Author: Kwame Nti-Debrah
(Threads : @kwadenti), (X : @ntidebrahkwame) (kwamentidebrah.wordpress.com)
We live in a very complex and challenging world now – the 21st century. And everything governed by time, seems to be moving at a hypersonic speed, creating lots of unconscious emotive changes in many adults and adolescents alike – I’m right to say all persons, because the children we see also have their fare share of pressures or stressors.
Everyone seem to be fighting a peculiar mental battle. The human brain is under constant pressures, due to our everyday encounters and experiences – the challenges of trying to survive in the midst of socioeconomic chaos across the globe.
The high standards of living and advent of technology in the 21st century as compared to the other centuries, even make the matter of stress more important to talk about, because majority of the people we meet or see are more lonely than yesteryears, but we hardly pay attention.
Technology has brought some form of pseudo company – mobile phone devices for example create an artificial form of having company.
Meet 10 (ten) friends at a party and you will notice that throughout the night, all heads will be bowed against a screen 70% of the time spent.
Human interaction these days is on a declining curve – machines are taking over. I’m sure we will all agree that chatting with a machine (bot) isn’t same as talking to a real human being.
People are very lonely, they have no one they can confide in and talk to, when faced with challenges in life – challenges that have gotten a toll on their psychological health.
By the time they realize, the very thing they fear is consuming them subtly, stress overwhelms their overall system – mental chaos then ensues.
As an African, I will limit myself to our space or continent because this is where I’m more familiar with, limiting myself to Ghana and by extension the Sub-Saharan part and create mental scenarios common to all, considering the similarities we share as folks. I invite you on a walk with me, as we have a chit-chat about that thing called stress.
What is stress in the context of our everyday lives? Dear friend, I won’t bore you with long technical definitions, that we often forget about after reading them.
Stress in a lay man’s terms is having regular bouts of disturbing thoughts in your mind as a result of a challenging situation or an experience, which with time drains your whole energy to function properly in life as you are supposed to.
The point ought to be made that, stress is a natural part of life, part of our makeup but becomes problematic if it interferes with one’s proper functioning in life.
Having bouts of stress once in a while is normal, but it being chronic or continuous can alter one’s health in the long term. It can hijack almost every system of the human body and cause one to behave in ways that are dangerous to the overall well-being of the individual.
Sadly in Sub-Saharan Africa and maybe because of our culture, matters bothering on mental health is not discussed much. Stress isn’t really regarded as a serious phenomenon to be addressed and understood.
People are not aware that stress can make a person appear alive in the eyes of the public but dead inside all alone just walking – marking time to finally drop dead.
The collective psyche of our societies in matters relating to mental health smells of oblivion, people are just unaware of that thing called stress and the harm it can cause.
Many are yet to even understand that stress can destroy interpersonal relationships – even marriages.
To understand stress better, I think it will make sense to take some few seconds to understand how the human brain works in relation to this phenomenon.
As a rule I won’t sound like an expert – off course I’m not. I’m just like you, a man on the streets who has experienced intense stress, leading to a psychological breakdown. I have had a first hand experience of the evils this mental condition can cause.
I know many can’t afford to see a psychologist, so I have decided to use the reach of the internet to create some awareness – break down any cycle of ignorance because I believe this will help someone to come to terms with certain realities of life.
Someone will understand and know that it’s time to wake up. Happiness, joy or any positive feeling, is a state of the mind – its all in the head.
Now, back to how the brain works. When an individual is facing difficulties or challenges in life, what psychologist may describe as stressful events, an area in the brain called amygdala (plays a key role in our cognitive emotional processes) sends a signal to another area of the brain called hypothalamus (this is the entire brain’s command center or control room).
This command center relays information to the rest of the body, which helps the individual to have the mental strength to fight any negative stressful occurrences. But to muster the mental strength to fight seem to be the problem for most people.
We will delve more into the brain in our subsequent conversations as we go along. I believe it will afford you to understand why strength to fight stressful situations, becomes a challenge for many people.
In my quest to write on the topic of stress in Ghana, I tried to surf the internet to find out if there were any information that I could use. But to my surprise, the internet seem to be quiet on the topic of stress in Ghana.
This to a large extent speaks volume of words, this tells a story of our collective neglect of the subject matter, although this is one of the root causes of many mental diseases. Mental health matters are not talked about much in the country.
Even when we do, just after the experts speak on the matter, the conversation ends the very next day. Uncontrolled stress is a mental disease initiator and it is already killing hundreds (if not thousands) of the youth both emotionally and physically on the streets. It’s causing more harm to our interpersonal relationships than we have realized.
One can only know much but understanding reality is a different matter and this is exactly why I started to write on this topic, not as an expert but as a layman just like yourself, trying to wake others up to this reality called stress and the harm it can cause – many of us on the streets have no money to consult psychologists, so I have decided to fish for good information and share with one and all.
Dear friend, I will draw the curtains here, I don’t want to bore you with too much reading, because time is of essence. But remember in your endeavors that, I’m your friend on the streets and we will learn together. Let’s meet again next week and talk about that thing called stress.
Regards to all!