A Umthatha woman who was diagnosed with a major depressive disorder (MDD) five years ago is using her experience to teach others in rural Eastern Cape about the condition.
Pinky Gqeba was in and out of hospital before her doctor suggested that she seeks psychological help.
The 32-year-old says she had recurring headaches and frequent mood swings.
“I spent more time in my dark quiet bedroom without taking baths, crying for no reason. I did not want my own children, they were irritating to me. I was always irritable, people irritated me, I withdrew from spending time with my friends. I wanted to be alone. I had suicidal thoughts, my life didn't matter anymore,” she tells Move!.
She says all this time, the doctor thought the severe headaches were migraines. However, after some time the doctor made a suggestion since Pinky was not getting any better.
“The doctor suggested I see a psychologist. The psychologist referred me to a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist diagnosed me with major depressive disorder,” she recalls.
She spent two weeks at a psychiatric hospital. “I was put on anti-depressants instantly to alleviate depression symptoms due to the severity,” she reveals.
She says the depression was triggered by marital and financial problems. “My husband was physically and emotionally abusive. But now we’re going for counselling sessions and things are better,” she explains.
The mother-of-three admits her condition has had impact in her family life. “My husband is still learning about the condition. At times he would not understand but I research and show him that I have no control over things. My older child understands because I told her. My little boys don’t understand why at times their mother would not want to play with them,” she explains.
Through it all, Pinky says her mother has been her pillar of strength and a shoulder to lean on. Her mother understands and has been supportive even when she was misdiagnosed.
“My mom was the one who took me to hospital. She understood my predicament and was very supportive,” she says beaming.
Now, Pinky is on medication and goes for check up after three months.
"Your mental health is your responsibility, and your mental health is as important as your physical health," she preaches this message on her Facebook page, PinkyG Talks where she shares her journey.
“I have established a Facebook page "PinkyG talks" where I talk more about my journey of living and overcoming major depressive disorder. It is on that platform that I educate people about depression, taking them through to the stages of depression and how they can prevent or deal with it,” she says.
She tells Move! that the Facebook page is just the beginning. She is going to schools and rural areas to educate people about this condition.
“I am trying to help people to not to be where I was. I want to help rural people the most because they’re not aware. And when depression is left untreated people would think someone is bewitched in rural areas. I will even start in my own village,” she says.