My Story

Chapter 7 – Health, Anxiety, Depression

My moods dropped very very low in those final days of January, even though some special friends were doing their utmost to keep me busy.

I worry that I will not be able to earn an income in the future. I feel like I have some kind of technical burn out. A complete inability to to handle any form of stress.  Deadlines and stressed colleagues basically send me into a catatonic state.  I can do physical labour for hours… but a computer? Can’t bear to open it… Relationships? Who wants to be with someone who is fine as long as everything is fine… why would anyone choose that uncertainty for a life partner?

Diary 15th January 2015

I couldn’t get up this morning… I haven’t been able to all weekend. I have made so many mistakes.  I cry every time I look in the mirror and remember the choices I’ve made along the way. This has been one of the hardest periods in my life… but there has always been something that seemed hard, always something that was bringing me down… How do I fix that in my life? How do I focus on the positive…? The pulls toward taking my own life get stronger and stronger. I am trying so hard to come up with some goals or my next step but I can’t THINK. I don’t understand what is going on. Why is it that in the pit of despair.. the life of sadness and emptiness feels like the one true reality? The happy memories I’m creating with new friends seem an illusion… a distraction from my true life. The cruelty of my thoughts paralyse me… the anxiety over what kind of life I can live now, the worry of never being able to provide myself with an income again… being dependent on others. the ongoing cycle of the highs and lows of life.. can I do this?  Part of me is scared that I had it all and still felt restless. So did I have it all and need to work on my gratitude? or did my intuition know something I didn’t, that I still needed a lot more growth before I settled on a partner and career? I’m over this growth thing. too much of it can kill you:P

I left for a short holiday to JHB in the first weekend of February as Claudie was coming to stay in Pretoria for a week. My holiday was nothing like what I had envisaged. I foresaw two weeks of me crying and opening up to my friends over my confusion of life and trying to get some closure for my history. I mistakenly viewed this holiday as a period of being ‘fixed’….

Instead, my time in Gauteng was jam-packed with unexpected activities. Horse riding, game driving, lightning storms, guest houses, sun city, exploring cities, and lots of laughs with old friends…. while I didn’t get to have as many heart to heart deep and meaningful convo’s as I wanted to sort out the confusing whirlwind of thoughts and questions in my head, what I received in return was much more valuable and priceless – hope. Hope for life. Hope for myself.

I struggled in the first few days after returning from JHB… back to face reality and life and my non-existent home…and idling about. My motivation and energy is so low. It is a battle to do more than 3 tasks a day. I resolved that I would find a plot to buy within my first month back. I needed a home, a farm away from the bustling city, away from the noise of others, and I needed to do this for myself. So I packed my things and my dogs and went touring across the Western Cape looking at plots; Hopefield, Caledon, Suurbraak, Swellendam, Tesselaarsdal, Hermanus, Fisherhaven, Botrivier and anywhere else we happened to drive past. During my roadtrip, my father contacted me with a new rental listing he had seen on Gumtree. It sounded great: a cottage to rent with 1ha of enclosed space, on a horse farm in Rondeberg. The rental was quite high, especially for a little cottage in the gramadoelas, but I still had some savings and was desperate for some space to clear my thoughts. I phoned immediately (which is a miracle in itself seeing as I and booked to see the cottage the next morning.  The owner turned out to be an old family friend and dated the woman who had been married to my uncle! I don’t take coincidences lightly and took this as a decent sign that I should move to the farm.

