Keep this in mind as you read my story. My threshold for pain has always been low, close to non-existent. I am scared of pain. I hate pain. The first time I combed my natural hair, I had to enlist the help of a friend. Even then, we had to comb half my hair one day and the other half the following day.
All my life has been spent ducking, dodging and diving this heart ache I find myself confronting today.
In 2004 I sat on the pew and listened for the first time to a sermon on forgiveness and the perils of unforgiveness. It struck me deeply and I thought deeply about that message, mauling it over for a couple of days thereafter. I made up my mind that I don’t ever want to hold a grudge against anyone. I sat down and named everyone who had hurt me and spent the next few weeks working on forgiving them.
When I thought I was done, for the first time in my adult years I remembered that I had been abused in my childhood. It was too much to handle so I blocked it – like I did all those years ago. For a minute I thought I may have made it up. But this niggling glimpse of a memory wouldn’t let me go and was too real. Eventually I allow myself to remember and discovered that indeed it had happened. I spared myself the gory details and I again made up my mind to forgive the perpetrator. At the time I could only remember one incident. So I focused on forgiving the person and I buried the pain deep down – like I had done so effectively all those years ago.
The following couple of years were spent desperately seeking ways to numb the pain and keeping the memories buried. I didn’t realise that’s what I was doing, the benefit of hindsight helps me see that season of my life in a different light. I will talk more about that season in a later blog.
Roll on 2007 – LG Life is Good…ish!
For the first time everything was quiet in my life. I was on my internship year, landed a good job that I loved in London. All was good. Life was good.
One day however, I was walking home from a day out on a Saturday when suddenly I momentarily lost the battle with my memories. All of those suppressed memories invaded my head unchecked all at once. The best way I’ve found of describing the experience is like this:
Imagine you were carrying a pile of loose papers. It suddenly becomes windy and one paper escapes the grip of your hands and flies away. You run after it, pick it up and restore it. Another flies away, then two, then three then twenty. All of a sudden, you lose the battle and just let them fly away, because even if you chase after them you may be able to catch 5 if you were lucky.
Memories were suddenly escaping the grip of the grave I had deeply and safely tucked them in. I was losing the battle. They were coming so fast I didn’t have the time to comprehend nor contend with them. They were coming so fast they had their own sound effects in my head (forget my dramatics, this is true true).
I was still walking home.
It felt like my mind split into two. One part was the Jedi battling the war of the memories. The other part, Thuli-maybe (because I don’t know what to name her yet) was watching on, panicking and trying to make sense of what was happening. Thuli-maybe came to the conclusion that I was losing my mind, that I was going mad. So she devised a plan.
At this point, I fell into the trap and became victim of my own negative stereotypes of mental health issues and people who suffer from them. When Thuli-maybe concluded that I was going mad, what flashed in my mind (the part that was free from the Jedi-war) was me walking around London unkempt and eating from bins. I knew I didn’t want to end up there, I’d come too far to end up there.
I fell into the trap and became victim of my own negative stereotypes of mental health issues and people who suffer from them
So I ran.
The Jedi-war was intensifying in my mind overtaking territory steadily. I knew that very soon I would lose the ability of holding any cognitive thought. So I ran home to a ‘safe’ place. If I let loose, it had to be behind locked doors. Soon as I got home, I hurriedly notified two friends and my sister who could not understand what I meant when I screamed down the line ‘I think I’m going mad. I am losing my mind!’
‘I think I’m going mad. I am losing my mind!’
I remember lying on the floor and belly-ache crying till I passed out, for 24 hrs.
I remember lying on the floor and belly-ache crying till I passed out. I woke up 24 hrs later. And pretended nothing ever happened, and got on with my life.
My Little Secret
I didn’t know where to seek for help. I was afraid if I ever said what I was feeling I would end up in a mental hospital never to come out. I was scared if I spoke out I would lose my job and everything I’d worked hard for. I was scared if I speak out I would lose my dignity and no one would ever take me seriously. So this, became one of my very many secrets.
Monday I went to work as normal. The Jedi-war generally happened at home after work, so I could easily contain my secret. Over the coming days it got increasingly harder, I couldn’t sleep. I had to maintain rigid focus at work I was developing a migraine and I was constantly tired. Until one day Wednesday a week later at 3am, I couldn’t take it any longer I picked up the phone and sought help. I ended up in private therapy (I didn’t want my name on the ‘system’).
I started therapy soon after. I was still determined to get over this phase. As soon as I could manage, the Jedi-war stopped and I could sleep I stopped therapy. Against my therapist’s advice. I trained my mind to forget that episode, to this day I can’t remember what that woman looked like, not even her name. I know the general direction of where my therapy was held. Yet I saw her every week for over 3 months.
I was focused on coping, not healing
This was only the beginning of my troubles.
It hurts to realise that all the fears that stopped me from seeking help were so unfounded.
Two days ago, I wrote my first blog and ‘danced naked’. I was so scared, but all I got was heart-warming overwhelming success. Thank you all so much for all the support. I truly appreciate it. I wish I knew then what I know now – that I have great people around me. My scars would be fewer.
Thank you all so much for all the support.