Navigating parenting amid suicidal thoughts
Sandra Wekesa @wekesa_sandra
Pain, lost love and disappointment strike Lucia Musyoka’s mind whenever the phrase ‘fatherly love’ is mentioned.
Even though all is now in the past and she has forgiven her father, her traumatic experience of being raised by a violent father will forever be etched in her mind.
“I forgave him. But I have just never had the strength to forget the pain that he put me through as a child, and how it has affected my parenting,” she says.
As an intelligent, book-smart student, Lucia always thought her excellent academic performance would win her father’s love.
She always worked hard to top her class and be the best student to please her father. But all this did not matter to him, she would always come home to a violent man.
“I remember our neighbours making fun of us for always being thrown out of the house every night. Our home was always a war zone.
My father would beat my mother and then the beatings would come down to me,” she recalls.
This went on and on for years and she started developing suicidal thoughts. She remembers her first attempt at taking her life when she was nine years old and in Class Four.
“One day after another mega fight, I went for the medicine cabinet and swallowed all the pills from a certain container.
It backfired. But I suffered serious symptoms from the pills including severe headaches and fatigue.
Nobody knew about it. My mother concluded I wasn’t feeling well and asked me not to go to school,” she says.
Her second attempt to commit suicide was in 2003. “I was in Form Four when I called home and I received news that my mother had been admitted in hospital after being maimed by my dad. I was shattered.”
She could not take it anymore, she took several gulps of jik, a strong bleaching detergent hoping to die.
“Being in a catholic school, I was rushed to hospital and I was expelled afterwards.
I was only allowed back to the school to sit for my final examinations, the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education,” she narrates.
She attained an A minus and was called to pursue an aeronautical engineering course at the Technical University of Kenya.
Beatings while pregnant
But as fate would have it, at 19 when in her second year in 2017, she got pregnant by her classmate.
Once again she faced the wrath of her father. “When my father learnt that I was pregnant, all hell broke loose.
He beat me up ruthlessly saying how much of a disgrace I was. He further blamed everything on my mother, who was not spared the beatings,” she recalls.
The worst happened when she was 38 weeks pregnant. Her father kicked her belly that her water broke. She is only glad she did not have complications while giving birth.
But life became even more unbearable after her baby came. One day, last year, she lost it again with her dad and for the third time tried to dilute rat poison with water and drank it all.
Her mother and daughter found her lying on the floor fighting for her life.
“I lay there unconscious with my face swollen. I am told that I was kicking my legs and some of my organs were failing,” says Lucia.
She was immediately admitted in the Intensive Care Unit for three days, and later admitted in the general ward for three weeks where she fully recovered.
“I had never been so close to death like I was this day, I was so scared for my life and suddenly, I felt pity for my helpless daughter,” she recalls adding, “While in the bed I just kept on wondering how bad everything would have turned if I died.
I started thinking about who would have taken care of my daughter and if she would ever understand and forgive me after finding out what I did,” says Lucia.
It is at this instance that she realised that she had hit rock bottom and needed help before things got worse. She checked in at Nairobi West hospital mental ward.
As a result, she was separated from her daughter for two months while receiving treatment.
“Children were not allowed to visit and that meant missing my now three-year-old daughter all that while.
It was a hard time for me, especially knowing that there was nobody to take care her as my mother went to work,” she tears.
When she got discharged she took it upon herself to ensure that she educated people on suicide and depression through social media platforms. She is glad that this is working well for her as it is helping with the healing process.
She also decided to go back to school and finish her education.
Her father has been apologetic about his mistakes and she hopes she will be able to forgive and forget what he did to her.