Diary Wednesday 4 March 2015

Frozen – I am supposed to be going to a meeting now… I got up early.. showered and ready to go… But I can’t bring myself to leave the house. frozen on the couch. like the so many times before where I’ve been frozen on my bench.  I want to work… I just don’t want to leave.  is it possible to feel traumatised by the outside world?  Sometimes I feel like that. In these moments, I don’t want to leave… I don’t want to face any of the negative possibilities that await me. I want to stay here. At home. Panic and nausea rises in my body as I try to talk myself into leaving. I feel like it is my intuition pleading with me… whispering… and then commanding.. don’t go out today. Stay where it is safe.

but then I think… There must be thousands of people who don’t want to go to work… Who don’t feel like leaving their house. Am I one of them and using my past as an excuse to succumb to my anxiety?  Is it just that I allow my thoughts to take over my actions and debilitate me as opposed to living with my responsibilities?  How do I overcome this new challenge of mine?  This indulgence of not pushing myself past being moderately stressed. Complete inability and stubbornness to deal with things or situations that push me to feelings I can’t control…  I am trying to listen to my body… but is that a good thing?  my world is changing so quickly… and I am finding it so difficult to know what’s right to hold on to. What should I be fighting to keep? 

If I was an outsider I might say I’m just lazy, and useless and need to pull myself towards myself. which is what I tell myself every day. But that doesn’t take away my feelings and thoughts. Doesn’t take the panic away. Doesn’t provide the push I need… And now I know myself well enough to realise that on days like this when I can’t leave, the panic might dissipate…but the sinking feelings won’t go away. The disappointment in myself. my actions. my decisions. my weaknesses. my fear over the future starts to play over in my mind and I pray with everything I have that this move to the farm cottage is the beginning of the answer I am desperately looking for..

Diary 9 March

Living for tomorrows…. I can’t do today. It’s a thought I’ve had fairly often over the last 15 years. The morning comes…. and within seconds of opening my eyes I realise I just don’t want to be alive today. I don’t want to deal with my emotions.. my anger toward the world.. The cruelty… unfairness. How utterly foolish it is trying to be a good person in a world that appreciates and respects power. And how ridiculously difficult and impossible life seems to be when you’re consumed with negative thoughts or beliefs. I know that I need to work on myself…. but how?  Someone who read my blog a few weeks ago made a comment that I just haven’t had a chance to figure things out for myself because I’ve been so focused on others.. So what should I be doing to beat this? I think of how unbelievably happy I was initially on the Venlor. Seems like a dream now….was that even real? Are anti-depressants really my only way out? How and why do I find it so easy to crash and wallow when I am like this… yet I’ve actually just had five fantastic happy days? It’s like I jump from bad moment to bad moment, conveniently forgetting the good in between and summarising my life on the bad.

I was watching a Friends rerun the other day and Rachel’s quote made me laugh so much, it was written for me I think! “There’s rock bottom, then there’s 50 feet of crap…. and then there’s me!”

A few weeks after moving in to my farm cottage, my friend (and lifesaver!) Sean and I went for lunch at Rondeberg nursery. We bumped into my new landlord and ex aunt and ended up having lunch with them. Somehow the conversation steered toward health, and Louise and I soon realised we seemed to have exactly the same symptoms as far as mood swings were concerned. After hearing what I had to say she was adamant that I had PMDD like her and that I should go see her Doctor. She promised he would ‘fix’ me with some kind of hormone microchip!  Upon hearing this… there was another moment of realising that life works in mysterious ways. Could this be why life sent me to this cottage?

Diary Tuesday 7 April 2015 – I don’t want to be this weak person anymore… These tears.. the panic. Anxiety. The agony I create for myself with my own thoughts… I am my own worst enemy. The last two weeks have all but destroyed me….and every month it is the same. for as long as I can remember I have had such bad emotional crashes every single month… where my mood is just explosive….and my whole life feels like a mess. 


Diary Thursday 9 April 2015 – Well… finally…. for years and years I have felt like something was wrong with me. My reactions to stress are over the top and have been over the top since 2011! I met with Doctor Fourie who took some tests and told me today he’s found a thyroid issue…

I was fighting back the tears while he explained the results.

