Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I have already received the greatest gift.

My last post was very negative, but I stand by it. This is an incredibly difficult time for me personally and for my family. Debt, death and illness are our constant companions this Christmas and I needed to rant, to get all my frustrations out.

We keep telling each other and whispering to ourselves that this too will pass. And it will... what we are experiencing right now is a massive shift and change. Our old lives as we know are coming to an end an a new life is beginning and unless each of us embraces it we will be left behind.

I am destitute right now, I have lost everything. But this morning I began to think of my best friend and my break down when I was in America- how very close I was to ending it. And I realised that right now even though it appears I have nothing I have already been given something that many people can only wish for.

I have been meaning to write this post for a while but quite frankly I just didn't have the words.I am going to write about the people that have kept me alive, pulled me back from the brink when mental illness threatened to engulf me. They are the light at the end of a very dark tunnel. Please bear with me because I don't think I could continue this blog without mentioning them- they are all the reason why I am here.

My Aunt: A great sadness and guilt still fulls me when I think about this. I was staying with my Aunt in California when things started to happen that would eventually lead to my breakdown. I don't know, but I have a feeling that my Aunt blamed herself for what happened. What my Aunt didn't know is that a lifetime of trauma, abuse, depression and anxiety was closing in on me. Why it happened while I was staying with her I will never know. I had only met my Aunt a few months before and was so embarrassed about what was happening to me that I did all I could to hide it, instead of confiding in her. Eventually I got to the point where I could no longer hide anything from her as I was slowly falling to pieces. Still, I refused to talk to her. She knew something was wrong and didn't know what to do. Her life was already stressful when I arrived- she was caring, full time for her husband who had suffered a heart attack nine years earlier and had been severely brain damaged as a result. It is only now, having to care full time for my grandmother that I really have gotten a sense of what it must be like. Her husband was ( and still is) a wonderful man and love of her life. What happened to him devastated her.

This woman bore the brunt of my breakdown. Despite that she allowed me to stay with her, rent free, paid the MASSIVE phone bills I rung up (I'm talking like a $1000 people), supported me for three months while I waited for my social security number (someone forgot to do that when I was born) bought me a laptop for university and a camcorder and a camera to document my time in America. She was a lady of few words but through everything she did for me I knew that she loved for me. I am just so sorry she had to see me like that.

My Mom: I can honesty say my Mom is the sole reason why I haven't landed up in an asylum. If you are a mother you can particularly empathize with what my mother has had to go through. Like I said I was overseas when I had my breakdown and my mother was in South Africa. She had to sit through my hysterical phone calls where I was to terrified to form coherent sentences or I was drugged up on sedatives and slurring. She never knew if would be the last time she would speak to me. The hardest most sickening thing is that there wasn't much she could do...except pray. And everyday she was down on her knees having her faith- which is something she has been blessed with in abundance- tested to the limit.

The person that got off the plane when I came home was not the person that she had said goodbye to nearly four years before, just a shadow of her former self. My Mom has had to suffer through my mood swings, she is the sole receiver of my sudden rage attacks, she continually looks in on me when I sleep 18 hours a day. She has had to have almost soul- destroying conversations where I actually tried to convince her to let me commit suicide, that she would be better off without me, that she would move on. And she would say, she'd be lost without me and ask me to please stay. Yep, I've done some pretty heartless things.

My mom is not perfect, she has made some huge mistakes, especially where my Dad is concerned. But she has stayed in hospital with me, held me through all my lumbar- punctures (spinal taps) and endless panic attacks. She organises my meds- that she hates- into pill boxes each week and reminds me to take them. She has dragged me out into the sunlight when I wanted to stay in the darkness. She prays for me unheeded and believes against all the odds that one day I will be healed.

Karen: Karen is my best friend, who lives in America. We met when I was sent as a temp to the company she worked for. I often joke that she must have her house hooked up to the fountain of youth somewhere- she was in her late thirties when I met her but she looked no older than me in my early twenties. Our friendship was still in the beginning stages when I had my break down. I didn't talk to her at first but she knew something was wrong. She had every reason to walk away- I mean I was acting like a freak not mention that mental illness scares the hell out of most people. But she stayed and took care of me. She nearly lost her job because of me. She saved my life. I honestly would not be here if it weren't for everything she did for me. Not just her, but her husband too. He could have told her to stop seeing that psycho South African girl but instead he tried include me in everything they did. Since I didn't have a car he would come to pick me up and then drive back to drop me off- they lived in the next town so this was no small journey.

Many things have gone wrong in my life but I really can say that God has blessed me with true lifelong friends- even if they all live in different countries!. I had lost all my faith in God and even in the existence of God after my breakdown and I wondered why I could hear nothing from Him, why had he abandoned me. I  now know that I was never alone and I do believe he used Karen to make a difference. She changed my life and I now treat people differently because of her.

The picture up top is of a Willow Tree ornament that I gave Karen on her birthday. The picture below is of the one she gave me before I left (That's my precious Basil in the background). It's called "Angel of Remembrance"


This has been a difficult year for many people all over the world and this Christmas will be sad for very many. I'm going to reveal the materialistic side of me and say that I LOVE presents and the fact that I most likely won't be getting any is a real downer. But in the grander scheme of things I have already received one of the greatest gifts anybody can get: I have been loved unconditionally and even better....I have been able to love in return :).

These ads come out while I was recovering from my breakdown and every time I see them now it puts things into perspective.

1 comment:

  1. Stephi, I know that we who have mood disorders feel that we place a huge burden and stress on those we love and give us back love in return, but please also know that you also give so much beauty to those who know you. You have an illness, not by choice and people who are there for you, choose to be there for you. I'm so glad that you have people in your life who recognize your large heart and generousity of spirit. May you find strength during your darkest times, laughter with loved ones, and new blessings to bring you true happiness. Thank you for sharing your soul with myself and others.

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