*This post was originally written for Youth Day in South Africa June 16 as a means of creating a new uprising for the youth of South Africa and the world. For young people around the world to rise to the occasion. To rise above the distractions and destruction and to rise from within. I didn’t post it as planned but today 7 July 2020 my intuition tells me someone needs to see this, for the right reasons and that’s to remain standing in this storm we find ourselves in. This invisible illness that only becomes visible once the light leaves our eyes and the pain enters our hearts and we sit with unanswered questions. Kindness must rise.
Before Estelle was WELL, Estelle was was ILL.
I would not be honouring all of me and Estelle can not be 100% WELL if she didn’t shed light on her darkest hour now that she is love and light. Please tred lightly and with the deepest setting of compassion on the following topic as this is not for the faint hearted but rather for the bravest of souls.
If you are reading this, and realise mid sentence or mid post that this is not for you, then so be it. But know that this goes out to the millions of souls out there today who can’t express their pain. Who don’t know what is wrong with them or why life is the way life is and even for those who do know what’s wrong with them but have not found the light within yet.
“Peace be with you now.” -143
I ask that you plant this seed that I gift to you right now. Take a piece of me and may it bring you peace to live another minute, another hour, another day and know that you matter.
I’m compelled as Estelle to share something very painful with you. It’s an event that changed the course of my life path and almost ended it. I am mindful and aware of the current global climate and I know that what I am about to address is not something to take lightly. Mental illness in not to be taken lightly. It’s not for the faint – hearted but very much reserved for the brave -hearted souls of this world.
If not NOW, WHEN ?
I tried my best to wait for things calm down or for the worst to blow over but it seems that it’ll get worse before it gets better, for each and every one of us. So I ask that you be kind, patient, tolerant, respectful ,soft, nurturing, open and teachable during this time of COVID 19 and everything else that has been brought to light. With yourself and others, as best as you can and I say this to myself as well. I have been on edge and need to ground myself in silence and faith as we don’t know what tomorrow brings. I am grateful for today. And I am grateful to write this so you, if you are struggling may face tomorrow with a brave heart.
Don’t shoot the messenger. Please save the messenger.
Again, I am not a health professional and I can not help anyone. I can only help myself and in doing so, those who battle what I battle can see a better example of what it looks like to be well.
With today being Youth Day in South Africa, I am taking a stand by standing on my story and no longer being in it. I learnt that from listening to, following and watching Lisa Nichols via social media platforms, youtube and downloading one of her books. She teaches that in order for us to move from the victim seat into the victor’s seat, we should stand on our story. All the bad things that happened to us is the foundation to a newer better life.
Our past does not belong in our present and we must and can take away its power, by standing on IT. NOT in it. Your IT might be abuse, bullying, being adopted, growing up with divorced parents, being an only child, being an illegitimate child, being an unwanted child, being the outcast or black sheep in the family, being the youngest in the family. Being a woman, being a man, being a different,weird, highly intelligent. The list is endless and so are your second chances.
Lisa Nichols also says to give yourself a 1000 second chances and press pause or reset as often and as many times as needed.
Pain is purpose. So turn your hurt into healing.
I hope my pain can ignite your purpose today as youth, on June 16, 2020. I hope my pain can heal others pain by holding up a mirror to their point of view from the outside looking in. And what I hope the most is that those of us who don’t battle with mental health issues will be kinder toward us, stop mocking us, stop telling us that we are seeking attention or over-exaggerating and even if you don’t understand it in the least bit, that you’ll do the least and be quiet. IF you can’t be kind. Please. Be quiet. We need help. We need emotional comfort and support from our friends, families and partners. We need extended periods of recharge. Some of us can not work or function as a participatory member of society but we are still here. Please live and let live.
Some have it worse than others. We ALL want better and to be better, for good.
Not all of us have access or resources to the right help at the right time and many of us go through life undiagnosed or misdiagnosed because we are raised to ignore it by means of toxic positivity and ignorance and then one day, we are no longer there and nobody picked up a phone, wrote a letter or called a free help line to give us a little bit more time to get help and heal.
Trigger warning : The following post speaks about suicide, IF you suffer from suicidal ideation please don’t proceed in reading this post as it may trigger you and cause have an anxiety attack or relapse if you are currently stable. You matter, you are loved. This is to bring awarness and understanding and in no means written to bring harm or hostility to anyone.
