waving through a window

ben platt won a tony the other night! it was incredible. he’s done so well this season. unrelated intros aside, hello. welcome back. welcome for the first time. i like musicals and apparently write about my new favourite during tony season. COOL.

dear evan hansen is an incredible musical. it’s about a kid, evan hansen, who draws very much into himself. he gets caught up in a lie that changes a lot and hurts a lot, and is just…a lot. here’s the trailer:

in one of the earliest songs in the musical, “waving through a window”, we learn about evan & his strategy for getting through. we learn about how saying something means nothing if nobody hears you. we learn about his experience as an outsider, and it hurts. it’s relatable – too much so. if you’ve never been an evan, you know an evan. it hurts.

step out, step out of the sun if you keep getting burned. step out, step out of the sun, because you’ve learned.  it’s strange how this lyric connected with me, but mostly because i do the exact opposite. who? self preservation?

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on a slightly darker note (as expected), there’s a part of the song during which evan talks about falling out of a tree. he broke is arm, but (SPOILER SORRY) he didn’t just fall from the tree. evan tries to kill himself by falling from a tree. he says:

when you’re falling in a forest                                     did i even make a sound
and there’s nobody around                                           did i even make a sound
do you ever really crash                                                it’s like i never made a sound
or even make a sound?                                                  will i ever make a sound?

it makes me question the nature of suffering. george berkeley famously asked, if a tree falls in the forest and there is no one around to hear it, does it still make a sound? if you’re suffering and nobody sees you, are you still suffering? the nature of suffering is isolating and lonely. it has the power to turn everything into insignificance. it’s sad. it’s like i never made a sound, will i ever make a sound?

evan asks, “will i ever be more than i’ve always been”? and i wonder the same about myself. is there more? we all start off thinking there is, but for some of us, that disappears as we grow. every sun doesn’t rise, and we’re left wondering what happened to us. nobody tells you where you went wrong.

i think yes. i think there’s more. i think that despite waving through a window and having nobody see you, receiving no response, seemingly not making a sound…i think that you will be found. if a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one around to hear it, it still makes a sound. that was my answer to berkeley’s question when i was 9, it was my answer during first year philosophy, and it’s my answer now.

you are not alone. if you fall, you will be found. you are not alone.

love and light,
shalom xo

today i am depressed

not a fun one today.

these photos were taken by my webcam around 2:30 this morning  when i posted a lengthy post on facuebook regarding sexual assault and religion and queerphobia and femicide. i cried for three hours.

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i woke up at 9:41 this morning and i haven’t been able to get up. it’s 12:26 now. i’m wearing the same hoodie and i’m just tired. so tired. not sleepy tired, but depressed tired.

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granted, i am depressed every day. that’s my diagnosis. shalom has major and manic depressive disorder. okay. thanks to 300 grams of bupropion every day and a lot of experience with myself, i manage. i get through the days. i complete to do lists.

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today my to do list has groceries and taking my sister somewhere and writing and exercise and eating and studying. i know this because i wrote it out on Sunday night. i also know that i am already disappointed because i can’t do all that today. i can’t. i can’t get up.

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today i am depressed, and it takes a toll. today my body aches because of how hard i cried for women who are at risk for existing last night. today, i am writing this from my phone in my bed because i don’t know if I can get up.

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today is a lot.

love & light
shalom xo

don’t worry baby

hi friends! today’s the last day of teen suicide prevention week in south africa. i’ve already written about this but i was going through some of my stuff the other day  and found something weirdly specific that i’d like to share with you. is it a bit personal? yes. is it overly personal? yes. am i a chronic oversharer? also yes.

today i’d like to share a suicide note that ended up not being a suicide note from 2015. yikes. it’s a weird thing to share & put on the internet, but this week is important and this is important and i’m doing this. in june 2015 i wrote a note in my journal (named janine). this is it:


i am so tired. i’m just so tired of being tired and then not being allowed to be tired. i can’t do this. i wish it was different but i can’t do this every day. i can’t do this. i’m not even seventeen and i feel like i have forty lifetimes lived out inside me, each with a dreadfully unhappy ending. i can’t do this. i can’t just go to school and exist and come home and exist and get up and exist if existing is the problem. i can’t do this anymore.

