Someone I know recently committed suicide and as a person who’s been struggling with mental health issues most of my life I was triggered. I’ve contemplated suicide many, many times before however I lack the massive guts it takes to actually go through with it. A lot of people believe suicide is a selfish act because “what about your loved ones? How must they feel or continue to live without you?”. I used to disagree but now I couldn’t agree more. I agree 100% that suicide is selfish, however I don’t agree with why most people believe it is selfish. (My mind is all over the place now and I’m struggling to make sense of my thoughts so I can express myself so I hope you will be able to understand as I try to explain.)

A few years ago I was drowning, life was suffocating me and I didn’t think I’d come to know peace again. I didn’t think I’d be able to look back and smile on everything I had to endure and yet here I am. I am going through the absolute most right now but I’ve been through it before and although I am exhausted, I will get through it again. I managed to overcome my challenges because I have amazing friends who held my hand through it all and because my dad realized that I needed help so he took me to my first few therapy sessions.  During therapy I learnt that being selfish is the best thing I could do for myself and my loved ones. (Being selfish has nothing to do with mistreating and neglecting people. It has everything to do with taking care of yourself, your mental health and your needs.) Going for therapy made me realize that I was neglecting myself and putting everyone else’s needs before my own. My therapist gave me the task of being selfish and although I thought it would be easy it was literally one of the toughest things I’ve ever had to do. I had to learn to say no, to stand up for myself and put myself first even though it often made me feel terrible and I received a lot of backlash for it. I’m sure you’ve all heard the saying “You cant pour from an empty cup”, by being selfish I took care of myself and my needs first which allowed me to take care of those who needed me to take care of them. I wasn’t pouring from an empty cup anymore and all my strained relationships became healthier. Self love is HAAAAARD, but that’s a story for another day.

We need to realize that people who attempt suicide aren’t selfish or cowards. People go through a lot of terrible things and having endured and overcome the same struggles doesn’t give you the right to judge those that are struggling or feel that suicide is their only option. I read somewhere that people attempt or commit suicide because they wanna feel like someone cares and that they matter to someone so that becomes their last and biggest cry for help because everyone then wants to be a hero in this moment. People pay attention and the cries are finally answered. You don’t have to walk a mile in a persons shoes in order to be sympathetic or even try to comprehend their struggles.

I don’t know where I was going with this when I first started writing it but to anyone who feels like they’re drowning please reach out to someone, anyone. Talk until you find someone who cares to listen. Take it one day at a time, one challenge at a time and fight to keep your head above the water. I’m cheering for you and hope that like me, you’ll one day be able to look back and smile at how you managed to overcome. I feel like this blog post is extremely incomplete and unpolished but one day I’ll get this blogging thing right.

I really hope this was a good read for you. If it was please follow me and I’ll definitely do the same.



THUSANANG: Helping others help me…

First of all, in order to understand what I was required to do and why I was required to do it I had to understand what community engagement means. Community engagement is when individuals or an individual works with various communities which are often vulnerable to address and assist with certain issues that community is faced with. Community engagement often requires one to volunteer and work without expecting some sort of compensation or remuneration for their time and effort. Although there is no formal compensation for community engagement or volunteer work I was very pleased with the sense of purpose and fulfillment that I felt once I had completed my required hours of work.

On Saturday I went to school and went through the training phase of the various community engagement programs offered at school. The training consisted of several phases which required a certain level of enthusiasm and participation from everyone. To begin we had an ice breaker game because there were many new faces and volunteering was a first experience for many so a lot of people were shy and not very interactive. The ice breaker helped us interact with one another better as we were now better acquainted. Following the ice breaker, we were talked through the different organisations we could volunteer with as well as the various rules, requirements and expected conduct of a Monash South Africa volunteer. It was important to understand that we were required to be very open minded because we were likely to be exposed to an environment that could possibly be very different from our own or the one we are used to. I believe that in order to be a volunteer one must possess traits such as patience, selflessness, an open mind and compassion. These traits are important because volunteer work is not about the volunteer but the community and it is important

Once the community engagement orientation was over we had the opportunity to learn about the different organisations and what they are about so that we could make informed decisions when choosing the organisation we would like to work with. I chose to volunteer with “Thusanang” community engagement. Thusanang is a Setswana word which means to help one another. I particularly like the name chosen for this organisation because it shows that not only can volunteers help the vulnerable community but we can also be helped by the people in the community as well. There are many different ways in which volunteerism can be helpful to an individual and these range from giving one a sense of worth and contentment to also counting as experience for a resume or curriculum vitae. At Thusanang we aim to help others help us.

Thusanang goes to Cosmo City Multipurpose Hall three days a week to work with an organisation called “Boys and Girls Youth Africa” which volunteers with the primary school children in that community. We help the children at Cosmo City Primary School with homework and then engage in different educative games and other activities which are centered on the arts. Thusanang aims at showing children and the people of Cosmo City that academics are not the major determining factor of ones success in life. We are in no way saying that the children should not try to excel at school. We are however saying that we are not all academics and we should therefore not feel like we are not destined to succeed and be great in life just because we struggle academically. Thusanang’s aim is to help the children realise their dreams, nurture their talents and build a promising future through these talents. Keeping the children busy during the day with homework, games and other activities helps keep them off the street and as a result they refrain from taking part in things that could be detrimental to their future. I also believe that through this Boys and Girls initiative the children are able to build more stable friendships with their peers based on a healthy foundation and passion for school and the arts. Although I was in an unfamiliar environment it was easy for me to adapt and relate with the children because I could relate to them in either English, Setswana or Zulu.

Through this community engagement I have a new found appreciation for my life as well as my purpose in life. I have learnt not only to appreciate the things I have but also that I can use the little that I have to help another person. My life experiences and knowledge can be fruitful in the life of another. The children in Cosmo City are eager to learn and are extremely welcoming. This has motivated me to want to go back even after I have completed my 8 hours required for class. We are currently preparing for a talent show with the children and it was fun to see how good the kids are at dancing. Their energy levels throughout the dance rehearsals were refreshing after a long day of sitting through tutorials and lectures. I particularly enjoyed learning the dance routine from the children although I struggled a bit due to my two left feet. This goes to show that with an open mind you can learn anything from anyone.

I would like to see more children take part in the Boys and Girls after school program as I truly believe it will help each and every single one of them reach their full potential. I think more Monash South Africa students should volunteer for at least one semester as they could benefit from it just as much as the vulnerable community can. It is a fulfilling to touch the life of another even in the slightest way and know that they are grateful for your impact.


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