“Not waving, but drowning”- The battle against depression

I first came across the poem ‘Not Waving but Drowning’ by Stevie Smith in high school and I remember even then, it hit me in the gut, and over the years I have returned to it time and again because it so aptly describes how I feel a lot of the times.
Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.
If you want to know what depression feels like, the gaping chasm that sometimes feels like it’s eating your heart, a chasm in which you can scream as much as you like but no one ever hears you, then read this poem. It says the dead man lay moaning and nobody heard him. That’s what depression is like. It’s like death whispering at you even in your happiest moment, when you should be rejoicing it whispers ‘this won’t last, you know it won’t’ or even worse yet, ‘this is a dream, it’s not real, enjoy the adrenaline while it lasts, because soon it will be gone…you know I’m right.’
And even worse, it feels like it is your condition alone to carry – only the dead man lay moaning; no one else heard him but they heard each other…
Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he’s dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way, They said.
‘He always loved larking…’ That is what they think…people wonder how someone who seems so strong, seems so capable and gifted and beautiful and whatever it is could take their own life…
There was a song I heard years ago and I remember I could never get the one line out of my head… ‘I was always on the outside looking in’.
A dis-associative feeling, like somehow you consciously know you are in the world but you feel far apart from it and all those around you. Many people have felt it but it is hard to describe and worse yet explain to someone else.
Oh, no no no, it was too cold always (Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.
I really find the final stanza fascinating: It is poignant sad and for once quite clear in meaning… ‘it was too cold always’, and because he is dead, he is truly beyond help – ‘I was much too far out all my life and not waving but drowning.’
Are you drowning and everyone else thinks you are waving? Putting on that winning smile, clapping your hands so you stay in beat with the rhythm of this life – people’s expectations that you are struggling to live up to? Your own expectations for yourself? Your own limitations? Feeling trapped in the shadow of other people’s successes and afraid to say how you really feel – frail, unaccomplished, unwanted, unheard and misheard, like an outsider? Is that you too saying, ‘Im not waving I’m drowning!’ and no one hears your screams or sees your frantic flailing in the deep deep waters of life against a never-ending onslaught of waves, each new one bigger than the last and threatening to overwhelm and sink you to depths where no one else can reach you?
Well you are not alone. I have been drowning not waving and for a long time unable to articulate it. To speak it out loud. That life is too hard. The world is too big and sometimes, many times we will be standing in the middle of a crowded street screaming our lungs out and not a soul will stop or see or hear us.
Never has that scripture been more profound to me that we are strangers in this land –
For I am a stranger with You,
A sojourner, as all my fathers were.’
And sadder still – everyone is screaming. They may not tell you, but they are screaming too. But if you are reading this you are still alive. Unlike the man in the poem who is now an afterthought, gone like vapour in the wind – you are still breathing. You are not alone. You are not forsaken. You are not forgotten.
“But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me, And my Lord has forgotten me.
Can a woman forget her nursing child, And not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, Yet I will not forget you.
See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands;
Your walls are continually before Me.
Your sons shall make haste;
Your destroyers and those who laid you waste
Shall go away from you.”
(Isaiah 49:14-17)
“Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.”
(Psalm 61:1-3)
You are not alone and I am not alone, and while we yet breathe there is hope for a better day.
Quintessentially Yours,
QF Chiratidzo

GOD heals broken hearts

June has never been my favourite month.

It reminds me of the worst season of my life when I lost someone I loved very dearly. I vividly remember that Thursday night when I got the news and I don’t think I will forget that moment. I literally fell to my knees and cried from the deepest part of my heart. I had never cried like the way I did in that moment. I couldn’t believe it. I was in shock.

I tried to sleep but I couldn’t.  Each time I closed my eyes I saw his face. I did manage to sleep though very briefly and I had a dream about him. I woke up crying. Getting out of bed the following morning was a huge challenge.  I barely ate that day. I think I only ate cereal the whole day. I could not stomach anything else. Again that night I did not sleep. I spent the whole night on the phone. Family called to see how I was doing because they knew just how close we were and everyone was worried about me. I was crying but it had not sunk in yet that he was gone.

The following day Saturday was the day of the burial. Someone back home kept me updated on the funeral proceedings. I completely lost it when I received a text saying “we are on our way to Warren Hills this is it.” This was it. This was the end I said to myself. Seeing the pictures of his final resting place broke me.

