Diaries of An Unrebelled Heart

Mental Health & Lifestyle Blog

I have come such a long way with acceptance. Acceptance of my childhood, that I suffer from major depressive disorder, borderline personality disorder, medication I most likely will have to take for the rest of my life and even that my husband and daughter really do love me. There are one thing that I am finding harder and harder to accept and that is the people I love dearly, that I believe, no longer has consideration or room for me in their life. I don’t want to get into too much detail but, in general there are people in my life, such as my immediate family that I have obviously put a lot of time and effort into and then there are the relationship I crave and long for that no longer exists. They no longer exists for various reasons I believe, all based on suspicion and assumption, because the truth is I have let them go to focus on other things. Not always intentionally. During the in-between stages of these relationships I had to focus more on my immediate family, there were many years where my struggle with depression and borderline personality disorder took over my life and I could barely be concerned with my own self. There are also times when I could just no longer care about what other people think of my actions. Even though the above listed events were true for me in those seasons of my life, I am a lot more stable and feel the urgency to reconcile or just get back in relations with some of these people. What holds me back at this point is the fear of what they may say and the fear that they may not want to say anything at all. Maybe they no longer have room for me in their lives like I once had no room for them. I am so afraid of the judgement it is crippling me and I can barely breathe thinking about it.

The thing is I will never know until I make the effort and call. We cannot make assumptions about what others think of us, until we check the facts, and worry about what we think they are thinking. This is what I call wasted time! Checking the facts is a skill I learned in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. In this case I can check the facts by asking myself the following questions. Have they ever told me directly that they are mad at me and no longer want me in their life? The fact is no they have not. Have they ever done something intentionally to hurt me? The fact is I don’t know that for sure, until I ask the question. People act in various ways for various reasons and we don’t know what is happening in their lives. Only once I know the facts is when I can decide to truly morn the end of a relationship.

On the other end of my racing mind this week is the thought of whether it is all on me to do the work or do some of it have to come from the individuals in these “lost relationships”? If we are unhappy with a friend or family member, is it not our responsibility to reach out and discuss our concerns? I am very sensitive to other people’s moods and behaviour and in more situations than not have I been able to detect others’ moods even before they uttered a word. I know I have to breach the gap if I really want closure, but for now I am putting my thoughts and fears out there without an answer or advice to give. These are the moments I wish I can change everything in an instant. Take away the fear of uncertainty.

To end my week I want to share how greatful I am to have shared tonight with my little girl! We spent the evening together putting up the Christmas tree and all the decorations. The magic and excitement is beautiful and she brightens my life when everything else seem just a little more bleak than normal.

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I believe parents’ intentions, deep down, is always to do the best they can. Their mental capacity is what changes the outcome of these intentions and so the experience for the child. I do not blame my parents for what happened during my childhood.

I can’t remember much of the time between when I was born and the moment I was forced to live with my mom. By forced, I mean I didn’t want to live with my mom, because at 3 years old all I knew was that I loved my dad. That is it! Nothing else mattered. What happened in the background between my parents I will never truly know, nor do I care to. What happens between parents or to them is not the child’s fault nor their responsibility. EVER!

Between the ages of 3 and 9 I lived with my mom, and to be honest I was never happy there. There are very few moments I can recall that made me happy, other than the times I spent with my sister. My sister was my comfort. If at any point during the night I were scared, I would crawl into bed with her, or sleep in the spare bed in her bedroom. I wouldn’t dare go to my mom’s room. She’d sent me right back up the dark staircase to where I came from. I always wanted to go back and live with my father. A child can be stubborn if they really want something and I made sure my mother knew it too. The moment I realized how incredibly lost my mom was, was when I told her I did not like the way my stepdad touched my bum, under my school dress, when I came home from school, and I didn’t like the way he kissed me, and she did nothing. Listen, let’s get this straight so there is absolutely no confusion; he did not molest me, but if my child tells me that when someone, doesn’t matter who it is, touches her in a way that makes her feel uncomfortable, I most certainly will put an end to it. Again, I want to make clear this not a story to bash my mother, I am telling this story from my perspective as a child and how this plays out in my adult life. The choices my mom made and the reasons for it, is her responsibility and her story to share. It was not long after this that my mother came and got me from school one day, all my things packed up, drove me to my dad and stepmother’s house and left me there. What it took for her to do that, I will never fully understand! I saw my sister the year after that, and not again until I was 16. This devastated me and I have always wondered what our relationship would look like today, were we not separated. Years later I was asked to apologize to my stepdad for the accusations I made, and to this day I regret writing the apology letter. My mother moved to Canada when I was ten years old.

