I’d found a home in a distant land. A home that I called mine for a blissful few hours on a sunny day.
Away from everything but not, sheltered away, I found a place which allowed me to become whole.
The waves crashed in on my legs. Enveloping them as my heart poured out into the ocean.
My insides danced with glee as I playfully skipped through the cool water.
My footprints embedded in the sodden sand, as sudden as the waves lapped the shore once more, the past imprints that have shaped me are taken back into the waters.
And in that moment, as I watch the shapes dissolve into the great vastness, I feel the emptiness inside me fill with warmth.
I exude happiness and I am engulfed by the power that resides in the ever changing faces of waves.
I am energy. Ever changing and powerful.
I am free.
Free from hatred, pain, fear and jealousy. Free to be a continuous work in progress. Free to feel what I need to feel. Free to walk away.
I am nothing but a vibrant current sweeping through the great ocean that is life.
I grew up as a vegetarian, in a household that used natural remedies and alternative therapies. Reflexology, Acupuncture, Reiki and Homeopathy were the chosen medications for any ailments that would surface. For the most part, I can thankfully say I have been rather healthy in my life. But in the rare moments that I have been very ill, where all the alternatives had been attempted, desperation pushed me to go to a medical doctor. I would be prescribed pharmaceuticals and with the majority of medicines, my body would reject them soon after by means of well, throwing them back up. Most of my life I have been a frustration to medical doctors, either because I have refused treatments offered to me or I have given them lectures on the proven benefits of homeopathy and other alternative therapies, which do work and have been around for far longer than the shit that they hand out as if they are magic skittles.
Then a few years ago, I started having blackouts, panic attacks and sporadic insomnia which was brought on by a variety of reasons relating to my past. Desperation and fear lead me once again, to a medical doctor and I was officially diagnosed for the first time with Depression, Anxiety and Panic Disorder. I was prescribed some sleeping pills and Diazepam (Valium) that were to be taken as needed. The diagnosis itself at the time was humiliating and equally terrifying. I was officially ill and officially struggling to come to terms with it. The diagnosis itself lead me on a path that had good days and bad, filled with a lot of soul searching and also a considerable amount of denial.
I found myself reading up on the medications I had been prescribed. I read forums, blog posts and case studies. Pretty much anything I could find and searched for more information so that I could increase my understanding of what they did and what was “wrong” with me.
As my knowledge grew, so did my awareness of the side effects and the likelihood of dependence. Since being prescribed the above, I have only needed to take them a handful of times and in truly desperate moments of panic or exhaustion. I refused and still refuse to take antidepressants. I strived to seek other methods of self-help which eventually lead me to the practice of yoga around six months ago.
Yoga was another desperate attempt. I had tried everything and I found myself in an exhausted haze at 6am on the 10th of June, not having slept in 3 days, I dragged myself onto my mat for the first time in years. That decision has been the best one I have made in regards to my mental and physical health, quite possibly, ever. Since that day, my panic attacks have subsided and my blackouts have also relaxed. I’ve had more good days than bad and the need for medications had ceased, until yesterday.
I have a history of experimental drug taking which in retrospect was used as a method of coping and escapism. I’m telling you this because I feel as though it gives me a bit of basis for comparison. In my late teens and very early twenties, I dabbled with a selection of recreational drugs and experienced a variety of outcomes, some, quite euphoric and others, well, vile. I can admit that I was pretty stupid in the earlier days, but as I grew up I researched and set limitations.
The reasons behind my choices in taking drugs were partly due to my life being thrown up in the air and being thrown into my own personal nightmare. Where I made decisions I was being driven by emotions where my first response was “fuck it, why not?” But later on, I mostly did them because I was curious. My experiences of drugs are most certainly not on the level of Charlie Sheen, but I have experienced enough to understand the appeal but not enough to a) get addicted and b) feel the need to continue. I barely even drink alcohol now, to the point where I would rather drink endless cups of coffee at a rave than partake in partying with Molly or the likes. Been there, done that. Can bars please serve espresso based drinks now please?
