By Debbie Ogunjobi
PAIN for anyone is not a welcome emotion; most people embrace joy and cultivate happiness as a way of life. The choice of life partner is often measured by how happy some people make us, same goes for choice of friends, profession or vocation. Joy is a 100 percent more welcome than sorrow and who could blame us?

Sorrow is an affirmation of the pain we feel at a loss of something we hold dear, it comes hand in hand with disappointment and heart ache so no one really wants to be engulfed by grief or despair. Pain is the body’s natural reaction to alert us that something is not right.

Physically our bodies become pain riddled when we are hurt, the pain gets more intense when the damage spreads and won’t stop till we attend to the problem or we slip into unconsciousness.

Emotionally pain operates in much the same way as in the physical sense, till we attend to its source it just gets worse till we heal or lose our minds.

This past week I have pondered the nature of joy and sorrow and while life runs its course in between the two phases, there is another phase that is commonly forgotten; I call that area the “in between.” It’s that black and white part of life that can best be described as “just there.” Most of us have had to give that answer a lot of times when we are asked how we are.

“I am just there” or “Like this like that” or “so and so” are the same answers with different words but they tell the world we are barely existing, going through life not happy or sad, just occupying space. I pride myself on being one of the few who enjoy everyday life and own every single moment it brings so I caught myself unawares when I said I was just there to a friend who wanted to know how I was last week.

Don’t get me wrong  I have not discovered the source of unending joy but I tend to be 60 per cent joyful, 20 per cent sorrowful and the balance 20 per cent just chilling. My just chilling phases are normally the times when I pep myself back to life with a massage, a book, a trip, dinner or something that drives me back to joy.

So I was in a terrain that was unfamiliar and rather uncomfortable, I was for all intents and purposes indifferent to myself, everything and everyone. I could barely muster anger, or any excitement, I was well truly just there for a few days!

It actually took two well timed events to snap me back into good form and while I am not quite in 60 per cent comfort zone of joy I am at least back in my chilling zone. The first of those events was a call from someone who was deep in the throes of despair; the lady in question was so depressed, she actually admitted being disappointed every morning she woke up and worse still avoiding being alone as she just didn’t trust herself not to attempt suicide!! This was a bit hard to comprehend given that she seemed to have it all!!

An okay husband, three wonderful children, they live in their own home, drives choice cars; what on earth could lead to despair? I had asked her how this depression began and she said she had “just been there” for a couple of months so it was a natural progression to despair!

The alarm bells went off in my head and I realised that indifference was just one step in either direction from sorrow and abject despair.

Later on in the week I was engrossed in a discussion with a few people and we drifted to the subject of isolation especially in western countries where technology as all but robbed people of human to human interaction.

The depression rate in Europe is surprisingly high giving all the creature comforts they enjoy that we don’t in this side of the world. It’s almost like lack of worry becomes a worry in itself. Sounds crazy but, take for example the average Nigerian, who is walking a tightrope of survival and delicately balancing very meagre resources to survive that there is barely any time to devote to life talk less of despair.

Between the lack of electricity, bad roads that create heavy traffic to and from work, daily and skyrocketing inflation, there’s barely time to catch a breathe. I am not in any way saying that average Nigerians don’t get depressed, what I am saying is that most of the things that cause our depression has not helped people who have it in abundance be joyous!

To be contd.

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