Too Busy To Write – Bad Trip 

It was sad when your contract ended, and he assured you of a more permanent position… But because your father wanted you to be a nurse, you were quickly on your way to Johannesburg school hoping for the cheapest nursing school still open for registration by the end of January.

Fortunately for you, none could take you in, and those that could, your father couldn’t immediately afford. The slot in UJ got you in a Sports Communication degree course. After settling in near campus, you had internet access that opened up a new world of information for you. You understood that your mental illness is only affected by a toxic space, but caused by a bad balance of chemicals in your mind and body. You spent a lot of time searching for what affected mental chemical imbalances beyond medication because you put action to your decision of not living off pills. Remembering having had a pact with Jesus a year ago that if you don’t end up in Bible School after grade 12, you would drop Christianity entirely, you found yourself looking at religion from a non-religious point of view. You had nothing to stand on in the middle of adapting to a new environment and schedule.

Everything got too much too quickly and you still felt numb through it. School now had most of your attention. It was not easy, so most of your research only got your attention late at night and during the Easter holidays where you kept away from home. Your mania ended when in April on campus after father called that you need to come home in June because it did not look good financially, and he might not be able to get you through the next semester. The depression flew in.

Like a toddler who just dropped their lollipop, you sobbed by the library entrance feeling hated by God, with no idea of who that was in your life anymore. It felt like the ground disappeared and all seemed dark. That night was the first after a long time where you tried to end your life again. Nothing about temporal relief or a safe space for a few moments could have gotten you to stay around when every time you seemed to be getting ready to stand seemed to get met with a blow to your stomach.

The Dark Hole – Giving In

You got hold of every single medication you had in the room and lined it up. You got weed from a neighbor and turned the music up in attempts of getting the voices in your head from yelling to whispers. After smoking a joint for the first time, you started with the syrup medicine then went bottle by bottle of pills popping in hopes to never wake up again. Drowsy, you neatly put everything back in place then stripped your clothes off and stepped in the shower. You broke glass on the shower floor, got  a sharp piece and then began to draw lines on your thighs. Then your legs, stomach area, arms, and eventually, for the first time, you aim for a vein on your left wrist while sobbing and gasping for air as you sat under the running shower. Before you knew it, you passed out.

That night, you had your first lucid out-of-body experience where you were floating out your body, watching it bleed and turn blue in the shower. You wanted to keep floating up, but could not. There seemed to be a barrier and out of nowhere you hear “it is time for you to live now.” When you woke up, all you could do was get to your bed, not noticing your roommate was in the room and she switched off the shower tap. Everything else is still a blur. After nearly 20 hours of being out, you woke up rushing for the toilet seat to vomit.

Your insides smelled of a pharmacy and your numbness continued, all you could do was drink water and sleep. The next day, your study group mates showed up after classes, and security got you downstairs. They explained their worry about not seeing you on campus, and you let them know you have got to drop out. The insisted you join them at the bigger campus. After a shower, cleaning up, and covering up, you went with them. You smoked, drank, and laughed. When you got to your room, it was time to pack up and the next day your cousin was there to pick you up.

The pill-popping stopped, but the substance intake quickly became substance abuse. You partied, you drank, you smoked, and avoided being home as much as you could. The cutting did not stop. The rest of the year was every attempt of trying to cope by any means of distraction you could get by with, and the weight gain crumbled your self-esteem. When your friends went back to their prospective schools, you went to bed. You slept your days away until a family meeting of your mother begging you to talk about what was bothering you amongst several listed complaints. All you did was say you will eat though. By the end of the year you couldn’t recognize yourself and the smallest trigger sent you spiraling. You couldn’t face the idea of writing.

It was a night of eating dinner with your family where your father said something homophobic which landed you in hospital tranquilized and diagnosed with hysterical depression. That night, the doctor on duty sat your parents down to explain the nature and history of your mental health to them according to your medical file history. He realized they knew nothing about it all, and the next morning asked if you wanted to sign into a mental health institute.

Your Life Is In Your Hands – Attempting to Pick It Up Again

You didn’t agree to sign yourself in, because you know your family. Later, you got discharged on the account of family counseling of at least 2 sessions which proved to be useless because your father dictated both sessions, and mother said nothing. She saw a lot of herself in the symptoms explained but only let you know she grew up with a lot of what you were said to go through emotionally weeks later. That she never had the words for them.

Another year began, and a chat with a friend quickly became a trip to a school out the province with her and her dad …but with your phone off. On your way back, you finally switched it on, and when your father called. You told him you enrolled yourself into a new school. He was concerned, and the Vaal University of Technology had you settle for a course you never could have foreseen yourself taking this early but you felt you could do things differently this time around with a different environment.

