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Pietermaritzburg Mental Health recently approached the Department of Transport and requested that they come out and do a road safety talk. They responded and were glad to do this awareness activity with service users from the three protective workshops. The team that came out consisted of staff from the Department of Transport: Project leader, Mrs Jeannie Govender, Principal Road Safety Officers, RTI Officers, members of the Fire Department and KZN Liquor Authority.

The SA Federation for Mental Health partnered with the Student Representative Council (SRC) of the University of Witwatersrand in Johanneburg (also known as Wits University) to celebrate World Mental Health Day on 10 October 2019. The event was supported by a number of partner organisations, including the Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative (REPSSI), Central Gauteng Mental Health and Akeso. A Capella group Mofolo Melodies assisted to gather a crowd for the event through their Afro-Pop songs.

The theme for the event was “Suicide and Social Media”, aimed at addressing the rising incidents of suicidal posts on social media. The event created an opportunity for SAFMH to engage with students and raise awareness around suicide and mental health. Students were encouraged to write messages of hope to others and to sign the ‘Speak Your Mind’ pledge (www.gospeakyourmind.org). This pledge is a call to end the silence and to call on leaders to invest in mental health. Those signing the pledge are taking a stand to show leaders around the world that it’s time to take action on mental health.

Secret Sunrise is a global community that celebrates life through music, movement and connection. 

The South African Federation for Mental Health (SAFMH) in conjunction with the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) and the Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative (REPSSI), hosted a soft launch to initiate what will be a mental health campaign called Speak Your Mind. The aim of the globally united, nationally driven campaign is to urge leaders to invest in, educate and empower people, so they have access to support and resources for their mental health.

Come join us for a mental health taster session. During which we will give you an overview of the various mental health awareness packages we have to offer for workplaces. 

PTSD is an anxiety disorder which is caused by a distressing event. It causes people to relive the event through flashbacks, nightmares, unwanted thoughts/images and physical sensations. It can also come with avoidance (desperately trying to avoid anything that might remind them of the event), feeling on edge and self-harm. The important thing to remember is that it is treatable (mainly through therapy and medication) and it can get better.

I have been diagnosed with PTSD since I was 14 years old. I experienced trauma as a child in the form of being sexually abused for 6 years by a family friend. It was horrific and devastating to lose my childhood.

When I was 14, I experienced another traumatic event, and I went on a downwards spiral of abusing drugs and alcohol, self-harming and hearing voices. I was desperate to escape the warzone in my head. This is when I was diagnosed with PTSD.

But in reality, I had been living with it since I was first abused at the age of 6. I got the nightmares, I got the avoidance, I got the pain, and most of all, I got the fear. That’s what PTSD is to me, it's pure fear. Feeling terrified all of the time, the thoughts racing so fast you can’t even breathe. The waking up in the middle of the night saying ‘no stop’ because you don’t know what's real anymore. Getting sweaty palms when someone wants to shake your hand in case, they grab me. The seeing someone who looks like the perpetrator so I literally stand in the middle of the street and pee myself. I’d love to be able to say this is all in the past and it doesn’t affect me anymore, but unfortunately that wouldn’t be the truth.

Every day I wake up feeling scared of the day ahead. Every day I go to work scared that I'll be humiliated by wetting myself on my break. Every time I go on dates, I'm scared because if I get close to someone, they might hurt me. Every time I have sex, I cannot be sober as I know I'll have a panic attack. Every day I go to sleep terrified of nightmares. Every day I live like this. And its hell.

Going through the trauma was hell. But reliving it every day? To me that’s worse.

Luckily there are ways to manage it. One way I help myself is by using grounding techniques, which help me to stay in the here and now. The most useful one for me is the 5,4,3,2,1 technique. You say 5 5 things you can see, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste.

Another way I help myself is by using positive affirmations, I remind myself that I've gotten through my bad days before, and I can do it again. I look in the mirror and I tell myself that I'm worthy, I'm valuable and I am loved. I also go to therapy every week to talk about what happened and learn to process the event and understand how it's affecting me now, so that I can learn how to change it and manage the symptoms of PTSD.

Here is a poem I wrote to my ex (who abused me) recently, to tell them I'm moving on, and I hope that you can too.

Every breath I take

Proves I can live without you

All these feelings of loneliness

Is something I'll get through

 

I might think I need you

But you are not the sun

You are not essential

To me living on

 

I’ll get my independence back

One day you won’t cross my mind

You are just one person

You are not mankind

 

I know that this will hurt

I know that you’ll move on

But I deserve the best in life

So I’m glad that you are gone