Disclaimer: The tertiary institute mentioned in this post is in no way affiliated with me on a personal basis other than me being a graduandi. This is NOT a form of marketing or paid partnership. My graduation will be touched on from said tertiary institute and is therefore mentioned for relevance and serves as a time stamp.
My battle started when high school did
My battle with depression and anxiety started at age 14, so by age 20-21 where my life was supposed to begin, I tried to end it. I remember we still had an old trusty computer with the huge dome and that clunky keyboard. In those days, floppy discs and CD’s were still a thing. My mother had a dictaphone player becuase she transcribed many doctoral theses and she had boxes full of floppy discs in the desk drawer.
I used to play Mortal Kombat and Tetris on that PC, wrote my CV and other people’s CV’s on that PC. I wrote all my poems cerca 2000. I also wrote several suicide letters on that PC. Letters that I didn’t or couldn’t show to the right people at the right time because I came from a small town. I was programmed to believe that I must be grateful for my burdens and that God and going to church and reading a bible would fix me.
I was not broken. Nothing needed fixing. I was ill, therefore I needed treatment and healing. Professional help, coping skills, psychotherapy, medication, a manageable routine and normalcy ( a healthy environment ) as best as possible. None of which is possible for many people who are not educated or exposed to the taboo topic of mental illness.
Berating and bullying started at home not at school
I was told that I was the devil’s child. That I was an embarrassment. I was bullied and mocked and I became a bully. To me all of this was normal. That’s what happens when you grow up in dysfunction. Your dysfunction is your normal and the only way for you to become self- aware is by seeing or living in functional environments, or creating your own within your relationships or at work or during tertiary education.
I was made fun of and pitied by alot of people over a long period of time. Then one day, I became really kind and giving and caring, because I still believed I would get punished and burn in hell for all my wrong doings and bad behaviour. Hence, I became a people’s pleaser. A push over, so much so that it pushed me over the edge. I didn’t know better and I thought that self – sacrifice meant being kind to others all the time.
Young, naive and in need of love, guidance, acceptance and self- expression
I thought if I flipped and did a 360 by going from bully to nice girl that I would earn forgiveness but that just brought me a whole new title that I didn’t sign up for. I became a doormat and an emotional dumpster and a trophy to my romantic partners. Something they could show off to their exes and other friends to boost their egoes and social statuses . Some friends, who I now know were never friends, treated me the same
Many many many new people, women and men who wanted to be friends with me kept entering my life. And I thought these were the people I have been asking for on my journeys. People who had good intentions and came with compassion and good will.
I thought they all loved me. That they valued and accepted me for who I was. I was so sure they did but they didn’t value me at all. I was just the flavour of the week. They were in it for their own benefit and were there for the turn up but never showed up when I needed to talk to someone or needed a shoulder to cry on.
Meet the fair weathers, the expensive counterfeits and the favour me this and favour me that’s.
They’d always come in all happy and well put together and living their best lives then start asking me favours. I’d do it for them and the favours would get bigger but never returned. Whenever I needed a favour they were nowhere to be found.
Excuses such as ; ” I’m busy. I didn’t hear my phone. I’m sorry for only getting back to you now. I’ll do it next time. I promise. ” Sound familiar?
Yes, our real friends who we know trust and love respond in this way as well and they say what they mean and mean what they say. I am talking about those fair weather friends and those expensive counterfeits that we encounter in life. They only have excuses and won’t make the least bit of effort for you but expect you to move heaven and earth for them just so hell can break lose.
This was what I learned. All these new people knew but nobody really cared. I was the quota friend that people kept around to make them look cool, better and socially popular. Because “ Ag shame. Sy’tie ŉ social lewe nie. Sy word amper elke naweek gehok en mag nêrens gaan nine. ”
From high school to private college I grew and so did my depression
That was during high school. Then when I started studying in Cape Town. I thought things would get better. New newer newest right? Things got worse. By then I was on three different kinds of medications for my depression. I was misdiagnosed with bipolar affective mood disorder, experiencing more lows than highs. I was treated as a patient with bipolar and the medication that I was on made feel very numb and low all the time.
