I told a really close friend of mine once that: “In the pursuit of happiness, we actively try to avoid pain as ardently as possible. In actuality, however, the avoidance of pain is virtually impossible. Happiness isn’t the absence of pain, trials, or lack in our lives; instead, it is found in the perspectives we conceive and hold unto after the pain, trial, or lack is processed. It is ultimately found in contentment.”

I know depression the way that I know every syllable of my name. I battled with it for almost ten years after the abrupt passing of my mother. I have on many occasions, without oral utterance, wished to die because I felt as though depression was the worst possible war that one can experience. There is no torment like the inability to run away from your own cancerous thoughts. Mixed with solitude and the feeling of being misunderstood, depression brings about an indescribable suffering.

I always sensed this kind of suffering on my mother while growing up. This is when I knew, without a doubt, that unhappiness had festered twelve years of marital commitment and devotion. This unhappiness became a pungent odour, seeping through her pores like the aftermath of those alcohol drenched nights I’ve had. My mother actually attempted suicide twice, and I am glad that there was no third time charm.

The VALUE of the air we breathe immensely increases when the present possibility of drowning becomes a reality to our lungs. In that moment, we come to find that the VALUE of our survival increases, and we yearn to, and in most cases learn to, keep swimming. We strive to stay afloat by any means necessary because going under has now become an immediate threat to our survival. The magnitude of this moment presents to us the mandate to choose the outcome of our survival based on VALUE – how much do we value life. The temptation to give up and become subdued by any pain experienced is this body of water attempting to drown us.

My mother survived depression caused by years of domestic violence and infidelity, and I survived depression caused by loss, broken-heartedness and solitude. Has life become easier since then? Most certainly! Every day I am striving, learning and growing. I know now that it is pain that introduces us to the MANDATE and VALUE of a choice whereby we sink or swim, push through or become defeated, grow or remain stunted.

It is in suffering that we find our most resilient selves. We come to know our exceptional strengths because pain exposes and exploits our weaknesses. The realization of this magic, however, resides within the VALUE of our choices. I pray that your choice allows you to reclaim your peace, for even the seas know the art of reclaiming what was once theirs.

This letter is an excerpt from Omavi’s first book, Letters To Honest Folk