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Most Challenging Moment:
I always prided myself for my resilience. Despite being quite a sensitive soul, I was quite adept at navigating around problems and overcoming obstacles in both my personal and professional life. However, in 2020, at the height of COVID restrictions, I faced an unprecedented challenge.
My home, which was also rented out to Airbnb guests from time to time, was booked by a group of criminals using a fake ID. The next day, my neighbour called me in a panic. The tenants had reversed a Budget rental truck into my driveway and filled it up with my furniture and possessions.
I froze and felt my chest cramp up but I had to act, and eventually got in the car and called the police.
When I arrived at the house, the door was open and I knew the worst had happened. Not only had I been robbed, the house was completely trashed. My son’s room had burn marks from meth pipes and burns on the carpets and furniture. There were faeces left on the lounge floor and they had broken into a locked room in the garage and taken some of my most valued possessions.
As I stood there surveying the damage with two SAPOL officers, I lost focus and my legs gave way. It was the first time I collapsed.
The inner voice I had that was so good at dealing with difficult situations was missing, and in the following weeks, I found it hard to function. I was often disengaged and started to think dark thoughts about what I wanted to happen to the perpetrators.
I tried to eliminate the events by cleaning the house, lodging the insurance claim and even moving out, but I couldn’t hide the fact that I wasn’t right. I started having panic attacks too, so my partner urged me to get help and that’s when I went on a mental health plan to see a psychologist. Over the next few months, I started to develop a set of coping mechanisms and tools that would help me get through the peaks and troughs.
I think I’m a different person now. I don’t take things or people for granted. My daily self-care includes physical fitness – such as sport, running and yoga. My mental health gets regular checks too and I’m acutely aware of triggers and ensure I don’t wait to do something or talk to someone about it.
Message To Younger Self:
Your carefree nature, your goodwill, and desire to make people laugh and feel happy might define you. But look out for yourself too and for warning signs that you might need help. Don’t bury it.