Nothing in this world can torment you as much as your own thoughts, which is what Neliswa Shauna Chigudu experienced while she was battling depression. Through her ways of maintaining a healthy mental status she has written books, ministers the Word, is a depression activist, counselor, and manufacturer of a cereal but most importantly a daughter of Zion.
In 2014 Neliswa’s depression was triggered from the pressure of a toxic work environment and a family issue which threatened her mother’s life. “During counseling the interesting discovery was the effect my father’s absence and rejection had on me coupled with bullying which I experienced while growing up” says Shauna.
During her sessions she realised that she was escaping her spiritual calling by God which weighed heavily on her. In 2021 Shauna had another trigger which was influenced by the amount of deaths around her due to COVID. “The biggest loss was my father – in less than a year of him apologizing and finally reconciling with me after all the years of chasing for his love”, recalls Shauna.
Neliswa had no clue that she was depressed. “I fell under the stereotype which saw depression as other races’ condition”. She states that she was forgetful during her first trigger and would forget simple things like adding salt in her food or send incomplete emails. One day she even forgot to take a turn into her house.
“I wished so much to just drop dead or have someone shoot me. It was a very unhappy time in my life. No one knew how I was feeling since I masked it very well with my beautiful smile and cheerful personality. However God would send me my friend to call me when I was in the depth of all those horrible thoughts”. One day her hand was numb and her heart felt like it wanted to jump out of her body.
Signs of depression don’t all come about the same way. It might even take years to know or accept depression. “After hospitalization and being exposed to depressed individuals, my heart was heavily moved and left the hospital wanting to do something more and raise awareness”, Neliswa explains.
In 2017 both her books where published. The books are titled Hope in Hopelessness and From Misery to Joy (Not all calamities are meant for harm). The books where written with the intent to curb depression. Neliswa wants South Africans to know that depression is not a death sentence and people don’t need to die while suffering alone. “Not all calamities are meant for harm, just like the book, God can allow it together with all other things to be a blessing in your life just as it happened to me”.
During lock down in 2020, Chigudu started a depression support group but she stopped in 2021 when the death of her father hit her, although she plans to restart the group in April this year. Shauna used to also volunteer at the Johannesburg Lifeline center and says “I’m also planning on going back after taking a break”.
Neliswa now promotes healthy living by using the NEWSTART acronym which stands for nutrition, exercise, water, sun, temperance, air, rest and trust. “Those are the 8 laws I am using to manage and survive depression”, she says proudly.
Chigudu now manufactures her own healthy cereal which is full of brain foods. The cereal is made from 100% plant based ingredients, unrefined and natural in order to regulate health energy and mood. The cereal is called step 1 and slowly becoming available at health shops and can also be ordered directly from her on 067 678 8446.
In conclusion Neliswa Shauna Chigudu says: “meet your true self and meet your purpose in life. What burns with passion inside you is your purpose in this life no matter how insignificant others may think of it”.
By Sandra Lesenyeho