“Mommy…what is deplethion?” I slowly look up from the book that I am busy reading.  I look into the big and sparkly eyes of my five-year-old daughter.  She smiles and I immediately catch a glimpse of the two missing front teeth which the tooth fairy so generously rewarded. I take it I did not hear correctly. I ever so politely say “excuse me dear, what did you ask?”. “Mommy! Do you know or don’t you know! You always say mommies know everything. So what is deplethion?”

I can clearly hear a note of irritation coming through as the little person in front of me challenges me with my own waft of wisdom I get to use daily and just because I am a mother. I actually did hear correctly.  The little angel in front of me asked me to explain to her what depression is.  My heart starts racing, I feel my head swinging and a warmth flushes over my entire body. “Where did you hear that word sweetheart?” I curiously asked. “Bombo on the TV said that Tombo was lazy, because he just sits there, does not want to eat, does not want to smile and sleeps all day long. So Tombo said he thinks he has deplethion because he is not a lazy person.” I listened attentively to some of the symptoms of depression being relayed by a five-year-old.  I stand there and think to myself that there is no way of stopping this train.  It started rolling and I have to jump on it. I gently take the hand of the little angel and started a story…

“One day, there was a little birdie called Mimmie.  She had a little house shop in the forest. All the animals always came to buy her lovely crispy cakes.  One day, the King of the forest, Leo the lion, announced that many animals were not feeling well and everyone must stay in their nests, coves, caves and holes so no-one else can fall ill. Mimmie was very upset because she had to bake every day. “Who will buy my lovely cakes” she wondered.  Everyone went into their houses and no-one saw each other anymore.  Sometimes they would meet at the waterhole, but could not talk because they were not allowed to stand close to each other.  Life for Mimmie and the other animals changed so much.  Mimmie did not want to eat anymore.  She had no appetite.  She did not feel like baking anymore. She did not know who will buy her cakes.  She did not sleep so well anymore. Every night when the stars shone bright, she was so worried and would think so much over what is going to happen. In the morning she was so tired and could not get out of bed.  She spent most of her days indoors and did not want to speak with anyone, even if she got the chance to.  Mimmie was just feeling so sad and down over everything. This went on for a long time.  Finally, the king announced that everyone may come out again as all the animals started getting better.  Everyone was so happy, but Mimmie could not come out.  She still felt so sad every day and although the animals begged her to bake again, she just could not do so.  Then they decided to make a new bakery for her, right in the middle of the forest and close to the waterhole where she could see everyone every day.  They wanted her to see that she is not alone and that they miss her too, especially her delicious, crispy cakes. One morning all the animals came together at the waterhole. Suddenly they saw Mimmie coming along to collect her morning water.  She still looked so sad and even thin.  They were determined to have their old friend back.  As she came close to the waterhole, everyone jumped forward and shouted “SURPRISE!! We love you Mimmie!” Mimmie was startled and could not believe her eyes.  Her friends had made a new bakery for her – close to the waterhole where everyone could see her and she could see them.  Her heart leaped and she was overwhelmed with joy.  Everyone came to hug her and welcome her back.  She did feel better to see them all and thanked everyone one by one.  “I missed you all, and it feels good to be back”, she smilingly said.

I looked at the smiling face of my little one as she listened to the ending of my story. “Ladybug…do you think that Mimmie was lazy when she did not feel like baking anymore? Or when she was feeling all alone and sad? Or even when she did not want to eat or could not sleep. Do you think that she was lazy?” I watched as her head was slowly rocking from side to side and she said “No mommy, I don’t think she was lazy.  Maybe she was like Tombo.  He was also like that.”  Then suddenly I saw her eyes lit up and she excitedly asked: “Mommy, do you think that is deplethion? Tombo and Mimmie had deplethion? They are not lazy!”.  I smiled and was amazed at how quick the connection came. I answered “Yes baby, those are some of the things people with depression may go through”.  “MXM! Silly Bombo!”, the little miss clicked her tongue and walked out the door to find her puppy friend.

At the onset of international lockdowns all over the world in 2020, many people struggled with coping with the demands of the lockdowns in order to curb the spread of the Corona virus.  Many people could successfully move through these massive changes, but for many people the change in reality was just too strange and impactful.  Mental Health Professionals suggest a few coping strategies for individuals struggling with depression:

  • Medication and or Psychotherapy (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – CBT and others)
  • Following a healthy diet and exercise routine daily (even for short periods of time)
  • Setting structure to the day by following a guided time-table
  • Set realistic and small goals for each day, then week, then month etc.
  • Attend a community support group or online support group (SADAG)
  • Adopt a hobby – like painting/doodling/scrapbooking/riding a bicycle (the possibilities are endless…)
  • Allow family and friends to provide support, love and care during these trying times
  • Take care of and be gentle with yourself

While we all try to settle in with our new reality caused by the Corona virus, it has become so important to be mindful of what people around us go through. Before we judge and think it is mere laziness, we may want to stop and take a look and listen to the possible outcry for help…


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