The weed substituted the drinking and cutting but your dosages got more. Your anxiety was eased out with weed, smoking through the highs of mania had you less fidgety and smoking through the lows of depression got you to do what you needed to with your school responsibilities. When you’d come home for holidays, a letter always awaited you and you excitedly wrote back. That was the only time you’d write.

Oom Paulie encouraged that you take a hold of your life, but you did not know where to begin with that. You concluded that since you are alive, regardless of having tried to die, decided to learn to be alive and fake your happiness. In this, you hoped for a miracle that would somehow get you to truly be happy, making a pact with yourself to at least get your own home. And if being alive still felt so horrible, you can have your perfect suicide on your 28th birthday.

You searched “what do happy people do” on google and took note that you had to work on your mind, body, soul, and emotions. The first step included letting go of depressed friends, being open to meeting new people besides the group of stoners you hung around. You unfollowed all the people on Twitter that were depressed and suicidal. And then, in the middle of not having anyone to talk to, you found yourself with paper again. You began writing to yourself about your goals and aspirations.

You became vegetarian because you saw that eating healthier (less processed food, more fruit and veggies) can get your happy chemicals to increase. You and hung out less in your room and more with your housemates. After all, humans are happier with their social surroundings and communities. You wore your earphones less on campus and opened yourself to conversations with classmates. You started exercising… because… you know, endorphins. Then you even got into a relationship, and you liked it there. But there seemed to lack something… As if you could not even convince your body cells that you were now happy.

The Missing Element – Words Are Spells

But in your research of a holistic healthy and happy life, you also learned that all these are not a shield to the though feelings of life. So, when you went home and would be triggered by your family, you didn’t cut, you would journal instead. You wrote, as though to oom Paulie – even when his illness slowed down how fast he would write back – you wrote to yourself in gratitude. You wrote affirmations. You wrote of better aspirations. You saw your own mistakes as lessons now,  and learned to take breaks when necessary. You started taking charge of your day, praying before writing to-do lists instead of flowing with whatever comes in the morning. You wrote intentions for the day. You wrote of things to let go of every full moon. You wrote new intentions for your month every new moon.

Your whole perspective of being alive began to change and your light started shining brighter. You *felt* happier and healthier. And then life hit with a punch to your stomach again; your boyfriend raped you. Taking your virginity, and for a short while, your sanity away, too.

You relapsed into self-harm but instead of cutting, you picked up cigarettes. You burned yourself with hot ash then found yourself at parties and under bodies without thinking twice about it. None of it felt right but it was the devil you knew. Soon the supportive friends you now had gently shook you out of it. You wrote. You wrote to him. You wrote on #MeToo. You saw how knowing better does not immediately equate to doing better. You wrote about that, too.

Friends supported you and helped you through getting you to talk about it. Months later you got back up with the healthier habits. Writing about it was what got you to stop blaming yourself. And writing about it again and again got you to see how even tragic events somehow hold golden lessons, still. You befriended the void of depression and would now open a chair to sit and have tea with, usually with a page and a pen. You wrote poems and poems that you then burned; it was all about releasing.

Self-Commitment – Doing The Work To Hold It

Part of your self-healing journey included not sweeping difficult feelings under the rag, but facing them to get to their origin of pain. Now, whenever you felt your throat swell with feelings, the first thing you would think of was no longer a sharp glass nor blade to cross finish lines on your sleeves, nor pills to pop out the emotion or ciggs to burn it away, but instead a notepad and some time alone to tell the pages just what you feel. It no longer mattered who you were writing to, as long as you were writing. You felt closer to the purest and truest version of yourself, reflecting. Your autonomy was found in ink.

You had to accept it may take time, but you had to consistently will to stay committed to yourself and put in the work for better well-being. Eventually, you got a more grounded sense of your belief, which you call your “knowing” of God/the Creator; love is the law.  When your parents separated and your mother left home, you faced more difficult feelings to get through but your hustling and entrepreneurial spirit awoke as depending on your father’s way with money on his own got you sleeping hungry two times too many.

Your resilience became your superpower and you started a blog to share poetry and reflections. This got you writing more regularly. Oom Paulie’s old age was getting to him as his health began deteriorating and he spoke of his days on earth not seeming to be much anymore. He faced his first heartbreak at nearly age 90 with the passing of his wife, and wrote to you of what anxiety is like – relating for the first time. But because you have shared so much of your journey with him, he had a calmer insight. Your Teacher proved to be a well-disguised guardian angel who kept writing to you, teaching you, well after high school, but as his hospital visits increased and letters to you decreased, but your blog kept you writing. The annual essay topic he taught you keeps you going; “WHO AM I?”

