I’ve never had as rocky a year as this one, even driving on the gravel road with my little Spark was easier. Even the year of losing my Dad to cancer doesn’t compare to anything I’ve endured this year. I’m just thankful that I made it alive… even though it almost killed me. Stress (amongst other things) almost killed me.
For as far back as I can remember, I’ve struggled with handling my stress levels, I react badly to most things when I’m stressed out and the effects of it are often so detrimental to my well-being that I struggle to recover. It’s something my parents managed to pick up when I was younger, I always did something drastic (or as other people would describe it “dramatic”) but the final sign would be my withdrawing from everything that was familiar to me – that includes family and friends.
It’s been a few weeks since I got discharged from the hospital, and I must be honest – I haven’t been coping as greatly as I thought I would, I realized that all the stress that I’ve had to deal with affected me so badly that I ended up losing more than 10 kg’s in a couple of months – mind you, I’m not exactly in a position to lose weight. I’m tiny – both in height and weight. I never used to worry about my weight growing up – even though I got teased quite a bit all through primary and high school about always being at the front of the line as a result of my being so small. However, the older I’ve gotten, the more I pay attention to it.
I am currently in a place where my body has changed so much in less than a year, that my confidence has dropped quite drastically, I hate the fact that I’ve lost so much weight – this after struggling for years to gain it in the first place. Whenever the topic of body positivity or body shaming comes up people will always focus more on how bigger women get shamed – but it’s rare that someone addresses the struggles of tiny women. Body shaming in all contexts is wrong. It’s not okay and it does the most damage to people. Words hurt, as much as we don’t want to address that we need to.
My confidence took a big knock, the way I interacted with people changed, I stopped speaking to certain people, i stopped taking / posting pictures of myself and I cried a lot. I was affected – but what I didn’t realize was me not paying attention to my mental health and spending countless hours in a stressful environment on most days manifested into drastic weight loss. I felt like I had lost the very essence of me – I had my happiness stolen from me and it showed in the most obvious way. This is something it took me a lot of time to understand, nobody has been harsher on me than I’ve been on myself. Currently, I’m on a journey to regain it all. It’s going to be difficult at first but I know I will get there.
I’ve taken two roadtrip’s since I was discharged from the hospital. For my mental and physical well-being, I’ve realized that traveling does wonders for me, also I get to experience different food. It’s such a great release and distraction from all the difficulties I have to deal with. Last weekend, I went with a few people to Sun City (Athabile, Katlego, Katlego, Tidimalo, Shoki & Katlego) – turns out, they needed a break from life in the city as much as I did. It was – weird in a really great way to say the least, but it was necessary. For the first time since I left the hospital – I opened myself up to other people being in my space, to doing different things with other people.
Thabile (God bless her soul) was speaking about her experience during her mental illness treatment, so she came up with the tag #SparkOf that inspired a whole door for a lot of other people to speak on their experiences of living with mental illnesses, and I realized how much stigma was attached to it. Then we got to Sun City and everyone was in a carefree bubble. It was, one of the best weekends I’ve had in a really long time.
To conclude, this is what I learnt about our society: We can acknowledge mental health, but not understand how drastic the impact of it can be on people living with it. As a society, we have created a world where people fear even speaking about what their diagnosis is because they end up being stigmatized because of speaking on it. There are too many young people suffering in silence. If you can, get help. Your journey to having help dealing with your illness is a top priority. You must choose you before you choose anybody else.
You aren’t being dramatic, you aren’t seeking attention and, you aren’t being unfair. You have an illness, but you can find positive ways to live with it. Your mental well-being is important and if not taken care of can affect every part of your life. The people who don’t get it will judge you harshly, but there is no greater feeling than living your truth.
I cannot wait for my next roadtrip. Till then, stay blessed.
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