Chapter 6 marks the spiral of my anxiety disorder and major depression, forcing me to evaluate everything I had ever thought or believed about life, and my desperate scramble to regain pieces of me that felt lost.
Diary insert from 5 February 2014 – “Couldn’t sleep again last night… migraine making me want to shoot myself in the head. By 6:30, I was nearly in full blown panic mode. By the time it was ready to leave for work, I was convinced I would have a heart attack any second. I have felt that tightness way too many times over the last few months… feeling the beat of my heart, the sweat on my lip, the shaking of my body, and the anxiety that tightens around my heart making me feel like my chest is going to explode. I can’t do this… I can’t go to work today. Surely I shouldn’t push myself to this level of panic. I really don’t want to do this anymore. I don’t want to feel like this anymore. I push ahead anyway, the worst that can happen is I freak out and need to sleep at work for a bit. That’s not too bad right?”
February was quite a hard month for me as I was discussing lots of things in therapy, mainly to do with my brother and mother. Old memories were coming back and causing a lot of mood swings! I finally came clean to my boyfriend about my childhood abuse and read some extracts from my diary, maybe in hopes that he could begin to understand different aspects about my behaviour.
Diary insert from Wednesday 5 March 2014 – “Our five year anniversary is coming up. I’ve been trying to gauge the chances of a proposal…. Richard is so hard to read. Since the responsibility of Nick was taken out of my hands, I said goodbye to the emotional rollercoaster that is my mother, and reorganised my contract at work – it feels like things are finally getting back to happy times. We are having so much fun together at the moment and things between us seem better than ever. I am still so in love with this man! I phoned his mom today to see if she had any idea, I didnt want to get my hopes up only to be disappointed again. She didn’t know though :)”
In the early hours of Friday morning, after some hours of insomnia and terrible insecurity – I sent Rich a message saying that I was nearly 30… and it was time for him to decide our next step….. his reaction was one of anger and not what I had anticipated at all…. We had a big fight on my way to work that morning.. and agreed to discuss it when I got home.
Diary insert Sunday 9 March – Rich and I broke up. He says our relationship has been more down than up (true). He’s been waiting for me to be more confident, stronger, happier. He thinks he had unrealistic expectations of me when we met, thought I was confident, driven, ambitious, strong. and ultimately says he must go with his gut.
Diary insert from Monday 10 March 2014 – “On Friday I was feeling a weird calmness, as though something was pushing me to voice myself and express what I needed in our relationship. Richard broke up with me on Saturday morning. I felt as though I was in shock… Lunchtime through to Saturday night I was completely heartbroken, in despair, even suicidal thoughts crossing my mind. I thought that my world could simply not go on and I didn’t want to be a part of this cruel world that just seemed to want to cause me pain over and over. How many times can a heart break before its irreparable? I was desperate to get away from the pain. The ripping and stabbing of the broken heart inside my chest, the disbelief and shock in my frantic mind, and the dizziness, trembling and anxiety of the adrenaline coursing through my veins as the panic takes over my body. Sunday morning was like waking after a death, you wake to feel alright, until the crushing reality of what you’re facing hits you like a ton of bricks. I slept well, but all my dreams were very vivid ones of Richard and me together, in love. The tears just rolled down my face as I climbed out of our bed for the last time. I wasn’t sure what time Richard was due back (he left for Ramfest on Saturday) but knew I wanted to keep as busy as I could throughout the day to get away from my thoughts, fears and to delay the panic settling into my bones. I feel like my world has been turned upside down. There is so much anxiety and restlessness inside. I cannot even find the words to explain how it feels to have what you felt was your future for the last 5 years, be suddenly ripped up from under you. From everything I have been through, I crave stability. I plan my days thoroughly and am constantly planning ahead. I’ve sought to control my life the best way I can. This is why I live so much in my head, trying to analyse, organise, control, think, anticipate, plan. Nothing anyone said last week could have prepared me for Richard and I breaking up this week. But then came the very real realisation and acceptance that nothing is or ever will be under my control.
Perhaps there lies my saving – I haven’t had much anxiety since that realisation – that things really are out of my hands and the only and best thing that I can ever do is have faith. My only other option is focusing on the negative of what I’ve lost, which would undoubtedly lead me to suicidal thoughts but that is taking a giant step back and giving up. I refuse to do that, not after fighting this hard. My trembles are gone. My restlessness is gone. Yet there is still so much sadness in my heart. I love Richard. I love how he makes me feel, I love laughing with him. I love when we tease each other and when we just get each other. My thoughts return to Richard’s mom, darling Kathleen who I have grown to love so much. She is everything I have ever yearned for in a mother. I tried so hard all these years to hold back on my feelings for his family, but they all crept into my heart. I wonder if I am only feeling this calm because the ‘pressure’ of being happy has now been lifted. Now it’s just me. There’s no one I have to be ‘better’ for. I know he didn’t mean to at all but in some ways he made me feel like I was failing, even though I felt I’d come so far… I felt like where I was in my life and efforts I’d made I’d never be good enough for him.
