FINDING MYSELF AGAIN
Being raised in a community where the word “psychology” has overtones of “psychosis”, Kabelo Chabalala wasn’t keen on visiting a psychologist. But when he did, he knew that what she’d uncovered needed urgent attention.
One of the amazing gifts from myself to myself four years ago was to acknowledge that I was not okay – emotionally and psychologically. In retrospect, I wish I could have admitted myself to Mediclinic Denmar Mental Health Services earlier. Even now, I’m still benefiting from my decision to spend almost three weeks at the hospital. And if all goes to plan, I’ll be admitted there again next year.
The invaluable help I received taught me the importance of looking after the intangible parts of me – although these were far from my initial thoughts when I honoured my appointment with the psychologist!
I did my best to not tell the people close to me where I was going and what my expectations were. I was very scared of being stigmatised. In fact, I was also ashamed. Today, as a black man, I’m proud to tell my story of how seeking help was the first great step in finding healing and becoming a better version of myself.
To give a bit of background, I was diagnosed with a severe depressive episode without psychotic symptoms, caused by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I was going to a mental health professional in the hope that I’d get a chance to talk about my issues for hours. Then, I imagined, the psychologist would send me to a psychiatrist, who would simply prescribe some medicine.
I was wrong.
Instead, the psychologist said, “I think I should admit you this afternoon.”
The words left me dizzy and confused. But I engaged her further. I remember saying, “I just got here. Is my situation that bad that you would suggest admission after our first encounter?”
“I did my best to not tell the people close to me where I was going and what my expectations were. I was very scared of being stigmatised.”Kabelo Chabalala
Although I was flabbergasted, the process was also liberating. Nobody forces you to go; they advise you based on their professional opinion. I asked to go home and internalise what she’d said. I had many questions about what could have led her to make such a call.
After deliberating with myself, I went to work to inform my boss I’d decided to heed the psychologist’s advice. I packed my bag and asked a friend to drop me off at Mediclinic Denmar Mental Health Services, where I admitted myself.
To this day, I pride myself on this decision. For me, this facility will always remain a place of safety, a haven. It’s a place where I found my hidden identity.
As the late American TV host Fred Rogers once said, “Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that’s mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary.” If you need help, it is there. Let’s take care of our psychological and emotional wellbeing. That is my unprofessional, yet informed opinion.
Chabalala is the founder of the Young Men Movement (YMM), an organisation that builds up boys to become a better group of men.
Mediclinic’s recent investment in Mediclinic Denmar Mental Health Services is part of our commitment to expanding our continuum of expert care. The dedicated psychiatrists at Mediclinic Denmar Mental Health Services provide high-quality care to help individuals overcome a wide range of mental illnesses. The team also includes psychologists, psychiatric nurses, and occupational therapists.
Imagea: Getty Images, supplied