I have a family history of addictive personalities so I have always tried to be as careful as one can be when taking drugs. My addiction is coffee, which is probably my blood type and I am so beyond okay with that. And dependant on stress, smoking. But I’m working on the last one. Although this may seem hypocritical, but I wouldn’t recommend taking drugs. Especially as a method of coping with life. I realised this hypocrisy in hindsight. I don’t regret what I have done because I am who I am today through the choices I have made in the past and I am proud of who I have become.
Yesterday, however, I woke up in a silent, petrified and cold sweaty panic. My heart raced and my mind was doing its best impression of the perfect example of overdrive. Whilst my emotions felt as though they had been meticulously programmed into a soundboard and then placed in the hands of an over excited toddler with a mallet. I paced through the flat, trying to calm myself trying to regain control. My panic attacks come in a variety of forms, but this one was really horrendous. It felt almost as though I had been waiting for it to happen in anticipation. Which perhaps only made it feel worse than it was.
I became desperate to calm down. To be able to think straight. To stop my head from spilling thoughts that felt like knives scraping the inside of my skull, sending tremors down my spine and ripple effects to my heart which was beating so fast, my chest was viciously vibrating in fear. I desperately searched for the box of Diazepam and emotionally decided to ingest four 2mg little white pills. I stared out my window and thought of all the things I would rather be doing than feeling this way. A while went by and I slowly started to fade into the familiar feeling of what I can only describe as a stoned zombie jelly baby. Squidgy, floating and ethereal. I feeling I don’t particularly like, but a feeling I preferred at the time to the alternative.
I needed something to focus on that would make me feel more like myself. And after a while, I walked over to my yoga mat and began to move with intent, slowly and focussing on my every move. I felt extra weird and strangely unbelievably focussed. My mind felt blissfully empty and the only thing I could do was flow. I can’t even tell you how long I practised for. I spent the majority of the time thinking only about finding balance. Attempting a variety of asanas that I knew would help me feel revitalised and stretched. I finished my practice with around what felt like an hour of meditation. Probably the easiest attempt at thinking of nothing because I am pretty sure the amount in my system had legitimately hit an off switch to all thoughts apart from basic bodily functions necessary for survival.
I felt particularly strange, not at all a feeling I have ever experienced. I have never done yoga whilst Diazepam has been in my system. My movement throughout my flow felt somewhat unnatural which is as expected. But it was the weirdest feeling I have ever experienced in my world of drug experiences. I felt as though I wasn’t in control. As though someone else was in control of my body and mind. That is a feeling I fear the most.
The comparison between a panic attack and yoga on Valium, the two are strangely similar. Not quite in control and slightly possessed. All in all, I’m not the biggest fan. Yesterday was a bizarre day that I hope I won’t have to repeat. It really was nothing I had ever felt before. I can barely remember what I did for the rest of the day too. I find that happens every time I have had to take Diazepam in the past, I struggle to recall information from those particular times.
What are your experiences with Anxiety and Yoga? Have you ever had something similar happen to you? Let me know in the comments below!
And things have happened in my life that have pushed me to places where I’ve found strengths in weaknesses. I’ve learned lessons from the past few months have shaped my life in ways I could have never imagined. But truth bleeds into life in the most unsuspecting ways and the greatest gifts are given in moments of uncertainty.
My best gift, to me, has always been my creative curiosity. Drifting off and waltzing back to me sporadically and just when I need it. It’s been the greatest tool in every aspect of my life for many things, from problem solving to finding friendship. In my younger years I dreaded the honesty of creativity. But now after many years of running too and fro, delving deeper into the unknown and learning to face fears through force, I have found myself learning and enjoying finding what works for me.
I left a place I thought I loathed, briefly with all intentions of leaving certain aspects of my life behind me but realisations and saying “yes”, then “no”, then “oh shit what” and eventually “why”, I closed a door and opened another.
What you think and what actually is, is not the same. Changing my perspective has created an opportunity to find myself in a position to tackle things I thought I couldn’t, but now I feel as though I can’t stop trying to tackle these challenges I need to face.
Approach life with the most daring version of your creative self and learn to be ever curious. You may bleed and feel pain but the reasons will become clear in time. Practice gratitude daily and realise that the creative process involves all emotions. Embrace uncertainty, because when you do, not only do you jump into the unknown with all intentions of finding something that will reflect change, but you teach yourself that fear is not real and that you are capable of doing and being what you want.