I time travelled and air travelled to find the right answers
Leap forward from 2007 to 2015 when I was still in Shanghai, China were I was correctly diagnosed with major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder.
It was in 2007 however that I did the unfathomble, it was my graduation. I successfully completed my international certificate in Copywriting and Marketing Communications from my college in Cape Town and a few weeks later, I took an attempt on my life. It happened in December, just before Christmas and the summer holidays that I used to look forward to.
I drank about 50 pills. I can’ t recall what I was prescribed and taking at the time but I was rushed to hospital at the emergency section where I remember one of the nurses telling me I am too beautiful and smart to want to do this to myself and that she will pray for me and I should come find her and she hugged me. I was taken to a mental hospital in Somerset West where I was advised to stay for 4/5 days.
Nobody knew but a select few because it was too painful for me to ever talk about my journey until now
I have not shared this painful and confusing chapter with any of my closest friends, nor any of my partners for wanting to keep that time of my battle private. And because I thought that I had moved on from that and healed by now. This wound was still sensitive and after an auto therapy session of deep meditation and honest self- talk I was able to heal a self- inflicted wound that came from years of not knowing enough.
It reads :
AAA graduation ceremony, Certificate in Copywriting and Marketing Communications 2007 20-21. You need to heal this time of your life and what happened to you after graduation. Then talk about it so you can help others heal. Only when you are ready.
Wrote letter to myself clearing up 13 year old wound now with TM ( meditation ) and God as my anchor and music as my healer.
Thank you Estelle, for not giving up.
13 reasons why I have to thank myself for choosing life and love in the name of writing and music
It’s 13 years later and the wound has finally closed. The Universe has provided me with what I needed not what I wanted. And it only happened now. In 2020 during lockdown,during a worldwide shut down, I am finally rising. I can breathe again. I have forgiven myself.
I have fully accepted myself as I was then and as I am now. I am flawed. I am not perfect but I am still alive and well and getting better and better every day.
There is a method to my madness
Long story short. I have been through and lived through it all. Yet still I rise. I have been through bad break ups, I have been cheated on , I have been left for someone else, I have been left alone at the club with no lift back home while my friends went home with other people to go and after-party at some random place.
I have been through the toxic cycle of abuse. I have had one-sided friendships, one- sided relationships, I have been stalked, I have been harassed, I have been followed, I have been robbed, our house has been broken into, I have been threatened by knife point, I have been in a riot, I have been without money and food for months on end, I have been stabbed in the back by relatives, friends and life long friends. Business plans fell through, my visa expired and I had to pay a fine for that when I was abroad.
I have had to move back home so that I could recover, get trauma counselling here in Cape Town, South Africa because there are certain issues that only we South Africans go through and can help us pull through.Issues such as discrimination, racism, family dynamics and cultural traditions.
Some episodes last for days others for months and go from bad to worse fast
Last year in June/ July 2019 I had another episode. I had non- stop involuntary panic attacks that would last for hours and I had to call my friends from home to calm me down and keep me steady. One of my friends would call me daily during her breaks to make sure that I was not alone.
Despite working 6 days a week and taking care of her son, she made sure to take care of me as well. She knew I was in danger. She knew the little she was able to do was enough for me to get through another hour, another day, another week, until I made the responsible choice to come home and get help or die alone in my apartment with only my dog by my side.
By August 2019, I was suicidal again and I had to send an S.O.S to my family so I could get brought home. I had prepared myself to come home to die.
” Yes but you haven’t been what I have been through “- naysayer, sceptic, ignoramus
I also had to make sacrifices at a young age and I don’t regret any of them. I also woke up at 5 a.m every morning to take a taxi from my home town to Stellenbosch to take the train to Cape Town. I commuted like that for two years. I would have to take a taxi at night with more than 20 people shoved into one van. I had my end goal in sight but I had to deal with my own battles, my mother’s cancer and being “poor” because I was from a small town.
I was looked down on a lot and many people didn’t treat me with dignity and respect even though I had grown and levelled up by making many personal sacrifices for a better future.
Overqualified and underpaid but I stayed true to my vision and my goals
I remember when I couldn’t find work after being at college and university and I could not sit at home any longer and started waitressing that people called me greedy because I used to asked for more shifts and wanted to work on all the public holidays. I wasn’t greedy. I was starving and hungered for more. And by more I mean more prosperity, more functionality, more triumphs and less poverty, dysfunction and trauma.
