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Carolyne Gaithuma; My Journey Through A Psychiatric Ward To Being A Life Coach.

Carolyne having a reason to smile after her struggle with depression.

It is quite normal and is also humanly to feel down from time to time.  But if not checked, these feelings can turn into something more. It can lead to an ongoing feeling of hopelessness or inadequacy that in turn can lead to depression. Feeling depressed can be a normal reaction to loss, life's struggles, or an injured self-esteem.

Depression is that feeling of severe despondency and dejection, that feeling of intense sadness, being moody or low for long periods of time (weeks, months or even years) and sometimes without any apparent reason. It is a serious condition that affects your physical and mental health and drains your energy, hope, and drive, making it difficult to do what you need to feel better. It is a serious illness caused by changes in brain chemistry.  

Are you going mad?

In the year 2014, Carolyne Wangui Gaithuma, a mother of two, born and bled in Wagutho in Kiambu County, was diagnosed with a major depression, a condition that led to her being admitted into a psychiatric facility and attempting suicide several times.

In the eyes of those who knew her, Carolyne was successful by all standards. Trained as a PR manager and having worked in the corporate world in various senior capacities, she resigned to set up a successful business in Nairobi. Things seemed working so well for her considering that she earned good money from her business, had a loving husband and were living a modest life with their two handsome boys.

“I went to hospital after suffering a panic (anxiety) attack. I had just left town after meeting with my sister and as I walked home I began to feel very afraid. That feeling you get when you are accosted by a stranger in the dark. I couldn’t get into my house. I was so afraid that I even feared getting in. So, I went onto our balcony and slept there,” said Carolyne.

Her absence from home got her husband so worried, especially with her phone off and after her sister confirmed to him that she had left town long time ago. At around 1am, he stepped out of the house and stood at the balcony, hoping to see her come through the gate.

He was struck by some strange dark figure in the balcony which later happened to be that of his wife sleeping on the cold floor. With anger and shock, he demanded to know from her why she had behaved the way she did.

At first, he thought that she was drunk but after talking to her for some time, he realised that she was not herself. She was acting like a robot or a zombie.

“When I saw the anger in his face, I just froze. I have never felt that kind of fear before. My mind just shut off and I became very robotic. I was just responding to his commands just like a machine. There was nothing really going on in my mind,” she explained.

One question that triggered her senses was when he looked at her straight in the eyes and asked, “Carol, are you going mad?”

“I just began coming back to my real self. I began asking myself what had happened.”

The following day, Carolyne went to Aga Khan Hospital where she visited a psychiatrist. She was diagnosed with depression. The doctor recommended that she undergo psychotherapy for the next one week. It was during this period that her condition deteriorated and she attempted suicide twice. The feeling of unworthiness led to her being so weak to a point that she was hardly leaving her bed.

“I was so scared of facing life. Waking up every morning was just like something out of a horror movie. At one point I just felt ‘enough is enough’ and swallowed all the pills that were in the house after a spiraling of negative thoughts about how unworthy I was, how I was of no use to anyone and have they were better off without me,” explained Carolyne.

Admission to a psychiatric ward.

After understanding the gravity of the problem, her husband called the psychiatrist who, after thorough examination, admitted her in a psychiatric unit at Aga Khan Hospital. She used to be sedated for about 20 hours daily. For the next one week, Carolyne was dependent on drugs and would not be herself without the drugs.

“One thing that really weighed on me during my entire stay at the hospital was the stigma about having a mental illness. The fact that my husband couldn’t come out in the open to tell his friends of my condition amplified my stigma. It worsened my situation,” she said.

By the time she was eventually discharged two weeks later, her business in town had already collapsed.

Rising Up Again.

Without a job, with no money and a loan to service, her situation was quite delicate. She would stay in the house alone and wonder how she would pick up the pieces. In that state of ‘blankness’, she decided to surf the net and google about the kind of feeling she was in.

“As I was searching for answers, I came across this career they called ‘Life Coaching’. After going through it, some inner voice told me that it was time I chatted a new path in my life. I found a school in Kenya, Destiny Life Coaching and Training Centre on Desai Road in Nairobi, that taught this course and got in touch with them,” she said.

“The whole experience of going through depression was for me like losing myself after everything that had been identified with myself was taken away from me; my job, the stuff we had as a family. The only thing that I had been left with was my husband and kids. I couldn’t even recognise my mind, a mind that I had live with all my life. I was left asking myself, ‘Who am I without all these things?’ The answer to that question was what led me desire to be a life coach so that I could help others answer the nagging questions that reduce them to lesser being than they actually should.

As fate would have it, the cost of going through the training was too high for her and she just let it go.

Several months down the line, the proprietor of the institution called her to inquire why she never responded to their invite. She explained her case to him, to which the gentleman scheduled a meeting with her. After talking to her one on one, he was so touched by her story and accepted to admit her with just the sh.10,000 she had.

She argues that very many people are potential patients of depression for they live a life that has so much pressure on their brains as they identify with positions, net worth and with family. When they get stripped off with all that, she says, they are left with nothing and eventually find themselves in a psychiatric ward.

“My experiences during that time were actually the blessing that I needed in life. When you lose all that, you are still you. And whatever remains after all other things are taken from you is what everyone should be living for. The solutions to your life’s problems are within yourself. All I do is just to help you work out your own solutions.”

Practicing as a certified life coach.

Carolyne offers sessions to both individuals and corporate groups through Destiny Life Coaching and Training Centre (Nairobi) and also in the International Professional Counsellors Centre (IPCC) in Thika. She also does individual coaching on request as per the client’s demands.

She also plans events where people come together and heal the various elements of their lives. In fact, she has planned a ‘Healing Seminar’ on the 24th and 25th September that she is co-hosting with Pauline Mutua, another life coach at the ‘We Create Centre’ in Lavington Nairobi. The cost for both days is sh. 10,000.
Carolyne Gaithuma having some light moments with a colleague, Pauline Mutua.

Her Patting Shot?

“The most important gift that you can give to your life is to monitor your internal environment. Thoughts have a cunning way of concealing the truth about ourselves because we always like to think good about ourselves. We rarely get real with ourselves thus we never work to change for the better. The key thing is to put down your thoughts in a journal or CD. If you go thought it after a week, you will realise a certain pattern of thought that will tell you how much you are positive or negative. This will help you when you need to go about ‘energy healing’ where one uses their intuition to access their sub-conscious.”

Carolyne attributes the ills that we are witnessing in the society to the kind of society we have become, a monkey society, in that we are trapped in the way things are done and in our endeavour to break out of this ‘prison’, we end up messing up. She says that some of the problems we have in life are as a result of the things that we were told by people when we were very young, especially our parents. She adds that our relationships with others mirrors who we are from the inside.

Carolyne advises everyone to be having regular mental check-ups that will help one discover early when ‘they are starting to lose it’. She also recommends a healthy diet and avoidance of unnecessary usage of medicinal drugs for every ailment.

To get in touch with Carolyne, you can Email her via  cgaithuma@gmail.com, or get her on Facebook Account Carolyne Gaithuma,  or @Cgaithuma on Twitter and Instagram

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