They say the day after the burial is the hardest and indeed it was. That Sunday morning I could not wake up for church in fact I only got out of bed late in the afternoon. I did not eat anything till one of my friends brought me some food in the evening. That night I had to force myself to sleep because I had class the following day but again I did not sleep. First class of the day was Grief and Loss Counselling where we spent the entire class talking about death and funerals. I cannot remember how many times I walked out of the class to go cry in the bathrooms. It was that difficult to concentrate.

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Losing this person broke me in ways I cannot even begin to describe. I went through stages of grief over and over again. One moment I was in shock, the next in denial. Then I entered into the anger stage but I would alternate between anger and despair for the next few months.

I stopped going to church. I stopped praying. I stopped worshiping. I stopped reading the word. If God was so good how come He had not healed this person I loved so dearly? If God was so good why would He hurt me like this? This went on for many months. I was hurting real bad. My pain became the only thing I spoke about. That season of my life saw me losing some close friends because they lost patience with me, I guess hearing about my pain became too much for them to such a point that one friend at the time even told me to stop grieving for him because she had lost a parent and losing a parent was the worst pain. All I said in response to that was yes I don’t know the pain of losing a parent but what I know is I am in pain right now and from now on I will not bother you with my pain and just like that the friendship ended.

Fast forward to today. The anniversary of this person’s death is fast approaching. Of course I will cry and hurt on the day and probably days after that too. I do hurt and miss him a lot, I miss him everyday when I see something that I would like to share with him. I miss him when I listen to music. I miss him when I watch football and always wonder what he would say about his beloved ManU. I miss him in my good times and I miss him in my bad times BUT one thing I can confidently say is that God has healed my broken heart. I cannot say when or how exactly it happened but my heart is no longer broken.

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I know without a shadow of doubt that GOD HEALS BROKEN HEARTS. I am a living testimony of this from having stopped going to church and talking to God for many many months to be where I am today, it could have only been God.

Right now you may be hurting because of a break up, the loss of a loved one, the loss of an opportunity or experiencing heartbreak because of some other reason but please know this broken hearts do heal. Let God bind up your wounds. Let God heal you. Let Him make you whole. Let Him make you complete again. Jesus not only knows but He also understands your pain and your sorrow. Allow Him to carry this burden for you and help you heal. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you everyday.

You will smile again. You will laugh again. You will love again because God is a mender of broken hearts.

Quintessentially yours,

QF Colleen

Dealing with depression: A resident QF shares…

The one thing that I have consistently been told that stands out about me is my infectious smile. A lot of people have said that I have one of the widest grins. I have even been told by some teachers at my children’s school that I brighten their mornings with my genuine, earnest smile. And yet!…. Deep down I am a wreck, crumbling at every turn. I guess my smile has been my way of dealing (or not dealing) with the real issues that have haunted me throughout my life. Having suffered physical, emotional and sexual abuse from an early age I learnt to counter the negative aspects of my life with an outgoing personality and a generous smile. I have years of experience in masking my pain, my anguish and my rage. It was not until quite recently that I managed to open up because all my life I felt like telling the truth about my misery would make me unpopular and unattractive; a burden.

Have you ever had those moments when you feel overwhelmed and it seems as though you’re losing all control?  The times when you just cannot stop crying and yearning for a kind word, a gentle touch, some real tenderness. Have you felt guilty for wanting more? Has it felt like you were being selfish, as if you did not appreciate what you had? Well, I have had those feelings quite a lot.

When I was about eight or nine I was diagnosed with a heart condition that left me feeling totally out of sorts but that did not stop me from doing the things that I loved like being outdoors, swimming, playing hockey and basketball and taking long walks with friends. During my low moments I was left alone a lot and this led to my first experience with depression. I felt lonely and left out and tried to take my own life from the age of twelve. However, God had a higher purpose for me because I lived despite several suicide attempts.

I also grew up in a home where domestic violence was rife and this affected me even more adversely. I died every time I saw my mum soaked in blood and tears. I tried running away from home but I was too ill to go too far for too long. I turned to self blame and tried to be the best child I could be. I did very well at school, did my chores diligently and was a great big sister to my siblings but the trauma would not stop. At one point I was molested in our own home while my parents slept in the next room but kept that trauma to myself for fear of worsening the domestic strife that was already at its peak. The abuse carried on for I don’t remember how long. Well I guess it was until the perpetrator stopped living with us. Still I kept it to myself until very recently. I hid my anguish behind my brilliant smile and my brilliant mind.

