So today I woke up at 4pm and looked at my phone in hope that it wasn’t 5pm again. An hour earlier than the day before. An accomplishment in my eyes.

Sad thoughts kick in immediately. Another Saturday lost, another day wasted. A feeling of desperation to break out of this cycle suddenly hit me. A feeling which is far too familiar and has been for the last 9 months or so. I’ve been living in and out of this cycle for almost 11 months now.

"Why?" You’ll be asking at this point. "What’s going on?"

Well, the truth is… I’ve been suffering from depression. Yup- that big ugly word that people never seem to fully comprehend or know the existence of until it sneaks into their life and hits them with no warning.

I’ve been suffering from insomnia. I’ve been suffering from self-doubt, low self-esteem and absolute numbness. The worst thing about it all is that I’ve been suffering in silence.

About a month back, I was going through some financial issues at university and on top of that I was suffering from no motivation.

No motivation to go to my classes, no motivation to get out of bed, no motivation to even stay alive. I live in a house comprised of 6 girls, including myself, so on some days I’m not allowed to be depressed. They force me out of it without even knowing. Whether that’s by asking me to come out with them or forcing me to communicate by simply asking me how my day has been. It forces me to leave the solitude zone of my depression.

Today I received news that my baby cousin recently died and was being buried today…

The news struck me so hard that I genuinely had no words, thoughts or comprehension other than those of sadness, confusion and sorrow. What knocked me even further to the pitfalls of my sorrow was the knowledge that she had been in a coma for 3 months before her death. As you can imagine; grief, regret and depression started to attack my already vulnerable soul. I started to experience feelings of regret- why haven’t I contacted my family to check up on them for so long. Have I been so selfishly indulged in my own pain that I forgot to care about others. Have I been able to care for myself, let alone anyone else?

How did I get here? How did I slip?

I slipped the moment I started to forget that a loss or a setback, isn’t a definitive forecast of my life… A bad grade isn’t a reflection of my lack of intelligence but a reminder that I need to revise more. Low body confidence isn’t attacking my self-esteem because I’m putting on weight. I’m giving it the power to affect me because I’m not exercising and eating healthy. My inability to commit to a relationship isn’t a reflection of my ice-cold heart, but merely a reminder that I need to invest more time in loving myself to understand how to love another human being.

A friend sent me a video a few weeks back when my sad state was becoming evident, to some. K I call him.

The speaker in the video spoke of how self-image is the key to designing the life we want for ourselves. He mentioned something that has stayed with me ever since. He said, “Hell on earth is meeting the man or woman you could’ve been”. He went on to say to the audience, “Ask yourself these three questions”:

1) Who do I have to be to dream again

2) Who do I have to be to live the life I want

3) Who do I have to be to produce the results I want

When I heard this simple yet profound concept, it really struck me and had be me flirting with the idea of recovering from my depression. It had me pondering on the woman I could be, the lives I could help, the change I could make. But as you can imagine when the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak; bad choices had me in bed with my depression days later.

Fast forward to yesterday. Hearing the news that my baby cousin had died brought me back to that video I watched weeks ago. You see, my little cousin lived in Angola. I was there shortly after she came to this world from her mother’s womb in 2014. My first time in Angola, my first time being gifted with the responsibility of holding and playing with a new born under no supervision. Looking at her was like looking at life itself. Her eyes, her feet, her smile. So innocent, so sweet. Having to adapt my positioning of her body in my arms to her approval was like learning how to juggle life itself. However, I learnt quickly that self-confidence and selflessness was all I needed to hold her perfectly in my arms. If one technique didn’t work, another would and everything would be okay. She would perfectly fall asleep again or smile with those eyes filled with gold and dreams.

Her death at the tender age of four forced me to realise that life is a gift. And whether you decide to see it or not, you only have one life. One ephemeral chance to really prove yourself. One chance to leave no stone in the field of your opportunities unturned. The caveat to that is that sometimes you will hit a brick wall and you will start to question yourself. One day of pondering and self-doubt will quickly turn into two. Before you know it one month of self-doubt has turned into three and you are now starring in the eyes of despair. With no hope, no motivation and no reason to think that any of your dreams could possibly come to fruition. This is depression and this is how it lured me in.

So today I ask myself once again, Who does Jacqueline have to be to dream again? Who does Jacqueline have to be to live the life that she wants? And finally, Who does Jacqueline have to be to produce these results? Will I chose to be the girl who lets a setback hold her back from her destiny, or will I chose to be the girl who kept her course despite adversity. I choose the latter.

I pledge today, once and for all, to leave this life of depression behind me. I will seek professional help, but most importantly I will seek myself. Seek my strengths, my tank of endless positivity, my skills, my dreams. I will begin to take on the role of the woman I want to become in full force. Remembering this time to place as much, if not more, importance on the internal than the external. With that comes sacrifice- so I will have to learn to sacrifice my distractions for my greatness.

Throughout my depressive stage there was always one thing on my mind. My dream. I was consciously consenting to the extinction of the woman I once dreamed of being for the growing love of solitude and pain. I forgot my dream along the way; a dream for a better tomorrow which was and still is bigger than myself. When I empower myself, I empower another girl out there who is working hard at school and looks up to me as hope for a better tomorrow. When I pick myself up after a knockback, I pick up another young boy out there who is going through similar setbacks but for one second believes he can make it out because he saw me do it. What we forget to consider sometimes whilst being so caught up in our own despair, is that when we heal ourselves and allow others to see the beauty of the transition; we also heal others.

My hope as I find the confidence to put my pain to paper, is that one other person will understand the darkness in between these lines; the hope is that in these same lines, they will find the light too.

Let your dream be your saviour.

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