By Denise Tuyisenge

So the past few days have been hard, I’ve sort of reached a mental breaking point. I felt like I needed to distance myself from everyone and sensed phoniness in people that “pretended” to “love” me.  I’ll explain the air quotes shortly.

Have you ever reached a point where all the positivity in the world could not help your sad self? Well, not all but you catch my drift. Sometimes things just go downhill and any thought of happiness or peace is clouded by a messy darkness that won’t go away. I reached that place and all I wanted was to be left alone, crying in a corner, enveloped in the darkness.

Setting these infrequent bouts of depression aside, I’m the most Pollyanna-kind of person you’ll ever meet. It could be freezing outside with nothing but snow and ice for weeks to come, but I’ve still got a smile on my face because I know something better will soon come.  But when your loved ones are far and those you care about desert you, that sunny outlook becomes harder to maintain.

Then comes work, something you felt would catapult you to a career level you’ve always dreamed of. The kind that energizes you and fills you with purpose. You meet amazing people and constantly struggle to find impressive things to say, words full of pithy messages and witty content (yes, I’m a journalist, and everyone I meet while working seems to be larger than life; notable and daunting at the same time).

Feelings of loneliness and inadequacy, coupled with a myriad of other issues every 20-something faces these days, had really taken a toll on my spirit.  I felt myself slipping and decided to disengage from group events and social media sites (which is monumental in my line of work). Social media is our lifeline when it comes to finding stories.

I was drained.  In the midst of me losing my mind I laid my head down on a tear-soaked pillow and whispered to God to send me a remedy. Something or someone to help me. Then came Salha, an acquaintance-turned-friend who I met while covering a story about her philanthropic work (she sells woven baskets made by women in Rwanda, but that’s a story for another day). So Salha noticed my absence in one of our virtual group sessions and she reached out to me. Since we live hundreds of miles away from each other (she in the UK and me in Rwanda) she hooked me up with another amazing acquaintance-turned-friend named Natacha, bless that girl!

So back to my air quotes at the beginning of this piece (time flies while you’re story-telling). Sometimes all you need is for someone to genuinely care about you to lift you out of your dark place. Someone that loves you enough to encourage you and impart wisdom, even if they have nothing to gain in the process.  There’s something Natacha said that stood out to me during one of our chats (at a cool café in Kigali), she told me (and I’m paraphrasing) that ‘putting all your efforts and energy into work can be draining, you need to take a step away from work and approach it pragmatically. Don’t lose yourself in it.’ For me, that meant that I should look for other things to be passionate about that aren’t work-related, like poetry and photography.

These two ladies spoke to my spirit when it was at its lowest. So, dear friend, if you are going through a tough time pray that the good Lord sees your tears; and when someone reaches out to you, please open up. As surprising as it may seem, there are people who are invested in your peace of mind, and they may not be those we traditionally think of.

So here I sit, unsure of what the future holds but happy knowing that assistance will always come to those who remain open to it and believe.

Chin up!