Over the years a lot has happened that has led me deeper into my hole of despair including losing both my parents, (my mum died before my eyes, in my arms), my brother, friends, our family home, my job and my sheer sense of worth and self-respect. To top it all off I continued to struggle with my health and in addition to the heart condition I was also diagnosed with epilepsy. With each blow I lost more hope and loved myself less. I have fallen a thousand times, and hanging by a thread I have barely managed to pick myself up a thousand more times.

Through all the negative things that have happened to me I have learnt that I have a higher purpose than the pain and grief that I feel. I have been blessed with beautiful, kind children and a loving, committed husband who needs me to take charge of my life. Things are not always rosy, sometimes my kids drive me up the wall and I sometimes feel like killing my husband, but I am truly blessed. I have a lot of the things that most women aspire for… family, friends, a lovely home, car, a career and yet I struggle with depression still.

My outlet has been going back to the basics, taking long walks where I get to meditate and talk to my God. During these moments I get to appreciate my surroundings and find hope and inspiration in what I see all around me. During the good moments I even get to relive the beautiful moments of my childhood and focus on the person that I have always wanted to become.

I don’t always get the support or attention I feel that I need. In fact, more often than not I have to deal with my issues on my own. I still have moments when I feel overwhelmed and my spirit is low but I have now committed to reclaiming my life, fulfilling my destiny and living the life that my children will benefit from. In fact, “my children” has extended to children born to other women and I now focus on reaching as many children as I can with my advice and love. I mostly do this through donating my time and resources to meeting the children’s needs. I have found that focusing on others, particularly the most vulnerable has not only been a positive distraction, it has also uplifted my spirit and given back my sense of worth, while serving others who may or may not be experiencing the things that I experienced as a child and young adult.

My advice is to commit to walking, or crawling away from one’s personal disappointments, to seek Godly counsel and support, to pray (loudly or quietly) all the time, to keep reminding yourself of the positive things in your life, and to give whatever you can to others. In giving you definitely will receive so much more than you could ever perceive… even your long lost joy.

It is not an easy road but depression can be conquered, just refuse to give up on yourself.

Quintessentially Yours,

QF Edith

 

Overcoming depression: My journey towards the LIGHT

I am so grateful for all the women who have been so forthcoming with their stories on surviving depression thus far. What is clear is that the issue of depression and anxiety in Zimbabwean society is very much a pandemic; one which many of us choose to turn a blind eye to out of lack of knowledge or sheer misunderstanding.

This week’s writer has chosen to remain anonymous as she shares her story. We hope that readers will be encouraged by noting that one can emerge a true victor from the perils of this condition through prayer, commitment to getting help and powering through until the healing process is complete.

Anonymous QF writes in Part 1 – The Dying of the Light:

I don’t remember at what point the light began to fade in my life.

As a young child I was happy, free-spirited and cheerful, even if I was always a little quiet. I had a classic, wholesome upbringing in what I now refer to as “the Old Zimbabwe”- an era where power cuts were few and far between and the Zimbabwe Dollar was still legal tender. I excelled in academics at both junior and high school, and was often rewarded on prize giving night. My circle of friends, although small, was tight-knit and forged on genuine friendships, most of which have lasted into my adulthood. My parents, both successful business leaders, raised my siblings and I in a loving, Christian home where our individuality was celebrated and nurtured. Looking at my idyllic childhood, there was no indication that I would one day face the demon known as depression.

Depression. For a long time, I couldn’t even name my affliction. All I knew is that at some point in the transition from childhood, to the angst-ridden teenage years and finally, to young adulthood, a palpable darkness descended over my life, transforming me from the carefree little girl of my youth to a withdrawn, painfully insecure young woman, battling to maintain a brave face even while the sickness in my soul threatened to overwhelm me. Although there was no specific event that I can point to that signalled this cataclysmic shift, in hindsight I believe the sudden death of one of my closest friends at the end of high school may have triggered my descent into depression. There were other factors that came into play though.

