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Let It End!!!

“I am tired of the fear that I can’t control this. I am tired of feeling like every next step’s hopeless. I am tired of being scared that what I build might break apart. I don’t wanna know the end all I want is a place to start” – Mike Shinoda

Let us paint a picture just for a while; the year is close to the end of 2010. I have picked up a lot of unhealthy coping mechanisms that have some deep rooted issues I would rather save for another date (assuming, that is, you would want to find out about that). I am a teenage boy and no, I don’t look like the stereotypical “guy with unhealthy coping mechanisms”. I am a rather happy fellow – heck I didn’t even know I had unhealthy coping mechanisms but I digress. I am walking from a basketball game and I see a beautiful girl right in front of me. In my mind she is my next victim – I say the right words, do the right things, get her to bed then dump her like the rest of them. The universe had other plans, however, and when I got to her I fell in love and fell so hard I probably lost all sense of reason and understanding and got it back at the same time. The experience was surreal, inexplicable and life changing both in the literal and figurative sense of the word. Days passed and I was still stuck to this beautiful human being. Days became weeks and weeks turned into months and I slowly started dropping all my bad habits one at a time. For the first time in my life I got to experience what it feels like to have someone be the reason you try to become a better human being. I grew with this human from a boy to a young man and the next thing I knew, a year had passed. All my “trash” was in the past. In that new year we looked forward to new horizons, new hopes, new dreams, new desires and ways to keep alive the hearth that held our fire. Nine months into our second year I receive a phone call from my girlfriend’s brother. My girlfriend is in the hospital and it is bad. I panic. I do not want to fear for the worst but my mind is already there and the fear is real. I get to the hospital and it is not as her brother said. Oh no, it is worse. The doctors insist on keeping her in the hospital for a few more days to monitor the situation. My anxiety sky rockets. I am having panic attacks at night but I do a good job hiding it. Days pass and I continue visiting her until one day she starts talking as though she is leaving. I don’t want her to go anywhere. She takes a breath in, breathes out and the machine goes flat…

That picture is where it begun. The gust of air that blew my house of cards is where my disorders showed me that they didn’t come alone; they came with a friend and tools. These tools could increase my anxiety to levels I had never experienced in the form of a friend called depression. With depression came hormonal imbalances that gave me a very good dose of acne.

Fast forward, it’s now it’s 2013. I am dealing with unresolved grief, my acne is working overtime and I am in the most stressful place known to a young adult – university. For the most part my years at university were chalk full of turning my frown upside down, getting drunk to forget the pain and waking up on the right side of the wrong bed in different rooms at least three times a day and then doing it all over again and NEVER EVER CRYING, because that is what weak people do. In between all of that, I wanted the noise in my heart and my mind to just end. Life became a chore and that brought me to my “adventures” in suicide. You see, I attempted suicide three times. I only remember one attempt because it is the only time drugs weren’t involved but what I know is that, in all three attempts, it was always by some inexplicably bizarre series of events that I was saved/ survived. To recount the first time, I went up hiking alone with a rope in hand and hung myself. By some sense of fortune, an old man found me before my breath left me. I got an earful and he called me a lot of things. I am pretty sure if he had taken some time to find out the reasons behind my actions and let me open up emotionally, I wouldn’t have gotten to attempt number two or three. I found my defenses raised by his tone and I kept thinking “HE RUINED MY DEATH!!! He ruined my one chance to let it all end!”

In time, I found God and people who helped me through the path of processing my grief and emotions. I found out that emotional pain and grief are cruel mistresses that require you to feel them and since I was running away from them, I got tackled by them when I least expected it. Yep, it hurt…But you see, I have learnt that the pain doesn’t stop. It, instead, is like navigating the ocean. The storms never stop on those waters; we just get better at handling them and sailing through them. I found out that though grief is a lifelong companion and there are always better ways to handle it. I learnt that we can never truly tell whether or not someone is depressed and/or suicidal. I am pretty sure if I had ended my life on either of those occasions many of the people who knew me would say “But, he was a happy human.” What I have found out is it doesn’t hurt to seek help – to say I am a mess right now, help me. None of us is as strong as we appear. Our true strength is with and for each other. Life doesn’t get easier, it only gets better. You start seeing hope and beauty in things and you get a reason to wake up every day. The first and hardest step is OPENING UP. You have to be willing to take a knee and give someone you trust the sword that can kill you. That person can be your best friend, your parent, your “wise” companion, that guy that is always reaching out to you – allow yourself the peace that comes with trusting them with your emotional turmoil.

Writing this, I am grieving a friend who committed suicide just a few weeks ago and wishing I had gotten out of my head to sit down with him, watch the sunset with him and ask him if he was okay, if his life was going on alright and be vulnerable with him. I am wondering what it would be like if crying was not seen as a weak man’s thing.