At this point, I am living the dream, right. I finally got what I wanted. I am living with my dad and I loved my stepmom. It’s funny the things we remember. I was watching a movie, and my dad wanted to watch something on tv quickly and asked me for the remote. I wanted to be, and thought I was, funny and said: “you can’t have the remote” and hid it behind my back. This was the first time he got mad at me and I felt afraid. I was devastated!!!! I could not believe what had just happened and I did not leave the comfort of my stepmother’s side for the rest of that day. For the remainder of the time while my dad and stepmother were married I was happy! She gave me a great upbringing and provided me with comfort and everything I needed as a little girl; until the day she left my dad. I always knew it wasn’t perfect between them. I remember my dad coming home late at night, coming into my room to say goodnight, swaying and stumbling over things because he was so drunk he couldn’t walk straight. The morning my dad told me we have to leave her house, I begged her (begged her!) not to leave me. It was one of the scariest moments of my childhood, as I knew she protected me of my “real” dad and that life as I knew it was going to change!

I was 13 when my dad and I moved to another city after the divorce. We moved right smack into the middle of the “hood!” A small apartment, kiddy corner to a shebeen! Now for my non-South African followers a shebeen is a house where the owners of the house sell alcohol illegally and usually at a much-discounted price. You can imagine the nightlife we had in the neighborhood. The next five and a half years of my life consisted of the emotional abuse I can hardly breathe to tell. I won’t go into too much detail but the dad I once loved the ground he walked on, turned into my nightmare. I want to make this very clear. HE LOVED ME! I never, not once doubted that he loved me, but his love for me and the uncertainty of our life were something that I believed scared him. He was not able to provide me the life he wanted to provide me, and of course, that would hurt any parent. I was all he had and I believed he was scared that I would eventually leave. My life with my dad was volatile. It was a mixture between him drinking so much that the bills went unpaid which led to us to, eventually, lose all of our furniture, and him locking me out of our apartment at night, in the hood in South Africa, all because I said something he did not like. Here’s an idea; next time your teenage daughter tells you they don’t feel like giving you a hug, lock them out of the house for a whole night. I cooked, I cleaned, I did the laundry and heaven forbid let me do one thing wrong like forget to iron, the wrath was upon me. I was about sixteen when we went to a wedding and there was a boy, about my age, that I obviously were crushing on a little bit. The wedding was partly inside and partly outside. This boy and I were standing outside and he kissed me. My first kiss EVER. My dad saw us and called, no yelled at me “you’re a slut” in front the whole crowd. Again, there’s nothing that makes your first kiss as special as your dad calling you out like that. I am not going to write a book here about all the shit that happened while I lived with my father, so I will end our story with where our relationship ended.

My dad and I lived with a family in the town we lived in with my stepmom, before we moved to the city. During this time, I came to love and adore this family as my own. They were my angels, I became very close with their youngest daughter and to each other, we were sisters. She eventually moved to the city where my dad and I lived. When things became so bad with my dad, I started calling her to talk, and after another night of hell I called her while my dad was in the shower and told her I need to leave. She picked me up after school the next day and went with me to my dad’s office where I told him that I am moving out. I didn’t want to tell him at home as I was too afraid. He whispered in my ear “if you move out, I will find you, and when I do, I will destroy your face so you will never be able to show it in public again.” This bring tears to my eyes as I write this. My sister moved me out, I found a house to rent a room from that my mom agreed to pay for, and I got a restraining order from the police. In South Africa school is not cheap, so I went to my principal, told him what had happened and I finished high school for free!

One thing I want to point out is that during my childhood God placed angels all round me. Angels that helped me survive. My God might not have given me the parents I thought I wanted at the time, but He gave me angels instead. The family we lived with, my sister (biological), my stepmother, my cousin I spent holidays with, teachers, the principal and friends God gave me to survive.