Throughout my high school years I always felt different from the other kids, like I didn’t quite fit in. I was so uncomfortable in my own skin, I would try to make myself as small and unnoticeable as possible. So great was my fear of drawing attention to myself that I remember sitting in class, refusing to put my hand up when the teacher had asked a question, even while the right answer echoed in my mind. I also believed I was unattractive and untalented. My older sister was the beautiful, talented one. Not only was she popular, but she seemed to excel at just about anything she set out to do at school, whether it was sports, singing or acting. For a while, I tried to do all the activities that she did, thinking that if I could be as good as her, maybe I would be popular too. I had to abandon this course of action when it turned out I wasn’t nearly as good at any of these activities as she was. To exacerbate my shame, teachers and other adults who knew my sister assumed that I would naturally follow in her footsteps.

Random Adult – “Your sister has such a beautiful voice? Does it run in the family?”

Me- *Blank stare*.

To make up for my self-perceived inadequacies, I told myself I had to excel at the only thing I was good at – academics. And in this endeavour, I resolved to take no prisoners. Failure was not an option. I had to be perfect, hide behind a veneer of academic achievements and accolades or else everyone would see what I was so desperate to hide– that I was a nobody, a sham, good for nothing. It was this kind of negative self-talk that my inner voice fed to my soul, day in and day out, until I internalised this destructive dialogue and made it my truth.

To top it all off, I was highly secretive. I couldn’t share any of my true feelings with my loved ones because they would be disappointed in me. I was their bright little academic,  the one who never got into any trouble. I couldn’t let anyone see how much I disliked myself and wished the ground would just open up and swallow me. So I resolved to keep my own counsel. No matter what was going on inside, my standard response to the question, “Are you okay” would be “I’m fine”, spoken with a bright smile, even if the smile didn’t quite reach my eyes.

By the time I enrolled at university, I had perfected the art of wearing a mask to hide how I was really feeling inside. This, together with the combination of my natural reserve, secretive nature and low self esteem created the ideal emotional environment for the seeds of depression to germinate and take root. On the surface, I had everything going for me. Not only had I had been accepted into one of the top universities in South Africa, I had been awarded a scholarship based on my “A” level results that would cover 50% of my tuition fees. My parents had never been more proud. As this was the first time I would be away from the comfort of my childhood home, it was agreed that my mother would fly with me to South Africa to help me to settle into my new life as a college student.

Upon our arrival on campus, I was informed by student housing that despite my accommodation having been fully paid for and confirmed, the student accommodation was “overbooked” and I would be placed in “transit” accommodation whilst waiting for a space to open up. I was unperturbed by this news for the first week because my mother insisted that I stay with her at the pretty little guest lodge she was staying. This meant that not only did I get to spend the day shopping at Woolies and exploring the sights in Cape Town with my mum, I was also not subjected to the underwhelming food the rest of the students were eating at the student residence. It was only after my mother waved her goodbyes at the end of that first week that reality sank in. I was placed in an all-female transit residence which housed predominantly Black South Africans. For the first time in my 18 years of existence, I was alone in a foreign country, living in a room the size of a matchbox, together with another South African girl. All around me were people speaking a variety of South African languages which I could neither understand nor participate in. My loneliness was exacerbated by the fact that my roommate barely acknowledged my existence, insisting on speaking exclusively in Xhosa with her many friends who flitted in and out of our room on a daily basis. My shy nature prevented me from approaching any of the girls and attempting to strike up a conversation.

By the second week of orientation (“O-Week”), I had been allocated a place in one of the all-female student residences. This however, did little to alleviate my situation. The culture shock, language barrier and unfamiliar environment was overwhelming for me and I withdrew further and further into myself. I didn’t know it at the time, but the seeds of depression had already taken root in my mind, feeding my conscience with negativity and self-doubt. Stepping into the dining room in res for the first time, I had the unshakeable sense that the other girls were staring at me and laughing behind my back. This made me afraid to approach any of them, for fear of confirming what I had already internalised. So I would creep into the dining room, find an inconspicuous table to sit down and wolf down my meal in silence, before fleeing back to the sanctuary of my room.

