panic-attack5“You educate a man; you educate an individual. You educate a woman; you educate a generation.” (Brigham Young)

Education has always been my lifeline. It has always taken precedence over everything else in my life because it determined my value. This premise is very fallacious because human beings are multi-faceted entities thus an individual’s value cannot be summed up by one facet. This may seem very obvious to some of you, but this is something that I’ve only come to understand recently. As you can imagine, the acknowledgment of this fact would have saved me a great deal of time, pain and energy, but then again what is life, if not a learning experience? 

July 2009 marked the beginning of my self-hatred and the gradual breakdown of my buoyancy. A Tet offensive had begun, and my spirit and soul were collateral damage. My quintessential being was crumbling by the minute.

Kenya has been described as the cradle of mankind but for me, it was the cradle of tokoloshes for many, many years.

My room was filled with darkness and tokoloshes. I tried to distract myself by watching some episodes of a TV show on my laptop, but it was barely making a dent in the darkness, let alone saving me from myself. I was so preoccupied with the release of my first semester results that I was working myself into a cycle of severe anxiety attacks. My chest was stiff, my heart was palpitating, my blood vessels were constricted, my vision was blurry, actually it was almost obsolete, my whole body was shaking and I was sweating profusely. The battle was between my mind and my mind. The winner would control my body, outer perception, self-worth and resilience.

Any depressed individual can tell you that depression and self-loathing are synonymous. You spend half the time alienating yourself from society and the other half, trying to run away from your mind. Your pride tells you not to infect others with your disease but your heart longs for someone’s loving embrace. Depression as you can imagine is an uphill battle, now couple it with severe anxiety, and you have the perfect death cocktail.

The battle had begun. Oxygen was on the offense and had congregated in my nasal cavity. The first military advancement was unsuccessful; to be honest it put the Bay of Pigs fiasco to shame. A new offensive had to be launched to save my body from utter annihilation. Oxygen launched a ballistic missile down my pharynx into my airways. My ribs held a steady line of defense, they remained constricted and heavy. As the missile worked its way down my respiratory system, a shadow of excruciating pain covered my body. At this point, any normal person would have passed out. As the missile reached its target, pits of fire ran down my trachea. My trachea was set ablaze and the inferno was so strong, it sent electric vibrations down my spine that resembled the exhaust pipe vibration of a McLaren Mp4-12C. Although my anxiety attack only lasted a couple of minutes, it felt like I was under attack for a day or two.

For those of you that have never had an anxiety attack, let’s try a little exercise. Take a very deep breathe, hold it and pinch your nose (Please do not do this for too long, as you’ll harm yourself). Now close your eyes and imagine you are being forced to fight Manny Pacquiao in a boxing arena filled with thousands of people. You’ve never fought anyone before, so you’re not only an amateur, you’re an amateur whose about to get your ass whooped. Adrenaline has your heart palpitating, your chest is tight and your mind is being suffocated with detestable and violent thoughts. The crowd starts hurling insults at you, the room goes dark and those insults start floating in front of your eyes. You start yelling back, trying to defend yourself but the harder you protest, the louder they get and the more breathless you become. Now Pacquiao represents your biggest fear and the crowd is your mind. Anxiety attacks are trigger by different things for different people, the severity and duration of the attack depends on how quickly you’re able to counter your negative thoughts and control your breathing. Individuals who’ve had anxiety attacks can tell you, it truly is mind over matter!


If you had or have been having anxiety attacks please seek medical attention.

As you can imagine, I barely slept the night before the release of the results. I only fell asleep at half past two am. I was infected by one nightmare until half past eight in the morning. I dream’t that I had to go to my department to obtain my results, which had been published on the notice board. As I stepped out of the elevator, I was immediately surrounded by every single UCT students and lecturer. They all heckled and laughed at me, as my transcript was full of DPR’s. They told me I was a failure; I would never amount to anything and my lack of intelligent was the reason I got raped. Now obviously, none of those students knew my grades, neither did they know I had been raped. In addition, I knew I had bombed that semester, but there was a huge delusional part of me, that was praying for a miracle. I hadn’t managed to write any of my assignments, let alone hand them in. This meant I wasn’t allowed to write my exams; but I was still holding onto the delusion that managed to pass all my exams.

As I said above, July 2009 marked the destruction of my self-worth, what I did not tell you is, it also distorted my perception of reality. The minute I saw my results in black and white, I began to think of myself as a failure, and therefore began to behave as one. I had been captured by the formidable tide of self-doubt and I was directing my own requiem.


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