Why did I tell you some of my experiences with my parents when there are people out there with much worse experiences than me? I don’t need sympathy; I am sharing my story because of how it impacted me and how I set them and myself free. My dad is unfortunately no longer alive. This is what I know: my parents loved me, but they both, and my mom still do, had their own pain that they carried with them. Maybe I didn’t see it from my perspective in the moments I was most angry, but from now I can see it from God’s perspective, in those moments, they had fears and uncertainties I am sure they did not know how to deal with. We do the best we can with the circumstances given to us. A lot, if not most of us, are angry because we are afraid and uncertain about something. Unfortunately, parents can take this anger out on their kids, if they have yet to deal with it. Today I have nothing but love and compassion for my parents. My mom is still alive. She lives in Texas now, and our relationship is not easy today either, but I have no more anger left and can see the fear and uncertainty in her.

Here is the point to my story! Your parents do NOT define your life or who you are! We can either allow these experiences to shape us or we can allow it destroy us. I responded to my childhood by becoming strong, motivated and tough and I am rewarded for that every day. Even though my father was convinced I will not make it through high school, I graduated with honors and became a Chartered Accountant so that I will always have financial security. I am greatful for my father. I am a great mom to my daughter. I learned from my parents who I do not want to be. I show my daughter what happiness looks like every day, maybe not every moment, but every day. Her mother will never leave her, because I cannot even bring myself to fathom the idea of it. I am greatful for my mother. Do not make your parents into the monsters your childhood-self believed them to be; or, as in my case my 18 year old self. It wasn’t until I was older that the hate grew bigger. Demonizing your parents will prevent you from seeing yourself and how truly beautiful your parents are and still am. My heart is so much lighter knowing that nothing they did was ever to intentionally hurt me.

I know this is easier said than done, but you can decide to be the victim of your childhood or you can turn it around and use it to your power. I am not saying I am free and clear of pain, because I am not, but I decide every day to live the life I want to live. My life is far from perfect, but I see a psychologist and have been for the past 15 years to make sure I live and decide on my life experiences NOT based on my childhood.

Things that helped me:

  1. Counseling – I believe everyone needs a counsellor, whether you have something to overcome or if you’re just in need to blow off some steam. You do not overcome your childhood on your own! That shit takes some real therapy!
  2. Forgiving my parent(s) – I am not saying it is okay what they did, or even for them to be allowed in my life, but why carry that heavy burden of anger, fear, or whatever emotion it brings up for you, around. Without the relief of that heavy burden, believe me, it will continue to make ripple effects in your life. Forgiveness will set you free!!!
  3. Not being the victim – Being the victim means my childhood experiences will control my life, and I will be the only one to blame. Set yourself free, forgive them, go get counselling and become who you are meant to be.
  4. IT IS YOUR CHOICE – I am not going to go easy on you or myself. If you decide to stay the victim that’s on you! No one else, not your parents, you!
  5. Don’t miss the angels God has given you!  They are all around you!

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I have a couple things weighing heavily on my heart this week. Even though I am striving in a lot areas of my life right now, my heart is heavy. There are very few things I want to succeed at in my life; one of my top two is my marriage and my relationship with my little girl.

As most moms want, I am sure; I want to be my daughter’s go-to for everything. Even though I realize there may be hard seasons where she wouldn’t want to talk to me. Most of all I want her to know in the depths of her heart that she is loved by me no matter what. That I will love her unconditionally until my very last breath. She is the love of my life. My goal in life is to be able to provide her with a life she can live 100%, whilst knowing I have done my best installing the values in her to make the best decisions with the circumstances she will be dealt with. I want to give her the wings to fly and always feel like she has a place to land, no matter where I end up in this world. My dream is to retire someplace warm so home might not be Calgary but my hope for her is that home is where my heart is.

I believe my daughter has a very emotional, vulnerable soul and I swear, with one look she can break me into a million pieces. I am so afraid of breaking her soul. While she is silly and loves to joke around, she deeply cares and she wears her heart on her sleeve. I don’t want to break her spirit. By nature, I am a serious person who does not love to joke around a lot. The odd here and there are okay but most of the time, if I can have it my way, I love peace and quiet. Sometimes I feel like the silliness gets to be too much and I worry that I will be that mom that stopped her from being happy if I keep telling her to stop!

