Do you know when you are not coping?
By Kamogelo More, 20, Gauteng
I don’t know why, but I was the last person to find out that I wasn’t okay. I remember my psychiatrist asking “why are you here?”, I answered “I don’t know”. Even on a hospital bed, it still didn’t hit me that I was indeed sick. That’s the thing about mental illnesses, you don’t see blood coming out of a wound, you don’t feel a burning sensation or inflammation anywhere on your body. Really guys! Do you know when you are not coping?
September 2010, was one moment, the peak of my mental health issues. However, there was a build-up of events that lead to that ultimate breakdown. I can trace my depression to 2016, however, it was mild at the time, it did not show itself at other times and I have vivid memories of times when I could say that yes, I was sick. At times when we are not okay, we hold on very tight to the thought of hope that perhaps tomorrow the sun will shine upon us, forgetting that the sun comes out every single day. Perhaps we are the ones that need to get to the sun, so that it can shine upon us. As imperfect human beings there is only so much holding on to the edge we can do until there is no more holding on. It is either one gets help or they fall, and God forbid whatever happens.
I use the word ‘sick’ very consciously, because I believe that we should raise awareness about the fact that depression is an existent medical issue. The very same way one can’t cure HIV with a prayer is how depression can’t be cured. People living with HIV are encouraged to live a holistically healthy lifestyle, exercise, eat healthy etc. Just like any sickness, one needs to be aware of a combination of things they can do to help themselves. One factor that I can attribute to my recovery was support, without the support I received from my family I could not have been where I am today. There was a time when I was not taking my medication because of denial, someone had to make sure I took them. There was a time when I could not eat, someone had to make sure I ate. There was time when I was having scary thoughts, illusions, and hearing voices. Prayer helped me, knowing that there was someone more powerful than myself working was important. Speaking to someone, not just someone but someone who was qualified about my condition helped.
Shortly after my psychosis symptoms went away, I started exercising and self-exploration. I am still self-exploring. Those moments in my life, I believe have had a huge impact on who I am today. Fighting is one thing, fighting a war with yourself, your thoughts and voices in your head is the biggest fight I have had to fight in my life. Fighting for life, I tell you has made me a stronger person than I was before.
During this pandemic, I feel a global consciousness of fear. One night I had an anxiety attack, that is when I knew I was not coping. In the past I would probably not have paid attention to it or dismissed it, now I am very aware of when I am not coping. I quickly looked at the things I was consuming. I was on social media constantly and the images of people in hospital beds dying or those that have died were giving me nightmares. Staying informed is very important for me, but I have made a pledge to myself that I will not look for bad news when I do not have any in my life. I go beyond what I can to make sure that I am safe. I will sanitise my hands till they turn blue however, I will not be engaging in any social media rants about how the government health care system is collapsing. I would love to, but my health comes first.
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