What my daughter’s death taught me about depression

Jenetta Barry’s daughter committed suicide at 16 years. This sad experience led her to find a process to help those going through overwhelming challenges in life

Tell me more about your early years?

I grew up in Kitisuru, Nairobi. My father Charles Worrod operated the Equator Record Label at his recording studio on Wabera Street while my mother ran a secretarial college known as Queensway Secretarial College along Kimathi Street. I spent a lot of time in the studio where I interacted with successful musicians such as Daudi Kabaka, Fadhili Williams and Gabriel Omolo. As a young girl I ventured into ballet dance, acting and singing in shows at the Kenya National Theatre then later worked in motivational speaking for close to 30 years until my daughter passed on in 2005. It’s while in the process of healing that I came across the basics of a process, which I expanded and honed and now refer to as The Epiphany Process, which provides skills and tools in dealing with overwhelming life challenges.

What does The Epiphany Process entail?

It’s a scientific method that enables you to reverse extreme polarised thoughts and emotions so that you are able to manage them and bring clarity about life. I implement it through one-on-one sessions mostly online and through group seminars. We also run a certification programme where people learn the process in more depth and can also qualify to become Epiphany Consultants to help others achieve emotional resilience.

The experience of losing your daughter. Tells us more about it.

On the outside my daughter Jenny seemed like a happy girl. She was popular among her friends. But unknown to me, she had been battling depression her whole life. I only found out about it when she was 13 after she opened up to me about it. Jenny also revealed that she had attempted suicide when she was seven, but had kept the incident to herself. What followed was an excruciating process of seeing therapists and having her in and out of rehab. She only got worse. One day in October 2005, just two weeks after celebrating her 16th birthday, we had a nasty argument. Fed up, she went to her room to pack and leave. When I went to check on her, I found her hanging in the bathroom with a broken neck.

How did you cope with the loss?

When it happened I literally fell apart. It felt like I was serving an internal prison sentence. I questioned my identity as a parent. Shortly after the incident, my marriage ended. It’s while stuck in the abyss of deep sadness that it occurred to me I could not live my life that way. Nine months after her death I figured out some basics of Epiphany Process. Marking her death anniversaries and birthdays is difficult to date and it will always be. I am not in denial about the loss and I do not pretend that everything is okay because it’s not. In embracing my loss, I have come to a place of open-hearted acceptance, grace, spontaneous love and discovered my life’s purpose; to help others bogged down by difficult life challenges. In other words, I have been able to find equal gain to my loss.

What’s the impact of The Epiphany Process?

It has been effective in helping depressed people live normal lives. The process has also immensely helped people who have undergone traumatic experiences such as terrorist attacks, rocky relationships, life-threatening diseases and depression rise above them. It entails getting in touch with your emotions good or bad and not being critical of yourself.

What is the theatre production about?

The idea of a theatrical performance was born last year. I was at the Kenya National Theatre performing ballet for the first time since I was 16. The team I was performing with came up with the idea with me after Jenny’s song played on stage as we were striking the set. The production brings together artistes from Kenya and across the world to convey messages on the two issues through dance, words and costumes. The more we talk about depression and suicide in societies where there has been a lot of judgement, the more perceptions shift. People are inspired and the judgement about suicide is gradually neutralising.

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