Alzheimers

 

 

helplessly I watched

as you were

stolen

away from me

 

I witnessed the steady exodus of your reason

and memories,

having to gently remind you over and over of

where you were

who I was

 

even who you were

 

and at the end I raged as

the remnants of your dignity were stripped away

to reveal the fragility beneath

I watched you leave bit by bit

as I bathed you

and fed you

and changed your soiled nappies

 

and on that final day I sat by your bedside and read you stories and talked about

memories you had

long forgotten

and I watched all recognition fade

into darkness

 

I listened to your breathing slow and still

and then

and only then

I could let go

 

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Surviving a sexual assault

My life is divided into two parts.  Pre-2008 and post-2008.  My life changed forever in that year when I was date-raped.

I waited three days before seeing a doctor and the examination was just as much of a violation as the attack.  There was no way that I would have emotionally survived an investigation so I chose to not press charges.

I spent three months in and out of bed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  I couldn’t go anywhere alone.  I couldn’t sleep.  I had panic attacks.  I couldn’t cope at work and my colleagues crucified me.

My mother’s death in 2010 was the catalyst that sent me completely over the edge.  I sought help and finally received the correct medication.  For the first time since the attack, I was me again.

If you are going through something similar, try to remember the following:

  • Get to a doctor or a hospital as soon as possible to receive the necessary preventative medication. The last thing you want, is to contract HIV or become pregnant.

 

  • Chose your confidantes carefully. I chose to speak out because I chose to not be a victim.  But I soon learnt that many people cannot deal with such things.  Many of them didn’t believe me and there was a lot of gossip.

Being a christian I assumed that church-going Christians would support me but it didn’t turn out that way.  There were the exceptions however, to whom I am forever grateful.  People you least expect might step up to the plate and lend you the support you need.

 

  • Seek professional help. You may need to see a psychologist or counselor or even a psychiatrist.  Don’t shun anti-depressants completely.  They saved my life.

 

  • Be kind to yourself. Cry and rage as much as you need to.  Don’t keep it bottled up.

 

  • Start rebuilding your life. It really does get better in time.  By giving up, you let your attacker win.

 

  • Try to remember it is not your fault. It was never about your clothes or how far you let it go before you said no.  It was their choice not yours.  It was never about you in the first place.

 

  • Embrace your spirituality. Don’t turn your back on God.  You are going to need him more than ever.

 

  • Don’t set a time limit on your healing. It’s a very personal journey and each person is unique.

 

  • Lastly, the most important lesson I learnt was to just breathe. When you feel like you can’t make it another minute, just breathe.

I still avoid the topic of rape and I cringe inside whenever I hear that word.  When I speak about my experience, I talk about “the attack”.  I never call it what it really is.  I can’t bring myself to even say the word.

I still carry the scars but the burden is getting lighter.  I am through the worst.  I have faced it down and I have won.  You can too.

There is life on the other side.  I promise.

Defending my bestie

I had a great weekend – went away with two great friends.  We did a lot, went everywhere and laughed until we cried… And yet..

There were times that I felt like I was outside looking in.  It started with one of them making it plain that they don’t agree with my choice to have a platonic friendship with an older married man whom I have only met once in real life. (Incidentally, he has turned out to be my bestie in the past two years or so that I have known him, albeit via email and text.)

I didn’t quite know how to handle the situation with this critical friend and so I kept quiet and have been bottling it up ever since.

Have you ever had a connection with someone that you can’t explain?  That’s how it is with my bestie.  We are very much alike and think the same way.  I feel like it’s the first time in my life that someone gets me.  I mean REALLY gets my soul. I don’t have to pretend to have it altogether. He was there for me when I had a breakdown.  When nobody visited me when I got out of hospital, he emailed me each day to encourage me.  He is the one who understands my depression and knows the depths I sink to, not her. To her, I am the clown.  Always happy and laughing and joking around. She doesn’t know about all the times I think of ending it all, all the times I am so desperately alone in that big house of memories that I cry myself to sleep. She doesn’t know of the fear I have of men in general and the fear that wells up every day when I have to go home to an empty house, esp since someone is targeting my house for break-ins.  The police have actually told me to move out, but I can’t afford it yet. She doesn’t see the hurt and sore I carry around with me every day, the pain that is always there. The sadness that seems to saturate my soul.  I tried to share my feelings with her once and she got bossy and said I am not allowed to feel like I do.  I know she was trying to help, but she doesn’t get it…

But my bestie does – he knows everything. From my religious beliefs (which he doesn’t share) to my fears to all the traumas I have been through. He doesn’t judge. He just loves me as a friend, unconditionally.