I had had enough of being less than. I didn’t want myself to be an example to my nieces and nephews and younger girl and boy cousins that small town ( klein dorpie mentaliteit ) was all that we were worth.
Music was my first love, before words.
When I was 14, I had a dream. I wanted to become a pianist. I was classically trained by two brilliant female instructors and teachers. I had already played at the Eistedfords and received cum laudes for almost all my performances.When I got to high school I completely lost my passion and drive.
I just changed and I was angry all the time. I was sad all the time. I had to give music up, because I had to be the grown up to other grown ups and a part a very big part of me died inside. I let that dream die.
When I was abroad, I didn’t want to come back home to South Africa, because of all the trauma that I had suffered here. All the pain. All the loss.
Colombia healed me and taught me what love is
What and who hurt me could not heal me. But Colombia did. I found healing in Colombia. But then I suffered trauma abroad as well. Not as severe and prolonged but it still made me feel unsafe and in need of my support system.
I had gifted my beloved piano to my niece in 2013/2014 already, because I thought it was useless anyway. 15 years plus had passed and I can’t read sheet music any-more. I threw out all the sheet music I had. Had I kept it, I would have been able to self- teach and regain my piano skills again.Luckily I kept my choir CD that was recorded in 1999 because singing was and is another passion of mine as well.
I safe guarded one thing and that was enough to remind me that I can sing,play an instrument and do so much more
What is she on about? So she went abroad and it didn’t work out so she failed and now she came crawling back with her tail between her legs?
There’s a message in my mess. In the same way that there is a message in your mess or that of those closest to you. There’s a test in my testimony. What I am testifying right now is that my suicide attempt was unsuccesful. I was not. I am succesful. You might be unemployed. But your not unskilled and you can be self- employed.
Thanks to my international certification, I can work for myself and I can work online and help other businesses keep their doors open once the lockdown is lifted. I can help build brands, or sustain existing brands that will need an online presence. I can help them with that because of my tertiary education, international network and home advantage of knowing what are the market’s current strengths and weaknesses.
Thanks to me not having a piano anymore. I can now work towards manifesting a new piano, piano lessons and even a mentorship with a classically trained pianist. And get voice training so that I can learn to sing solo and record my own songs fully without the help of another vocalist.
Home is where the heart is even if you find your heart to be broken
Coming back home has brought me full circle. I got put back in touch with a few of my academic mentors from African languages. One of my other dreams is to further my studies in African languages (isiXhosa ) and that’s what I am living for right now. Arts, music, language and culture. It was my dream to become a songwriter. I carried this dream with me since 2012 and in June 2020 I became a certified songwriter. That dream came true because I made it happen. I didn’t beg, steal or borrow but I did ask, believe and receive.
So if you are reading this, read it again, search online for Eric Thomas or Lisa Nichols if you need your spirit lifted and motivated during these trying times. If you know that you struggle with mental illness,substance abuse or addiction, seek professional help. Help is out there.
For the ladies:
Kind remindHer : You are a fierce female. You can and will do it by yourself. Others have invested in your education, personal growth and development and you are your elders’s dream come true. Stop lying to yourself. Stop dumbing yourself down. Stop being small. You stand firm and tall. You are brilliant. You are resilient. You are who you are for a reason. You are powerful.
For the gents:
Kind remindHim: You are a man whose fibre is made of dignity and respect. You are kind- hearted and soft natured. You can be stern and firm without being possessive and controlling. You know wrong from right. You are a champion. A gentleman and you are loved. You are understood. Stop being angry. Let go of the aggression and frustration. Release the pain. Come back to yourself. You are a gentleman.
For 21 year old me:
I am so proud of you. You stepped out of your comfort zone to pursue your dreams. Your dream of being an independent female. A free- thinker and a change agent in a world where you were told that you will fail and that you will be nothing.
You succeeded and you are everything and more. You are a first of your kind. The first grandchild to go to college and university. The first grandchild to make it to 21 and won! The first grandchild to make up her own mind and follow her own path by carving it out as she went along because she was never alone. I love you and you deserve to be celebrated, recognised and uplifted for the things you put your mind to and moved into greatness even within your adversity.
With love and light