i want to be sorry and i want to feel and i want hope that it’ll be better but i can’t do this. i can’t cry for help because nobody is out there and i can’t even cry these days because it takes too much to cry. i can’t do this. i wish i could tell you to show this to people after but you can’t because you’re a journal and nobody even i can’t fucking do this. i can’t do this.

okay, if someone finds this, and i half hope nobody does, i want you to know some things. i’m sixteen and i’m in my final year of high school and i want to stand in front of a fast moving vehicle twice and make sure there’s nothing after. i know it’s pretty disturbing because sixteen year olds are supposed to be living out the hype of grade ten and being a senior and kissing boys and drinking alcohol you shouldn’t but i…i am not them. i am sixteen and tired and the more i sleep the more tired i get. i have some friends at school but they’re not really my friends. they like doing stuff and leaving me out of them and then telling me that i’m not part of that part of the group. and i have some friends from my old high school but most of them are too busy living out their final year of high school to be bothered and…i can’t be bothered anymore. i’m too tired to do this.

i’ve written notes like this before but they used to be dedicated to whole people and how i wished i could have done more for them because any semblance of sanity or functionality disappeared once i let them down. i hope i haven’t made any promises to you. i’m sorry that i can’t live them out. i can’t live anything out anymore. i’m so tired, reader. i’m so tired and i can’t do this and i can’t feel so much and nothing at the same time anymore and i can’t long for life and love and normalcy when i look the way i do and am the way i am and i am so sorry.

i love you so much. i wish i was okay, i wish i could show you how much i love you. i love you, and i know you might not know me but i love you. i want you to know that you’re so strong and brilliant and i’m so proud of you for having made it so far. your story is so far from over and i am so excited for what you will become and what you are. i’m sorry i won’t be around to see it but it doesn’t matter because you will be and it will be brilliant. i know it’s a lot of pressure because this strange girl with nothing to show for herself is leaving you a message to continue when she’s quitting, but it’s all true. i believe in you. now and later and always.

if you meet someone who feels like me one day and you don’t know what to say to them, tell them…tell them that they’re enough. tell them that even though they are done, the world isn’t done with them and that there is so much left for them to do, see, live, love and be before they go. tell them that they aren’t cowardly or craven for wanting things to stop hurting. tell them that you care for them and mean it. tell them that one day they’ll find people who care about them as much as they care for everyone else. tell them that their capacity for love is endless and that everything that hurts sucks but that they can make things with it. tell them to talk to someone and if that person won’t listen, tell them to talk to someone else. to a billion other people who will. tell them that even though the world acts as though there is no room for them, that your world has room for them. tell them that they are brave and honest and raw and valued and important. tell them that they are important and that the world needs them. call them friend, and mean it.

i feel so at odds with myself. i wish someone would have told me the things i would have said. i’m so sorry. i’m so tired. i can’t do this.

tell them that it’s gonna be okay if they keep moving. tell them to get out of bed at least once a day. tell them that loving everyone is enough and that while nobody tells them that they are in love with them, that they are loved. tell them that their love is strong and bigger than their tired. tell them that the biggest thing they can do is try their best not to get lost in the nothingness that comes with tired and lonely and i want to die. take them outside. tell them to breathe and to touch and to do their best to feel. tell them to keep on. learn to live with them. learn from them and with them. live.

don’t tell them a sixteen year old told you this.they probably won’t take you seriously. (take them seriously.)

i love you, dear reader. i love you and my mom and my siblings and my friends and my “friends” and the kid who stole my shoes in first grade and the teacher who humiliated me in grade five and everyone else. i love you and it’s so not your fault and i’m sorry and i love you. you are so loved. i want this to be different. i want…i want to live too. i want to love too. i want to keep loving. i’m just so tired.


i didn’t kill myself that night. i read the letter again and again and again and felt too much like a fake to give all of that advice and then disappear. i’m still around, and every day is a struggle. i have a bunch of these letters and most of them don’t end with a realisation that i wanted to live. this one did, though. i’m grateful to my past self. i called SADAG and went to school, told my teacher i needed to be in therapy because i wanted to die, and walked out of class when she told me i was being dramatic. suicide is dramatic. it’s a matter of life and death. take it seriously.

do what you need to do to stay alive. the sun will rise and we will try again. don’t worry, baby.

love and light,
shalom xo

it’s kind of a funny story

hi friends! it’s national teen suicide prevention week! a lil warning: there are a good bunch of triggering mentions of death n suicide ahead. so, if you’re not up for this, visit the lovely dora @ for the goldfinches or this post from matt @ the lil engine that couldn’t that always makes me cringe laugh in support.

