18, and still counting.

class-of-98

7, the year standard you were when you entered our school and our lives.

1, the number of days it took for me to secretly fall madly in love with you.

3, the number of classes we had together: English, Biology and Registry.

2, the number of Judo Jnr World Championship titles you held.

2, the number of times we were dared by our friends to kiss each other in socially awkward moments.

0, the amount of times we actually followed through on these dares.

Too many to count, afternoons we trained together in our local gym, just as friends.

1, the number of chocolates we gambled on in support of each other’s weight loss/weight gain.

1, the number of times I won our chocolate gambled bets.

3, the number of dances we attended separately, with me wishing I was the one holding your hand.

1, the number of times we actually danced together.

18, the age you were when you decided to end your life.

4, the number of family members you left behind.

Too many to count, the number of people that attended your funeral.

12, the number of times you have haunted my dreams and filling me with a desperate hope.

18, the number of years it has been since that dreadful day.

You will stay forever 18, while we keep on counting the years without you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrating Waitangi Day

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I’ve mentioned a few times that my family and I immigrated to New Zealand and even though we are now citizens, Waitangi day doesn’t have the same historical and emotional meaning to us as it does to the locals. This however is my tribute to our nations celebratory day:

You, people of beautiful Aotearoa; the countrymen, leaders, youth, neighbours, politicians, are blessed to have the blood of the New Zealand ancestors run through your veins. She has fed you, provided you with materials to cloth yourself. She has carved walkways to forests, beaches, hills and cities for your comfort. She is an untouched beauty crafted over years to exuberate perfection.

We, the immigrants from countries where corruption, violence and war reigns, admire the strength, unity and solitude she provides for her people. We have adopted her as our sister, mother, aunty, as we long for our distant family. She has embraced us as one of her own. She, the breathtakingly and adventurous New Zealand.

We have freedom, we have Aotearoa!

 

Dear ghost

I invited you into my virtual and selfish life several years ago, which was the biggest mistake of my life! I regret getting to know you, thinking that it could remain platonic and secretive. Your disappearance was unplanned but best for those involved. I regained some sense of normality and focussed on healing the open wounds caused by your online presence.

You re-entered my life unannounced and unwelcomed. You threatened me, called me names, blackmailed, harassed and caused me sleepless nights. You over stepped the boundary when you involved the person I love the most above all and the innocence of a child. I knew you were world’s away, yet I couldn’t help but feel like I was constantly being watched. Your shadow lurking over my shoulder, invading every aspect of my life.

They say “forgive and forget”, but I will NEVER forgive you! I have not hated anyone more than what I hate you. I do not believe for one second that you are a good person, and do not think that you will reform. I know that you might think what you have done serves as  some form of justice (if justice was unruly and twisted), but all you caused was fear and deep seeded animosity.

You now have a name, an identity, you are no longer an unknown being. But to me you will remain a ghost, an entity that is dead to me and haunts my everyday thoughts.

 

Ghost

 

 

 

 

Lavender companions

The sounds of grounding coffee beans, the aroma of freshly brewed coffee, the slice of cake (ANY CAKE) being placed in front of me, hearing the chatter of vibrant women behind me, seeing the smiling faces of my dearest friends opposite me, and knowing that I am welcomed – that is what I think of when I hear the word lavender. Not the flower, but the atmosphere of being surrounded by my closest friends in a quint coffee shop called Lavender Cottage.

My lavender companions and I first met during our first year of university. We are all of different ages (me being the oldest), different backgrounds, different schools even. We were in various stages of our life: one was engaged and planning her wedding, some were in stable relationships, others single. But we clicked! How, when and where I can’t recall, but we did. One-by-one we ended up in the same study groups, or got invited to attend another’s church service, birthday parties, kitchen teas and secret coffee shop visits. I was still struggling with bulimia during the time that we met. I have had several relapses during those 3 years of our under-graduate studies. My illness wasn’t a secret to them, but off course I carried the burden of my relapses, often feeling like a miserable failure. But that’s the beauty of friendship, REAL friendship: we accept each other’s flaws, we tolerate the bad days because we look forward to the good ones, and we talk, laugh, cry, celebrate each other’s successes and share life events.