My girl takes piano and she is actually getting to a point where she can just sit and play the song without me helping her. However, some nights practicing is a struggle and last night I yelled at her because she knows the notes on the piano but on the flash cards she has no idea where which note is located. So whom the fuck cares about the flash cards, right? If I ask her where notes A to G is on the piano she knows, so why am I so strung out about the flash cards? I yelled at her so loud that I shocked myself. I asked her to go to her room, not because she was in trouble but because I needed a moment to gather myself. I should have been the one to send myself to my room!!! My little girl broke down in tears and she was heartbroken. I was heartbroken. How could I have been so mean and so out of control?!

So, for the rest of the night I beat myself up over and over again. Telling myself how I don’t deserve to be her mother, she deserves to have better, she would be better off without me and on and on it went. I called her down about a minute after I sent her to her room and not only did I apologize to her and explained to her how nothing that happened was her fault, but that it was my fault and I should not have yelled or gotten frustrated with her, I kept apologizing over and over and over! Even the last words I said to her when I tucked her into bed was “I was so sorry!”

Next up is my soulmate! I love him with all my heart! I used to say he was heroin to me because I felt I could just never get enough of being around him. He filled me up. For the last month or so, I have felt so irritable with him. Every time he talked to me, I could not wait to have silence again. I went to see my therapist about how I was feeling and I was blaming my irritability on a possible oncoming of a depressive episode. That’s right, whenever you behave badly, blame it on depression! Seriously?!

We have had a few fights lately, not about anything significant, but it turned into huge arguments because of the way I talked to him. Significant! During our last fight, I said to him that I feel happy up until the point I come home. WOW!! He explained to me that that made his heart sank a little. That he will never say something like that to me even though that is what he feels like. That he always thinks about how he talks to me, mostly because he knows how sensitive I am. Is this not every woman’s dream to have a husband that actually think about how he talks to her and cares about her feelings? Instead, I annoyingly responded that maybe he should just say what was on his mind. Stop holding back and just let it out! Are you listening to what I am saying? I am telling my husband to stop being nice to me and just like me say exactly what is on his mind and not give a fuck about the other person’s feelings! What the fuck is wrong with me? What person have I become that I no longer care about how my words will affect the people I love the most?

I am not saying Dave is perfect, but I CANNOT treat people badly because I am frustrated about other things in my life, or even about him, because I have decided to bottle it up. Even if you have issues with someone, find a way to say it with care, because you can never take those words back. You can apologize but those words will stay there forever. I cannot imagine how I would feel if Dave ever comes to me, and says, he is happy all day until he comes home. That will break me and I will never truly know how that made him feel and still makes him feel. The way I speak to Dave has been a reoccurring theme is our arguments.

So many times I feel like our arguments are always caused by me, and that everything is always my fault. I have been doing a lot of therapy and sometimes I feel like, isn’t it his turn to go to therapy and fix himself? But here’s the thing, and I can’t remember who said this, but by changing yourself, you will also change others. My therapy doesn’t have anything to do with our relationship but everything to do with me. At the end of the day, I want/need to be better for me, so that I can succeed at the things that are most important to me. Change your behaviour towards someone and I promise you it will be reciprocated!

The last time I saw my therapist we talked about exploring my relationship with God again, so I opened my bible that same night and looked at Phil:4:4-7, which is also tattooed on my wrist, and it says:…let your gentleness be evident to all…” Then one night this week after I put my daughter to bed, I did my daily devotional study and the passage was on hope. Isaiah 40:29-31 “…those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.” In addition, the old faithful Luke 6:31 “and as you wish that others would do to you, do so them.”

I am not in pursuit of telling you to start believing in God. God works for me. He doesn’t have to work for you! He is my person and his words remind me of who I am meant to be. But listen, He is not going to fix my problems by me sitting around. I gotta get up and do the work. Since the last argument with my husband, I have made a very conscious effort to be kind. To approach Dave mindfully, from the place where I deeply feel for him in my heart. Not from the place of annoyance of the superficial things that bother me, but from the place he keeps in my heart. He provides me comfort when I need it most, which is so very often. He has been my rock with all my mental health struggles. If I allow him in, he will always listen to what I need to say.