  • I have adrenal fatigue – my adrenal glands are burnt out, and that’s why I always feel stressed and tired. Thats why when one small thing happens, it sends me over the edge.
  • I have Hashimotos Thyroiditis – There are large amounts of Thyroid antibodies in my system which suggests there’s been a problem for a long time now. (not picked up on ordinary Thyroid tests)
  • There is a massive deficiency in my iron reserve levels (also not picked up on ordinary iron test) He said my count was 25 when it should have been between 150-200.

He won’t give me a microchip because he says I am too young. Bummer! So…my medication: Thyroid-S (pig thyroid), Iodine, Magnesium supplements, Iron injections, Nuzak (anti-depressant)

More info on Hashimotos here

Effects so far: headaches from hell from thyroid tablets, sore throat from iodine, leg blisters and zero increased energy from iron injections.

I have been chatting to my mom a fair amount over the last two months. My period of madness softened my rage toward her and helped me find sympathy for everything she had gone through. She has been looking much better lately, she is clean and is working two jobs in Pinelands. She really seems to have pulled her life together. I am super proud of her and find it quite inspirational that she’s managed to pull it all together despite everything!  My father convinced me to join my mom for a Mother’s day lunch at his home last week which turned out not to be as bad as I thought. It is SO WEIRD sitting there with my divorced mother and father… but weird in a very nice way.  She lives in the past though and has no idea or interest of what’s happening in the world around her. I wish she could find a way to let go. I find it hard being around her as she just constantly talks about the past and everything she’s lost.

I had a follow up appointment with Dr Fourie in early June. He upped the dosage of thyroid medication, and introduced Vitamin C and Iron tablets to replace the iron injections.   The first few days were hell… insane headaches and stomach pains after eating. After a week I had to take a break from the medication to get away from the headaches and pain after eating,  so I missed a few days (it was SO GOOD to be able to just think) but yesterday and today reminded me how vital it is to take my meds every day. It’s funny how once a problem is solved or illness cured you quickly forget just how bad it was to be in it. This morning my anxiety was even worse than yesterday… completely debilitating. I couldn’t think of anything worse than leaving the house. The very thought reducing me to tears.. The clearest way I can think of describing the feeling is that every single cell in your body is telling you that if you walk out that door you’re going to die. It’s the worst premonitional instinctual feeling you can get. You tell yourself to suck it up… That nothing is going to happen and you have to carry on with your day and responsibilities but the anxiety still grips your heart for the entire day. I feel myself screaming inside to make this day end.  This depression. hopelessness. anger over life and the injustices.  despair over what to do with myself. I am NEVER missing another tablet for as long as I live.

On the plus side, the last few weeks have been PHENOMENAL. It’s nice to be able to have some more patience with myself too… knowing that there is actually a physical reason for my madness sometimes. The first month was super rough. I think the antidepressants were initially making me feel WAY WORSE. But now I feel like me again:)) Aside from the last three days which I’m sure is from missing my meds – I have no mood swings, controllable thoughts, more energy, I’m starting some work again.. it feels great!

My head still POUNDS everytime I try and increase the dosage to 3 pills a day. My throat hurts after just 5 drops of iodine. As for iron, I actually woke up with a small blister on my FACE this morning. Wtf. And I thought blisters on my legs were bad 😉 add to that the agony of my jaw pain. Yes. There is something wrong with my jaw, it has been giving me issues for years now intermittently. I even paid R500 to an ENT specialist only for him to tell me to see a dentist for clenching my teeth! so tiredddd of having a headache!!!!!

#rantover #iamgratefulformyhealth

So… since my mom moved in with my dad we have been fighting more than ever… She completely drains me, with every word she says. Every message she sends has a negative ripple through my life. This morning she sent me a message that was the last straw for me. Clean or not, she’s just a self-centered bitch. It has brought up a million memories and emotions from my childhood, and caused an emotional turmoil I really did not need right now.

