Tag Archive | depression

Lessons from the desert Part 1


For at least the past week I have had a blog all written in my head but for some reason just could not bring myself to let my fingers meet the keyboard. It seems I have developed a fear of writing, some writers’ block. Before it consumes me whole and destroys any confidence I have left, I think it’s time to nip it in the bud so…..“Dear brain, in case you were starting to doubt this, I am in control and not you!”

In 35 days, God willing, I will be making my way back to my family and friends whom I miss dearly. Most importantly back to the me that I used to be. It sounds odd to say this because we all want to grow and develop, we never want to regress and yet here I am wanting nothing more than to be the old me. I can feel the heat on the side of my face from God’s stare as I type that but truth be told, I would rather go back to who I was this time last year and forget the past year ever happened. It would be easier. Less heartbreaking. Less painful.

Leaving home last year I was filled with childlike excitement at the prospect of a brand new adventure. I was about to embark on a journey I did not even dream possible right up until the day it was confirmed. I had hope in abundance and faith that this was meant to be. Like anyone granted the chance of a lifetime, I had high aspirations of all I would do and achieve and the kind of person I would return as in a few years time. Coming here, my goals and aspirations were clearly defined. I was here realise my life-long dream of travelling around Europe, I was here to advance my career, make new friends and maybe even meet the love of my life. Of bigger significance I was here to earn enough so I can clear off my debts and also help my family to get out of debt and finally start a comfortable, successful life. Above all else, I was to grow in my walk with God and learn more about the woman He wanted me to be. One by one each dream went to that dark desolate place where dreams go to die and just so I can look back and remember how it all went down, here they are:

1. Holidaying in Europe. I was going to see at the very least Paris, Venice, Rome, Milan and Madrid. Sad thing is I actually came very close to realising this dream. I had the trip booked, paid the deposit, had the two weeks leave that I would need booked and all I had to do was pay the balance. It broke my heart when I had to cancel because of competing financial demands and a part of me will remain sad that I never got a chance to do this.

2. Financial freedom. I was going to claw myself out of the pit of debt I’d been stuck in for the past few years. Well that dream quickly went out the window when I realised just how expensive it was to live in this country. Add to that having to send money home to help my family, now almost a year later I have sunk even deeper. Getting to a point where I wonder if this is what I was destined for? Will I have come out of it? In trying to do right by my family and to prove to my grandmother, aunt and mother that I’m not the selfish, self-centered brat that they seemed to think I was when I moved out from home to establish my independence, I was the one left stranded.

My dreams of financial freedom seem so far out of reach I doubt I will be reaching them anytime soon. I look at my peers and I’m filled with deep jealousy because I too want to be able to buy a car, buy a house and live comfortably and not have to worry how I’ll get through the month.

3. Career progression. Coming to UK was going to be a chance to jump start my career, I would come back having at least progressed one level. That dream was blown to smitherines pretty much in January! I do not know why things played out the way they did, all I know to this day it hurts more than I can even put into words. I came here confident in my abilities, I was certain I had the skills, the attitude, the strength and the stamina to make it here. All that confidence is now gone and I am left feeling exposed and vulnerable. So much so that I am scared of any job that comes after this.

I probably cried in my first three months here more than I’ve done in any given year in my life. By the time March came around, I was seriously considering resigning, packing up my things and returning home. Looking back I probably should have, I would have done far less damage to my emotional and mental stability!

It really hasn’t helped that I have struggled for nearly four months to find a job at home. Something that came as a complete shocker because so many people had so knowingly told me what a wonderful opportunity this was and that it would boost my CV and make me stand out from my peers. It hasn’t quite worked out that way for me and I can’t help but feel I jeopardised my career and set myself back.

I have come to accept that this year has set me back and I will now have to work that much harder(on myself) to ensure the effects are not permanent and I do not create self-fulfilling prophecies. How I will do this, I do not know!

