How Almost DYING Saved My Life

Dying isn’t as painless as we hope.

Instead, it’s like floating in a deep, cool, waterless ocean. It is a sieve, and as you begin to descend, you feel the weightlessness of life begin to leave you. There’s a split second where
you’re caught in the in-between. Therein you must decide. Live or die. The pull
is extraordinarily inviting and you can taste the darkness you so desperately
crave on the tip of your tongue. It is a strange struggle to hold off, it feels
like you’re a rub away from an orgasm and it is in that moment that you choose
to snap awake.

Part 1

I’m unsure of where it started but I can remember feeling my head begin to crack open like
an egg. It was violent and terrifying and stained with red wine. It was me
crying into the phone at 2 am asking my mother to tell me it would be ok. It
was 240 characters of tweets about wanting to die sprawled across my timeline
like spiders. It was staring into lying eyes. It was about feeling angry and
sad and hopeless all at once. It was wailing until the white shook out of my
bones. It was pacing at OR Tambo International Airport. Yelling at my (then)
partner over the phone. Crying in a public bathroom that stunk of shit. More
pacing. Falling asleep on a bench at Gate A1 before my flight. Waking up.
Taking off. Drinking wine. Asking the flight attendant for a refill. Landing
with teeth shattering precision. The calm drive into Windhoek. Taking out
rotten meat from the fridge. Crying. More yelling.

A blacksmith could have used my anger to shape any sword.

I drove without headlights praying for metallic collision. I smoked cigarettes hoping
to make my heart stop sooner. I gargled 3 Alprazolam pills with wine and
crushed a Gillett Razor with the heel of my foot. I held it to my wrist and
slashed my skin open. The warm ooze of blood calmed me but not for long. I
paced and paced. Tore pages out of books. Tried watching YouTube videos. Anger
scorched my throat. Fuck life. Fuck this. I want to die. I want to die. It’s almost 4 am. Sleep.

Part 2

My relationship had been deteriorating for months. It was to the point where
trying to stay together felt a lot like beating a dead Bojack. We were two
pieces of a Lego set that didn’t quite fit. Crystal gems that couldn’t fuse.
Ironically, the idea of separating felt like trying to split one solid colour
into two. We lived together, had a dog and an ill-fitting life plan.

I woke up and sent a text to my partner’s mother;

Hi, I am not ok. I have been

consumed by thoughts of taking my
own life

I am not ok

I watched her bandage my left wrist and sit by me in guard. I felt so bad. So guilty for
rattling this old woman into taking care of me. Something was not right still. I’m not a good person. I’m not a good person.
I was unhinged.

Part 3

I packed my beloved books into brown boxes murmuring under my breath. I made sure to
make a noise, to disturb and disrupt. I wanted no peace and craved chaos. LOOK INTO MY EYES! I wanted to scream,
But my partner carried on, organized the flat, shaved
and sat down to read. I felt abandoned in all honesty, wished I were the word
documents he worked on religiously. CAN

I huffed and puffed my way into the outside room, borrowed a car and got myself two
bottles of wine and a large pizza. Perhaps there is no food in hell. Better to
go there on a full stomach. Logic.

I sat quietly, curtains drawn and began to unwrap the blue alprazolam like sweets.
One, two, three, four, five. Wine. Six? Maybe 7? If it doesn’t kill me, maybe
I’ll sleep for days. I washed down my sins with wine. Sleep.

Later, I had the dream. I’d tasted death and knowing I’d want to again, I fled into the
night. I was a ticking time bomb, the final jump that starts your period. In my
delirious state I craved the depth of darkness but flew into the light.

Part 4

I’m standing outside MediClinic, I’m shaking. I walk in.

“I am a danger to myself and those around me,” I say.

“A nurse will be with you now,” was the receptionist’s reply.

I sat through words that meant nothing to me. Gave my name, answered their questions
teary eyed.

“I just want to die,” I repeated over and over again.

Unmoving and unfeeling, my partner’s mother soon joined me in the trauma room where I
was barely being held together. Soon after, the doctor on duty strolled in.

“Ok ma’am, we’ve managed to get a hold of a psychiatrist but he is in Olympia. Can you get

I looked at my partner’s mother, “I’ll take her,” she said.

Part 5

I don’t remember much but white walls and the stench of cigarettes on the
psychiatrist’s breath. Flashes of nurse badges and the sensation of drowning. I
wasn’t a writer anymore or Masi or @SunsetPunk. I was a patient in a
psychiatric hospital, assigned a room and put to sleep.

The psychiatric ward is everything and nothing. It’s exactly what you’d expect but
different. Everyone in there with you is as fucked up or traumatized. We look forward to our meds. We follow the
schedule. We go to therapy. Rinse and repeat. Day in and day out. What is time?

On whatmust have been my third day there (I’m not sure), the doctor came to see me.

“What’s my diagnosis?” I asked.

She took a deep breath, “Major Depressive Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder.
From your file, it seems you’ve been living with this for about 5 years.”

Good, I know what to Google once I get out of here.

“What does this mean actually?”

“You’re probably going to have to be on medication for the rest of your life. Something
traumatic must have happened in your childhood and Ms. Mbewe, we’ve also found
something else.”


“You have a dependency on prescription drugs and alcohol. We see this a lot in patients
like you that probably have a genetic predisposition to these illnesses.”

*I’d like to pause here and stare down
my bloodline*

“So, I’m not bipolar?”

“No. We haven’t seen you manic but it’s a thin line.”

I just sat there long after she’d left. Thinking. This
explains everything.

I was put on 75mg of Venlor and 50mg of Lamotrigine.

Part 6

After 5 days, I was discharged. They gave me all my things (along with my medication)
in a transparent plastic bag. I walked down the corridor, past the seclusion
room, through the door and into the abyss of the outside world.

In some ways I feel better and worse. I really don’t know who I was these past 5 years
and I don’t know who I will become on these meds. I’ve grown used to going from
one extreme emotion to another so much so that the quietness I now find in my
head disturbs me. I know the medication wont fix everything and that I’ll have
to go to therapy every other week but somehow, I’m glad that the madness in me
finally has a name.

If you or someone you know is
experiencing a crisis, contact the Bel Espirit Mental Health Clinic’s 24/7 Helpline
at 0814550945

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