As for the love my life, my little girl; we are so blessed to start every day anew! I pray for the patience and forgiveness of myself and for patience and wisdom with her. I know in my heart I am a good mommy to her, that she loves me, and that yelling at her is not acceptable! I make a conscious decision today and every day to let my gentleness be known to her. I have to stop blaming myself and going into an anxiety episode every time I mess up! Last night was probably not the last time I will mess up being her mom. Like Rachel Hollis says: “hope is not a strategy”, so I will not hope our relationship will get better, I will continue to pray for a patience and wisdom to do what is right. I will take action by continuously using my DBT skills, and planning for piano practice to change the structure to fit with her learning style.

Things that help me:

  • The willingness, in these moments of frustration, to practice and use my Dialectical Behavioural Skills (“DBT”):

GIVE:

  • be Gentle with others
  • act Interested in others
  • Validate others’ feelings
  • use an Easy manner. Be light hearted.

FAST:

  • be Fair to yourself and others
  • don’t over Apologize
  • Stick to your values
  • Truthfull – be honest to yourself and other
  • Practicing my faith with intention. I read the book The Universe Has Your Back by Gabrielle Bernstein, it is not a Christian book, but more a book of believing in a high power, but what I love about the book is the intentional practice every day to connect to your own higher power. Whatever that might look like. This is not a blog for converting anyone into any type of faith, but my faith is mentioned because of the power it gives me. God is my higher power and if I connect with Him, everything in my life just flows a little smoother. I have that sense that I don’t have to be afraid of the feelings that haunt me because God’s got my back.

 

  • Intentionally striving for better every day. I don’t tend to compare or idolize other moms or wives but I idolize and compare myself to the mom and the wife I will be tomorrow. Tomorrow I am going to do everything just a little better than I did it today!

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I was recently hospitalized for about 6 weeks. I checked myself into a hospital for various issues. One being that I was exhauster. I know what you’re thinking. I have a 5, 13 and 18 year old, have a full time job, my kid is basically in every fricken sport you can possibly imagine; so yeah, no kidding you are tired. But I was exhausted up to the point where I felt like I was going to pass out at any point, my heart was racing all the time and I was sweating like I had a big binger the night before. I was taking heavy medication for sleep and anxiety at night. Even though I felt like I was sleeping I never felt rested in the morning. So the rollercoaster was, that on top of the physical symptoms I was also waking up feeling like the day ahead of me was impossible, I was feeling so tired that I did not know how I was going to have any patience for my family, not even to mention utter a word at them. I just wanted to stay in bed and sleep! I know many of these symptoms are that of depression but the tiredness was what I couldn’t handle. At this point I was so desperate for real sleep that I was willing to end it. I kept wondering, “What if I just take all the meds I have in my medicine drawer?”

I spent my 6 weeks in the hospital, they changed my meds and off I went back to reality. Forward about 6 months and I am back exactly where I was before. I wasn’t depressed, because of the treatment I had received in the hospital, I have been off work, they changed my depression meds, but the sleep was horrific. Now I was having a hard time falling asleep, I was waking up in the middle of the night and couldn’t go back to sleep and waking up early and again couldn’t go back to sleep. I couldn’t even take a nap. As I write this, it reminds me of that book “Go the Fuck to Sleep.” LOL. Before at least I could fall “asleep” and stay asleep. I wasn’t awake all night with my own thoughts, racing through my head.

I finally decided to see my doctor and I was determined not to walk out of his office until I have every referral possible to figure out what was going on with me. Not just with how tired I was feeling, but all my health concerns. I didn’t want to end up back in the hospital! My doctor, whom I also personally know, had a big chat with me. Here is the big ah hah moment: he asked me if I realized how much diet and exercise effect my energy levels. I just want to make this very clear, I am a pretty smart girl, but never had I given it much thought that my diet could affect me this much that it could influence how tired I felt during the day. I mean I know food gives you energy but in my mind, this was not going to solve my tiredness. My doctor actually reduced my meds and made me promise to keep a journal for a week and write down everything I eat, try to eat 3 meals a day and go for a 30 minute walk. This made my heart drop. Asking me to eat is like asking me to run a marathon without training for it. Not just when I am depressed or simply having a busy day, most days I simply don’t eat. And what I mean by that is that some days I may have one meal a day when my husband begs me to eat, but other than that I just don’t eat. I just don’t feel hungry.

