Depression is a serious illness. Many people are battling the condition. Some, even might not know they are depressed.

Radio personality, Sam Nkirote McKenzie, has opened up about her depression that left her elbow deep in dept.

In her Mchanga profile, Sam describes how her life has been crippled by clinical depression.

“I suffer from clinical depression. I got an official diagnosis about four years ago, but now that I know the symptoms, I think that I have probably had it from when I was around 16 and for most of my 20’s.

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The last few years have been particularly bad. For months I wasn’t able to function. And by function I mean I could not brush my teeth, make a cup of tea or have a shower. On really bad days I wasn’t even able to read.

I have always been a high achiever, I was at or near the top of my class for my primary and secondary school education and I was team and house captain and head girl in primary school and a prefect and head of house in senior school. I made the Dean’s list in law school, all the while working full time as well as having another side job.

Sam Nkirote Mckenzie
Sam Nkirote Mckenzie

I have always been what people describe as a ‘rock star’ at work, but in the last four years I have been fired (eek!), and not just fired from any job, but fired from a job in a company run by probably the most powerful women in the African tech scene. In short, the impressive flow of my CV was ruined!

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I started a business but have had months when I couldn’t work on it.

In a bid to become functional, I developed a dependency on prescription medication. But I am so proud to say that I have now been clean for two months.

I was raised by a single mother, who I now support and have done financially since I was 18. And in the last few years since she was involved in a motor vehicle accident and then a few years later diagnosed with Parkinson’s I am now her primary care-giver.

When I am well, I am super woman and I can handle everything.

I don’t have any family on either my Mum or my Dad’s side who support me. In fact, I haven’t seen my Dad in 24 years.

But I have friends who love me absolutely, and doctors who have seen me pro bono, and I am so lucky, because without them I would not be alive.

I am of mixed race, and my pronounced British accent makes most people look at me and scrunch up their faces and pretty much say: “You can’t be poor! Tell me another…” But I assure you that when you have no familial safety net and you are the primary bread winner and care-giver and you can’t work, you can be very poor.

I have had been months behind on my rent. My landlord has tried to evict me numerous times and is looking for any opportunity to kick me out. I have had days when my water and electricity were disconnected at the same time and I didn’t have KES 30 to buy toilet paper. I have bought my Mum’s medication a pill at a time because I couldn’t afford more. I get calls from the bank almost every day and I am on the CRB blacklist. I haven’t filed my tax returns in the last few years and have penalties I need to pay. At the end of this month, my health insurance runs out and without it I can’t afford the antidepressants which I need to function.

I now have a job, and I am now doing so much better, but it is very much a day at a time. I know that most people don’t believe that mental illness is a real thing, and you should just buck up and stop being lazy. But I can assure you that it is. And it is debilitating. When I am healthy, I am the hardest worker you will ever meet, and I am quick, witty, and funny.

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My friends have helped me as much as they can. And even though I now have a job, it feels like I am going through life in a boat full of holes. Everything that comes in goes out immediately to pay some debt I have accrued over the last few years. For that reason I have started an online fundraiser: Clinical Depression Debt Fundraiser.

Of course, I am ashamed asking for help from strangers but when I balance shame against spiralling back into deep depression or becoming homeless, I think that shame is a small price to pay.

Anything would help, and even if you can’t donate please share this with a friend.

She continued, “In a bid to survive I took two bank loans; loans I wouldn’t have taken if I was well. From the start, I simply wasn’t in a position to pay the instalments but I needed the money to provide for myself and my mother.”

Sam concluded in an updated Mchanga profile, “I now have a job (well, two jobs, if you count my radio work), which enable me to cover my living expenses and care and provide for my mother.

The remaining money I am trying to raise is going towards paying the two bank loans. These loans have been forwarded to collection agencies; agencies which are incredibly aggressive. The rest of the funds are going towards paying my taxes and the penalties accrued.

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