It’s frightening how these mood swings are taking a hold on my life. I have these moments of such darkness that I worry if I will come out. I don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. I don’t see a way to beat this challenge. I don’t know if I have the strength anymore. There is a little girl inside just crying to be loved. All I can feel is her pain and the stabbing pain in my heart. The words “I’m so sorry” keep repeating inside my head. Why do I feel the need to keep apologising to myself?? This started a few weeks ago. Why do I love these men who make me feel like I will never be good enough? Why do I allow them to make me feel like I will never be good enough!!”
Diary insert from 26 March 2014 – “It is in a few moments here and there that I find a greater strength within myself than I ever thought possible. I AM. Ok. My greatest fear has come true and I am ok. In fact I am more than OK. There are times when my energy soars and I feel so free and happy. I just need to hold on to those moments. Through the pain there is an energy that is comforting me; it’s like a kind of vague knowing that this is for the best. I love Richard and I know I would have built a happy life with him. But would it have been my best life? It was just not the path I was meant to lead. I realise that now even though my heart breaks and every cell in my body craves his touch.”
Things are going well. Richard and I are still sharing the house until transfer goes through, but it seems to be working perfectly in a strange way. Every now and then it gets too emotional for me to deal with (like when I get home and he’s gone out), but we still have fun together and there are no bad feelings between us. I am absolutely LOVING my new role at Cart Horse, and things seem to be going well. The pressure of full time fundraising was affecting my anxiety levels too much, but with consulting my hours are flexible and I am able to focus on what I do best – sharing the incredible work that is done by the cart horse team. My happy pills have definitely kicked in, and I have so much more energy these days.
My world is crumbling a little bit again. I am losing my passion and belief in this organisation. A beautiful bay horse came in for treatment in the last month, and I grew such an attachment to this specific horse…. I’d be there every morning to feed him, brush him, take him out to the paddocks, and within days I felt a connection and love toward him like no other cart horse before. He’d even let me sit next to him while he lay down in the stable. But his legs were injured… he would never work again, and might even be in pain for the rest of his life that would need to be managed. I knew what that meant. That the chances were, he’d have to be put to sleep. This gorgeous, gentle horse…. that we couldn’t save him was just devastating. I begged and pleaded with them to give me a chance to find him a home. To just give me a few days grace. Someone would take this horse. I knew it. He was too good to just give up on!! But the decision was not mine to make….. and barely hours after he’d been excitedly bucking and prancing in the paddock…. he was put to sleep. I lost all motivation for my work. I was not here to make money to put horses to sleep. I was here to raise money to SAVE horses. Step Up. I will always remember your name. It was after Step Up was gone that I resolved to start a Horse Sanctuary for all the working horses in Cape Town. These horses deserve to live out a retirement, no matter how long or short a time they may have left, in huge grass paddocks with the freedom to run, and relax, and just enjoy nature.
Losing my passion, my partner, my home… all within weeks, literally sent me over the edge. I feel broken. I started feeling a sort of kinship with the cart horses… living a long hard life, only to be tossed away when you are no longer useful or can offer what is wanted. With not even a short happy time at the end of their lives. Like a long sad movie that has a happy ending that lasts 2 seconds before the credits come up.. I will never understand. Will I fight my whole life for happiness only to discover it at the very end? Or will I too be tossed away like an injured cart horse before I can discover the joy of life?
Diary insert from 12 August 2014 – “Feeling lost. I don’t have a home. I know the words are ridiculous, even to my own ears. I’ve moved in with my dad and while I’m incredibly grateful that he has the means and heart to take me in with my two dogs, it’s not my home. His temper is hectic and I cannot cope with the shouting all the time. I can’t cope with the mess. Things lie everywhere and my OCD is losing the plot. I didn’t anticipate feeling like this at all. I knew the move was coming for long enough. Why am I so lost? Why do I feel like there is nowhere for me to go. I feel tired. I just want to sleep. I’m tired of having to keep picking myself up. Why does it sometimes seem easier to sink into negativity than remain positive? If my thoughts are what is making my life… and after 6 years of knowing this I still haven’t made significant progress. Then what is the point really? Will I ever be able to choose to be happy for more than a few days or weeks at a time? or will I just move from bad moment to bad moment and think that is my life”
Diary insert from 22 August 2014 – “How do you escape when even in your dreams you are crying? There seems to be no limit to how many tears roll down my cheeks. My heart… shatters into a million pieces again and again… creating an ache in my soul I can’t hide away from. My ‘logical’ mind has come to terms with this… the break up… the move… The collapse of what I thought was the family I was joining. All the visions I held of our future together. My logical mind knows happiness and knows that this separation was for the best, it knows I can move forward and find the very best of my life is still to come.
It’s my emotional side that needs to catch up. The little girl inside that aches to be held, to feel safe, to feel truly loved and told that everything will be ok. Sometimes the pain gets so much I feel like I’m crying out the pain of my whole 29 years. The pain seems easier to accept when I am reminded that I was left by my mother when I was a baby and apparently the love I am craving is a combination of yearning buried from my early childhood. But…. it could just be psycho babble. In many ways I feel like a new person has awakened. I’ve spent most of my life being a people pleaser… trying to be the best daughter, sister, granddaughter, girlfriend or friend. It all seems for nothing now. Why? Why spend so much time trying to be the best for others when at the end of the day when you are suddenly faced with darkness, there is only you to find the light. No one else can make you feel better. Few will even try. You get older and everyone has their own problems to deal with. Is this perhaps my saddest lesson of all? When you need help the most, you come to realise there will only ever be you.”