In addition I have a very strange relationship with food. I am lucky that I don’t seem to ride the rollercoaster weight problem, but that is probably because I don’t feed my body and what stresses me out is that as I get older and I eventually start to eat I will just put on the weight like there is no tomorrow. I don’t like the taste of a lot of food, especially fruits and some vegetables. The texture puts me off and I gag when I eat certain fruits as soon as it hits my mouth. Most of the time I have these visions in my head of what food would taste like at supper time and I want to cringe. Some days the simple thought of food makes me sick.

During the week I was instructed to keep a diary I happened to listen to the podcast “Rise” by Rachel Hollis. By the way, I love the inspiration this woman gives. Do yourself a favour and go check her out! Links are on my “Favourite Things” page. She was interviewing Kelly LeVeque who wrote the book Body Love. Kelly explained on this podcast how your body processes food. Whether you are eating cake or vegetables, your body processes it the same but there is very different effect it has on your blood sugar level. She further explained that carbs, other than fiber which never turns to fat, that do not get absorbed by your liver, which is stored as fuel, and your muscles, gets stored as fat. Thus, when you look at a food label again, look at the amount of carbs, subtract the fiber, and the remainder of the carbs are absorbed by your bloodstream. So for e.g. cake has a ton of carbs and almost no fiber, so the body stores the carbs it needs in the liver and muscles and the remainder of that cake is fat. The vegetable is almost all fiber so no fat. Because vegetables is almost all fiber, it slowly releases into your blood sugar and therefore does not jack-up your blood sugar level. When your blood sugar is spiked you also have a spike in insulin which in turn makes your crave carbs and it turns into the snowball effect. You feel shaky, your hangry, which in turn makes you irritable, you eat more carbs, your blood sugar is jacked, insulin spikes, you crash and it all starts again.

So all of the above I found interesting, but what I found more interesting was her solution. She designed the Fab Four Smoothie, which provides you with all the nutrients you need, and in return, the energy you need which I was supposedly in lack off. I am not going to rehash the whole book. You need to read it as it gives a lot of further information than I just rehashed and ways to change your lifestyle. What I love about it is that it is not a diet. The smoothie however sounded like a huge solution for me. If the flavour is there, I can have a smoothie for every meal, as for now (and I know it is not a long-term solution to have smoothies for every meal) it helps me put some very healthy and awesome nutrients into my body that I would never have imagined eating. The fab 4 smoothie combines four things: leafy greens, fiber, fat and protein.

I made a commitment to myself to drink one of Kelly’s smoothies every day for a month to see how I would feel. When it comes to my energy levels, it would have to make a significant difference for me to admit it. I didn’t want to make a change to my life that was only going to help me a little bit. I was determined and wanted a significant change. I needed my level of tiredness to lift as I was feeling so desperate to feel better so I could actually enjoy doing things with my family again. This smoothie I was drinking was making me feel AMAZING!!! Literally, I felt like I had more energy, I wasn’t as tired as I always was and my stomach didn’t bloat as it usually did from eating. Two months later and I am still drinking my smoothie every morning and sometimes even at night when I cannot fathom putting food in my mouth.

Drinking these smoothies was not the only thing I have changed. I started working out again, drinking a ton more water than I used to and taking time to take care of myself. These are all blogs for another day.