We talk about everything from religion to sex and periods to politics and literature. I am safe in this friendship in a way I have never experienced before and I have grown as a person and the way I see men in general is changing.  God is using this man to point out to me exactly what I would like in a husband one day, should I ever be lucky enough to marry.  To me, this friendship is nothing funny…

Because I have been friends with another married guy and his wife since 1998 and I am also better friends with him than with her. She gets it. She doesn’t feel threatened because she knows my heart and she knows her husband is a good man who adores his family.

I don’t actually know where I am going with this post.  My friend’s exact words were “you are having a fling with a married man. Shame on you.” I was really stunned because it isn’t like that at all. I am hurt that that is what she thinks of me.  (Later in the weekend she also mentioned that she thinks I could manipulate to get my own way, which is exactly the opposite of what I am.)  I realised that I have been friends with someone who really doesn’t know me at all. I realised that my heart is not safe in that friendship.  I am contemplating the idea of talking to her about how it made me feel, but I am wary of conflict.

I have decided to withdraw a bit and give the friendship some space for now.  Maybe until I feel better… and then I might talk to her. I really don’t know.

What I do know is that I needed to put these words and these feelings onto paper, so to speak and to get them out of me and that is what I have done.

So thanks for reading this rant. The inspirational stuff seems to have dried up today.

XXX

 

 

 

Purpose of pain

Today I found out that a little boy I know, is terminal with only weeks to live. He is four years old and has had cancer since he was 18 months old.   He has suffered most of his life.   He doesn’t understand why it hurts.

My mom had Diabetes and eventually lost all feeling in her feet because of the disease. One day she smelt something bad and finally realised that she had a cut under her foot that had gone septic. Because she could not feel pain, the cut had gotten infected and this infection was one of the catalysts that led to her eventual death.

Situations like this make me furious. I want to scream or throw things around. I want to take away the pain. I am powerless. There is nothing that anyone can do.

Physical pain is our bodies’ way of telling us something is wrong. So we take pain pills and treat the symptoms. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for medication but sometimes we need to take a closer look and deal with the cause of the pain.

I wonder if the same counts for emotional pain. We find so many ways to avoid dealing with it. We jump into new relationships without working through the hurt left over from the last one. We drink pills. We become workaholics or control freaks. We pretend that the pain is not there. The list is endless.

Pain is unfortunately part of life and it’s something that every one of us have, at one time or another experienced. Although it is not agreeable, it seems to be a necessary and it seems to have a purpose.

Pain can create opportunities for us. It has created a platform for me from which I can reach others. I have an opportunity to bring hope and maybe change a life or two.   It has taken a long time and I have been to hell and back a couple of times. But now I am ready to write about it and tell my stories in the hope that they will somehow bring hope to others.

Pain, like the scars I have previously written about, has shaped me into who I am today. It has taught me that although I can’t always control what happens to me, by large I can control how I respond.

Somebody once told me life is like giving birth. While you are having “contractions” it helps to focus on the fact that the pain will pass and concentrate on the interval that will follow. There is an end goal to the suffering. It is not in vain. It has meaning.

I wish I could state with certainty that I will not have to experience pain again but that’s not how life works. Life is not fair, sometimes it sucks!

I don’t know how long it will take but I am done ignoring the pain. My end goal is healing and wholeness. It’s a journey I am willing to take.

What if…

What if we could go back?  Back to just before we were conceived and sit around a table with God and such, and discuss our options?  What if we got to live the life of our choosing, instead of the life we were thrown into? What colour eyes would I choose, what colour skin?  Where would I live?  What would my family look like? Which continent? Which country? Which city? What kind of education? Would I choose to be arty and creative or would I choose to be predominantly left-brained? What if I could draw a map with specifics?  Could I choose to marry, choose the kids I would have?  Would I be allowed to decide whether or not death ever reared its head in my life or would the ones I love, live forever?