In 2014, I did the best school project I ever have done – I got to create an anthology on whatever I wanted for English. I could talk about anything. I had to write a really big essay as the preface and talk about all of the pieces I’d be using, and I could write about anything. It’s still the most I’ve ever enjoyed an academic project.

The title of my anthology was “life, interrupted” and IT focused on mental illness in young people. It was a crazy experience because most all of the works I included came down to choices rather than first time reading. There’re only so many books, in my experience, that captured what I felt to a point where I could rest in the fact that I wasn’t alone if someone could write about it. I chose Susanna Kaysen’s Girl, Interrupted and Ned Vizzini’s It’s Kind of a Funny Story. Today, I’d like to talk about the latter, and it’s author.

IKOAFS is the kind of book that I had to stop reading after the first three chapters because it was too personal. It was too real, and too accurate, and Ned Vizzini was looking into my head and would tell people how messed up I was because they would know exactly what and how I was thinking. Because I was Craig, and I was Craig right down to the standing on the bridge and feeling free and wanting to jump a year later.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story is about Craig, a smart kid with some douchey friends (some (one) of which are okay) who finds himself depressed, and then suicidal. He checks himself into a psychiatric hospital because he wants to get better. He learns a lot & works through a lot. He realises he’s not into the girl he thought he was into. He meets people who help him to work it out. He starts taking his medication again. He chooses to live.

Ski. Sled. Play basketball. Jog. Run. Run. Run. Run home. Run home and enjoy. Enjoy. Take these verbs and enjoy them. They’re yours, Craig. You deserve them because you chose them. You could have left them all behind but you chose to stay here. So now live for real, Craig. Live. Live. Live. Live.
Live.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story, Ned Vizzini

This story is hard. It’s hard because it fits, because it’s mine, because it’s Ned Vizzini’s, and because Ned Vizzini didn’t live.

I’ve always hated the phrase, “commit suicide”. Since I was nine, I’ve hated it. If you commit something, it’s a sin. If you end your life, if you commit suicide, are you a sinner? Are you a sinner for feeling too much? Are you a sinner because it is unbearable to hold up a universe of suffering on a daily basis?  Are you a sinner for wanting it to stop? Am I a sinner because I wanted to?

(The answer is no. This is a topic for another day.)

Ned Vizzini died by suicide on December 19th, 2013. He lived, he inspired, he loved, he wrote, he tried,  he won, he became a beacon for depressed teenagers, he pulled me from the edge, and he died. It was said best here: “the great, unspeakable tragedy of The Bell Jar is now the tragedy of Funny Story.”

Everybody dies. The personalities of Ned Vizzini & Craig, the protagonist, line up really nicely. He captured Craig’s spirit because it was his own and showed Craig’s victory because it was his own. The whole book is based on wanting to kill yourself, and then not. Craig & Ned didn’t line up there.

It’s not as though it’s as simple as stating that Craig lived on and Ned didn’t. Ned could have ended things when he was 23, before he admitted himself to that psychiatric hospital. He didn’t. He could have not written IKOAFS. He did. He could have been so brilliant by doing so much less, but he did more and more and more than enough people will ever be able to thank him to. Ned was strong, and brave, and honest. He was talented. He was – he is – life changing and influential.

Life can be a lot sometimes.

This is Ned’s legacy: he tossed a bright, orange-and-white ring to us drowning kids and pleaded with us to stay afloat. And we read his words, and we understood, and we eventually made our way to shore.

If there’s something to take from this, from Funny Story, it’s what’s kept me around. It’s what keeps me around.  If you feel like you’re going to kill yourself, or if you feel like you want to, it’s a medical emergency. Call a hotline. Walk into a hospital. Call a friend who can look after you, if you have one. Don’t wait until you think you’re bad enough to be hospitalised. Suicidal ideation is a medical emergency.

Nothing would be better off if you weren’t around. I say that to myself every day. I have to do my best to believe it. I think you should, too.

South African National Teen Suicide Prevention Week runs from the 18th of Feb til the 24th. Take care of yourselves, and of your friends.