In spite of my myself, I did manage to make one friend during O-Week, a gregarious, fun-loving girl named Rumbidzai[1].  Though our personalities were polar opposites, we clicked somehow and were soon inseparable. As we were both studying the same degree, we attended most of the same classes.  Like me, Rumbidzai was a natural achiever and had the same work ethic and drive to succeed as I did. In many ways, she was the perfect foil to my character. In Rumbi’s larger-than-life shadow, my unsociable traits became less noticeable, invisible even. She was everything that I was not. She could walk up and talk to that group of cute boys we had both been eyeing or organise a surprise birthday party for a friend.  We became notorious on campus as the good-time girls. We thought nothing of going out clubbing from Thursday through to Sunday, even if we had an assignment due on Monday (which we both knew would be handed in on time, albeit after pulling an all-nighter). We would go out to bars, have drinks and play pool with guys. For a while, things seemed to improve in my life. For the first time, I had attention from the opposite sex. The first time a guy told me I was beautiful, I thought he was mocking me, so well had I internalised the image of myself as the ugly duckling. I didn’t know how to handle this seemingly alien attention from guys and drifted from one relationship to the next, never quite experiencing the happiness that other girls seemed to bask in with their boyfriends.

My new-found social life was however, a flimsy band-aid covering a festering wound. No amount of parties or romantic relationships could get rid of the feeling of utter worthlessness that I hid inside. That’s the thing about depression. Sometimes it can hide in plain sight. People assume that you can always tell when someone is depressed, that something in their facial expressions or body language will act as a cue to their inner pain. While this is true of depression in its worst stage, it is not necessarily obvious in the beginning. To those on the outside, I looked like every other fresher on campus. What they didn’t see were the days I would spend hours in my room with the curtains closed, sobbing under my duvet. Or the fact that I was bulimic, consuming mountains of junk food, only to force myself to bring it up again. Or that I was obsessed with losing weight, spending hours in the gym and counting every calorie, despite the fact that I was naturally slim. Or the fact that I couldn’t bear to leave my room without makeup on because I was convinced I looked hideous without it. I managed to hide all of this from the prying eyes of the outside world by keeping a big smile on my face, by going out every weekend, by maintaining good grades. Even at the height of my depression, I was still achieving some of the highest marks in my class and never once failed a subject.

On the inside however, I was dying. The more my outside life shouted success and confidence, the more I felt like a fraud internally. Without Rumbi to keep me company (she lived in a different residence from me), I began to take food from the dining room in a lunchbox to eat alone in my room, spending more and more time in solitude. Apart from Rumbi and whatever guy happened to be wooing me at the moment, I had no real friends. It’s hard to determine what came first. Was I depressed because I was lonely, or was I lonely because my depression made me moody and unapproachable? As one (honest) girl told me, other girls tended to avoid me because they interpreted my solitude as arrogance. I became increasingly isolated.

It’s hard to describe what it feels like to be depressed unless you’ve experienced it. The best way I can describe it is this – it feels like all the joy and happiness has been sucked out of your life and all that remains is darkness. Negativity. Like a festering black hole in the pit of your stomach that never quite goes away. Even whilst you are laughing and making jokes. It obliterates your hopes and dreams. For a while, you learn to live with this inner hopelessness and despair until it becomes knit into the very fabric of your soul – As familiar as the face of an old friend. And finally, when the darkness starts to overpower you – you start to look for a way out.

[1] Name changed

She called me crying…

By the time I got to her apartment, she was already soaked. Soaked in a bottle of vodka and vomiting violently over the toilet seat. Her weave felt moist and her face was tear-drenched. I was thrown off. I wasn’t sure of what I walked into so I proceeded to grab a t-shirt and pair of sweats from her messy closet as I threw my purse and car keys on her dining room table.

“What’s wrong?”  I choked up, as I had never seen her in such a state.

Saru was the one who had her stuff all the way together. The good job, the swank apartment with expensive furniture that didn’t come in a box for self-assembly, the one that got all the hot guys staring at her on the dancefloor when it was girls’ night out. She was the life of the party, the chick you loved to hate because of the copious amounts of swag she possessed. Saru was that chick who wasn’t supposed to cry. I mean come on why would she? Zvinhu zvake zvose zvaifaya zve! (All her stuff was all the way together!). What on earth was going on?

After a quick shower – which came supervised because to be honest – we couldn’t at this point afford a fall in the bathtub scenario – with her sweats and tee on, she sat down with her legs curled under her. I handed her a cup of water and some Panadol. For a hot second I felt like I was part of the cast in some movie.

