The journey so far

Since posting my My mental health matters I have had so many women reach out to me. Women who thought they were the only ones going through this type of experience. Women who felt guilty, ashamed and embarrassed. Women who were scared of what their partners and society would think of them. Women who thought that by asking for help they would be seen as weak. I also came to the realisation that there is a big misconception about what a Mental Health Clinic and a Mental Health Institution is. I will get into that a little bit later. I was recently interviewed and I was asked how we can embrace change or learn from these past few years, specifically dealing with COVID? What advice I would give to anyone going through a difficult season?

Even after a year, I still find myself waking up in the morning and thinking, is this real? COVID has caused so much destruction to so many families who have lost their loved ones; jobs and businesses closing; experiencing COVID fatigue as a result of working from home. The biggest question whenever one is faced with tragedy is “Why”. It is the “Why” that is the hardest part to deal with and then acceptance. In the beginning I struggled a lot with the “Why”, and then I realized that instead of questioning and wasting time and energy, I must start accepting our new normal. We cannot move backwards but must move forward. Even now more than ever, we need to live and embrace each day. If you are experiencing loss or going through a difficult time, never ever be ashamed to seek professional help. Do not see it as a weakness, but see it as a strength. It takes a lot of courage.

As women we are put under so much stress to be the perfect everything and to be able to juggle multiple balls in the air. I want to be the perfect Mom to my kids, I want to be present for them. I want them to have beautiful memories growing up, where I was part of their world. A few months ago before entering the Mental Health Clinic, I was drifting further and further apart from my present, which were my kids and my husband. At this stage I still can not fully divulge what happened, but I would like to say this. I finally got my voice and as a woman I stood up and I spoke up. Keeping something inside for so many years had just gotten too much, and I reached my breaking point. The silence was breaking me apart piece by piece. I refused to let the situation overpower and consume me and I asked for help.

Let me share what the difference is between a Mental Health Clinic and a Mental Health Institution. Let’s start with the latter. A Mental Health Institution is a psychiatric hospital that specialise in the treating severe mental disorders like major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia to mention but a few. A Mental Health Clinic focusses on addressing health issues for example; Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Post Partum Depression, anxiety disorders to mention but a few. I took the following photos with permission of the Mental Health Clinic.

I remember one of my followers saying that when she mentioned a Mental Health Clinic to her partner his response was ” Are you going to be playing with macaroni all day and make necklaces and bracelets?”. She thanked me for my detailed account of what its like being in a Mental Health Clinic and what a normal day looks like, so that she could share it with her partner. In this post I also want to share what we did in the craft sessions, just to proof that the only macaroni that was there, was what we ate for either lunch or supper.

We created these little gift boxes. This is a great idea that I will use in the future when giving thank you gifts, you can fill it up with something sweet and a gift voucher. The second photo is shows two coasters that we made using a dot ink method. I have to say this was quite a soothing and calming activity to do. The third photo was of decorating a candle using a specific method; you use a hair drying to “paste” your picture that you have coloured in. The fourth picture is probably my favourite. It is a canvas and we had to cut out different shapes and create anything we wanted to. The canvas presents my growth. The small circle represents how I felt on my first day; then it progresses and the biggest circle is the contentment I felt. The petals on the outside represent all the negative and positive energies, but shows that I can control which energy I want to be part of. The last piece of craft work were these book markers we made. I loved the craft sessions, and I really wish that I had more time to do it, or even attend a class.

It was also great to just have a break from normal day activities. I just had to make sure that my bed was made and that I cleaned up after myself. I did not realise how exhausted I had become from doing everything at home. I miss not having to worry what I have to make for breakfast, lunch and supper. The food was the best!

Since being home, there have been some good days and not so good days. I shared one of those days with you on my Instagram page. With each therapy session we received a tool to hand onto or keyring which is our toolbox. Whenever I feel overwhelmed and anxious I take out my tool kit and I go through the following:

  • Stop
  • Breath
  • Think
  • Find a coping thought
  • Take control
  • Only you can make the difference
  • Fill your energy tank
  • Boundaries are important
  • React VS Respond (It is my choice)

After I have gone through my tools, I have an Unwind session. This could be ten minutes of just doing breathing exercises and meditating. Or even just to sit outside in the sun with a cup of Rooibos Tea. I have learned to tell myself to:

“STOP, and take a few minutes”.

There is no time limit on your own mental health healing journey. I celebrate all my wins and it is only natural to experience losses, but I refuse to have those losses break me down like before. It is through my weakest moments that I found how truly strong I am. Thank you for being part of my journey, for all the well wishes of support and encouragement and always remember this.

You are not and will never be alone

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