Nairobi News


BBC journalist battles depression

By Amina Wako February 9th, 2021 2 min read

BBC journalist Emmanuel Igunza concedes he has been battling depression.

The respected journalist also narrated how the coronavirus pandemic took a toll on his mental health.

“The past one year has been terrible for me, like most people. I had to deal with Covid-19 related anxiety plus work place bullying and dilapidating depression that literally hijacked my soul,” he said.

Igunza said it got to a point he did not function, “I had to drag myself through the day – with a fake smile and all. I basically switched off from news- it was too depressing, scary.”

Locking himself at home due to the lockdown and a scare that he had contracted the virus made the situation even worse.

“I have always enjoyed travelling but seeing people suffering and dying with Covid-19 made me stay indoors for days, weeks. I was so scared. Then a scare I had contracted Coronavirus made me even more paranoid,” he added.

At some point, he moved to the village where he found solace and retreated from social media.

“Having to deal with anxiety and agoraphobia in the times of Covid-19 is a whole new level. So, I retreated from everyday life, social media and found solace hiding in my village,” Igunza said.

He went on to narrate how he visited his maternal grandmother in December in the company of his son not knowing that it would be the last time they ever saw her alive.

He disclosed that his grandma breathed her last on February 5 due to old age.

“Last December, after a few days of sleepless nights, I woke up in the middle of the night with a strong urge to see my maternal grandma. I took the 6-hour-long drive with my son. We saw her, weak in bed. She tried reaching out to us to hold hands, we stayed back, it was the first time my son was seeing her and the last. She breathed her last yesterday of old age,” he said.

According to Igunza the lesson he took home from 2020’s experience is that there are two different kinds of people when it comes to matters regarding mental health.

“Throughout this year, I’ve learnt there people who just talk about mental health and Covid-19 to tick off the boxes and there are people who know how insane these times are for people with mental illnesses. Be nice to each other… It really doesn’t take much,” he explained.