4. Love. When I left Durban I was determined to leave the heartache and pain of past relationships and use this as my fresh start and hopefully meet someone new who would love me and teach me to love past the hurt and the pain. Sadly I guess tis was never in the cards for me. At first I thought I would leave it to fate and see what it brought my way and then when that strategy did not work decided it was time to “put myself out there”. I registered on a couple of internet dating sites, started going out more and nothing yielded any results. Months ago I started to resign myself to the fact that maybe I am just one of those people that were meant to die alone! Yet, that quiet romantic in me refuses to believe that God can ever be that cruel.

5. Friendship. I had often heard of all the wonderful, life-long friends people make when travelling or living abroad. As my time here winds down, I need to probably admit that I will not be telling such stories to anyone. Not for the lack of trying! I arrived open to meeting new people and expanding my friendship circle. Much to my dismay the only things that this venture has yielded are many tearful nights from sheer frustration and loneliness, months of feeling undesirable and just completely useless. It’s one thing not to be wanted by the opposite sex, but when women do not want your companionship it compounds you become convinced that there’s something wrong with you!

6. Realising God’s plan for my life. I still remember the day I wrote Send Me To The Nations. Everything that could have gone wrong with my move here, seemed to have already happened. Yet amidst all that I had the quite confidence and the peace that I was walking the path God had wanted me to walk. This year was the year my relationship with Him would grow exponentially. This was the year I’d be drawn closer to Him and we’d do wonderful things together. When I wrote Just God and I in January, I was starting to believe that maybe all the things that had started going wrong and all the longing I had in my heart was all to reinforce that He was merely drawing me closer. I was still on the right path. I don’t know when I wandered off that path but months it’s been feeling I have been stumbling through a wilderness where God refuses to show His face. I went through months not wanting to pray let alone open a Bible. I was lost, wondering around aimlessly and no matter how much and how long I cried for help, He just did not want to show Himself to me.

I probably could have dealt with each of the above “failures” if I had been hit with them individually. Together they have come very close to consuming me and burying me alive. I probably could have dealt with the first five if I had felt the presence of God, His companionship and His comforting embrace through it all. Through all of this it feels as if I’m the only person excluded from the protective cover of scriptures like Psalm 55:22, 1 Peter 5:7 and Psalm 37:5. No matter how much I try cast my burdens to Him it seems He has turned His face away and closed His ears to my cries and has left me stranded in the middle of a desert with nowhere to turn and noone to turn to.

Life Comes Full Circle


“Good decisions come from experience, and experience comes from bad decisions.” ~Author Unknown

In life there are no guarantees…You’ll never know unless you try…It’s better to try than live with regret…What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. All clichés that gained their status because people like me needed to be told the same thing over and over again to spur them into making some sort of decision. Despite me knowing that nothing is more uncertain than life itself, I search for guarantees when making a decision. Even though I know that trying your hand at something with the threat of failing is better than never having tried at all, I sit terrified at the thought of venturing outside my comfort zone. All the while forgetting that this too was once a vague dream that I never thought possible. Forgetting that my life has been filled with leaps of faith that not only worked out just fine, but also brought me some of the greatest milestones in my life. Knowing all I know, why then is it so hard to make a decision and stick with it?

Up until now I have never really thought about it feels like and whether you see it ahead of time when your life is coming back full circle. A picture of an athlete running on a track appears in my mind and I wonder, were it for the markings that demarcate the start and finish line would he know when he has completed a full circle? Would he know he has run the distance he is required to run or would he just keep running until he wore himself out? As I sit thinking of my life and routes that lie ahead, I wonder what more needs to be done to make it clear that I need to stop running. My legs are weary, they feel like they will give in at any minute now, I know I have run the best race I could have run, I know up ahead lies the finishing point, besides a physical barricade to stop me from running further what more am I looking for?

This time last year an ongoing debate raged in my mind about whether making the move to Scotland, and leaving behind all that was familiar to me, was the right thing to do. Similar to where I stand right now, my mind was almost made up but the doubt still loomed and everything within me trembled at the thought of the journey that lay ahead. How could I not tremble? Up until last August I did not even own a passport let alone had experience of setting foot on any soil beyond the borders of South Africa. Even though I had applied for a job here and things looked promising, I still found it hard to believe that I was going to end up here. It didn’t help matters much that the process was riddled with problems and I ended up only arriving here in December as opposed to September as originally planned.

