Behind Rita's Mind

     Where do I begin? . . . Most people can draw a finger to their first kiss, love, or even their favourite teenage memory. I can’t, but I can draw one to the first time I cut myself to release the hurt and ache I felt inside. I also remember the first time I tried to end my life. I had known and hidden the pain away for years until I got help in 2019. It’s funny how I always knew I was different or something about me seemed off.

Oh I almost forgot – Hi, I am Auma Rita and I am learning to stay. Yes! I am now at the stage where I can say that. I always felt this darkness and emptiness. I think I would have taken it if it was just that, but it came with excruciating pain. I was desperate for it to end or for some self-worth. I never moved around showing I was ‘less than.’ In fact, to some of my friends, I was so jolly and overly confident. I always complimented myself – in hindsight, maybe this way I would keep them believing the façade. I was always in relationships – I loved these men, it’s just that being with someone made me feel safe. It made me think that I was protected from the sexual assaulters since I couldn’t defend myself the first time around, or the second and third as time went on. This coping mechanism hurt people and I hope one day they will forgive me. The fact that I was sick didn’t negate that I hurt people. ‘Hurt people’ hurt others. That’s the lens you see life through. I had to accept that I wasn’t well and choose to do better. I had to get help to put an end to the cycle. It was hard but I am grateful to have had supportive friends and family as my light.

I fight with major depressive disorder, severe anxiety, and PTSD. I am not good with crowds or being touched, and when the PTSD comes around, I often self-sabotage relationships or feel like I am going to be sexually assaulted again and again. The depression is a constant, but they are days when the lows hit hard and I just don’t want to be here anymore. I just get so tired of fighting or of even taking the medicine with all of its side effects. I made a year since my last suicide attempt on 14/04/20 and hope to make a year free from self-harm in June.

I noticed the stigma around mental illness is huge in Uganda. That’s why I chose to become an advocate after my first admission to the Psych Ward. I share my story on social media platforms. I have been able to work on a short film of the same, and I founded support groups for those on their journey to healing. I always want people to find safe spaces where they can openly talk about their struggles without judgement and find help. It’s not much, but it’s a step in the right direction.

 

Auma Rita

Kampala, Uganda

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