Live. Live. Live. Live.
Live.

love & light,
shalom xo

 

of mondays and joy

experiencing fully fledged joy that isn’t mania as a depressed person is a strange experience. it’s very alien, and today has left me fulfilled yet super tentative of tomorrow, because i know something has to go wrong or back to normal, at least. it’s regression to the mean.

in the northern hemisphere (and now, all over the world too), the third monday of january is known as “blue monday” – the supposedly most depressing day of the year. it’s recognised everywhere and people really feel terrible and everything sucks, until tuesday. on tuesday, things go back to the way they were, and people no longer feel blue. for most people with depression, it doesn’t work like that. it definitely doesn’t for me.

i’m a happy person who’s depressed. i love people, and i thrive on the happiness of others. i adore belly laughs and tired sighs from days full of loving, but my brain also doesn’t make the neurotransmitters it needs to be making, so what we get from that equation is me. i rapid cycle between excessive optimism and damning despair far too much and far too fast. i’m dealing with it okay, though.

however, today has been a really great monday.  much like this one.

i didn’t get any sleep because i don’t get sleep, and had a really teary two a.m. i freaked out because i had so much to do including mailing transcripts for university admissions (keep those fingers crossed for me please!) and an interview for Lush. LUSH. The super amazing smelling, ethically brilliant and people focused brand. I was so stoked that I got an interview, but I was pretty sure it was all going to go to shit because of how my morning went. It was 21 degrees outside and I was sweating like a Christmas goat while trying to do my eyeliner because ya girl was anxious as HECK and also I was running late for a thing with a friend. It’s okay. I got there. Then the goodness began.

Jo bought me a hazelnut honey latte and I lost my mind because it tasted so good. We ran generic errands and I bumped into a storybook boy at the printing store. STORY. BOOK. As in curly hair big smile British accent story book. BOY. I sang to him about capitalism and he had a very cute laugh. I ran away because I’m an IDIOT and Jo gave him my number. He probably won’t text, but I’m glad I met him nonetheless. I have a boy to put in my stories now. I played with a Newton’s Cradle in a birthday store and got really giddy about science.

By DemonDeLuxe (Dominique Toussaint) – Image:Newtons cradle animation book.gif, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3717500

I then almost skipped out of my interview because anxiety, but went ahead and did the damn thing. I have a trial shift on Thursday! I am SO EXCITED. I then went to get some tea, paid for a short and got upgraded to a grande for free. YES. I then got free samples of cheese and of bread at Woolworths and bought a cheese and tomato baguette that surprised me with the best tasting basil & mayo I have ever had. My eyebrows also did the damn thing. I got home and napped for three hours, ate a pie for supper, found a blog that’s probably my new favourite (do check out Dora @ For The Goldfinches because wow – follow her on instagram too! She’s a joy.) and got invited over to swim with a friend tomorrow. It’s also MLK Day, so I got to smash down some microagressions regarding not being black enough, which was exhausting but necessary. I’m glad I did. Happy birthday to my biggest writing hero, Lin-Manuel Miranda, too! There’s a gif party on twitter if you wanna come. #gifTparty

I’m a bit sad that today is over, honestly. It’s been the best day that I’ve had in years. I’m grateful for it, but also hyper aware of the fact that everything has to swing back to the middle eventually. I learned about regression to the mean from Teen Wolf. I have a weird relationship with that show.

Despite how well today went, I still have the undercurrent of despair running through me, but I’m okay with it. It’s not the loudest in this moment, and every moment that my brain allows me to just be is one I am grateful for. I’m about to knock myself out with some heavy sleeping pills, and I’m really glad that I can. On Saturday, I didn’t think I’d make it to the end of the day. Thank goodness I did though. Who else would have taught that cute boy the capitalism jingle?

love and light,
shalom xo

the kids aren’t alright

i’m feeling lowercase today, i think.

i haven’t been around here much lately. i actually turned my computer on for the fist time in about three weeks today. i’d love to tell you that i’ve been away planning things and now i’m back with an exciting series and that i have another posting schedule i won’t keep to, but that’s not so.

stuck in the jet wash
bad trip i couldn’t get off
and maybe i bit off more than i could chew
and overhead of the aqua blue

i’ve been going through some stuff in my head. i honestly don’t know how to say this to anyone without sounding absolutely mad but i haven’t felt like a whole person for the last month or so. it’s as if i’m  a plane on autopilot – only i’m also a passenger who’s been informed that i am, and i’m freaking out about it because somebody should be captaining this ship, but there’s nothing that i can do because i’m a bit of a helpless passenger.