Here’s the thing; being healthy when you have never been healthy is hard! There is a lot of habits that I had to and still have to break to keep this going. Eventually I have to actually start eating the food that is healthy for me and not drenched in some sort of dressing or sauce to hide the taste. We all have to start somewhere. Eating healthy might not come naturally to me, but this is a choice I get to make every day. God has given me the privilege to have a choice and therefore it is my responsibility to make the right one, not just for me, but for the little girl that watches my every move. Life is all about the choices we make! I might get a lot of negative feedback from this statement, but even depression is a choice. I can decide to take my medication, if needed, or not. I can decide to get out of bed or not. If the depression is kicking my but I can decide to go see a doctor, go to the hospital, see my therapist or not. I am not talking about severe cases of depression. There are places depression can take you where you are not safe, what I am talking about is the process of managing depression before it gets to that point. STOP COMPLAINING!! Get up, take action, however this looks, and change it. You don’t really get to complain unless you are making to choices to try and get better. This has taken me a long time to learn and I have felt sorry for myself a lot! I have mentioned this before, and this statement is such a vital part of me; radical acceptance will set you free! It is only once you accept that you are prone to depression, anxiety, eating issues, etc. that you can stop fighting it. Once you accept that, only then can you decide to change it around!!

The RISE podcast with Kelly Leveque can be listened as this link: https://open.spotify.com/show/7IjK2aH3JBpI7nzqGrN6o0

This blog is not an advertisement for Rachel Hollis or Kelly Leveque and no payment if received for the information provided in this blog.

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What is the point to this life if I am just going to feel depressed all the time, feel like a failure as a mom and a wife whilst at the same time have everything I need when there are so many people out there that have way less than me? When I say way less than me, I mean waaay less than me, to the point of starvation with no fresh water to drink.

When I was 18 years old, I moved to Canada from South Africa. I had “escaped” my father’s emotional abuse and the family, that I was convinced no longer loved me, because heaven forbid you abandoned your parents. My mother, who moved to Canada when I was ten, which is another blog for later, bought me a one-way ticket to give me a better life. There was no money for me to go to university in South Africa, so really this was a huge gift. In my mind, everything was going to be better in Canada; I was going to be with my mom, have the opportunity to go to university and I was going to live as they do in the movies. Right! Well, within the first 2 years, I realized that my relationship with my mother that I had put on a “she is the best mom and is going to fix all my problems” pedestal was very broken, and living as they do in the movies was not so impressive either. Who knew? I was alone; I missed my friends and family back home, I missed speaking the language and the values I had grown up with. It all seemed lost and so was I. I did go to university and got my Chartered Accountant designation, which to this day, is probably one of my proudest accomplishments, given where I came from.

My first summer during university I spent with my mom. We barely spoke for the most part of the summer and by the end of it, I had made up my mind that I was moving back to South Africa. The last weekend of the summer there was a South African festival in town; I cried all the way walking there, as I could no longer stand the silence between me and my mom and the longing for home. As I got to the gate of the park there was a very attractive man (let’s call him John) selling tickets to the festival. He was also South African and asked me to come and hang out with him and his friends after he was done selling tickets for the festival. Within a few weeks, I had made a bunch of South African friends and I was dating a South African man. Everything felt like it was going to be okay again. When I met his parents, I felt like I was home and no longer needed to return to South Africa as I had created my own little South Africa within Canada. John and I were great friends, even great lovers at some point in time, but there were also a lot of fighting. I had never been in a relationship before and I thought that maybe this was normal. We got married, even though I was confident that I did not want to marry him, but out of fear of what people might think I did not dare say a word. I held on to this relationship for dear life, I wanted him to love me unconditionally. I started to fear every time he drove somewhere that he might die. For fear of him not loving me as much as I wanted him to love me I started cutting myself. We fought a lot as things started to unravel. There were many pressures in our relationship, other than my mental health withering.   For our one-year anniversary, he took me camping with his parents. As his parents had caused many of the other pressures in our marriage, I had had enough. In my mind, I was convinced he did not love me. He told me he would never choose his family over me and I was done settling to be second best. Not long after our camping adventure I was admitted into the hospital, as I could no longer keep going with the heavy struggle in my mind. I loved John, I did not want a failed marriage, but I so deeply wanted and needed to be loved and accepted by him and his family. While hospitalized I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. I am not sure if we were too young to deal with such a diagnosis and to overcome our marital problems but the fights increased and I distanced myself more and more. At the beginning of 2009, I left our home. Again, I found myself alone and very scared and unsure of what my future holds.