Ko chii?” (What’s wrong?)I asked for what felt like the hundredth time.

“Chick you need to eat! Heck how much did you drink?” as I stared at the quarter-full bottle of Barcardi Limon on the kitchen counter.

The house was clean but the kitchen and bedroom were a mess. These two rooms must have been her sanctuary for a bit as I hadn’t seen or heard from her for close to a month.

“I had no choice Chie? I had to go through with it coz mom and dad weren’t having it. Trey was happy to have the baby. He said we would figure it out. But to be honest, the idea of having a baby now, apa Trey doesn’t have his life together either….I couldn’t do it.”

I sat on the couch…numb to what I was hearing. Saru narrated her ordeal about how she had driven herself to the abortion clinic 2 weeks before – and driven herself home after the procedure was done. What I was now witnessing was the afterbirth; the afterbirth of guilt, the questions “why” and “what if I had kept the baby.”

What Saru was going through was deep regret and the earth shattering loneliness that comes with realizing that there was possibly no one around her that could understand what she had done or why she had done it. The light about her life had grown dim. How things change! A month ago we had gone out partying. What was this? Did she know she was pregnant when we were at the club? Questions. I had many. But this was hardly the time to pacify my curiosity. My girl was in a state and…

You see, I had just gotten out of a chaotic set of “friendships” so was doing well to purge myself of the drama at this point. I rubbed Saru’s back as she cried in between the narration of how she thought she was feeling. Once or twice I had to run after her to the bathroom only to watch her dry heave over the toilet. I didn’t know what to do so I just showed up when she needed me. I didn’t know what to say so just listened when she needed to talk.

This went on for months…the listening…the showing up…for months…many many months…

It was a long year after the abortion. Saru battled many dark thoughts and her boyfriend – who had supposedly promised her that they would get through it – well…he stopped picking up her calls two months after the abortion. I never liked him anyway. I thought he was a good looking guy that took advantage of her needy state and bank account well before they even got here. Saru however was the life of the party, so she couldn’t imagine her life without him. He was her party. He doted on her, made like he was all in…but we all knew he was leeching. He was her party and the guy that was going to marry her. So she thought. So she said.

So she gave him everything. Heart, soul and paycheck, she gave him all of it and he took it to his bank. He was the guy that was going to be her husband. All this was her truth until she fell pregnant.

He moved out when the test showed two pink lines. He played sick the day she had to go to the clinic. That’s why she drove herself to and from the place. She didn’t call me. She didn’t call anyone. She called him, but he hadn’t answered at the time she needed him the most. Not on that day. Many times not on the days that followed. So the vodka answered when she came knocking. Somewhere somehow she remembered my number…and called me crying.

Saru became grossly disillusioned about life, its meaning and more so, on the subject of GOD never leaving her. She experienced severe depression to where many of the people she called friends grew distant for lack of knowing what to do to help combat her issues.

Have you ever tried to preach hope to someone who hasn’t quite reached the bottom of the pit but was fast on their way there? I tried. Twas weird though because I wasn’t sure of what I was saying a lot of the time. I didn’t know GOD then like I do now. I was trying to get myself out of my depressed state so it took a lot to just be there for her. I had times when I wanted her to just get over the pain and carry on with life. Everything else in her life seemed to be staying afloat so in my head she needed to just get over guy and bounce back. It wasn’t that easy though. There was a battle that raged within for many a year after that.

Fast forward to now, where Saru is happily married with 3 children. I moved back home and got caught up in my own healing – but we kept in touch. What I love about the woman she is now, is how openly she proclaims her faith in GOD. This to me further illustrates GOD’s ability to heal and restore – ANYBODY.

Back then she seemingly had everything going for her, but loss brought her to true faith. Loss made her a believer. She lost a child through abortion and lost the guy she invested her all in shortly after that. She experienced a hectic downward spiral that few could help with. The pain she experienced as she tried to reclaim her wellbeing took her to JESUS.

I read a WhatsApp message from QF Tendayi Ndoro wherein she said:

“Your battle or struggle is your training ground and it sure isn’t fun when you are in it but when you come out….”

To be honest, I cannot say who Saru would be today had she not gone through what she did, but I do know what it is to experience a season of darkness to the point of drunkenness. She drank to numb the pain and then had to stand under a cold shower just to wake herself up from yet another episode. This was my story for a season in my early twenties. I got it then and I get it now.