i don’t know if i’m presenting myself very well.

i’ve had a lot that i’ve wanted to write about, but i’ve had the great misfortune of not being able to do almost anything. my body is fidgety while my mind is tired, or my mind is racing while my body is exhausted, so i’ve slept a maximum of four hours a night for the last month or so. it’s hard to be a person when you don’t feel like one, and when you feel like someone other than yourself when you do.

fall to your knees, bring on the rapture
blessed be the boys time can’t capture
on film or between the sheets
i always fall from your window to the pitch black streets

i feel very spacey. i’m still going to school and i’m taking notes in lectures and going to rehearsals and caring for all my friends, but it’s very alien. something is very off, and i know it, but nothing is fixing itself.

my friends are lovely. they’re full of advice and ‘alternative methods’ to help me sleep (i see you and i love you, xabs) and they remind me that i’m not eating when i should be. they ask about my medication and when i tell them that i feel like i’ve lost it, they listen. usually, they think i’ve lost it too, but they listen, and i love them for it. i overwhelm them a lot; i mother them. it’s a habit of mine – a selfish one, to some extent. i like to know that people are alright. it makes me feel like i, then, have the right to be fine, too. this is flawed in many ways, but they let me fuss over them, and for that, i’m ever grateful.

and in the end
i’d do it all again
i think you’re my best friend
don’t you know that the kids aren’t al-, kids aren’t alright

i talked to my sister about how i’ve been feeling earlier today. she asked what my plan was for the next couple of months, or at least before i go back to the doctor. well, i’ve thought of something of a plan while i’ve been writing this, and here it is:

my strength comes from loving. i will continue loving people as hard as i usually do. i’m going to try to keep doing the things that i always do, like work and school. i’m going to try to remember to eat, and i’ll try my best to sleep more. i’m not going to ignore the way i’ve been feeling, but i’m going to try and push on through it, rather than go around it.

this kid’s not alright, but she’ll pull it together somehow. it’s not all bad. i made two new friends today. i’m doing fine-ish.

when it rains it pours
stay thirsty like before
don’t you know that the kids aren’t al-, kids aren’t alright

love and light
shalom xo


featured image from risenmags.com

‘tortured artists’: a note

“The myth of ‘You have to be a tortured artist’ is a myth. You can have a happy, healthy life and still go to all these crazy dark places in your writing, and then go home then go play with your child and hug your wife.”

– Dr Lin-Manuel Miranda

The year is 1870. Vincent van Gogh is  a crazily talented man who is terribly troubled and misunderstood. Nobody buys his work. Nobody cares to read his letters, and he spends much time in isolation. Time passes, and he grows more and more lonely. 1890 rolls around, and he (allegedly)* commits suicide. He dies in the arms of his brother. People start to notice him once he’s died. “His work – it’s almost as if you can see his pain!” It’s believed by many that he wouldn’t have been able to produce any his best works had he not been in such dark places so often. His work becomes a hit, and he accrues posthumous fame. The tortured artist trope is born.

Following his death, and long after, many people subscribe to the idea that those suffering will create the most beautiful things. This idea is affirmed by tragic losses such as Sylvia Plath and Ernest Hemingway. The question: does mental illness make for better art?

I study English at university, along with my other three subjects. In the literary field, you’ll come across countless artists who were mentally ill, and claimed that the mental illness enabled them to write as well as they did. Some pseudo-scientific studies have shown a clear link between depression and good poetry, but I disagree with them almost entirely. Unfortunately, mental illness is romanticised to the nth degree, thanks to the likes of tumblr, and the idea that you need to endure some form of affliction to be great is frequently taken to be gospel truth. to  I’m saying what Lin-Manuel Miranda is saying – that the myth that you have to be tortured to make good art is a myth.

I’m certain that mental illness can inspire art. My experience has inspired my writing and my choices when performing on stage. I don’t, however, believe that a poem written about heartbreak by a happily engaged person, would pale in comparison to that of a heartbroken person.

I’m of the opinion that the ability to transcend your own experience in your artform is one of the highest forms of art. To get into another’s frame of mind without being in that frame of mind yourself takes a massive amount of skill, and the idea that your work would be inferior because of your transcendence sounds highly unlikely to me.

love and light,
shalom xo

*there is speculation that good ol’ vanny may have been murdered,but it’s all a bit sketchy.

