Maëva Bazilia Rusamaza is a poet and mental health activist who encourages people to speak up and seek counselling, like she did. She shares her story hoping to uplift others in a similar situation. She recalls struggling with mental health, specifically depression, in 2016. “I was never really close with my family and I had trouble making friends back then, I felt alone, unheard, useless, and the worst you can think of. I thought I was a burden to my mother, inferior to my sister, and yearned to be appreciated by my brother. “Life seemed meaningless, and worst of all, I was still nursing the pain of losing my father in 2010. It was a lot for me to take in,” she says. Rusamaza remembers how she repeatedly hurt herself with sharp objects, nine times to be exact, since 2016, which left her with scars on one of her arms, belly, and thighs. She explains that she covered the thigh scars with a tattoo, and wore long-sleeve tops to hide her arm’s scars, which made many people curious about her dress code, implying that she was always feeling cold. On two occasions, she says, she attempted suicide, the first was in 2019, when she took an overdose of pills, which wasn’t successful and so she collected the remaining tablets and threw them in the trashcan. Rusamaza notes that in 2020, she encountered a painful breakup and contained the pain within herself, which made her feel like she would burst. She points out that she had bottled-up the agony for so long, it was time to find help, and when she discussed the matter with her mother, she says, she was helpful as she got her a therapist at Caraes Ndera Hospital. Rusamaza says that her world continue to breakdown, with saddening events occurring repeatedly, for example, in January 2021, she lost someone so dear to her and she regretted not spending her last days with her. “She breathed her last and I couldn’t turn back the clock, unfortunately. When I revealed what was happening to the therapist, she prescribed pills that I was to take for a month before our next appointment. But in the middle of that same month, I broke down. It was a lot for me to handle that I envisioned death, I wanted to die,” she says. Rusamaza adds that she swallowed all the tablets, and after a few minutes, her conscience kicked in, she imagined how her mother would react and blame herself for her death, pondering and wishing she had provided her with enough help. She further notes that she right away called for help, and her mother rushed her to King Faisal Hospital, where she acquired assistance, and when she regained consciousness, she apologised to her mother who was very sympathetic. Rusamaza says her therapist was very helpful as she encouraged her to learn to talk and share her thoughts, feelings, pain, and much more with people close to her. With time, she started making friends, and connecting with people who made her feel loved and cared for. Her love for writing, letting out what is on her mind without the world questioning, and connecting with people in the same situation as hers, has assisted in getting her better. So far, Rusamaza says that she has written 100 poems and more, most of them dark, and also started her own organisation dubbed ‘Hear2Share’ that helps people with mental health issues freely and anonymously by using online platforms such as Twitter, WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram. “The group consists of 25 members who dealt or are still dealing with mental health issues, which provides guidance and helps them seek assistance, and people to listen to them. “We also have six therapists working as volunteers for the time being. I also participate in mental health awareness events to share my story and encourage others to get the help they need,” the mental health activist says. She notes that one of the challenges she encounters is convincing someone battling with mental health issues that they need to reach out, especially if they grew up in an unsafe environment that swayed them to believe that such issues aren’t normal, or that those problems are minor. When she started therapy, Rusamaza chose to open up to some of her friends but realised that they were also struggling. That’s why she embarked on the journey of spreading mental health awareness. The poet says that she made a promise to herself last year on her birthday that if she made it to her next birthday, she would share her story, which she is doing now. She says that people should change the narrative that therapy is expensive because it isn’t, and you can use health insurance to access therapy and counselling services.