A year later, here I sit with yet another battle raging in my mind bearing an uncanny resemblance to “The Battle of 2010”. Similar to last year, I am unsettled in my life and I feel I have lost my bearings. As much as it makes me sad to say this but I really do not feel like I belong here, I belong back in South Africa, among my own people. Which all seems somewhat strange to me because I had the same feeling of not belonging in South Africa a year ago. As much as people would like to lead me to believe that this should all be written off as random ramblings of a schizophrenic mind, I have enough faith in my God-given senses to know better. Do I listen to the part of me that says going back is the right thing to do, it will bring me peace and reunite me with the life I built for twenty-five years? Do I silence these thoughts and listen to the part of me that says I am making the wrong career move, I am giving up a great opportunity and all I am is just being a quitter right now?

While it might be true that I have not accomplished all that I had set out to accomplish by coming here, I feel I have done enough to earn an A for effort! Whilst I have not progressed up the ladder as planned nor have I travelled around Europe, as was my primary non-work goal when I moved here, I still feel it is time for me to go home. It brings me great sadness to know that I did not do these things and it makes me feel like I have let not only myself down, but also my supporters who were standing on the sidelines cheering me on. While at times it feels like I am quitting on this race simply because my legs are cramping and I’m just too tired to attempt taking another step, I know in my heart this is not the case. Why then is my heart riddled with guilt? Why is my heart so sore at the thought of giving this up?

Truth be told, I do not think there is much that I would be giving up by returning home. I would incur a lot of unbudgeted costs yes, but to me the costs to my heart and soul are way higher by staying here. I am a fragment of the woman I used to be, yet two or three sizes heavier. I cannot remember the last time I went to church, an activity which used to be the centre of my life. I walk around numb because after months of suppression my tearducts have staged a protest and refuse to work. I long for the embrace that let’s me know that everything is ok, that I can cry and be vulnerable it’s ok. I have no one who allows me that in that country. I might have more than I did when I was in South Africa but life feels emptier than it has ever been.

I will not lie and say being here is not a fantastic opportunity because it is. If it wasn’t I would not be torn by giving it up. We often hear people say, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” In as much as I agree with this, I also think there comes a point when the hardships that you go through only succeed in making you hardened. There also comes a point where you need to stand up and say enough is enough, I refuse to go through this again. Let’s face it, we can only keep growing stronger to a limited point and after that what didn’t kill you will eventually kill you. The human body was never designed to be immortal and I think we tend to forget that at times. Which makes me wonder then; what good will a brilliant CV do for me when I am dead?

Knowing all I know, having rationalised, gone back and forth and held numerous discussions with numerous people on either side of the ocean, why does this whole situation still seem so hard? Why am I filled with so much doubt? Why do I still feel like I’m looking for affirmation that I am not messing up my life even further?

I would be naive if I believed that the decision would be easy from this point on. It would certainly show that I have no understanding for my own character if I thought I would stop doubting myself now that I have processed and laid out my thought process because let’s face it, that is not about to happen. At this point all I can do to silence voices in my head is just pray. Pray that my heart is in line with God’s will for my life and I will not be shamed in His eyes by the path I choose to follow.

Among Memories and Pieces of My Broken Heart


“You see the smile that’s on my mouth, it’s hiding the words that don’t come out. All of the friends who think I’m blessed, they don’t know I’m in this mess…”  ~ The Story, Brandi Carlile

Some people walk into and then out of your lives again before you even have time to acknowledge their presence. Others walk out and leave a lingering, haunting presence; the kind you cannot shake no matter how badly you want them to be erased from your memory. Memory, I believe is nature’s way of torturing broken hearts; much like my own. I resemble a lost soul that is tortured and caught in limbo between two worlds. I have been left behind in the graveyard where unburied pieces of my broken heart lay scattered. I have nothing to keep me company except old memories which threaten to swallow me whole. I know turning back is not an option, so I try to pick up the pieces as I move forward but when I look around me I am disappointed by just how little I have achieved. I want to cry or even shout out for help but then I realise my voice just won’t come out. So here I sit, among memories and pieces of my broken heart; unable to cry and unable to feel and unrecognisable to myself.

