Skip to main content
Esther Suubi poses for the camera in front of a Triumph Mental Health banner.
Suubi poses in front of a Triumph Mental Health banner. Her “X” hand sign signifies this year’s International Women’s Day theme, #BreakTheBias.


Asking for Help Doesn’t Make You Weak

Play audio version

DJP Fellow Esther Suubi Talks About Her Depression Relapse to Raise Awareness and Build Hope

June 10, 2022

Editor’s Note: This article includes a description of a suicide attempt.

JINJA, Uganda — Living with psychosocial disabilities is challenging when the society you live in does not consider them disabilities. I was diagnosed with depression in 2015 after first experiencing symptoms eight years ago. I have found it challenging explaining to some family members and friends that I have depression and anxiety. They would say I was being dramatic, lazy, and an attention seeker, among other things. Such labels would leave me confused. I wondered, Would they tell that to a person with cancer?

I just recovered from another depression relapse, which was induced by many triggers, including hormonal imbalance, financial stress, and negative self-focus. At least I am still alive, even after another suicide attempt. My survival makes me believe I am still here for a reason! During my relapse, I faced many physical and emotional challenges. I experienced joint pains, making it difficult to walk unless I supported myself with a walking stick. I also experienced an irritating rash on my skin due to stress. I felt very hopeless and sad, thinking I was a burden to my family because I lost much of my appetite for three weeks. I reflected on my life and wished I didn’t exist. I didn’t see any future no matter how much I tried. 

The American Psychiatric Association says depression occurs when someone is sad, loses interest in activities they once enjoyed, or when they experience other negative emotions. People forget that a person who is sad can still smile at everyone and hide their feelings. To be honest, I can differentiate between my own genuine and fake smile. Many of my friends and acquaintances say I am confident and lively. Hardly do they know that my eyeglasses are confidence boosters; without them, I wouldn’t look people in the eye because of my low self-esteem. I practiced my fake smile until it became perfect enough to hide my emotions.

To recover from my relapse, I had to leave my workplace and go home because the more I stayed at work, the worse I felt. I would spend whole days and nights in bed. At night, I struggled to get enough sleep. A doctor told me it was insomnia. When I finally fell asleep, most people were waking up and preparing for a new day. I had to talk to my parents, who have been of help to date. My psychiatrist has been supportive since my diagnosis, too. Asking for help didn’t make me weak. It made me strong. 

I wrote this essay to let you know that you are not alone in going through depression. We are many. Don’t give up and take your own life. After a failed suicide attempt, I lost my favorite dog, Taffy, a loss that hurt me badly. One of my friends told me that I was experiencing the same grief my loved ones would have felt had I taken my own life.

According to Verywell Mind, an online mental health resource reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental health experts, reaching out to trusted ones for support during periods of depression can be helpful. I encourage you to start something new like reading a novel, crocheting, plaiting hair, etc. Take walks and listen to music with positive messages. Don’t listen to sad music; it made me feel even worse.

I usually tell my friends that if they are depressed and need someone to talk to, I am willing to listen because a problem shared is a problem half solved. I cannot judge them because we are all human beings, and no one is perfect. As I usually say, “Perfection is my enemy.” Remember that living with psychosocial disabilities doesn’t make you less human but a unique person! Knowing this keeps me going and helps with my recovery. Don’t be hard on yourself. Recovery takes time.

For suicide prevention resources in the United States, go to Go here for resources outside the U.S.

Esther Suubi is a 2021 fellow with the Disability Justice Project and a peer educator with Triumph Mental Health Support.@2022 TRIUMPH Uganda. All rights reserved.

News From the Global Frontlines of Disability Justice

Srijana KC smiles at the camera. She has long dark hair and is wearing a red scarf and green cardigan sweater.

Voices Unsilenced

Often dismissed as a personal concern, mental health is a societal issue, according to Srijana KC, who works as a psychosocial counselor for the Nepali organization KOSHISH. KC’s own history includes a seizure disorder, which resulted in mental health challenges. She faced prejudice in both educational settings and the workplace, which pushed her towards becoming a street vendor to afford her medications. Now with KOSHISH, she coordinates peer support gatherings in different parts of Nepal. “It is crucial to instill hope in society, recognizing that individuals with psychosocial disabilities can significantly contribute,” she says.

Read more about Voices Unsilenced

Three fellows with the Disability Justice Project stand behind their cameras in a room. One is blind and one is low vision.

Capturing Vision Through Sound and Touch

Last summer, the DJP trained Indigenous activists with disabilities from the Pacific on the iPhone camera to create a documentary series on disability and climate change. With VoiceOver, the iPhone provides image descriptions for blind and low-vision filmmakers and offers other accessible features. “If you think about it, it doesn’t make sense for a blind person to use a camera,” says DJP filmmaker Ari Hazelman. “The iPhone gives you more avenues to tell your story in a more profound way as a blind person.”

Read more about Capturing Vision Through Sound and Touch

Sharma sits next to one of his subjects - a man from the nomadic Raute people.

Beyond the Frame

DJP mentor Kishor Sharma is known for his long-term photography and film projects exploring community and change. Over the last 12 years, he has been documenting the nomadic Raute people in mountainous Nepal. With any project, Sharma aims to actively engage participants, sharing photography and videography techniques. In September, Sharma became a mentor to DJP Fellow Chhitup Lama. He was eager to connect “this idea of sharing the visual technique with the storytelling idea and the issue of disability inclusion.”

Read more about Beyond the Frame

Thacien Nzigiyimana stands in front of rubble outside one-story stone buildings.

‘I Am Left With Nothing’

Recent flooding in Rwanda has left many persons with disabilities without homes and jobs. “Sincerely speaking, I [am] left with nothing,” says Theophile Nzigiyimana, who considers himself lucky to have escaped the flooding. The flooding demonstrates the disproportionate impacts that disasters have on persons with disabilities, which will only intensify as climate change continues.

Read more about ‘I Am Left With Nothing’

Neera Adhikari types on a computer at her desk.

‘Leadership Training is a Key Focus’

DJP Fellow Sita Sah interviews Neera Adhikari about starting the Blind Women Association Nepal (BWAN) and the steps BWAN has taken to advance the rights of Nepali women who are blind and low-vision. Women with disabilities, particularly those living in rural areas, “face discrimination from family and society which prevents them from venturing outside their homes,” says Adhikari. “In a household where there are two children, one disabled son and one daughter, societal beliefs often favor sending the son to school while neglecting the daughter’s education.”

Read more about ‘Leadership Training is a Key Focus’

Satya Devi Wagle sits at her desk, signing papers.

Accessible Instruction

Nepal has between 250,000 and one million Deaf people, but most do not attend school. In many schools for Deaf individuals, education ends at 10th grade, and higher education is rarely available and often inadequate. DJP Fellow Bishwamitra Bhitrakoti interviews Satya Devi Wagle from the National Federation of the Deaf Nepal about the strategies, challenges and successes of her work on inclusive education. “Because hearing teachers are not competent in sign language, there is no quality instruction in a resource class in Nepal,” she says. “We are working … to create a Deaf-friendly curriculum.”

Read more about Accessible Instruction