Making a Connection: Specioza

 In Stories from the Field

Specioza is a 28 years old woman.  Her life in Uganda has not been easy.  She was born with a heart valve condition, which has always impacted her life making it more difficult, and sometimes painful, to do things that many find normal. Last year, she was hospitalized for an extended period in Mulago Hospital in the capital city of Kampala.  She spent her time near death and in constant pain. Once she had recovered and was discharged, her pain only shifted: she fell into a deep depression. She had trouble eating and drinking.  She worried constantly about her health and all the other unknowns she could not control.  In her words, “I was too locked in.”

One morning Betty, a former StrongMinds patient, came to her home in the impoverished community of Bwaise, north of Kampala.  Betty explained that she was trained by StrongMinds to be a Peer Facilitator to run her own talk therapy groups on a volunteer basis.  Betty shared how being in a StrongMinds Therapy Group helped her overcome depression.  Betty spoke about how the women in her group supported her and helped each other by making suggestions regarding one another’s problems.  Betty asked Specioza if she’d like to talk about her problems with others. Specioza thought this might help her so Betty conducted a mental health screening to officially diagnose Specioza’s depression.  Then a one-on-one pre-group assessment discovered more about Specioza’s unique triggers for depression.

Once Specioza joined Betty’s group she immediately began to feel a bit of relief.  She admired Betty’s patience and kindness in drawing her out.  She credits the group sessions with helping, as she puts it, “to calm down [her] thoughts.”  Specioza says she no longer worries the way she once did.  Thanks to her Peer Therapy Group, Specioza’s life has improve dramatically.  She can leave the house and earn money in the market again and participates in the group’s lending circle.

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