Samuel Ogechukwu: “They tell you you’re not supposed to be thinking such depressing thoughts…” [Nigerian Voices]

by Samuel Ogechukwu

They tell you to cheer up. You try to convince yourself to and fail. Then they pull you down with that phrase “there are many you’re better than, ” as if you’re purposefully hurting yourself…as if the war in your head means nothing.


Sometimes you feel helpless, you feel the dark clouds hanging lugubriously low and threatening to go even lower. You feel the emotional claustrophobia gripping your heart and squeezing it into a useless ball of unfeeling numbness. Then you discover you can do nothing about it. It’s hard when you can’t control things, when the inability to rearrange the world sits heavily on your shoulders, weighing you down.

It stays with you like an unwanted companion and it gets even darker and gloomier. You wonder why your thoughts are such a burden. Sometimes you try to fight it off, to dispel it like the aging day dispels the fog. Other times, you don’t because you know it’s useless. You sink, you just sink and let your mind float about aimlessly like a sad, lost kid.

Every time you think, you can’t get a hold of it. You can’t pin it down, this evasive reason for your sadness. You wonder if you just love feeling pain and being sad for no reason. The more you think about it the less you make of the picture. The dark tide just washes over you without any cause, submerging you in it and pulling you back into the ocean where you drown in your thoughts.

You try to go out and see people so you can leave the darkness behind. But it hardly does any good. It follows you about like a dark hallow around your head. You try to open up and tell people what you feel, what’s wrong with you, why you suddenly fall quiet in the midst of those you call friends. You find your explanation lacking; they do not understand. Even you do not understand. You start talking about it before your voice trails off in the middle of your complaint as your mind grapples with itself to make sense of what you want to explain. Your friends tell you the regular “you’ll be fine” and expect you to stop talking about so much gloom. You smile and go back to the pretence that is you.

You delve into music seeking solace, but the darkness is there and it consumes you. Your music hangs heavy like your soul, so you sing along. Sometimes your eyes boil over and a tear or two escapes. You want to shout and vent out the pent up tornado inside you but you never do. You make jokes instead and exude humour full to bursting, the perfect mask.

It never leaves you. It comes when it wills that you’re always surprised when it allows a break in the succession of night after night after night. During this break you think you’re too happy and you’re not supposed to be. You wonder how long it will last, how long before the weight pulls you under to begin to drown again. The happiness is the perfect torture tool; flashes of what could be but will never be. A light that fools around with you in your dark labyrinth.

This light goes off soon enough and you hit rock bottom once more. It feels like home, as if you were not happy to be happy and the darkness is where you belong. Conversing with friends, ‘having fun’, a company takes its toil on you. You retire to the quietness to be alone and let it burn you. You wish there is someone–a God perhaps–that will listen to you. So you pray. You do not do this often, but you just do it anyway. It seems you’re making a fool of yourself as you talk to yourself like a mad man. It’s like you’ve run out of the portion of happiness allotted to you and there’s no refill.

They tell you you’re young and you’re not supposed to be thinking such depressing thoughts as if you chose to. They tell you you have a bright future and the world will fall at your feet, but all you see is a fog, a future shrouded in uncertainty. Even if you rule the world you’ll never be happy, you know. They tell you you’re funny and they love your company. But it’s torture and they don’t know it. They do not know that those lame jokes are a mask to cover what you are. They tell you you’re a great person, but the echo is mournful and empty and sad. You’re confusion, you’re antithesis, you’re oxymoron, you’re nobody, nothing, nada, zilch.

They tell you to cheer up. You try to convince yourself to and fail. Then they pull you down with that phrase “there are many you’re better than, ” as if you’re purposefully hurting yourself…as if the war in your head means nothing.

This entry was submitted as part of the Nigerian Voices competition organized by

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