Nakhane opens up about their lockdown depression


Nakhane experienced alcohol abuse, depression and suicidal thoughts (Photo: Tarryn Hatchett)

Out music artist, actor and author, Nakhane has written about the severe toll that lockdown had on their mental health and how they survived.

Not only a SAMA-winning star, Nakhane has also won awards for their lead performance in the culture-rattling film Inxeba (The Wound) and received acclaim for their 2015 debut novel Piggy Boy’s Blues.

In a recent candid piece for COVIDHQAfrica, the now UK-based performer and creative revealed that the emotional and financial strain of the first lockdown led them to abusing alcohol, depression and having suicidal thoughts.

“Since the COVID-19 outbreak, people who worked in the live music sector, amongst other performative mediums, found themselves with no channels of income,” they say.

At one point, and despite feeling “a sense of guilt and shame”, Nakhane reached out to a free suicide line for support.

“Depression is a difficult illness to describe to people who are not afflicted with it,” they write. “When I speak of depression I am speaking of an experience so devoid of hope that it shrouds every single aspect of your life.”

Since then, Nakhane says, they and their partner have moved out of the city to the countryside. They now have a dog called Rufus and a simple daily routine, including walks in nature, which have all helped them cope.

“Where I used to walk with my earphones deafening my ears from the world, I have begun increasingly, with each passing day, to learn to enjoy the sound of my footsteps and birdsong. As a result, this opens up my other senses as well, particularly sight: Flowers. Trees. How my dog breathes. How nature works.”

It’s this and focusing on completing basic daily tasks, instead of having grand expectations about what they should be doing, that have helped them survive the past year.

For tips on prioritising your mental wellbeing during the pandemic, click here. You can also call Lifeline’s 24-hour counselling line on 0861 322 322 or the South African Depression and Anxiety Group’s Suicide Crisis Line on 0800 567 567.

How to prioritise your mental wellbeing during the pandemic

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