Betty Cynthia Wanjiku Njihia attempted suicide six times and went ahead to plan her funeral in her quest to end the pain she was enduring.
The now mental health activist sits down with this Pulse Live journalist to share her story and how she’s inspiring other people
“You wouldn’t attempt suicide six times and plan your funeral and not want to see what life has in store for you,” Betty states.
Betty Njihia was only 17 years old when she made her first suicide attempt. All she wanted was to leave behind all the pain she was going through. Betty had at the time lost her sister and her aunt but she didn’t know how to handle the grief and there was a lot of mental bullying from the people around her at the time.
This, according to her, hurt more because she was also struggling with self-esteem issues and when people picked fights with her, it brought along an emotional breakdown that she wanted to end by taking her life.
“When I first attempted suicide, for me it was more of a safe space of trying to avoid the problems I was going through and the kind of baggage that was on me. It was more of I didn’t really want to die, but I wanted the pain to end,” she narrated.
Bi-polar and planning own funeral
After her fourth attempt, Ms Wanjiku got diagnosed with bi-polar mood disorder and the idea of having an incurable disease made things worse for her. She points out that it gave her more reasons to want to die and she planned her own funeral because she was sure her fifth attempt would work.
“I was crystal sure because the method I was going to use for my fifth attempt was one that was ‘certified’ by so many people so I knew it would work. So I planned my funeral because I was bitter and I wanted people to know they were talking to a bitter person. I was bitter and hurt that I wanted people around me to feel it after I was gone,” said Betty Njihia.
She however, acknowledges that it did feel wrong wanting to take her own life, but in her mind it was the only option she had. This is because she felt that God had neglected her and she was physically and emotionally weak from the attempts.
In her own words, the future looked dark and she was so afraid of facing a dark future where she didn’t know what to plan for.
Betty did not seek help because of the stigma that comes with opening up to people and this makes one feel worse than they felt before speaking up.
“The stigma is terrible. At one point I told someone that I wanted to die, and it was actually in a hospital and this person told me that they have tablets so if I ever wanted to die they would have something that they would give me. Another point when I came out and I was fully strong, after people heard my story, there is a guy who texted me that he sells ropes and if I ever wanted to die, he’ll give me a rope,” she said.
Betty mentioned that it was painful for her parents because it was a whole new experience for them. No one in the history of their family had been diagnosed with mental illness, but they were very supportive. She noted that their support is what led her into coming out of what she was going through.
After healing and sharing her story, she was encouraged to start a foundation, M.S.D Foundation where they talk to people about mental health and how to deal with it.
Betty also has a team she is working with to help people going through hard times with mental health issues.
“M.S.D. Foundation which is a safe space for everyone going through the storms of life and it’s an organization that spreads love and light to anyone going through a hard time and two it’s an organization that shows you it’s okay not to be okay and it also educates people on the types of mental illnesses, the causes and how to manage it,” she says.
Betty also hosts an online TV show that talks about Mental Health, which according to her was inspired by the need to reach more people and to educate them on mental illness, because it is a topic that is less talked about in society.
Her advice to people suffering with and without knowledge that they are actually going through mental health issues; “The very first step to healing is talking about it. There is a sense of relief in that and you are going to get help and it’s all we need. One, acknowledge it’s okay not be okay, two seek help and three don’t get into the stigma.”