It took a lot to keep going, and you did regardless. Because you are alive, anyway. You took accountability for where you were, blaming nobody. You decided to form a better relationship with your family and that included seeing them for who they are; a narssasitic father, an empathic mother, and so forth. And loving them, anyway. You kept prioritizing yourself, so in your final year, just before the last semester, when father texted you that he won’t afford to pay what’s left of school and you won’t be going back, although it hurt you, you made peace with it easier. There was no spiraling away from yourself this time around. Instead, it all seemed Divinely orchestrated.

“You never stop doing the work. Triggers and old-patterns re-emerge all the time. Healing has nothing to do with forgetting and everything to do with moving through discomfort with grace. Treat your triggers as guides, not enemies of progress.” — ausilesego

Shine On – Stay Close to The Light

Mother then came home after being away for 3 years and taught you everything you know about forgiveness ad commitment. You began to take prayer more seriously and decided to quit smoking weed. There were a lot of in-betweens. Your diet had changed again, and you lost friends, but you kept committed to your well-being and intentional living regardless. You got so consistent with your blog that it spiked from 28 views to over 7000 – but you constantly remind yourself that the numbers do not matter to you; it is the impact of your inspirations that get you happy. These are your successes; good feelings.

Endings stopped hurting because you realized they are often just disguised beginnings. Rejection is re-direction. And even when you would unknowingly be keeping in a hurting situation and end up in tears on the floor, even when you had to let go of your cat and your best friend stopped talking to you, you stayed committed to the change of doing better. You had to be gentle with yourself; some day did not need a pen and a page. Some days needed a solo crying session on the floor.

Your responsibility became to only tend to get back to well-being whenever anything would shift you from it – not by ignoring it, because that brought hysteria – but by facing it and transmuting the energy to work towards you. And writing, you realized, helped you stay close to the light. Writing helped you process your emotions, which hand-in-hand helped you shape your energy into better feelings. Affirmations and intentions are what largely got you from pretending to be happy to fully embracing joy, even in sorrow. Your contentment stopped being something influenced by anything outside of you.

Infinite Light – A Candle Does Not Die Out By Lighting Another

You are now helping others get to this epiphany, too, reminding your mentees to tap into holistic health and maybe write often. You understand it has to come from your will, so you don’t go around in the attempt of picking just anyone up, but you do hold hands with the ones that reach out to you. And the reflections in your blog often get feedback on changed lives, too.

You have broken the cycle of depressive and manic episodes by dividing your responsibilities into holistic management and cyclical living, so you know when to rest and what that will need, as well as when to work and just how much to work. You know when to play. This helps ensure you never burn out. It is so lovely that work leisure and writing are the same for you.

Your work currently looks like reading, writing, and studying because you remain a student of the Universe and have brought great opportunities to your reality field of being. In finding out that roundabout everything, including deodorant and body cosmetics, affect the chemicals in the brain, you sell natural body butter too right now under your brand, with bigger aspirations of holistic management for the public. You also work with where the sun is, that way you ensure having 3 meals daily – as it is harder to be plant-based vegan at home, you do your best to remember to bless and give thanks to whatever food you get to eat.

It is also beautiful to see how you have learned to detach yourself from your emotions and are accountable for your well-being, without disregarding your feelings or projecting. You have elevated from saying things like “I am tired, I am sad or I am excited” but “I feel tired, I feel sad or I feel excited”. These still need reminders. You know words are spells and life is magical, so you remain mindful of the kind of language you use on your blog, too. You take more time and precise planning with your posts there now. You are doing your best to incorporate all this into your life now, and building a more holistic community through your growth. It is not faking it anymore, you slipped into genuine joy with being alive.

Back to The Present

This may be a letter that would overwhelm my seven-year-old self. And my fifteen-year-old self would roll her eyes at all calling it a bluff. And although my twenty-one-year-old self would see it as a probable future, I would change nothing of my journey. It is beautiful how everything unfolded and keeps doing so, without a head’s up from my older self. With that Google search which became what I encompass my life’s value around and has my slogan “wealthy mind, body, soul, emotion” as right now, it was reading of other people’s journeys which inspired my own. Their realities of a better life helped my light shine brighter, and I can only hope mine does the same for another.

Healing is non-linear, but once you are healed, you cannot hurt again from the same disease. And total healing IS possible. No matter how it may look.

This powerful piece of writing is the second part of a two-part submission by the talented Julieta Lusati Aurelio. Find Part 1 over here. Find Julieta’s new eBook on Amazon over here.