Stop going round in circles. Break the walls you built yourself and let the light in. Go and explore. Your self. Your world. It’ll be bright and intense but so beyond worth it. Colour your life with the dreams you desire and imagine them. Don’t stop living until they are your reality. You’re in charge. You always have been. Go live as colourfully as you can make it.
Hello my wonderful new followers and a heartfelt thank you. You have helped me push myself with new challenges everyday and you don’t even know it yet. You’re probably thinking “what are you talking about? This bird hasn’t even posted in nearly 2 months..” Yes, I know and believe me this was not my intent. You see blogging has always been a creative outlet, along with my art and other subjectivities, it is somewhat a form of self help and in the past has helped me realise what really matters to me. The reason for this partially profound and ridiculous statement is down to my reasons for starting a blog up again.
I have been going through a large amount of changes. Spiritually, mentally, physically and emotionally. Everything in my life changed so much that I was incredibly unsure of who I was, (who knew an about me post could have such a curious effect) I guess, it lead me to ask myself a few honest truths that I didn’t like the answers. I stopped writing because I couldn’t tell you who I was or what I really wanted because I was holding a few things back which are some of the reasons for who I am and of course that terrified me.
I want this blog to be an honest representation of who I am, who I have been and, most importantly, the person I am working harder and harder everyday to become. A place for me to reflect and talk about the things that mean something to me. And like all of us, we are the result of all our experiences. Some good, some bad. And something I have realised within the last couple of years is that I haven’t fully lead a truly honest life before, I guess until past couple of years. But more recently I have been learning to be honest with myself, which turns out to be the hardest of them all. I tried writing this post and finishing it more times than I would like to admit, some more detailed than others, some drafts written after being awake for over 37 hours, but they all somehow didn’t make the cut until this one.
I had been diagnosed with with Panic and Anxiety Disorder with Blackouts and Depression due to a few traumatic experiences from my childhood through to my early teens and early twenties. The overall reason is due to being sexually assaulted by my step father from the age of 14 and it continued throughout my teens until my twenties. I won’t go fully into every single bad experience and in all honesty I have blocked a few of them out, but a general outline is due as I feel it would help me be able to talk about it by opening a channel of discussion. Not for pity, or for any other negative reasons, but purely so that I can continue to get better and stronger. And even if this were to help someone else by simply reading this post, knowing that they are not alone it does get better and it can stop.
And up until now I have realistically been just trying to find a sense of stability within my personal life by whinging it. What else are you supposed to do when you’ve been living in your own personal prison for the past ten years? I decided to take control of a situation that I had never found the courage to fully accept until I was back in the home that I had managed to briefly escape for about 9 months, but was manipulated and forced back into a house with a sexual predator.
I was on the brink of a full blown emotional breakdown. I had lost so much in those few short months that I knew it was only a matter of time before he started his shit again. But I knew if I caught him again, it would be the last time. And as I had predicted, I caught him spying on me for the second time from a drilled hole in the wall (the first time, my mom kicked him out for only a few months then let him return. So throughout my teen life I worked full time, went to college full time and stayed with friends trying my utmost to escape, but always ended up back there.) After I confronted him and my mother after a massive fight pretty much in my towel feeling disgusting and ashamed, I got dressed and packed a bag of a few things and slammed the door shut on my old life.
I called my best friend Amy whilst walking up one of the longest roads in my town with dripping wet hair and hysterically crying down the phone whilst trying to explain the past 30 minutes, let alone the previous 10 years. Amy knew nothing of it, and the few friends that did, didn’t get involved. If I hadn’t of called Amy that day, I am pretty sure that I would not be where I am today without the help, compassion, love and kindness that her and her family gave me. As well as a couple of other friends and their families too over the years. But Amy helped me realise that reporting him to the police was the best thing to do and it was.