What she says in the following message is something I dealt with when I was 15. A lie and manipulation of the truth by a mother who just thinks of herself and wanted to destroy the relationship I had with my father. For the record she first told me this story when I was about 5 and has never stopped trying to make me hate my father with this and countless other stories.  Insert from an sms message “Ok ur 31 this year and I hv kept a secret from u since u were 4. Ossi and I came back from our honeymoon. Your face was fully made up and u had a dull look in your eyes. That night I bathed u and u started screaming. Your exact words that I will never forget were “daddy put cream on me and it was wet down there”. Words I won’t ever forget. The next day I took u to our GP it was before Mike Levy. He was away and a locum was there. He said I don’t like the look of this at all take her to your paediatrician. Leon Jedeikin was also away it was June July holidays so we took u to Dr Jean Borgstrom. She said take her to Red Cross. They did blood tests on u while I was crying and almost throwing up due to stress. U were screaming. Then u had to play with dolls thru one way tinted glass but unfortunately nothing came of it u didnt repeat those words. Dr Borgstrom was hesitant to go to court without conclusive evidence. So it faded away til ur Dad “sold” u to Ossi. One of the most stressful times of my life. Take it or leave it its the truth. It explains a lot about u. Its the main contributing factor to Borderline Personality Disorder. Im sorry but its the truth xx”.  

Now honestly… what kind of mother
a) sends her daughter a message like this when she’s been told I am supposed to avoid stress for the next two years due to my health issues
b) sends her daughter a MESSAGE like this instead of talking in person (seeing as she thought it was the first time)
c) FORGETS that she’s already told her daughter this exact story countless times and it was the reason her daughter went into Kenilworth Clinic at 15.
d) tries to cause trouble between father and daughter by bringing up something from the past that was resolved 15 years ago
e) spreads lies about the ONLY person that has taken her into his home TWICE when she had nowhere else to go.

I had a moment of rage where I sent the sms my mom sent me to my father. For perhaps the first time he now realises what role my mother had played in our estrangement. He decided to kick her out his house after seeing what she believed and was telling people about him (understandably), but now I sit with the suffocating guilt that my mother is back on the street due to my own selfish actions. She has no place to go and the thought of her sitting on the side of the road in her car crying for a home – like I had done so many times last year – makes me want to curl up on a bed and never wake up. I know what pain she is feeling. Complete abandonment and despair. For the first time in years I cry for my older brother. He should have been here to help me… As her only daughter the responsibility is only on me. and yes I realise the irony of sitting here crying in guilt for a decision that I should just accept I want to make – to put myself first. But the voice in my head says “you’ve tried everything. she burns her own bridges”. and I do know without a doubt that I truly did try everything. I certainly made mistakes. I have a thousand regrets….most of all I wish I had bought her a house somewhere so she always had a place to stay… but I did the best I could at the time and I need to make peace with that.

Diary August 2015

Day by day it is difficult to notice the improvements, but everytime I look back I am filled with gratitude and joy. The days of not being able to get out of bed are rapidly dwindling – now its maybe only once or twice a week – as opposed to being completely useless for more than 5 days a week! HUGE improvement! There is still too much brain fog though. I can’t THINK. It reminds me of how groggy and brain damaged I felt after overdosing on Myprodol.

September 2015

My down days hit me like a ton of bricks these days, I feel so fortunate now that I am sometimes able to mindfully be aware that it will pass, that I need to accept the bad with the good.   Just gone through my monthly dip… it really is terrible waking up filled with anxiety. Trying to just breathe. Calm down. I tell myself to just think about my breathing. Counting my breaths….But there’s a war inside my head. Thoughts fighting each other. Zapping around as if a million thoughts are striking reach other or maybe thousands of ping pong balls bouncing around. Not able to stop this constant chaos inside my mind. I struggle to control my thoughts… and not get sucked into the story the voices are telling me… That life won’t get better… I’m still drowning. You’re just bobbing along trying to keep your head above water. Waiting for some kind of period of peace…. and inside my thoughts I am begging… Please help me…

I lie in bed, frozen in time, and dream of this person I want to be. The person I feel I am meant to be. Filled with energy, overflowing with love and resourcefulness, changing the WORLD. I feel as if I am capable of so many things… if I could just harness my energy and concentrate my focus. If I could just control the chaos in my mind and body.

