Sunday 28 August 2022


Vickie Mlilo-Maponga

HAVING gone through a number of challenges in my life, including trying to commit suicide, I grew a passion and desire to reach out to other people since 2015.

I developed an aspiration to talk about mental health as I realised my personal experiences were similar, or even better, to what other people were going through.

In 2020, I thought I was ready to go public and talk about mental health. However, it was never easy and I procrastinated till June this year.

My name is Vickie Maponga but some call me Vickie Mlilo. I am known by some to be a news anchor for the main news on ZBC television (ZBCtv).

Some two years ago, in commemoration of World Suicide Prevention Day, I was one of the people who were asked to dissuade people against suicide.

That was the first time I said in brief that I tried to commit suicide.

When the advert started running, someone texted me and said they knew I had not tried to commit suicide as I was “only doing it” for television.

That really hurt me!

I realised that is why most people do not reach out and talk about this subject. They do not want to be judged as some people do not take mental health issues seriously. What people see and concentrate on is how a person looks on the outside, we never get to see or care about how a person is on the inside.

If you are not strong on the inside, you will not be strong on the outside.

It pains me when I see the number of suicide cases rising with each passing day. Almost every family has lost someone to suicide.

Suicide is a result of unattended mental health issues as there is a lot of stigma around it. The stigma, misunderstanding and labelling is just too much that a lot of people prefer to suffer in silence.

I tried to commit suicide three times.

I lost my child and during that time, I was devastated, depressed and always locked myself in a room. I suffered from anxiety. Losing a child and then failing to conceive for years, causes anxiety, you get into a deep depression mode.

All these things affect a person’s mental well-being.

You can imagine going into labour to deliver a child you will never get to see and hold. These are some of the wounds that affect our mental wellbeing and some of these wounds do not completely go away, the pain gets better with time but there are days and moments when one just cries.

A lot of people are suffering and trying to make themselves strong but dying on the inside. If you die on the inside, you will eventually die physically because there is no full health without fitness in mental health.

Mental health is an important part of our lives.

It is unfortunate that when we hear about mental health, most of us think about a mad man in the streets. We do not think, know and realise that mental health is a problem anyone faces, and can cause depression, suicidal thoughts and worse still committing suicide.

When a person is going through mental health challenges, all they want is identification.

With cynical depression you lose interest in almost everything that you used to like.

I would spend most of the day sleeping. I was bedridden for a month, the only thing I could do was to wake up then go back to sleep. Sometimes I would stare at the ceiling and start thinking how useless I am, how much of a failure I was.

You are just filled with negativity around you and do not want to see or talk to anyone. I tried to read and the whole day struggled to go through a single sentence.

I found myself crying every single day and moment; tears just flowing. At times you cannot tell why you are crying because your mind will be loaded with issues.

I used to visit the doctor every other day and week as I would be in pain, headaches, everything would be sore. At some point I was checked for breast cancer, heart problems. Everything would be sore but results would come out fine.

At least four doctors took turns to examine me until I was diagnosed and started getting treatment.

Take note, most of these things I am telling you about happened when I was not on TV, not known yet. I am saying this because I wish to break this notion that “celebrities” get into depression too much, “celebrities” are committing suicide.

It is not about “celebrities”, but mental health.

When I tried to commit suicide, back then life was tough all around me.

It was only the last time that I confessed to one of my sisters after a couple of months and told her “that time I was throwing up, it wasn’t n’ongo (bile), I had actually drank more than 50 tablets and just covered myself, hoping not to wake up.”

I only told her six months later.

That is the time I just decided; “hey, let me wait for the day that I will die and not try to kill myself anymore but instead make the most with the life that God has given me.”


What we often do not realise is that suicide is not the problem.

Suicide, just like depression and drug abuse, is what is spoken about more. It is what we see but what we do not realise is all these things are just results of mental health issues.

No one plans to be a drug addict.

The reason why most people get into drugs is because they have a problem which they are unable to solve.

They then resort to trying to find solutions to deal with that problem by getting into drugs or alcohol.

Likewise, no one just wakes up and decides to kill themselves. A person may be going through a very difficult moment which he or she feels there is no solution for.

Because of the stigma around mental health, we are losing lives, potential and future leaders since people suffering from mental health issues feel there is no one to understand them.

I have even suffered and was treated for cynical depression and would drink a chunk of tablets every day for several months before I got tired and just stopped taking them.

At that time, I just said, “God; now it has to be you, me and my mind.”

I noticed that everything was in my mind as it (mind) is the master power that molds and makes a person, as a man thinks in his heart so is he.

I believe tablets play their own part when one is suffering depression but to really fight it and win, you need to work on your mind…its mental health.

Depression, suicide, affects everyone!

I have my own definition of mental health. I always say “Mental health is like having a headache, it can be triggered and caused by so many things. But you need to deal with the root cause.”

We have so many problems which people face in life and we can never write all of them down.

We cannot quantify all issues; but people have problems that include financial, marriage, work, employment, family, background issues and school fees etcetera.

If one fails to deal with a problem, does not find coping skills, strategies or mechanisms, we end up seeing people going to the extremes and taking their lives or becoming alcoholics.

Today, I do not speak as a victim. I do not speak as if I am above anyone, but do so as a person who knows that mental health is everywhere, with everyone. It is real and we need to normalise talking about it and break the stigma around it.


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