I no longer live nearby, to be honest I live 11,554km away from them! Our friendship however lingers on, mainly through social media. My love and adoration for them is still as strong as what it was 8 years ago when I left my home country. The urge of wanting to buy a plane ticket back home just to meet up at Lavender Cottage is taunting me! The absence of my lavender companions in my life is numbing.

The reason for this entry is that one of my lavender companions has been on my mind lately. She is usually the coffee-drinking-cake-eating instigator. She has had a really challenging time lately, and seeing as I can’t physically be with her, I dedicate this to her:

Dionne Warwick – That’s What Friends Are For

 

Dear members of the public

I wrote a personal yet public letter once which I used to address a group whom attended a local Suicide Prevention Day, to provide them some insight to the link between depression, eating disorders and suicide. The below is an additional note I am adding, several years after my first public meeting:

You need to understand that you don’t just get anorexia; it is not a contagious disease that you end up with due to a weak immune system or because you were exposed to a virus. Anorexia (or any eating disorder) doesn’t start off as that, a something you can diagnose and therefor treat with medicine. It is a complex mental disorder in which its symptoms is that of food deprivation, binge eating, purging, weight loss, hair loss, ext. Anxiety and panic attacks are often (if not a given) associated with most mental illnesses and with depression classified as a mental illness of its own. In my opinion (and solely based on my own experience), over time you develop a mental block due to exposure to things such as a broken family, marriage separation, disappointment, striving for perfection, loneliness, disapproval, rejection, and so forth. This mental block is often what then causes an addictive behaviour, and when it manifests itself around food you become either depended on food or reject food. The treatment for an eating disorder should then also focus on healing the person from what is causing the mental block, working through insecurities they have surrounding food intake, and then once they have become more self-assured and focussed on healing their mind should attention be placed on what they eat and how much they eat.

I read this article posted online about the association with anorexia and bulimia to that of a phobia, and I must say it is certainly one of the better explanations I have read to explain this to those who don’t understand. In this article the author mentions that image you have a phobia, for instance arachnophobia (and for many people this fear is very real). Imagine the uneasiness being around a spider, even the thought of a spider in a nearby vicinity causes a surge of fear. The panic attacks, screaming, crying, jumping at the sight of a spider, breathing difficulties, excessive sweating or even heart trouble. In severe cases the image of a spider can cause the same effect. Phobias are real, and they are according to me similar to the mental block described above. Scientists believe that phobias can be traced to a combination of genetic tendencies, brain chemistry and other biological, psychological, and environmental factors.

Now, replace spiders or height with food, a fear of food, a fear of the effects food consumption can have. Yes, it is unrealistic because those of us that are of “rational” mind, knows that food is in no way harmful. But to the anxious mind of an anorexic, it is like poison, yet it is the one things that they will avoid even though it is the only thing that can save them.

Dear uncle Dawie

I know this comes too late, but thank you! Thank you for always having open arms when we visited your place during the school holidays. Thank you for allowing me to express myself. Thank you for the many Sunday morning road trips on the Harleys. Thank you for treating me and my sister like your own daughters. Thank you for keeping me motivated on an artistic level. Thank you for allowing me to have a friendship with your sons. Thank you for always treating us to lunch at your restaurant whenever we popped in. Thank you for always having something funny to say, making me laugh when I needed it the most, and also laughing at my childish jokes.

I never had the opportunity to tell you how much I appreciate the time you took to tell me about my family, the past, your life growing up with four brothers and about my grandparents. Little details I didn’t know about my family and often the shameful events that no one wants to talk about. You told these stories with no judgement, no pre-conceived thoughts, just the humbled truth. I remember the night you and aunt Jenny took me out to dinner, I was a young adult, and I remembered wishing that the night will never end. We ate, drank and laughed (a lot), but what I remember most was the honestly in which you approached all my questions.

I wish I knew you were feeling alone. I wish I knew that you were struggling with ‘bad’ thoughts. I wish I knew that you too needed someone to talk too. I understand the darkness you faced and the utter despair you must have carried with you for some time. I do not know your circumstances or personal issues, but I do know depression. I am sorry you had no other way out. I wish I could have told you that everything will be okay, that your family, wife, sons and friends need you. That you will leave us with an emptiness that can’t be filled, and that over time our memories eventually also fade.

Today in remembering you, my thoughts are on the open road, the roar of Harleys around us, nothing but excitement and the thrill of being on a journey. Today I will remember you and know that even though you are not with us anymore, you are not forgotten.