My gran used to have a saying… “wish in one hand and crap in the other…” and I guess that is what is all comes down to.  We can’t change our past, or the circumstances of our births or childhoods.  I wish I could.  Being a control freak, I would have chosen a totally different life.. maybe.

The problem with this is the following – If I had chosen a different life, I would have missed out on some amazing people like my Grandmother who practically raised me.  I can’t imagine a life without her in it and I don’t want to.  Yes, there are a lot of things I would change if I could.  My mom would be stable.  She would have loved me.  She would have been a real mother.  I would have known my biological father and he would have loved me and supported me.  We would have been a family.

But I can’t change the past.  I can only live for now and work towards a better future.  If this means therapy, by all means.  If it means changing myself for the better, I’m game.

It isn’t easy to change how I think and react, coming from a lifetime of abuse and rejection but I can try.  Baby steps ought to do it.  After all, how do you eat an elephant? Bite by bite!

Helpless

I fool myself

Now and then

That I have swum free of your perpetual

Influence

 

But somehow I am still caught up in the vortex of your lies

Trapped in the fabrications of your mind

The whirlpool of your

Deceit

 

Fighting to free myself of the stench of your

Pretence

Again and again

 

Until I slump back

Into the

Familiar

 

Into your waiting waters of

Death

 

911

Helped to my feet by the

Kindness of strangers

A solid wall of dust drenches me

As I stumble through

rubbled streets and

dreams

 

Grey ash of disbelief

coats us all

As we wear the

ashen mask of pallid fear

 

In the silence of panic

We work

haul ash

Lift stones

Digging

Digging

Digging
While they sleep in their

Living graves

buried beneath

twisted beams and

wreckage

Learning to cope with death

Death is part of life. At some stage someone close to us will die. It sucks, doesn’t it, to lose someone you love?
Two weeks ago, I had to have my dog of 16 years put down and even though I had been preparing myself for the inevitable, it was still one of the most devastating things I have experienced for a long time. It is like a big black hole has opened and nothing can fill it.
I have been up and down on an emotional rollercoaster ever since. I never thought that losing a pet would affect me this way. But it isn’t just about my dog. It is as though it has opened up the loss I experienced a few years ago when I lost my mother. I even find myself thinking my grandmother’s death in 2004. It feels like the only family I had were all ripped from me, one by one.
Some days I can’t see a way out of the pit I’m in. Other days I’m fine. Then it starts all over again.
Rinse, repeat. Rinse, repeat.
And here I am stuck again in the same cycle at a stage of my life when I really could have done without it.
When I think of my mom, I remember the good times, and not the bad times. There were a lot of bad times growing up. When I remember my gran, I think of her naughty smile and sly sense of humour. When I think of my dog, I think of comfort and unconditional love, her big brown eyes and her terrible underbite. And then I get sad and feel empty again.
Rinse, repeat. Rinse, repeat.
I think the trick may be to acknowledge the loss and the void that person / pet has left and deal with it every day, little by little. Remember them and cry, laugh, write, sing. Do whatever you need to do to get through the pain. I read something a while ago about grief being like waves that overwhelm you but how the time between the waves get longer and longer as time goes by. They spoke of how the hurt is a scar that makes you tougher. How at first you are shipwrecked but how it slowly gets easier to manage, easier to float on the waves of grief. I printed out the article to put up on my fridge door in the hopes that it will help to remind myself that it will get better, that I will survive. I have survived worse before, haven’t I?
Last night, or more accurately, early this morning at around 02:00, whilst I was overthinking again and working myself up into a panic, I decided something. It is big girl panties time! Instead of focusing on myself and my messed up emotions, I will celebrate their lives, my mom, my gran and Zoe’s. I will be happy that they are no longer suffering, that for them the pain is over and I will make peace with the past. But it sounds more like a process than a quick fix to me.
But isn’t that easier said than done? Maybe, but I guess it’s worth a shot.

Moving on….