Seven weeks ago my life made sense. Seven weeks ago my life was filled with hope and promise. The harsh Scottish winter was finally giving way to the promise of spring and with it bringing me some much-needed light in what felt like the longest winter in my life. I was finally starting to feel a bit at home in this country, with its unfamiliar and oftentimes temperamental weather. I was finding my place at work and not hating it as much. Most of all my heart didn’t hurt as much from the pain caused by the one who’d disappeared out of my life with no explanation and without a trace. Looking back I ask myself whether I was just being naive for thinking I deserved the little bit of sunshine that I was starting to see peering from behind dark clouds that always seemed to hang close to me.

May 3,2011 will be etched in my brain forever. I will forever remember it as the day one misunderstanding sent a carefully spun web of lies and deceit crashing down. I will forever remember it as the day I discovered that the house I once thought was solid enough to withstand being separated by thousands of miles not only had cracks in the foundation, but was built on quicksand.

If you had asked me before this day to describe myself in as many words as I could think of, I would have come up with an impressive list ranging from determined, resilient to overly sensitive and somewhat aggressive. Gullible, unperceptive, stupid and home wrecker would not have made their way onto that list. But ever since discovering that I spent almost two years loving a man who had no intention of ever telling me that I was his filthy secret he had no intention of airing out, those are the new words I use to describe myself.

Day after day I replay separate segments of my relationship with him and I keep on asking the same question, over and over again, “HOW DID I MISS THIS? Did I learn nothing from the previous relationship that ended in a similar fashion?” As much as I am filled with hundreds of questions for him, I will never ask them because I know he has no intention of ever being honest with me. If he did would I have found out six months later from someone else that he was engaged? If he had cared at all for my well-being would he have started any form of relationship with me knowing his intentions. What kind of supposedly God-fearing man walks into your life, claims to understand your situation and that you are fragile and vows to look after your interests and to try never hurt you, knowing…knowing….knowing he grinds away your heart with every calculated step and action?

How does one get over this? I have been trying to figure this out every day for the 49 days and I don’t seem to be any closer to an answer. Instead I am still utterly humiliated, angry, baffled, depressed and filled with more hatred than I can bear to admit. My heart has become so hardened; I refuse to let more than a handful of people in anymore. Once trusted confidants might as well be strangers that I have just met. Strangers are kept on a simple one strike system, after all it was giving someone the benefit of doubt, multiple chances and wavering boundaries that got me into this mess. My mind will not let me feel anything for longer than a fleeting moment. All the while I smile,never acknowledging the hollow pain in the cavity where my heart once rested. And where is he while all this is happening? He is living his life, planning his wedding, buying baby clothes and preparing for the imminent arrival of his bundle of joy. Completely oblivious to the pain he impregnated my life with. And what is to become of my joy?

With this experience, my once clear vision has failed me to the point that I cannot see beyond the horizon. Whilst I have faith that God will heal my heart and make me whole once more, I do not think I can ever love another quite the same way again. My friendships will never be as innocent and doubt-free. Acquaintances will never be welcomed with the same openness and enthusiasm. My intuition and discernment failed me and now I don’t know if will ever be able to completely trust myself again let alone trust another man enough to want to build a life with them.

I lost the part of me that I treasured most that day, leaving me so debilitated by pain I have to wonder who the empty shell that stares back at me is every time I walk past a mirror. Sometimes I pray for God to allow me to cry but my tears are held captive behind an impenetrable wall I am not allowed through. Consequently I spend many sleepless nights and countless hours silently watching the memories float one by one in remarkable clarity and detail in front of my eyes. I let them play on and silently pray that they will wear themselves out and someday I will wake up and find myself free from their captivity. Until then I sit here, just me and these persistent, unwanted memories trying to make sense of it all, trying very hard to assemble the scattered pieces of my broken heart.

