As someone who’s struggled with depression from my teens, I found it imperative that I participate in adding a voice to the #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek2016. I, alongside six other African female bloggers have come together to share our experiences for 7 days, under this year’s theme which is: RELATIONSHIPS. The motive is to hopefully spark a conversation, to change perceptions, to reflect and to empathize not only about our own struggles but of those in our lives as well. Please read below and share your thoughts in the comments section
I imagine relationships are still hard enough, even when it’s just two people with “normal” people problems. When a man meets a woman he likes, he’s expected to protect her above everything. But somehow I’ve never had that.
My ex-boyfriend always treated my mental illness as if it was just irrational tantrums! He then went on to make me feel like I was unlovable, like I was crazy and disease ridden. One day he told me I should be lucky that I had him ‘because no one else would tolerate me’ and that I surely had been the reason my mother treated me the way she did. This infested the insecurities and immense fear in my already troubled mind. I even started thinking I was being paranoid about the way he treated me and believed that I was the problem; probably my crazy mind making up all these terrible things about him. I suspected I was starting to hallucinate or losing my mind but I really wasn’t. I beat myself up about issues that weren’t my fault and eventually lost all hope of salvaging my self-esteem.
Such a total contrast to my current boyfriend though, he acts like I’m his main life support. He will never accept that I cut myself but he always kisses my scars. And we do fight about why I always say I’m going to stop but I always fall back into my habit. When we fought this one time I told him “over everything else you think you need to show me love; you have to be supportive. My mental health is already too hard to deal with so I really don’t need anyone else telling me what I’m doing is wrong.” He now gets that I have blue days, darker days and days when I just want to give up.
We’re not perfect. He’s not perfect but I at least no longer feel alone in this world. He’s there through it all and every phone call when I’m down in the dumps, he’s like a ray of sunshine burning into the dark abyss of my depression; reaching out and warming my face. I appreciate him for that.
Before, there wasn’t any light at the end of my grim tunnel. Now if only I could one day muster the strength to crawl towards the glorious light.
Hi, my name is Asithandile Mbalu and I’m a cutter. I struggle with depression, paranoia, anxiety and a leetle OCD every day. Some days are really hard. And some are a walk in the park. I recently had a problem where I was literally living in auto-pilot. I struggled to comprehend when I was dreaming or I was really experiencing things. I was so scared I thought I was going crazy. Sometimes I still feel like I am and that scares me so much. I always have to stop myself from going through a whole anxiety attack. I hide this from my boyfriend because my self-esteem hasn’t grown much. I’m scared he’ll realize he doesn’t need to be with ‘crazy’ and walk out. He says he’s here for as long as I need him and even after I don’t want him around but I’m still scared. He’s real however, so I at least have that reality. Thank God for him.
Asithandile Mbalu (South Africa)
I’m an all purpose creative. Almost like your gran’s medicine bottle. (This one’s for the black kinners). I have nomadic tendencies which are fueled by a curious nature and the need to be free. (Probably was a nomad in my previous life). I have two tattoos and getting more as soon as I can. I write, I eat (it’s an art), I photograph and love everything visually stimulating. I’m a drinker 😉 I’m currently a recruit at Umuzi Photo Club with no specific choice stream. I grew up in Cape Town and love all shades of men. 🙂
Pictures By: Sipho Biyam
Model: Asithandile Mbalu
The pictures I will use this week as the blog post cover photos were taken for another Mental Health Awareness Website. Thank you to both of the creatives for allowing me to use their work
I believe mental illness should be a two way platform where both genders are clearly given the opprtunity to express the views on how it feels in being in such a state but great piece of writing
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Well the whole week is awareness of mental health, featuring female bloggers is not about showcasing a one sided view. I believe mental illness affects all women and men all the same just that I decided to choose these close acquaintances of mine to give a voice to the struggle.
It takes a strong woman to come out and be aware of her troubles to the public. May God continue to protect Asy nd walk with her through all this, it doesn’t look easy but i pray she gets all the strength to overcome and never givevup.
Great post Sinawo i applaud you for taking such a huge step of making us aware of what people are going through on a daily basis. I believe its not easy to get people to open up but you took the first step of making them realize that telling their story will decrease their fears and will get other people to talk about their situations.
Looking forward to reading more.
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Thank You so much Babe 😘 I made her read this 💜