Anxiety levels a constant 4 out of 10, going up to about 8 a few times a day. When things get too much I just detach. Feel numb. It is like I am watching myself inside the car, from just outside the window. How weird.  I don’t want to sound melodramatic but this really is an illness… this anxiety. After an overload of stress it is like my body wants to shut down and go into a coma. It’s a weird thing to feel. Perhaps projections from what I’ve read about adrenal fatigue. or a bit of hypochondria. One time in particular, after what felt like a full day of anxiety attacks >> I was lying in bed early evening, very nauseous and dizzy. My brain is numb. Thoughts briefly flickering like about to die lightbulbs… But the main thought encompassing my mind was for me to let go. At the time I thought it meant let go as in my time has come to slip into a coma and die.

But now as I write this I believe my inner voice just meant I should let go of the anxiety and go to sleep. HAHAHA. It’s almost funny how you get anxiety… and then you get anxiety about getting anxiety, and then anxiety about getting anxiety about your anxiety.

I stopped all my thyroid medication in October due to the expense, side effects and general feeling in my body of not wanting to take that medication. Every morning when I took the pills it was like my body did not want them, I cannot really explain the feeling more clearly than that, and I swore last year that I would start paying more attention. So I stopped the meds and hoped I was doing the right thing!

How do you begin to explain to someone how it feels to feel like you haven’t woken up in weeks? months? a year? Why can’t this brain cloud go away. I just want to THINK.  Yet I am still unable to act. To pick up that phone and book a doctor’s appointment.

It is my period soon and like clockwork, everything starts spiraling down. Anxiety, panic and trepidation set it. I’m irritable, short tempered, hopeless, irrational and unreasonable.  My mind convincing me no one would miss me if I left.

Living hell of no energy. no motivation. no faith. no hope. fear. anxiety. worry. stress. heart beating. regret. anger. oh the neverending anger!! at myself. at those closest to me. at the world. Yet anger is still somehow better than the detached numbness. In the moment it doesn’t seem better to be that angry, to feel that much anger vibrating from inside my chest ready to combust and explode out of my veins. Am I having a stroke or a heart attack? Flashes before my eyes and a brain malfunction. Utter survival mode of escaping the situation that is out of my control. Primed for flight. Choice of detachment or meltdown. But life and spirit is surely better than the soul sucking emptiness of feeling nothing… of shutting off. Strange how there is an inner mindfulness of peace there in the detachment though that I somehow need to harness and incorporate into my emotions when I am not numb. A quiet acceptance of what is. Is acceptance a form of numbness? Can being mindful steer you away from the ultimate lows AND highs? or just lows?

Once my period starts the panic dissipates… quiet in the place of chaos. but AGONY in the place of anxiety. fml. Is it seriously necessary for women to experience this much pain every month???!!!

March 2016

I met a friend last year who does property management and owns some properties. He has offered me a place to stay in Marina da Gama in exchange for improving the house. SO EXCITED! My own space with my dogs, near the beach. Love my new little cottage, and love living in Muizenberg.  There are so many gorgeous views from everywhere in Cape Town and Muizenberg is no exception. Just seeing the cloud formations over the mountains when you are driving on the m3 or m5 is enough to take your breath away.

April 2016

To think that a tiny little tick bite in 2010 could have caused my hashimoto’s and adrenal fatigue…!  After continually struggling with side effects from medication, I headed to Dr Kromhout – a Kinesiologist recommended to me by many – hoping my body could give some answers… it did:) I am now being treated for Lyme Disease and after just 3 weeks am already feeling huge improvements with fatigue and foggy brain.


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