The Evolution of Pain


“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”                                             ~ James 1 : 2 – 4

Pain has been such an integral part of my life, I cannot seem to remember a time where I felt safe and immune from it. It’s been battle after battle and not surprisingly I am still dealing with scars, not just physical ones but emotional ones as well. For quite a while I was quite happy to put everything into little boxes and stow them safely in places where the world could not see. This strategy worked well until the cupboard hiding the boxes flung open in April 2006 and my life as I had known it came to a standstill.That was my very first encounter with despair and heartache so bad it brought me to my knees and left me feeling like I had no other viable option but to end my life.I sometimes wonder whether knowing what I now know would have made any difference. Would I have chosen differently? Would I have been comforted by the knowledge that as my pain has evolved, so have I?

I sometimes long for the pain of my childhood though back then all I wished for was for it to end. I long for it because it was mostly physical and much like most physical ailments, I knew it could be healed and it would go away. Apart from a few scars on my arms and legs, which are completely painless until I look at them and remember why they are there, the pain did go away. What I did not know then and what led to the box cupboard filling up while I was not looking, was the evolution of the physical pain into emotional pain.

My parents left impressions of the worst kind in my life, those that are imprinted on the very fabric of your soul. As much as I do not hate either one of them and as much as I try not to hold any grudges, I am always reminded of just how much they affected my life. For starters, I do not trust people or ever feel completely safe because I was never brought up in a safe nurturing environment. Sadly even though I am 25 and even though it has been over ten years since my mother laid a hand on me, I often find myself flinching and stepping away slowly when she is angry with me. Quite honestly, I am terrified of both my parents and that is something that I have realised will remain with me for the rest of my life. What has been most affected by my turbulent childhood is my relationship with God. As someone who does not have a healthy parent-child relationship template to work with, it is pretty hard for me to understand some of the concepts taught in the Bible. I am grateful though that God has been patient with me and He continues to work in me one step at a time. I cannot say He never granted my heartfelt pleas for the beatings to stop because they mostly did when my parents got divorced when I was 12. The pain I knew then is nothing compared to the pain I know now.

I remember reading somewhere that God uses pain and hurts to prepare us for our ministry in life. Looking back at how I have  grown through what I have gone through, I cannot help but tremble in fear of what is to come. I do not believe that it is over. Neither do I believe that God has reached the highest level in the pain scale. I know this because Romans 8:29 talks about how we are called to be like his Son and I have read many Bible scriptures that talk about the pain Christ had to endure and what I imagine He still endures as our intercessor. If Jesus could be brought to a place where even He could groan in pain for His cup of suffering to be taken from Him, if I am to be conformed into the image of Him, what makes me think I will stop going through pain?

One thing that I am now sure of is that there was a point to it all and that point is applicable to my life today as well. The most monumental event in my life was the birth of my daughter when I was only 15, yes 15. For some who actually know me personally will be surprised to learn of her existence. The truth is, she is one of the many boxes that I stored in that overflowing cupboard and it is going to take a little while longer for me to be able to write a whole blog about her but I can assure you that I will. As much as I have had to endure a lot of physical and emotional pain to be her mom and most of it was what seemed like senseless pain, I would not be who I am today without her in my life. In as much as I feel I was not given much of an option in deciding whether to bring her into the world, I now know that she is a necessary part of my evolution.

Each day I am learning to persevere a little more than the day before and the more I do that the more the Holy Spirit works in me. I am not the same person I was ten years ago, a year ago, a month ago or even a week ago for that matter. What is wonderful is that all my experiences have shaped me for the better. God’s grace has given me beautiful testimonies about just how far I have come, the most significant for me being; try as I may, I do not have a bitter, twisted heart. Somehow it continues to overflow with love. Somehow with all the pain it’s had to take in, my heart can still exude love. I therefore know that my pain is a necessary concomitant to my evolution. If I did not experience it how else would I achieve the dictionary meaning for the word? How else would I experience, “the gradual process in which something changes into a different and usually more complex or better form”?