JESUS has the power to heal. Many women find themselves struggling with depression on account of loss, rejection, physical and emotional pain, trauma – the list is endless. Depression for Saru became a way of life for over 2 years. She speaks about it now like a disease. She says she cannot relate to the person she was then because of the transformation she has experienced since experiencing Christ’s love. To this I can relate as well. What we must understand though it that the effects of depression and subsequent behaviors can be just as detrimental as any other life threatening disease. Alcoholism, acceptance of abuse, intolerance, suicidal thinking, anxiety disorder and more, are all as a result of particular triggers. Whatever the root cause, no medication can cure more than understanding who you are in Christ.

Saru only found her peace after she committed her life to Christ. It was not an overnight process. The cleansing process took many years as it did for me as we had different reasons surrounding how we found ourselves combatting depression anyway. BUT GOD. GOD heals. I wish there were more public service announcements that emphasize this crucial fact – that GOD HEALS.

If you are struggling with depression, loss, pain or anything that causes you a sadness that you find hard to explain, please reach out to somebody. There are people around you – some you may not even know – that are willing to answer your sms or call. Reach out. They may carry the word you need to start your journey to restoration

Quintessentially yours

QF Yvonne

 

 

The GREATER depression: Introducing #QFOvercomers and sharing testimonies of survival

I sat down and pounded away at my keyboard a few days ago. As I was getting ready to publish my post, the laptop did the thing that makes any blogger and PC dependent cringe – the thing froze and died. It was then I knew that indeed, GOD wanted me to get this message out for someone needed to hear it. I crawled into bed disparaged, as I had given up an afternoon at the park with my cubs to put my thoughts on this topic down. What I did do well on the day though, was to hold an incredible series of conversations on the subject I was typing about with my sisters-in-arms on Whatsapp – (Team #TezviCorp and #TeamQF stand up!!! – love you ladies so much!!!). I got some really detailed insight into this cancer that we all ignore yet it resides so elusively amongst us, lurking in the shadows and darting in and out of our lives between smiles and tears.

This cancer, our people speak so very little about; yet many have lost their lives as they gave up their fight to get out of a deep abyss of pain and suffering. Not tied to race, social class, religion or otherwise, DEPRESSION is a battle that is as real as the rice we inhale for our supper.

The sad truth however, is that in our culture depression is “those other people’s disease” which is often greeted by “kasi ane mamhepo” (“is he/she bewitched”) or “just pray about it” upon sharing one’s ongoing struggles. Too many messages of seemingly incurable anguish from friends, and stories of family members struggling with depression and anxiety have come to my ears in recent weeks. The subject is heavy and difficult to understand but attempt to tackle it according to our understanding we must…

It used to be that you would hear of someone struggling with depression and think “shame, they just need to reevaluate their relationships or stop drinking so much.” Having survived abject anxiety and fear of failure and/or loss and lack myself – like I kid you not – I was crippled for a time by debilitating fear to where I would lay awake at night checking on whether my baby was breathing – I get it when I hear people speak of struggling after having had a baby, or losing someone they love to death or a failed relationship.

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I get it when people’s lives take a downward spiral and they take to drinking, drug use or any other source of temporary appeasement just to numb the sadness, just to silence the voices, just to take the next step into what seems like a deep dark pit anyway. I get it. I was there once upon a time over a decade ago – with bouts somewhere between then and now -and did not what that was all about. YET TODAY I STAND AS A SURVIVOR, grateful for every opportunity to breathe in an exhale, allowing my senses to run rife as I marvel at the goodness that sounds me and most importantly, GOD’s love for me. GOD wanted me here, which is why TODAY I STAND. He wasn’t done with me yet, which is why I will never forget.

Others are not here to stand with you and I however, so with this, we have added a tab on Quintessentialf.com called #QFOvercomers. Our desire is for give women (and men), survivors like you and I, an opportunity to share their struggles and the victory that comes with now living on the other side of depression and anxiety.

So join us on our journey – as we share and work to strengthen each other, one word at a time. Reach out to women around you from time to time; ask the difficult questions if you sense that there is something going on behind the scenes. You never know – you may just be that person that will stop them from going over the edge…

With hopes to inspire a surviving spirit,

QF Yvonne