You might not have had the same narrative as mine but I know that when you sit down sometimes, you are just tired of the fear, tired of feeling like the next step is hopeless or tired of being scared that what you build might break apart. I know that sometimes you want it to end or you don’t want to know the end. I know that sometimes all you want is just a place to start. Start with this. Get up and open your heart. Forget yourself for just a while and have that heart to heart…


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The Art of Letting Go

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You see, I figured I was carrying around all this weight. Most of my anxiety stemmed from fear of the things I wasn’t. I didn’t become a doctor. I didn’t become a lawyer. I didn’t become a model or fashion designer. I didn’t become a singer/rapper nor did I become a portrait artist. Part of my not becoming any of these things was because, at one point in my life, when I had chosen a path for myself, I decided most of the things I loved no longer had room in my future and so I let go. That might have been a mistake, but this year has taught me that I need not live in the shadow of regrets of the decisions I’d made and the woman I never allowed myself to be. I can always pick what I can up, and leave what ought to be dead, to actually rest in peace – literally. In that same light, I learnt to let go of people. You see, friendships barely come easy for me. I like to keep to myself and in moments I try to give it a shot my brain somehow decides it’s time to slow down all processing functions till I can’t come up with logical answers. I’m either absolutely shy, awkward or downright disinterested. I hold on to people I genuinely like because life has taught me that meeting people I really click with is rare; a gift to some extent. I feel deeply when a friendship frizzles out, and I’m the type to try and resuscitate even what clearly shows that it has no will to live. Inasmuch as I do not want to suppress the part of me that loves to fight for things and people, I also want to learn and accept that not every person I encounter is meant to do life with me in the way that I may envision life for us to be. I want to learn that not every relationship is meant to serve me in ways that I imagine they would, and that though letting go may hurt, I still have been served, and it is purely my choice to deem whether or not I eat from the table laid before me – be it of heartbreak, joy, bitterness, or happiness. And this year I chose happiness. I chose “I’m so glad I met you because you showed me this side of myself.” I chose “It’s been swell but please stay out from now henceforth”. I chose happiness, not because the art of letting things be and letting go gave me happy options, but because I learnt that happy was not an emotion that I could leave in the hands of life, because life can be cruel sometimes.

Life can tell you the truth about yourself, and though it may be a hard pill to swallow, it is in the swallowing that we heal and get better. The first half of this year showed me the ugly sides to myself. Horrid things, those sides *shudders*. But I decided to allow myself the gift of being better by seeing what was ugly about me and turning it into a masterpiece. I learnt to let go of words that I’d used to define myself by simply because they were things I didn’t want to be associated with anymore. I didn’t want to be wifey material. I didn’t want to be lazy. I didn’t want to be sweet. Or nice. Or accommodating. I wanted no mingling with descriptions that served as a reminder of how I had suffocated myself to accommodate another. I let go of “Gemini’s are social butterflies” because I really wasn’t one. I let go of “You’re nice” because I was anything but, and anyone who used that describe me clearly didn’t know me well. I let go of “You’re so hardcore” because I had learnt to be ‘hardcore’ to protect myself from a world that taught me it would poke at my soft, inner parts. I let go, and I am letting go. As I allow my palms the freedom from the fists I had formed in a bid to hold on to ideologies, definitions and ghosts of and about myself, I walk freely into the paths that lead me to the woman I was always meant to become. I am becoming her, slowly, loudly, unapologetically.}

A Rebelious Yes

2020 is here and so is my anxiety. I started the year on a high note, lighting up fireworks with my brothers before retiring to my bedroom where I stared at the plans I’d written down for the year. Their magnitude dawned on me and for the first time I felt a heaviness on my shoulders that I hadn’t before. I took deep breaths and whispered, “God I don’t know how I’m going to achieve all of this. I don’t even have the finances to do it, but I have the audacity to dream because I know You aren’t limited by my circumstances. Here’s what I want. Help me.” I took another deep breath. My inhalations felt as though they were pushing back something heavy within me. By sunrise I felt all sorts of weak and powerless. My dreams had turned into a self-mockery; a reminder of why I shouldn’t even dream of dreaming.

Hello. My name is Thoko and I suffer from high functioning anxiety. My brain and imagination are my best friends on most days and on others, this is where they lead me. On days like this where people don’t feel solaceful, I am grateful to have the Bible. I landed on Ezekiel 37 this afternoon and broke down when I read verses 1-4.

You see, sometimes we are brought to our own valleys; a place where we come face to face with all the things we were meant to do or become but never did. It’s in this valley that God asks what seems to be a rhetorical question but really is one of faith; an embellishment of what Adam and Eve got when they ate the forbidden apple and hid; a question that is meant to guide us down a path of introspection where we make the connection of where we are and where we ought to be. “Do you think these bones can live?” Our response paves way for God’s command to bring to life what ceased to be alive. What moved me the most is that it is God Himself who brings us to the valley, walks in it with us and guides us through, wording us throughout the entire experience. I cannot begin to express how unraveling and calming that is for me.

I am aware of the fact that what I have is dry bones; dreams that I deeply desire to manifest and will need several miracles to achieve, but coupled with that awareness is that God is there. He is the One who makes a way in the wilderness, rivers in the deserts and the One who, in moments of my anxiety, asks me with the most tender and soft of voices, “Can these bones live?” and I say…yes. I confess my doubt and ask that He help my disbelief; that I have hope against all hope and faith against all faith. I pray that the truth of who He is silence every voice in my head that dares to question His might and ability. I believe He will do abundantly above all I could ever ask or think, according to the power that worketh in me.

I know that this is a choice I have to make. It is a declaration I need to speak to myself when the bones in my valley look very dry and I don’t seem to have a glimpse of the great army that God sees in them. It is that painful “Your will and not mine, Father” when deep down my will seems like the easier option. I don’t always believe what I say to myself, especially when it’s from the Bible and it speaks of a hope that I cannot relate to or envision, but I do believe in the power of the yes’s that I utter in rebellion to my enemies’ voice because they give God the permission to work. They wreak of a faith I wish to have, a battle I hope to win and a God I would love to have show up for me.

Will you utter rebellious yes’s this year? Will you dare greatly with a great faith in He who is greatness made manifest? Will you let Him breathe life into your dry bones? I know I will, and it is my hope that you do too.}