4 a.m. sunrise

Being up for the sunrise is different to getting up to see the sunrise. See, it’s 5:11 A.M where I live, and I’m yet to find sleep. This is a usual occurrence for me. It’s a pity; the sunrise seems to lose its brilliance when the only thing you have to offer to the awakening earth is your exhausted, eye-bagged self.SAM_2241.JPG

The sunrise is always changing. It starts as it does: a little dark and highlighted by the little lights and houses that mean nothing in the grand scheme of things, but everything to those that dwell in them. The orange gives this crazy kind of hope – dare I say misconception? – that the sun will come up, and the brilliant blue sky will present itself, and the day to come will unfold with the same kind of magic.

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The early bird catches the worm, and somebody zooms past the house front in an attempt to get to the train station before it’s crowded, or to get away from everything else that is crowded. The sky starts to brighten, and more people stir. The joggers come out, and the birds make more noise than they were making ten minutes ago.

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It’s an every day thing, the sunrise. I suppose our tininess is too. Every day, all of us – inconsequential people – wake up in our inconsequential houses to run our inconsequential errands until we die. Inconsequentially.

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I didn’t get to see the sunrise. There was no sunrise today. More than a sunrise, there was an overwhelming period of cloud cover with a dormant sun threatening ever so slightly to peek through. The cloud cover seemed to almost exactly mirror my mental state. 2015 has been a lot of grey.

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I feel quite strange today. Maybe it’s the lack of sleep over the last six months, maybe it’s the lack of medication, the weather, the hyper-awareness – I don’t know what this is. I know that I have three very distinct lines of feeling, though. One: I am terrified of everything and I want it all to stop, I want to stop being afraid, I want to be alone and at the same time, not. Two: I am more powerful than anyone could ever imagine. If you’re not scared of me, you should be. There is nothing that the world could throw at me that my brain hasn’t already. Not even death. Three: Nothing. I feel nothing. I am apathetic under a stained white shirt and jeans that used to make me feel something.

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I am not the teenage girl who gets up at 4 AM to see the sunrise. I am the girl who stands on a rooftop at 4 AM after being awake for longer than she can remember and sifts through the surrounding sounds while wrapped in her friend’s blanket.

It is not ideal. But, there have been, and will continue to be worse things that can and will happen at 4 A.M.

there are worse things than being awake at 4 am. another day will come, and the sunrise will come. eventually.

And all the kids cried out,
“Please stop, you’re scaring me”
I can’t help this awful energy
Goddamn right, you should be scared of me
Who is in control?

Control – HALSEY

Love and light,
shalom

 

an open letter to primary school

trigger warning: depression, anxiety, eating disorders

dear primary school

dear age five to twelve

dear risidale and emmarentia and everything in between


primary school, you were not fun. In grade one my shoes got stolen and I wanted to cry but I thought I’d be yelled at if I did. So I didn’t. When I was eight I started noticing that I was detached from everyone else in the class. I used to sit and box them all, and tried desperately to squeeze into a box, and I never could. In grade four, I learned about depression, and I had a teacher who was phenomenal at the time – Ms V. She cried a lot and had body image issues and skipped a lot of school days. I remember thinking that I understood what she was going through, that we could be friends because we were going through the same thing, I thought. I didn’t say anything though. She was a teacher. I was nine. I was a girl who could spell anything, except library. I When I was ten I started resenting the fact that I was black more than I had previously. I got teased and made fun of because I was darker than the other girls. Then, I learned about depression from a much harsher teacher: experience. I started feeling things I couldn’t understand – like not wanting to come to school. I loved learning, but I didn’t feel anything except lethargy. I know- “at age ten? really?” Yes really, I was in grade six at the time. In grade seven I started to resent my intelligence, tried to join any and every group that would have me, gave my homework away, cried more than I thought I could, and then got told to “see someone”. My dad got mad when he found out that he had a crazy daughter. My mom got – I don’t really know how she felt – when she discovered that her once shining girl who was supposed to be a prodigy spent the better parts of her day crying, lying or intentionally hurting herself to “feel anything that didn’t mean I was nothing” (quote from grade seven diary). I saw my marks plummet and my opinion of myself recede into nothing – I went for three days, that I remember clearly, convinced that it was’;t my fault I didn’t have friends like the other girls, it was just because people couldn’t see me. When I was eleven teachers started thinking it was smart to talk the eating disorders section of the Life Orientation textbook rather than teach it, leaving me, and possibly (probably) others trying to tell people that I needed help, that I identified with Mary who struggles to eat in front of people but binges at night, that I related to Sue who never ate and was convinced that she was fat and would not fit through doors despite her flat chest and sharp bones, that I was Shalom who had such a strange relationship with something that shouldn’t have a hold over me the way it did. Does. Do disorders go away?


