James de Villiers
Your emotions do not define you. I’ve really struggled with this idea the past few months.
Because for most of my life, I was taught I have to fight against my negative thoughts. I was told to “think yourself happy”; told your mindset defined your destiny.
And last year November, when my therapist told me instead of fighting my fears, I should just let them be — I couldn’t comprehend how anyone was able to let their “feelings be”.
As I drove away from my therapist five minutes before work, and I felt my chest on fire — anxiety clinging to my chest — I didn’t understand how letting my feelings be would better my life.
I was a little girl of just 11 when I was molested. I grew up in a happy home with both parents and I was the third child from seven siblings. I was the bright one among the family and loved reading. From a young age, we were taught to be respectful towards our elders and was regularly sent to the shops by the neighbours.
On this particular day, the man who molested me was staying in front of our home and had no wife or children at the time. He called me to send me to the shop as usual but on this day my younger sister didn't come along, as she usually would.
I went in and he was lying on the couch. He called me to come closer and asked me to lie on my back. He pulled my skirt up and my panty down. I was afraid, not knowing what was happening. At that age, I had never seen people having sex. I was a virgin.
My name is Mumsie Mariah and am the eldest daughter of my parents. I have two sisters and a brother. My dad died 30 years ago.
My mum was diagnosed with dementia and got progressively worse over time. At first, we didn’t really think it was dementia because our doctor told us it was due to her age that she was getting forgetful and we should try not to leave her alone and get her to do puzzles and colouring etc. But we explained to doctor that she had never attended school in her life, so she cannot read or write. We did buy her colouring book, though, however it seemed her attention span was very short and so was her memory. She would remember our names and forget them just as quickly.
I could feel the judgement burning into my forehead like a scarlet letter D as I lapped the hospital corridors: I had no cast, no crutches, no IV stand trundling alongside me. And yet I was ill. It was a daily fight against the disease.
I was 18 weeks pregnant and hospitalised for Peri-Natal Distress (PND). This is my story.
When I fell pregnant with our third (planned) baby, my husband and I were over the moon. I had adored my two previous pregnancies because, after the morning sickness subsided at around 12 weeks, I felt beautiful, blissful, and radiant.
So this time around, when I found myself sinking into a state of increased darkness and fear, I was confused and distressed. At first I was ashamed and tried to hide what I was going through, afraid of the judgement of others. I told myself it would pass, but instead of improving, I got worse.