My father was shot dead a bit over two years ago. That day plays over and over in my mind as if I’d watched everything unfold on a TV screen. It was on a very cold and wet Wednesday evening when I received a call from my not so little sister, asking me to rush to Alexandra Police Station because something had happened to Papa.
Many different scenarios played out in my head as to what might have gone wrong, my Dad was a chronic diabetic and I was expecting to hear that he had been hit by a stroke. He had survived many other diabetes related afflictions and of them all, I dreaded the possibility of a stroke. Would he survive? In fact, Mdala, as we used to call him had been amputated twice before and remembering his survival gave me a glimmer of hope that all might be well. Had I been given the opportunity to choose between death or a stroke for my father, the obvious choice of a stroke would have been embraced with open arms. The choice was not mine to make.
The police station had an eerie energy, I recall feeling a deep sadness overcome me when I arrived. It had been declared a crime scene, very strange, I thought to myself. In that very moment I knew death that the dark cloud of death had visited us as a family. There would be no more opportunities to tell him he was going to be okay, as was the norm whenever illness reared its head. A secret fear that my father would lose his life in the line of duty came to life. It had been with me since I could make sense what it was that my father did to put bread on the table. Falling asleep was extremely difficult whenever he had to work nightshift, anxiety kept me up until I heard the gate open. The time didn’t matter, I needed to hear the gate open so I could be at ease that he had returned home. My father lost his life in the line of duty. Inside a police station, a place of safety.
The day of the funeral finally arrived following a week and a half of preparations. I am not particularly comfortable with saying that the events leading up to and after the funeral went well, yet I was at peace with all the proceedings. My father, my hero was sent off like the King that he is. The magnitude of his funeral is a testament to this fact, he was great a man and I am extremely honoured to call him my Father.
All that took place between the time I got the call and the funeral is blurred, I was functioning on reserve energy. To deal with the trauma, I deployed my trusted method of drifting out of my body. This defence mechanism had served me very well over the years, however this time was different. The reality that I was down one parent knocked me out cold. There was a hole in my heart and only my Father could fill it.
Completely bewildered I slipped into a deep depression, life lost all its meaning. His death halted my ability to feel any type of emotion, I lost the ability to love even myself. Depression is extremely intrusive because it exists in a very sacred space, the mind. When it takes over, it allows negative thoughts only. One feels like they’re in a bottomless pit of sadness and anger. Always fighting to be freed from the clutches of anxiety. It places a gagging order on your emotions. It can dent your soul, be careful.
It is most at home behind the loudest person in the room, or even the one with the most amazing smile ever. Those who are concerned with fixing the world are usually crying out loud for some type of help, they are deflecting attention from themselves. Strangely enough, while conducting my superman duties, I developed feelings of bitterness and resentment towards people because it seemed like nobody cared about my wellbeing.
At one stage, I wanted to pull a permanent disappearing act and tap out from a world, which seemed to be brutally cold towards me. It was that bad!! I had to get out of it, there was absolutely no way I was going to participate in my own demise. Not on my father’s grave anyway. My mind had to be changed, and it did.
There is no shortcut out of depression, you must visit the thoughts which have always tormented you and flush them out of your system. On some days the fight does not seem to be worth it, life does not pause and wait for you to deal with yourself. The very mind you’ve used to feed negativity to, must now be nourished with positive thoughts. It is a messy affair, however that the fight to get out is worth it.
As a matter of fact, I am grateful to have worked through my depression because it has placed me in a much better position as a human. It has taught me many great lessons, chief of which is love. Not the romantic type of love, but self-love. I strongly believe that one can only ever truly feel and embrace love from others if they are able to love themselves. And with self-love comes gentleness and a much deeper understanding of people.
My understanding of why numerous folks can succumb to addiction is much clearer now. Addiction and suicide seem to be the only sensible options out of it. Only because it is painful to deal with. For man, it seems as if life is out to get them. Some get it right after what feels like forever, unfortunately for others that day never arrives. A hard truth to accept is that you can never run away from yourself, this is what most people try and do.
What may help those in need, is to put their hand up and ask for help. It is easy to do that, but the choice to do so is difficult. It may surprise you as to how many people are available to listen to your story. To those who have the capacity to listen, just listen, your time is the difference between life and death, literally.