I spent about a 2 years in an apartment downtown Calgary and I was convinced that I no longer needed my medication. I was out of this marriage, even though there were times that I begged John to take me back as I got these waves of uncertainty. I was drinking every day, doing drugs on the weekend, smoking a pack a day until one day I no longer wanted to get out of bed. I remembered my friend, who lived above from me, came down and asked to come party with them and I said no. All I wanted to do was sleep. I failed one of my chartered accountant module exams, setting me back a year in my studies, as I just could not do anything anymore. I wanted to die.

During the time I lived downtown, I started dating a man I had met at work a few years back. I thought dating him would make everything better again, but instead our relationship eventually turned for the worst, just like me and John’s did. We got in bad fights where I would get extremely angry, and opposite to John, Dave got mad back and fought back to a point where it got physical. I had no idea what to do with my feelings of anger so I starting hitting and sometimes even throwing things. These were all the emotions and behaviours I hated from my childhood and here I was becoming my angry father. I was completely out of control. I had no idea who this person was that I had become.

I was out drinking with my friends one night, and after we left the bar I fell down on the ground and refused to get back up. I had enough! My friends called 911 and I was taken to the hospital once again. I broke up with Dave, as I knew at this point, the same emotions I felt with John, I felt with Dave. The same behaviours occurred. I was 26 years old and I was spiraling down so fast my head was spinning.

Again, the psychiatrist at the hospital diagnosed me with Borderline Personality Disorder. This was the third diagnoses by a third psychiatrist! What the fuck? Why do they keep diagnosing me with this disorder? I guess I need to start looking into this diagnoses, what it even means and do something about it. This was the first time anyone mentioned Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) to me. Dave and I got back together a couple months after being hospitalized. I told him about the diagnoses and   he wanted to be there for me and help me! I just could not believe that he was willing to stay and not run away.   That December, I was accepted into the DBT program offered thought Alberta Health Services.

DBT is a cognitive therapy that is offered in combination with skill training groups. There are four modules of skill groups to complete focusing on mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance and interpersonal effectiveness. I had a designated therapist assigned to me and saw a psychiatrist about once every quarter.   I completed all my modules and was in therapy for about a year under this program. In this year, I was able to get to a place where I, for the most part, could control my anger outburst and self-harm episodes by using the distress tolerance skills. My relationship with Dave improved significantly as I learned how to control my anger and effectively asked for what I needed, and validate his feelings.

Here’s what stuck with me the most: By changing your behavior, you can change your emotions and in return you change your thoughts! As an example. Even though I feel angry with Dave because he didn’t return my call, I am going to decide to give him the benefit of the doubt and not act on my anger when he comes home. Instead, we spend a wonderful evening together and we do not argue; in return, I experience thoughts of happiness instead of anger. By choosing to not be angry, at that point in my life, was tremendous hard work and I had to use my distress tolerance and emotion regulation skills. This might seem like common sense but for someone with BPD it is not, as it was never taught as a child. Being angry is a choice and I know being angry is easier than to be happy. Isn’t it so much easier to complain about your job than it is to be incredibly greatful that you have one. Especially if you are depressed, I think we can easily get caught in that downward spiral. Do you see how I changed my thoughts by purely changing my behaviour?

So is the struggle worth it? Yes, because I went through all that pain and intense internal suffering, to learn how to be patient and learn to control my anger when I get frustrated with my daughters. Yes, because through my therapy, both my husband and I are able to learn the value of communication in order to meet each other’s needs and have an amazing marriage. I am not saying our marriage is perfect, but we are good at communicating and meeting each other halfway without killing each other. Life is not always easy but we need to open our eyes to the pain and suffering and look for what we’ve learned from it in order to contribute to our life to live our best life! I am not sure who said this, but I love the quote: “God’s gift to me is my life; how I live my life is my gift to God!”

Things that helped me:

  1. The willingness to help myself – I did not, nor did I want to accept the diagnosis of BPD for 8 years. It was only after I realized what I will be missing, the things in life that I want the most if I don’t get help, that I started wanting the help. No one in this world can make you better or convince you to go to therapy or change. Sometimes we need to hit rock bottom before we realize we need help. You can bring the horse to the water but you can’t make him drink it.
  2. Having a community – your community do not have to be huge, but having the support of Dave, my husband, and my incredible friends changed the whole game for me.

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