Someday I will


The hardest part of any pain is actually being in the depth of it and not feeling like it will ever get better. I have spent over 30 hours of this weekend sleeping just so I don’t have to think of you. I don’t hate you, really I don’t…I’m just not as over you as I would like to be.

They say God never wastes a hurt, that all your pain is preparing you for your purpose in life. Someday, one day I will come to appreciate this but that day is just not today. Today I just want to cry when I think of you. Today I just want to know why you’ve left my world without so much as a goodbye. Today I would like to know why God thinks it’s fair for me to go through such heartbreak twice in two years. First the one I’d loved for six years walks out on our relationship because he was “tired and just doesn’t want to be in the relationship anymore.” Now you here you are, gone…without a trace.

Was I wrong to love you in the first place? Is this my punishment for turning a friendship into a romantic relationship? Somehow I feel that I was disobedient. Somehow I feel that God had not wanted me to be with you at that point in time. If this is the case then why then did it feel so right? Why then is every moment I’ve spent with you etched in my heart and painted vividly with yellows, oranges, pinks and some bright blues? Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “There is a season and time for every matter under the sun.” Was it just never the time for us? Ironic though how you were the one that once quoted this scripture to me. Why did you not add, “oh honey, this scripture applies to us too.”

I have so many questions I want to ask you. Not least of all being, why did you turn what was a beautiful friendship into a relationship knowing that you would not take care of me like you did as my friend? Was it just greed on your part? Was it that you just couldn’t bear the thought of someone else loving me? You knew the kind of pain that I had recently gone through and you said it yourself that you had never wanted to hurt me. Why did you then?

I will not be melodramatic and say that  I will never love another the way I have loved you because that would probably be a lie. I will not tear a page from a story book and say I have never loved another as much as I love you because guess what? I have loved so many others and I continue to love others each and every day. I guess that’s the beauty of a human heart, even when it feels like it is so weary that it will just never function the same again, it just surprises you because it just keeps pumping blood and supplying life to your whole body and as much as you are an unwilling participant, you find yourself doing exactly what you swore you’d never do again….loving another.

While for me the other is by no means another man, I love so many things even as I profess deep heartache. I love my friends, I love my siblings, I love the God who created me. I love Him because like Psalm 139:16 says, ” Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book all my days were recorded, even those which were purposed before they had come into being.” How wonderful is that knowledge that even before I had left my mother’s womb, the Lord knew the kind of pain that I would be in on this very day…25 years 8 months after my birth. Should He have stopped it? The immature Christian in me, shouts YES before I can even finish typing the question. Let me be real for one moment, I got myself into this situation! I was the one seeking a relationship, I am hurting today because of the very choices I made.

I cannot go a single day thinking of you. As cruel as it may sound I wish I had never met you. Though yes that would deprive me of the life’s lesson’s I was supposed to have learnt through my encounter with you, still in my defiance I say, “I wish I had never met you!” Let’s reverse time to that fateful Saturday morning when I was sitting in a lecture and I turned around and there you were walking into the back of the room wearing your rugby jersey and blue jeans. Then we would have no need to erase all the encounters that followed, all of which I could recall on request. If there was any justice in this world, I would be able to erase the day you officially stepped into my life as my boyfriend. Blot it out of existence! I think that is the only way I could feel like my heart could resume its normal pace.

After all’s been said and done, I love you. I don’t understand why but I just do. I wish I could say I didn’t but then what would be the point in lying? Because of this overwhelming pain I feel I am incapable of reaching any point where I feel happy. I take my antidepressants like I’m supposed to and even that doesn’t help keep me out of this pit of despair that I am in. Sure I smile on que when I am around people. Yes I crack jokes. On a good day you might just find me actually putting in a good couple of hours of work. But does that change the fact that sometimes it hurts so bad I feel physical pain in my chest? Does it change the fact that every time my phone makes a sound I still wish it was you? No it doesn’t! As pathetic as it is…I love you and I won’t stop loving you today but someday I will!