I have always been a day dreamer, one that believed there was a world outside the small town Butterworth I called my home for years. The dream started with qualifying as a Chartered Accountant, becoming a CEO at the age of thirty and a board of director at age thirty-five. Okay, I have always had the plan and though it never worked out the way I intended, it was always my hope. When I was eight years old I moved in with a mother I barely knew, and I hoped would finally be at home.But my mother and I never connected because I realised that her desire to be married was more important than making her children her priority.
What broke my heart about my mother’s choices was that they always affected my life negatively.
When I was thirteen years old, she sat me down to explain that she had to move to Port St Johns for work. That decision would’ve made sense if that location was her only option, but the company she worked for gave her the options of Idutywa and Umtata too, which were closer to her children. Because her boyfriend was also planning on moving closer to his Lusikisiki home, Port St Johns became her choice.
I missed out on my childhood
What broke my heart about my mother’s choices was that they always affected my life negatively. At age thirteen, I now had the responsibility of raising myself as well as my ten-year-old sister. Immediately my childhood was taken away from me. I had to make decisions which were beyond me as a child and most unfortunately, deal with a mother that became ever more distant in her role. There was no one to understand my pain – I started cutting my wrists as a coping mechanism.
Depression is lonely
It went on for most of my teenage years and became overwhelming when depression came knocking on the door. The greatest disadvantage of depression is that it came at the peak of my career. It paralysed me – I was not able to think and act on anything. Depression was the most painful season of my life. Added to that was the deeper pain of my failed suicide attempts. I had always perceived myself as a strong woman and depression made me feel weak, hopeless and unworthy of life.
This was a very lonely experience. Being black made it feel impossible to talk about the illness. The fear of being labelled as ‘white’ or ‘weak’ became more consuming. I felt so isolated, and that led to my last suicide attempt. I was desperate for help because the illness was unbearable. I went for counselling and to my surprise depression was no longer my foreign illness, it was known and could be treated.
The recovery road
I went for the sessions and actively took part in activities that would expose me to the world and its people again. It took me two years to fully recover from depression and another year to trust that my brain would not fail me. That experience taught me many things. The most important was that of mental health. I have become very aware of my life, its surroundings and the fruits that feed it. I learnt to forgive my mother for failing me as a child (holding onto it was poisonous) while keeping her afar so that she can no longer cause harm. Life has become very precious to me and I have become very bold in my choices and pursuits, because I know how quickly that which is sweet can turn bitter. With that said, I am happy to be alive because each day I have an opportunity to make my dreams the experience of a lifetime.