My psychologist has handed me over to a psychiatrist as she feels my depression is out of control, my meds should be adjusted and I should be admitted to a clinic or go into intensive therapy. The psychiatrist seemed to think that Venlor was the worst anti-depressant I could have gone on, and that it has activated bi-polar mood swings, and immediately gave me a program to wean off it, while starting on different medication to help the side effects of withdrawals. WELL. I can tell you that withdrawal from Venlor is NOT FUN, and that drug should never have been approved in the first place if it can cause that type of reaction. Every time I got upset I would get brain zaps in my head, making me feel like my mind was short circuiting (literally!) After experiencing that I decided that I would try my way without medication. (fool)
Diary Insert 5 September 2014 – “I don’t actually know what to say anymore. How to show the people around me how damaged I’m really feeling inside? I see myself acting the same. Laughing even. When all I want to do is scream. sob my heart out. Shake these people who should be seeing the terror and utter sadness in my eyes. I need help. And I have no idea how to get it. I feel like I’ve asked. I’ve told my dad I feel like I am losing my mind. Do people think I say these things lightly? I have no idea who I am anymore. I just feel completely lost and incapable of thinking straight. Only doing what I can in the moment to keep my anxiety and panic at bay. I don’t even know how to convey this to my psychologist. The idea that I don’t have a place to call home where I feel safe is slowly going to destroy my life. I can’t work. I can’t function. Out of everything I have been through… not having a home and feeling unwanted is the most debilitating.”
Been having the same dream repeatedly now for a few months… It was always the same, me screaming for something or someone but no sound coming out.. so of course I googled it. “Symbolically, it might suggest that in life, you’re holding back some true feelings or expression because you don’t want to be heard. It might be that you don’t want to need help and so even though you’re screaming on the inside for someone to save you, you’re acting in waking life as if everything is fine. Examine your life and see if that rings true for some area, situation or relationship.”
Diary Insert 21 November – “I don’t want to live on this planet anymore. There are so many people who die every day, why can’t I be one of them? I can’t bear this anymore. How ridiculous I feel most of the time. How I feel like I need to explain myself, apologise for being weird. The last four months… have been the worst in my life. I feel so utterly let down by the people that are supposed to be the professionals at dealing with this. At dealing with and helping people like me. If they can’t deal with me properly how on earth can I possibly expect others to even begin to understand?? I took away my mother’s home, and now my home has been taken. She couldn’t find a place she liked for her budget. I can’t even find a place to live with my dogs in my budget. and I’m angry at people for not finding something for me… for not helping me look… when I wouldn’t help my mother and got angry at her for being useless. Just like I am now. Hypocrite..”
I don’t know. I have no idea what I believe in anymore. The end of my relationship actually knocked me for a 6. It’s like my brain belief system got a nice big rumble around in a washing machine with half the info being washed away. Friendships? Marriage? Relationships? Love? How is all this shit supposed to work. Have I been getting it wrong my whole life? Did I miss a memo somewhere.
What is the POINT. Cos I used to think it was about having fun, getting married and starting a family…
Diary Insert 25 December – “This is the worst Christmas of my life. I’m not having fun. Fun activities just seem like mere distractions from reality. Clearly never getting married, and I probably won’t have kids seeing as I’m a looney tune and I don’t want to traumatise more people on this planet. I’m having the longest pity party of my life and I just don’t understand life anymore. Everything is wrong. People are starving while others spend millions on a little wall or whatever around their precious home. People being tortured. Women being abused. Children being raped. The world has gone to shit. How can someone be happy in a world like this? It seems the only way to be happy is to look past the shit? overlook the shit things? Turn a blind eye to the suffering? Is that really the way? But then I become like other people and just care about my own little world? Don’t we have the power to change things but it’s too daunting so we don’t do anything aside from a special few who find that courage? Life isn’t fair. There is no karma. Bad things happen to good people and good things happen to shit people. I’m struggling to find that faith and hope within me that there is good at this point. Living in the moment? How do you do that when you’re trying to find an answer to a million whys???? or perhaps a better question… how do you get past the point of wanting to ask why? What lessons have I supposed to have been learning? I know more about suffering…yes. but stronger? No. I am weaker now than I have ever been before. Faith shaken. Mojo depleted. and I don’t know how to get myself back. I’m not sure I want to even try. It all just seems too much effort this life shit.”
But I keep on. cos I am too bangbroek to end shit. and one day soon hopefully I can just go live on a little self-sustaining farm on a river with a nice view somewhere with my three pooches:)
and with that… I’m afraid I haven’t yet managed to write an inspiring summary to end it all off with. 2014 – The year of the horse – brought so much heartache, and yet has also brought about the founding of the Horse Sanctuary Trust!
If my story has touched you in any way, please consider donating to my dream – every bit helps!