By: Lesego Tanaka
I grew up in a household where adults had the final say and children could not ask questions or rather, there were boundaries to what could be spoken about. My first encounter of experiencing painful emotions being brushed under the carpet was when my aunt passed away in a car accident. I was young at the time and could not fathom the emotional impact even though I was aware that death meant that we will never see her again. So this one day, I was speaking about my late aunt by just sharing the wonderful memories I have had with her and that’s when one of my family members shouted at me and told me we don’t bring up the dead, not even in good memory. I did not know at the time that, that meant we do not speak of anything that will cause some uncomfortable emotions.
This has been a reality in my family for years on end, a reality I was born into but a reality that I choose to end with my generation or rather, a reality that I will not bring into my household or circle of friends.
We live in a world where being vulnerable or speaking up against something uncomfortable such as depression is generally looked down upon or people are actually filled with fear about opening up because they come from family structures similar to mine (or much more intense), have opened up only not to be believed or have opened up and have being ridiculed. Psychologists are viewed as people who help the ‘’crazy’’, which is a stereotype that also contributes to us not seeking someone to talk to or maybe it’s just plain old trust issues.
I’ve come to realize that through these hardships, the lows and times where your face seems unable to hold back the tears, it is imperative to remember that we are human, we have emotions and we feel. We do not always have to be running on a ‘high’. It is also important to note that we live in a system that can be so overwhelming for each other, so it is okay to blow off steam about the negatives. Communication about our mental state of minds should not be taboo in our communities or among our friends.