here they had come to snatch my young life, claw and tear it and later carry the shards of its remains to wherever they deemed fit.

Voices were colors; the deep hoarse and harsh ones were the dimmest, whilst the cheeriest, squeaky and giggly ones were painted in pink, yellow, orange, light blue and cheery red.

My day will always start with a creativity so big it could conquer the world, a belief that if I would totally unleash myself, the world would come to a standstill and that alone would scare the living daylights out of me.

I would shudder at the mere thought of being great, which involved even coming first in class and nomatter how many times I took the number one in primary school, it always gave me running stomach.

Then came the voices: I remember the very day they arrived, in their horde of variety—the brown ones washing off the pink ones onto the vast wall in my mind and the light blue ones screaming for recognition.

Once at home there was a fight between my guardians, and the voices kept chasing me throughout the day and it was unimaginable torture because I knew very well that telling anyone about it would mean me being committed to some faith healer or n'anga's home, which was way off my class.

I started loving church at a very young age of eight, and those Sunday services really meant a great deal as the only voice which was colorless was the pastor's, and I would feel very guilty imagining that it was my fault that I could not "hear" its color.

What made me more sorrowful was the reality that I was fighting demons that nobody else had to know about, as outside I was always this cheery, blissful, intelligent and talkative young girl, who was the healthiest in the family but who would blink the night away in what I later learnt was called insomnia.

 

As a direct result, my only ambition laid its foundation in the deep yearning of becoming an adult as I thought that would change the colors of the voices in my mind, which took away my childhood in an instant—I became an adult at ten.

Then came the fear: I became scared of virtually everything, from my own mom's footsteps to the voice of every male who was in my life—the only man I could trust had died (my grandpa) so everyone else became a potential victimizer.

I was afraid of walking through the door every morning; I was afraid of a twitching eye; I was afraid of the maths teacher; I was afraid of wearing my best dress; I was afraid of the dark; I was afraid of heights; I was afraid of all things good, and food too—which all of a sudden started tasting like tree bark…and wool…and sand…and other things unedible.

Teenage dawned without me noticing, and things started happening—faster than I had anticipated, and the fears grew with the years. This time even "shuteye" scared me and still I had not been able to tell anyone about my demons.

I had a love for books, and that helped a little, especially when I met Mr Sydney Sheldon's stories, Tell Me Your Dreams at first, and later other books. In my spirit I became Maya Angelou's goddaughter and I felt her speaking to me in my dreams; I became John Archer's niece and it was from The Fourth Estate that I developed the love for news.

Unfortunately all that did not kill my demons. No one in my world believed in the fancy names my demons had; Depression, Insomnia, Schizophrenia, Paranoia—see? Those are fancy names! Nothing my guardians, friends or relatives could comprehend, so I was just doomed to my lone, mentally sick world.

As I grew up into adulthood, I was now doing much of the talking and now had the balls to tell my demons to shut the hell up whenever I could. Sometimes I succeeded and sometimes I did not—they just wouldn’t listen and would keep howling in their brown and navy blue voices.

Eventually the demons became too intimidated by my assertiveness and decided to leave one by one. I don’t know if they really left but what I know for sure is that the pink, yellow and purple voices now speak louder than the darker ones.

Since no one has ever given a damn about how I felt, what I saw in my dreams and what rang into my ears, I have decided to confront the demons whenever they show up—to turn the gun on them and chase their tails like mad, on my own that is!

There are a lot of girls like me out there, who maybe saw, heard or felt things nobody else could feel, and no one gave a &$%# about it—fact is our society does not believe in fancy demon names and unless I strip naked and run amok in the streets, no one will care to lose a wink over my mental health.

The sad part of it however is how much this never ending "mental diarrhea" influences my destiny and the person I later become in life—so so sad. But heeey! I fought and conquered demons! Demons hey! Invisible monsters!

I do not need a shrink because those do not exist in my world and the people around me wouldn’t approve, so, well, I am alive and that’s what matters. At least I lived to tell the tale. (I wrote this on World Mental Health Day, for all the girls fighting invisible monsters every day. It will get better I promise.)

Comments 13

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Marie Abanga
Oct 16, 2018
Oct 16, 2018

Dear Theresa,

As a person living with PTSD, and from Cameroon, and now a psychotherapist, I can rightly say I feel you.

Thanks for sharing your story.

Yes it is possible and it does get better.

Hugs,

Marie

Theresa Takafuma
Oct 18, 2018
Oct 18, 2018

Dear Marie

Thank you for reading my story. Knowing that there are other women out there who fought and conquered makes me feel so happy.
I hope all your days are filled with laughter.

Thank you

Theresa

Lisbeth
Oct 16, 2018
Oct 16, 2018

Hi Theresa,
Good to hear your story, I personally used to have a family member in such a situation. Its real mental health disorders. In the beginning we thought she was a spoil child but hey later we have to turn for help.

Sharing your story, we know we aren't alone. Thanks for the inspiration and am glad you are better.

Warm regards
Lisbeth

Oct 19, 2018
Oct 19, 2018
This comment has been removed by the commenter or a moderator.
Theresa Takafuma
Oct 19, 2018
Oct 19, 2018

Hi Lisbeth

Thank you for your kind words. I hope your family member is better now.

Kindest regards

Lisbeth
Oct 19, 2018
Oct 19, 2018

Thanks Theresa,
Will inbox you later, we thank God.
Regards

Jill Langhus
Oct 17, 2018
Oct 17, 2018

Hi Theresa,

Thanks for sharing your very personal, real and courageous story of overcoming your demons. I feel so sorry for you, though, that you've taken all this mental turmoil on your own. Have you had any support or do you have any support now to help you through this, dear? Does it really matter if people don't approve if you go to see a therapist? I think you need to care for yourself and not worry about what others think. You and your health come first, always! I'm glad to hear that you feel better now, but I don't like hearing that people are in anguish.

You may want to consider submitting this story to one of the current story awards. I think what you have written could relate to both topics: https://www.worldpulse.com/en/story-awards

Thanks, and hope you find some more relief and happiness soon.

ARREY- ECHI
Oct 17, 2018
Oct 17, 2018

Dear Theresa,

This is truly Deep. Thank you for the bravery to conquer your demons and tell your story.
I can only try to imagine what you went through especially in a society where mental health is only seen when you round amok and naked, eating from dustbins and all that.

The more we talk about it, the more it will be easy to help others see that even with our strong communal societies, a lot of Africans do suffer from mental health.

Keep talking and keep seeing only the brighter colours of courage, confidence and love.

Hugs from Cameroon.

Theresa Takafuma
Oct 19, 2018
Oct 19, 2018

Hi Arrey-Echi

Thank you so much for reading my story. I'm glad it inspired you. Thank you for your kind words. Mental health is a subject close to my heart and I hate to see women's dreams altered by poor mental health, especially in communities where noone is willing to listen to them.

Kind regards

Theresa

Heather Townsend
Mar 07
Mar 07

As someone with sleep apnea, I understand how difficult a lack of sleep can be and how it can bleed into so many parts of your life. Thank you for sharing your story, and I hope that you are able to find respite both within yourself and potentially from those around you.

Theresa Takafuma
Mar 08
Mar 08

Thank you dear sister. Please know that someone out here knows and cares.
Lots of love.

Kika Katchunga
Apr 29
Apr 29

Thank you for sharing your story Thérèse; it is really pain to hear what has happened to you; glory to our good God because you feel better now; I pray to God your mighty to continue to protect you

Theresa Takafuma
Apr 29
Apr 29

Thank you for your kind words. I can gladly say I am a lot better now. Thank you.