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08 Aug 2019 , by neema

My Black dog is called Sondela

I have known Sondela for a long time, and it was not until 2017 we were formally introduced to each other. Since then I know she will always be around, but I am determined not to let her take over. Sondela is strong, but I am stronger. Sondela is my depression.

I decided to call her Sondela because that is my favourite name. Sondela means ‘come close’ in Zulu. My favourite song is called Sondela by Ringo Madlingozi. I know my black dog will be around for a while, so I gave her a name in hopes to make peace with her.

My journey with Sondela has not been comfortable. Sondela is always there waiting for the wrong time to come out. She only comes out once in a while, but when she does, she wants to drag me down with her. Sondela weighs heavy, so anytime she is around, my mind holds a high burden, and so does my body. Sondela wants to drag everything down with her. However, I learnt how to deal with her.

Medication and therapy help a lot, so Sondela and I have times we can live in peace together. Unfortunately, Sondela does not like to play nice all the time, she loves drama, and she wants to pop up anytime, anywhere. It could be in the middle of laughing with family and friends, being at work, or in the middle of an exam. She wants to pop up everywhere and drag me down. Fortunately, I have stood my ground so far. I tell her that enough is enough, and she listens and goes away for a while, but she waits in the shadows for a time to come back.

I remember after a while of keeping quiet, Sondela decided to pop up right before my exams. She was determined to take control at that time, but I found coping mechanisms. In preparation for my Public Law exam last year, I was introduced to a fictional client called Simon in one of the past papers. I revised continuously and I re-did the same past paper question a few times, and Simon appeared in the actual exam in the same circumstances. Simon led me to have the best grade in the Public Law module.

Why am I talking about Simon? Well, I saw Simon as a real client, a vulnerable client who also had a mental illness. Before I did this exam, more than a year earlier, I was diagnosed with depression, but during that exam, I thought to myself that despite my personal life, I had to give Simon the best advice possible. Since this type of thinking worked, I started to use it during my other exams in my second year especially since my depression was affecting me personally to the point I had to speak to a doctor, and medication was prescribed to me again. This way of having to do the best for the fictional clients helped me a lot (the medication, and speaking to family and friends also helped, of course). I know it sounds silly, but it helped me.

Mental illness needs to be discussed and brought to the attention of everyone, not just during Mental health awareness week. I want people to open up and seek help, so I am sharing this story in hopes that it may encourage even one person to seek help. Speak to someone, anyone, even your manager. I have spoken to some of my managers, also cried in front of one, who has exceptional leadership skills, so open up because you will handle it.

In the words of Susan Jeffers: “Feel the fear and do it anyway!’” A great book recommended to me by my amazing mentor. Yes, I have a life coach, a mentor and oh yes a therapist as well. No person is an island, you know!

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