Dear Primary School,

You taught me that things are not always kind. And that honesty can get you into trouble. And that people won’t always appreciate your intelligence.

You taught me how to sit alone and how to think. You taught me how to speak to adults. You taught me how to make people listen. You taught me how different people are. Thank you.

Thanks. I wouldn’t be where I am today without you. It’s not a wonderful place, but it’s where I am and things are happening and things are possible so thank you.


these things about me are not pretty or lovely or a wonder to behold. they are parts of me that have, for so long, attacked me from the inside. secrets that i’ve had to keep alone and i won’t anymore.

these parts of me are not easy to love, but i’m going to try anyway. and maybe you will too. but the truth is that whether you do or you don’t, it’s beyond my control and i’m going to have to let things like that go.

love and light
Shalom

On Teenage Suicide (Prevention Week)

This week has been South African National Teenage Suicide Prevention Week.

Granted, some of you will be wondering why I’ve been such a twit and haven’t spoken up about this earlier, seeing that the SATSPW started on Valentine’s day – and I assure you it’s not because I was too busy with my valentine – and why I’m posting this so late.

The truth is, I don’t know what I want this post to be. I don’t want it to be just alarming statistics and frightening facts, and motivational quotes and sad stories. So, as expected, this post will be a complete mess of everything.

  1. Around the world, the third leading cause of death in teenagers is suicide. 20% of teenagers  suffer from depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, eating disorders, bipolar disorder and countless other mental disorders.
  2. I have been and am part of that 20%.
  3. I’ve written an anthology on mental disorders in teenagers which I can send to you if you comment your email address!

Seeing that it’s suicide prevention week and not mental disorder awareness month (when is that?), I’m going to fill you guys in on some suicide facts:

IT’S TERRIFYING.

Not only for everyone who is affected by it but also to the victim of suicide. As someone who has been through some rough patches, and someone who wishes she didn’t have the suicide patch on her sash, let me tell you something:

Suicide isn’t always something that happens after you notice you’re once smiley friend retreat into themselves and the darkness that consumes them. It isn’t always forecastable by looking at the scars on someone’s wrists, thighs, calves, shoulders, hips. It isn’t always recognisable by a smile that you think is false. It isn’t funny, fun, or anything of the happy variety: its death. It’s awful and untimely and terrifying, and it’s not a good experience to be on either side of the suicide line.

I don’t know how to make it better.

I know that psychologists are EXPENSIVE and that therapy doesn’t always work, and that people aren’t always there for you, and that sometimes it feels like the darkness in the world is big enough to swallow you whole, and anyone you reach out to will be swallowed along with you, and the last thing you want is for anyone else to get hurt so you may as well just erase yourself from the catastrophic picture you may not have even drawn, but even something as small as sharpening the pencil seems like a big enough offence.

This, friend, isn’t always the case.

I used to be suicidal. I used to want to die, every day. I used to hate getting up, and I despised the fact that my lungs were still working in the morning. I tried to die. Often. And the experience is something I wouldn’t wish on any being or creature in the universe.

But friends, I’m still here.

If you’re looking for a sign not to kill yourself, this is it.

If you’re looking for someone who will miss you if you die, I am them.

I found myself in a hole of darkness and I won’t even lie and say I’ve climbed out. Because I haven’t. I’m still climbing and I climb every day. I can tell you that it’s far more difficult than I would have ever imagined, but also, far more worth it.

Regardless of where you are in the world, here you can find the number to call if you’re feeling suicidal.

In South Africa, we have SADAG (South African Depression and Anxiety Group) and they’ve helped me tonnes. You can contact them on 0800 567 567.

Please don’t ever hesitate to send me an email if you ever need any help. We’re all survivors here, and I’d be so, so honoured and willing to help.

I leave you with some lyrics by my favourite band:

Friend, please don’t take your life away from me.”

Love and light,
shalom