The Sunday News
Robin Muchetu, Senior Reporter
“NO one commits suicide because they want to die.
Then why do they do it?
Because they want to stop the pain,” wrote Tiffany Debartolo.
True to the above phrase 41-year-old Sue Chigorimbo, who lives in Toronto, Penhalonga in Manicaland Province at one time decided to take her life to stop the emotional pain caused by problems she encountered.
She suffered from severe depression induced by marital problems that were ignored by those around her with the usual “marriage is like that, hold on” being preached to her.
According to her, now she is better than she was four years ago, thanks to social media and craft work that saw her sharing her experiences and getting help in the process.
The reality of mental health
“I realised I had depression in 2018 before I went to the doctor to be diagnosed clinically.
I tried to talk to people about my marital problems.
I was suffering inside.
I would not bath or clean myself up.
At first people would not listen to me until I reached a point where they thought I was listening to gossip about my now ex-husband.
It was worse because I didn’t have evidence to prove my problems were real and so people believed my ex-husband and not me.
I had a small baby then in 2015 and I stopped breastfeeding her all because of the depression.
I started bottle feeding her and would just leave her with anyone who was available as I could not even care for her because I was depressed.
“I have, however, learnt how to manage it (depression).
Most people that know my story have seen my posts on Twitter.
I chose social media because I came to understand that mental health problems were widespread, real and not unique to me.
On Twitter I would see posts of breakdowns, people trying to reach out when they were feeling down.
So, I kept feeling the urge to talk to someone and inspire them.
Mine is not a perfect story but I know it can change someone’s perspective of their own life.
On Twitter the following that I have is largely because of my line of work, I am a crafter, academically I studied for a degree in e-commerce and I was a banker for close to 15 years.
We also ran a successful milling company until I became a crafter eventually,” she said.
Initially, Sue did not want to share her story because she was avoiding to “step on toes of other people”.
“My depression mainly stemmed from marital problems so I did not want to ‘expose’ the father of my children as I am not a vindictive person.
I did not want to be seen to be bitter and wanted us to have an amicable separation.
So, coming out in public talking about my problems was a challenge then.
But I realised you eventually get to that part, and that was what was nudging me, I wanted to speak out because I knew there were lots of women out there going through exactly what I went through.
I knew I had to get to that point of speaking out.
So, I started speaking about my experience last year on the anniversary of the day I made an attempt on my life,” she said.
Speaking out and finding a way out
“I posted a tweet on how grateful I was after surviving that experience (suicide) and how I had found other things to do that had changed my trajectory, my crafts.
I wanted people to know that it was depression that saw me getting into crafts.
I wanted to inspire someone.
I started off knitting and people would question why, saying it was unlike me.
I was doing well though and always wanted to encourage people to use their talents and that was my idea when I went on Twitter.
I was a banker for like 15 years.
People wanted me to drop knitting and go back into banking.
But I was doing knitting to escape from my mental health issues so I also wanted to speak out but I was scared of people’s reaction as our culture does not take kindly to people who speak out,” she said.
While marriage is every girl’s dream, Sue said hers took a horrible twist and the lack of adequate support when she reached out also affected her.
“If one is married to a physically abusive husband, if family and pastors find out they are quick to encourage you to leave as there are scars to show.
But if you are in a marriage and you are emotionally abused no one sees it and they will not assist you, they actually tell you to hang in there, yet you will be falling apart piece by piece until you reach that lowest point.
They don’t believe that one can get mentally affected because of marital problems,” she lamented.
Sue said she got the usual “men are like that” advice from people she sought help from but says inside she was dying.
After her initial post, which was a celebration of the gift of life and how crafts had gotten her out of a sinkhole she saw a change.
A second post she shared on Twitter, had more details on her dark past and made people even more alive to the reality of depression and mental health issues in the communities.
Each year, Sue reflects on the things she is grateful for and how far she has come in her journey in dealing with mental health issues and attempting suicide.
“This year I appreciate being alive, how my kids are glad to have their mum around with them.
If I look back to 2019, I was in turmoil, I had convinced myself that my kids would be fine without me but now I am in an entirely different space I do not want them to lose me any sooner, I want to live long enough to see them graduate, get married and share many other milestones,” she said.
As the adage goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, Sue came across a picture that was taken a day before she had decided to call it quits and end her life.
“This picture popped up from my Google pictures, that I took the day before I made an attempt on my life, I could see the pain that was in my eyes on that day.
I had taken lots of selfies with my kids and I knew I did not want to live anymore that time.
I wanted them to see a last memory of me when I was okay, so I never wanted it to be a picture of me crying that will be etched in their memories,” she said.
Sue booked herself into a hotel where she would end her life the next day.
The biggest blow
With all the turmoil and traffic in her head, Sue faced more trauma when her then husband married his lover.
“He left home like he was going to work and yet he was going to pay lobola for his lover.
We had been making some progress and we seemed to be on the mend with him, but it all went haywire.
I was not expecting it, I decided my life was over, I decided life was not worth living anymore.
I had nowhere to run to. I thought I was better off dead than depressed, I did not want my children to have a depressed and unhappy mother who was alive but not living.
I tried to reach out to him the day I decided to end my life and he shut me out, it cemented everything, I was going to die. I felt like a failure as I had tried to mend my marriage to no avail,” she said.
The fateful day
“They never believed I wanted to commit suicide, and I felt the need to end it, I took a load of left-over tablets, about 60.
I drove on to Harare Road near Magamba Training Center where I penned a suicide note, one to my children and one to my family. I sent them to my sister on WhatsApp and switched off my phone.
I wanted to die there, then I thought people would take time searching for my body, I wanted to be found easily and buried and forgotten about. I then thought I should go and die at the gate of my husband’s new wife.
I quickly drove into town as the drugs had started working in my body and I
parked just before her gate. I went to sleep,” she said.
She was found unconscious at that woman’s gate and was hospitalised but was angry that she had not died.
Fast forward she however, went back to knitting as it was a comfortable place.
“I was no longer in denial about my marriage then. I was done.
As I was posting my work on social media again someone noticed my work and a lot happened and I had to rebrand.
I began to lead over 500 women who were into knitting, my confidence was regained after this lady approached me and said I must start a knitting revolution.
I opened a YouTube channel and it was great, I did virtual training and I was rebirthed.
“I then experimented with various crafts, ropes, baskets, I upcycled old wine bottles and I got orders from all over the world in just two weeks.
I can safely say that is the one thing that brought me out of depression, I do not want to die anymore.
It then gave me the courage to press on even when my ex-husband left. I am now at peace.
It gave me courage to
speak out as I know there are a lot of women who are depressed and are in marriages and do not know how to get out,” said Sue. @NyembeziMu