The Prudent lives. By Althea Storm.
“A story that screams for change”
Authors Note: The Prudent Lives explores the perception of depression and mental illness as taboo topics in modern society.
In the world we live in, especially in general African culture, depression, especially in married women who are going through domestic abuse, is something that should not be discussed.
I think this is because of the prevalence of patriachal ideologies in society and the way it supposedly ‘paints women as weak creatures’ that are unable to withstand the frivolities and excesses of their abusive husbands.
This disapproval of healthy communication and subsequent therapy causes domestic abuse victims to stay quiet to please the society that glorifies suffering in silence.
In its wake, many people, especially women, die in abusive marriages because they do not know how they will be perceived by society.
Expression of your present state of mind, especially when imbalanced, is also frowned upon as you see in the story below.
The Prudent Lives. / Part – 1
What if love is a simulation?
What if pain is the triggering mechanism for this bittersweet illusion?
As I sit here in this meditation mat, eyes closed, lips quivering in stunted prayer, ears attuned to the feel of my own steady heartbeat, the black and red splotches behind my eyelids provoking, in my subconscious, an invigorating vision of earth’s layers folding in, closing in upon itself—and myself, too—swallowing us whole. My husband and me both.
I open my eyes suddenly, after whispering the last repetition of my mantra—lines will fall for me in pleasant places, my will is stronger than my desire to be kept from happiness, blah blah blah—a desperate attempt to feel something other than the permanent scattering of my once-fearsome resolve—and look down to the pinky of my left hand.
The blood there had begun to clot, tiny red crust forming over the torn flesh. I pick up the razor again, pausing briefly to gaze at the dangerous glinting of it under the yellow light of the very expensive, somewhat traditional chandelier Dale had brought from Morroco as souvenir from one of his many, frequent travels. I brace myself, clamp my teeth close together, and made another small cut on my left pinky, a half-inch below the first, crusty one.
I watch the blood pool slowly over the cut, form a ball and drop onto the mat—a bright, vibrant red, so like the flower vase Dale had thrown at my head the last time I stayed too long at my best friend’s tie-dye shop located three feet from our house.
A small smile frame my lips, more from bitterness than amusement, as my mind fills with memories of my half-sister, Olanma, telling me last Sunday on our way to the parents’ house after eight o’clock mass, that I should find somebody to talk to fast before I run mad, somebody meaning a psychiatrist. I see, in my mind’s eye, the animated widening of her eyes, her mouth forming a perfect O as she whispered incredulously, ‘Odiegwu!’ when I lifted my flared long sleeve to show her the cuts I had made the week before on my inner left arm, right above the crook of my elbow.
‘Biko, what is this now? So you can carry blade and spoil your body like this, eh? What has entered you?’ she asked me, her body stiff with withdrawal only I could sense. It was a reasonable thing to do, shifting from what you are not accustomed to, hoping silently that the tiny distance is enough to save you from the contagion of an action so strange.
Stay tuned for Part II of this story!
If you are struggling with a mental illness or depression, please do check out the National Institution for Mental Health.