2 years later, he has since been convicted, put on the sex offenders register and will be released in mid July 2016. He probably would of got longer if I had received the correct help and public services that should have been offered to me from the day I called the police but I only found out after his sentencing. I haven’t seen my mother in 2 years as she decided to stand by him for her own reasons. Something I have also been learning to accept, but has proven difficult, especially considering the infinite amount of love I still have for her. I hope she one day finds the strength to break free from his prison. I mostly stayed because of her. She wasn’t the greatest mother all the time, but God she had her truly shining moments. I still see the person she was when I was a child before all the mess. And her teachings and the incredible amount of opportunities and experiences that she gave me, they and she still inspire me to this day.
I’ve now come to accept that his life will never be the same, making it easier to forget him but the effects and aftermath in regards to how his actions haunt my memory and still effect me to this day, that is a whole lot harder to control and is taking a lot longer for me to accept it. The reason I say this is because, I have only started acting like a survivor nearly 2 years after it stopped. I lost my voice. Because all I had heard was his for so long. I’d shut out my voice to survive the trauma. Then when it stopped, the shock of the Real World set in. Instead of living two separate lives that seemingly had coexisted for such a long time reasonably well, had smashed together and that was my first taste of reality.
It scared me, it broke me and how I handled a lot of things were less than the best I could of done, but I am here now. I am one step closer with every word I write and every move I make as long as I try to become a better version of myself everyday. This is motivation within itself. I may have lost a lot, but what I have gained is freedom and experience. And I have been chasing that since I was 14. It took me a lot of paradigm shifts and awkward encounters throughout my existence, but it got better and I continue to get better. And this is what life is. Yes, what happened to me was awful and inhumane. But they were not my only experiences. However from those experiences, I have learned to not let them define me. Instead I am learning to define myself. I may stumble across my explanations, but you must understand, for I am learning to speak. With a new found love for honesty, finding the right words takes practice and this is my practice. I write to find a humble clarity in my words, I’m learning to find my voice again. But it’s becoming louder and stronger with each action I take and each decision I make.
So this is my new life. As a young woman finding control of her own life. I grew up with a chaotic life on a farm surrounded by nature, animals and adventure. Now I live in an overpriced 1 bedroom flat in a small town with an overwhelming amount of responsibilities whilst trying to wrap my head around the concept of a budget and my inability to control my spending, whilst trying to get over my past and understand who I am and what I want to do for the rest of my life. Just the same as everyone else. I don’t see myself as different because I was taught something when I lived in South Africa, I can’t remember how I found out, but it has been there as long as I can remember. The word Ubuntu, which means I am because we are. I strongly and passionately believe in that philosophy. What you manifest in your own mind whether it be bad or good, can either break you or save you. We are all surviving in our own life’s complexities every day. It’s even harder in this day and age. So I beg you to do what makes you happy and find your voice and learn to use it. That is a simple freedom that you truly can not live without.
I would like to conclude in saying that writing this has honestly lifted a massive weight off my shoulders. I want you to know that I used to think it would never get better, I got to the darkest depths of myself and what kept me going in part was secretly being able to look online and read about others who have had similar experiences to me. And how their words written on bright screens in the darkness, were simply the words I needed to see to convince myself that one day, I would find the courage to take control back. This is a post saying thank you to all the people who wrote about their experiences and also a thank you to myself for taking the courage to make that god awful decision, because it was so unbelievably worth it. But you do not need to tell me how wrong it felt. Telling someone about that sort of secret is literally like setting it in stone, petrifying and shameful, but that was only because he had convinced me so. There is no shame in experience and you have got to listen to that voice inside you, if it doesn’t feel right, it isn’t. It is a violation of your entire being and soul. But there is hope and there are options.
In a separate post I will be writing about the charities that helped me and the ones that didn’t. I will provide links and contact information as well as a few tips that helped me during my time of ultimate confusion. I will post that a little later on as I still need to write it but once it is posted I will create a link at the bottom below this text.
If you would like to ask me questions, leave a comment, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or send me a tweet @iamwwolvess. I am happy to talk about it and answer any questions.
However in other news, I have a good 3 months of content planned and I am going to be aiming to post minimum once a day, but hopefully more. Definitely more positive posts to come and what I have been up to etc. I hope that this post inspires you to chase your freedom and what you love and if you’re waiting for a sign, this is it! GO GO GO!