Eddy Kimani was at one point a household name in the Kenyan media industry as a revered news anchor, radio presenter, and actor.
But his life took a downward spiral when got a job as a communications director for Nakuru County in 2014. He relocated to his home county without his family and eventually separated with his wife, Nyambura Njenga.
“For 15 years I enjoyed a good run in the media career. I had it all, fame, celebrity status and a career that I dreamt of, it is also in this 15 years that I also met my wife, Nyambura and we were blessed with two kids,” narrated Eddy on Engage Talk in January this year.
Kimani said the new appointment in Nakuru County weighed him down because the income was less than he was used to. He took a loan with the aim of setting up a business to supplement his income but it failed and debts piled up.
“I was kicked out of my rented apartment twice and my items were auctioned once,” said Eddy Kimani.
It is during that time that he also cheated on his wife leading to the separation. “One thing led to another and I betrayed my marriage and I separated with my wife and this killed me every single day. The consequences were dire and I felt broken,” he said.
Eddy Kimani has now opened up on his journey with depression;
In your own words, how do you think depression starts to manifest itself?
Anxiety is worry not being able to rationalise issues which when given enough airtime in our minds leads to very depressive thoughts. That’s how the journey to depression starts. Having been in the dark caves of this disease, I know all too well what this demon looks like from a distance.
It is funny how seemingly harmless anxious thoughts, when entertained in the chambers of our hearts, can lead to the slippery slope that is depression.
What question do you wish someone asked you when you were going through that dark phase?
Do you need to talk? What can I do to help you get through this dark period? What changes can help you feel better right now?
I know this is a weird question but what would you say is the hardest part of dealing with depression?
The thoughts of isolation, waking up and knowing the dark cloud is still over your head. Further, not being understood, but the hardest of all is asking for help.
Knowing what you know now, what information do you wish you had prior to this struggle?
I wish I knew more about depression and what it was. That would have helped me somewhat handle my situation better.
What would you say is the greatest asset to coming out of depression?
The greatest asset is that you are now better equipped to deal with depression to some length; able to have a different perspective of the things I encounter along life’s journey.
Do you think depression is preventable? If so, how?
Yes it is. By reaching out to loved ones when things get hard and finding ways to improve on your own self-esteem and to handle tough times.
What would you say is the place of counselling in all this?
A professional counsellor is trained specifically to handle that. Depression is a disease and there are ways created to handle it as opposed to just speaking and encouraging one who is depressed.
Is it easier to talk to a man or woman concerning life’s struggles – both on a personal or professional level?
This really depends on very many dynamics. No straight answer to this but bottom line for me is we should talk to anyone concerning our struggles regardless of their gender.
What were the pre-dominant thoughts going through your mind at the time?
Failure, loss and uselessness. Further, I felt I was a bother to people and everyone was an enemy. Looking back, I had a lot of negative energy.
How does a famous person seek help?
Sometimes because of being on that elevated platform, it’s hard to reach out for help because of that perceived status. You tend to imagine how bad it would be for people to know that you are going through depression. Also asking for help becomes a challenge because of that status since in your mind, you envision people having a flawless perception of who you are… and you want to keep it that way.
What is your take on the counselling culture in Kenya especially for men?
Men are having a hard time opening up about depression because of the notion that a man should not show weakness or vulnerability. A man would more likely overlook a mental check-up/therapy and rather go get checked for something else. I think also the word therapy already makes some men cringe from even going to see a specialist. It should be changed from Therapy to Consultation.
How are you doing now?
I am in a much better place. The worst in the past now. With my lessons, I am making the best of everything and working at being the best version of myself every single day.
What role did your religion/faith play in helping you recover from depression?
For a long time during that period, I did not involve God with what I was going through. Something that I wish I did. I was broken inside completely, and I needed repair, but I did not go back to my maker (God) or use the manual (Bible) to be repaired.
Now that I’m mending, he is my rock and everything and he is walking with me through the journey a day at a time.
Word of advice to people in the public eye struggling with depression?
Ask for help. Depression is a problem that cuts across social status.