It has been almost 8 years since I was date raped. I have moved on and am fine. Okay, that’s a lie. I am not fine and for a very long time I thought that I would never be fine again. But lately that is starting to change. I had a session with my therapist a few weeks ago in which we spoke about the incident and for the first time ever, it hit me that I was not the one to blame. I realised that it was not only me in that room. There were two people in that room and one of them did not respect the word no.
After it happened I spoke openly about it, having decided to not be a victim. Unfortunately I shared my experience with the wrong people and ended up being gossiped about and feeling even more guilty and rejected. One of my friends actually asked me where I was that it could happen, as if I was acting all slutty and that’s why it happened. I wasn’t in a club, I wasn’t drinking. I wasn’t wearing revealing clothing. I was watching DVDs at my place with someone I thought I could trust. I just got more than I had bargained for.
For years now, I have doubted myself. I have replayed it over in my head and wondered if it actually happened like I remember it. I have wondered if maybe I was wrong, that it wasn’t date rape. Maybe I had been overreacting all this time?
But something went open for me in that session. It was real. It happened. It wasn’t my fault. It’s not who I am and I don’t need to let that incident define me as a person. I also realised something else that, it turns out, is quite important. Even though I had convinced myself that I wasn’t a victim, at that moment, I was. And unconsciously I have adjusted my life to fit around one traumatic event.
I don’t like crowded places. I don’t like social events where there will be people I don’t know. I don’t trust people anymore. And I am filled with fear. Up to now, I wouldn’t have described myself as fearful. But in the past few weeks, I have realised that I am. I am terrified of so many things that I will not even try to name them all. In trying to be brave and fearless and putting on a mask of efficiency back then, I have suppressed emotions that needed to be dealt with. This has led to bad choices in many areas of my life, choices that I regret and have to live with.
But I think I am finally ready to let go and climb out of this box that I have holed myself up in for so long. I am ready to take back the power I unconsciously gave away. I am ready to accept that my attacker is not worth me suffering for another day. I am worth a lot more than I give myself credit for and starting now, I am going to do my level best to start living that way.

Struggling with depression

Today I want to share one of my stories with you: my struggle with depression. I didn’t have a great childhood, looking back I realise that there has always been a sense of melancholy that I have carried with me. I have a few good memories, it is those I choose to think about to fight back the bouts of depression that loom over me now and again.
Most of the time I am a happy-go-lucky person and nobody would ever know my secret. Since mental illness is stigmatised, I tend to not advertise the fact that I struggle with it. Some days are good days, but then I get those days where I am walking through syrup, days when I struggle to get out of bed and to put on a happy face; days when I just withdraw and lie in bed, overthinking, overeating and crying. I am a people person, but when I am very depressed I hide my feelings, because that little voice in my head tells me that people will not be able to handle the person I become when I am depressed.
Certain times of the year are a battle, especially holidays like Christmas and Easter when I am alone, isolated. Being single without parents or siblings makes it worse. At 37, the expectation of ever getting married is dwindling rapidly which in turn makes me even more depressed.
I can always feel it coming over me, the beginning of a battle. So I work harder, joke more, laugh more, eat more… anything to ward off the darkness that builds up behind my eyes. Most times I win. But now and then I lose the battle. After years of struggling, I know myself well enough to know when I’ve lost. That’s when I need to be transparent. That’s when I can’t hide it anymore.
I hit a slump end of November last year, and it was so bad that I had to play open cards with my boss and eventually landed in hospital for a week. Hospital was fine, but when I was released, I hit rock bottom. With it being the festive season, most people were away and being stubborn, I didn’t let anyone know how difficult it was for me to get up and brush my teeth or bath or leave the house. I couldn’t read a book, I couldn’t bring myself to listen to music or watch DVDs. I lied in bed and thought about all the ways I could kill myself. See, I made myself a promise. If in 2 years my life hasn’t changed for the better, I am taking an out. Screw my religion that teaches me I will go to hell! In times of darkness, I live in hell anyway.
One or two people reached out to me, but it was one friend in particular that probably saved my life. He emailed me every day and we chatted constantly via email. He is the type of friend that I can say anything to. So when I wanted to cut, I could tell him. When I was too tired to cook, I told him. There was no part of my depression that scared him. He was my rock.
I am still standing. I am still on meds, and seeing a therapist. It was an uphill battle but I guess I won. I still have my off day (sometimes weeks), mostly when I am isolated and alone, but somehow I make it through to fight another day.
I have made peace with the fact that I will probably always be on medication, and probably will always need therapy and except for them both being bloody expensive options, I am okay with that.
On days like today, I have hope. Tomorrow I may feel differently. But even though people don’t understand, there were some who supported me and I know will continue to do so if I could only let them in…