“Hey, I am sorry, we should not do this anymore. I love you so much, heaven knows. I need to take care of myself and health. I would always love you, but I cannot do this anymore” she said and turned her back to walk away. Ali pulled her back with her right palm into a warm embrace that lingered. Tears spilled from her eyes. Mena removed his hands that wrapped her neck. She looked him in the eyes with a grin. Ali tried to put his hand on her face, Mena avoided it and walked away from him. She could not bear another second to see the sadness on his face. Ali stood on the pavement few inches from the Kentucky Fried Chicken at Ogba, Lagos State until the rain began to drizzle.
Mena is light-skinned, thick and very pretty. She is one to avoid conversations and keep to herself. At birth, the doctors discovered Mena has Situs Inversus. When she gets older, Mena becomes depressed and socially anxious.
Mena always carried with her a mindset that she was different and the burdens were hers to bear. From the onset, she shuffled schools and hospitals thereby affecting her relationships. However, she can pull through every day wearing a fake smile and keeping her disorders a secret.
One of the many reasons why she does not tell her closest friends about it is because she wants to forget it all. Whenever she thinks to adjust to the healthy world, she ends up in the hospital.
Mena grew up in a Christian family and has a personal relationship with God. Despite being a person of faith, the thoughts of committing suicide has crossed her mind.
June 13th, 2015, depressed, she felt terrible that she could not stop herself from feeling unhappy. So, she walked into the kitchen to grab a long sharp kitchen knife from the cabinet. Holding on to the black handle, Mena turned the pointed tip to her stomach. It felt right to end her life at that moment until she heard a still small voice say within her “don’t do it.”
After the long holiday, she went back to school with her feelings all over the place. School is another avenue for socializing, and she despised it until she got in contact with an old friend from her childhood, Ali.
By September 2015, they were dating. A long-distance relationship because they were in different Universities. Long calls, face time, they understood each other, could tell what one was thinking and helped each other with school work. Once in a while, they would leave their schools to meet up in a restaurant or the movies to spend some quality time with each other. They were intimate emotionally.
Mena found happiness in talking with Ali every day and chatting. Ali sent her cute messages and poems. For the first time in a long while, she forgot her disorders. Her friends noticed a different aura seeping from her. However, she never mentioned him to them.
It was a Thursday night. Mena felt tired and wanted to go to bed. She picked up her phone to send a good night message to Ali. After she sent the message, she checked his status update on Blackberry Messenger. She saw the picture of a gift he bought another girl for her birthday whereas he forgot about hers.
“I knew it was impossible for him to want an actual relationship. Why did I fool myself into believing something could work out?” She picked her phone and broke up with him over text. Then, she felt better. The following morning, she forgot about it. Mena went on with her day as though nothing had happened until she opened Blackberry Messenger on her phone. She saw the breakup message and could not figure out why she’d broken up with him.
A day later, Ali called her. She was alone in her room and gloomy that day. So, when Ali asked her why she ended the relationship? Mena broke down in tears. She cried without an explanation hoping Ali would guess something was wrong. Instead, Ali said, “it was cool if that was what she wanted.” When Ali ended the call, she smashed the phone on the bed and went straight to her friend’s room. Throughout the rest of the day, she laughed and ate as she tried to forget Ali.
Three months later, Mena returned home for the Christmas holiday. Everything seemed to be going well on the 31st January 2016 until Mena could no longer move any part of her body. Whenever she tried to move from one side to the other, her stomach tightened. In tears, she stretched her hand to pick up her phone and called her brother. Ralph ran to her side and rushed her to the hospital that night. Mena stayed in the hospital for two weeks. It was during this period that she finally opened up about her mood swings to her parents. The doctor prescribed anti-depressants for her.
At the age of seventeen, she felt relieved that she did not have to fight her battles alone. Back in University for the new semester, she reached out to Ali, to work things out. Talking to him again made her feel better. Mena wanted to tell him about what caused the instability in their relationship but, she refrained herself. They got closer than before. Mena was on the path of healing, and she felt like the past did not matter.
One day, they got talking on the phone, when out of the blues Ali interjected: “I have a girlfriend.” The words crippled her heart. She wondered why he never mentioned it in the first place. “Why did he have to carry me along? Why didn’t he mention it in the first place?” she thought to herself. This time a little louder, she asked: “why are you telling me now, Ali”?
“It was a mistake,” he responded.
Like that, Mena went into the bottomless pit again. She ended the call and let her mind slip into hallucinations. Throughout the night in her apartment, she wailed in silence on her bed because her roommate was asleep. Mena stopped taking her pills and went on with life; including her relationship with Ali. She acted like everything was okay. Held on to a relationship she already knew was over.
Amidst, all she went through, Mena stayed focused in school. Whenever she avoided talking to Ali, a message from him would pop up. He was like a disease that had no cure. Then came this conversation:
Ali: Should I break up with her?
Mena: That depends on you. Do it for yourself. Alternatively, how about we run away?
Mena: You know what, if you cannot make up your mind, stop playing with my emotions and get away from me.
Ali: I am sorry.
Mena: I forgive you.
18th, July 2016, they finally met at Kentucky Fried Chicken. Mena had grown and learned a lot during their time apart because they stopped talking for a long while. She dared to go back to God, take her medication and stay sane. With the help of a Christian counselor, Mena realized how messed up her life was and the need to love herself first. “I, too, deserve love” were the words she meditated on every day. This time when they met, Mena made up her mind to cut him off for good. It was not easy but, she knew she had to find her way back to God.
After turning her back on Ali for the last time, she got into the car and cried. She loved him like forever. To ease the pain, she played audio sessions sent to her by her counselor. It talked about the following:
The first relationship, any Christian should have is with God.
Love yourself first to love others.
Never take infatuation as God-kind of love.
About healing, the spirit would be willing while the flesh is weak.
Your joy can only be in the presence of God.
There is a time to heal and a time to love.
As she listened, she felt a conviction in her heart that she had made the right decision. Despite fighting herself for a long time, she felt at peace.
When she got home, she took the bottle of pills and the Holy Bible from her bedside table. She laid her back on the bed, took an overdose of the anti-depressants and swallowed it. Then she picked up her Bible to read. Mena felt a sharp pain in her chest, and when she tried to get up, it hooked her the way it had done to her stomach. She slumped on the bed, and that was her last moment on earth. Mena died with a soft smile on her face, and her Bible placed roughly on her chest.
Days later, Ali heard the news from one of Mena’s best friends. It sent ripples through his vein. He felt sorry for the way he treated her while she was alive. Blamed himself for not knowing all she went through. He browsed through their chats and messages. Ali felt sorry for his actions, and this sad event brought him to His knees before God. What no one knew about Ali was that he also dealt with depression.