Hello! Who are you?
Hello! I’m Monica from Zimbabwe. As I write this I just finished my oral exam for my final semester studying for my Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting and I thought I did so badly I cried…hahaha we all have those days 🙂
I’m single and taking advantage of the season to grow into a phenomenal woman. Though I've been crunching numbers, my first loves are public speaking and writing.
My life still comes with its set of challenges yet I wouldn’t change anything because I’m happy and you too can be so keep going.
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What is your struggle and when did it start?
Back in 2019 just as I had finished orientation as a new student at the university I developed psychosis and was later diagnosed with anxiety disorder. My family had no idea what it was and neither did I. During that time I couldn’t sleep for three days straight and I would sit up all night making study timetables for lectures that hadn’t even started.
Little did I know I was already sick. Being a Christian, I tried to find comfort in the Word but since I had already lost touch with reality I thought I was doomed and a bad child to my family. With all these thoughts my head began to pound and the headache wouldn’t stop. Sensing that something was wrong my mum would monitor me during the night.
When my mum offered me some pain relief pills, I refused because in my mind I thought they were sleeping tablets. I was so scared that she wanted me to sleep because I kept on talking and crying. That’s when she couldn’t take it anymore and called her sister who told her to take me to the hospital.
In the morning, I couldn’t bathe myself so my mum had to bathe a 19-year-old me. In my mind, I thought she would get rid of me because I didn’t want to go to school anymore. I told my siblings that I would be gone forever and they should tell people that they once had an older sister. My siblings began to cry.
In all this, as I look back, it’s funny how I never thought of taking my life because if I did think of that I would have done that because I was delusional.
We got to the first hospital and the doctor just had one conversation with me and immediately gave my mum a psychiatrist's card but we couldn’t afford it. I kept on talking to myself and my mum couldn’t shut me up.
The reason I can remember all this is because it felt like my real self was pushed back and I was seeing all this happen. I had lost my mind and no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t get hold of myself. Deep down I felt myself desperately asking God to give me a second chance yet this thought was just for a split second.
Back to the story, beginning to lose hope my mum took me to another clinic. When we got there, the nurses told my mum that my blood pressure was too high. They tested me for malaria and I tested negative.
As soon as I saw my mum get out to take a call from my dad who was already on his way back home, I rushed after her thinking she would leave me behind. I saw her crying on the phone and I didn’t feel any pity all I wanted was not to be left behind.
The nurses told us to go to the general hospital because they had a mental health department. After the doctor examined me, he prescribed medication that I don’t remember at that time and told us to come for review the following day. My aunt arrived at the hospital but I didn’t rush to greet her as I usually did. I ignored her because all I wanted to do was keep my eyes on my mum.
Later I was to know my mum was just going to the pharmacy but in my mind, I thought she was leaving me. I ran after her and the guards thought I was running away. As I wrestled my way out of their grip this commotion only stopped when the doctor rushed over and shot me with a tranquilizer. When I awoke I was calm but still in my own world. I was taken home because there was only admission for adult
That night was the beginning of a nightmare. My mum had to feed me and watch over me as I slept because at one point I woke up and wanted to jump out of the window to leave the house. I’m glad now that my aunt, and my grandma all were there to help her as my dad was away because of work.
The following morning my Dad arrived and the moment he saw me, tears streamed from his eyes. That was the first and only time I had seen my Dad cry.
The second review was to set the course for my recovery. If you are following closely you will recall the time that I mentioned we couldn’t afford a specialist psychiatrist and yet it turned out that for the review she was the one seeing me. Later I learned she also worked at this hospital aside from her private practice.
It truly was destiny and I’m still in touch with her even after she relocated to the UK.
She immediately prescribed medication to reverse the side effects and that was the beginning of a series of therapy sessions for the next two weeks. Though the new medication was helping me get in touch with reality once more I had a difficult time opening up to her.
Day by day she would talk to me to find out what had mentally strained me. When I was in her office time seemed to stop because it felt like she was in no rush to go anywhere.
I began to share how my dreams of getting a first-class degree and making life better for my family weighed heavily on my shoulders. I was to start a degree program that my high school teacher told me I could never be able to do and her words were still fresh in my mind and weighing me down.
From being reviewed every day, I went back after two weeks and then a month. I was able to start school two weeks after everyone had started but I was able to catch up and passed my first semester.
This was just August 2019 and so much more struggles and huddles that could only fit into a book have happened. I have a manuscript too because I want to share my story and inspire people. When the time is right, I know you will read it 🙂
How did this struggle make you feel at your worst moments?
I often try not to think about how much I struggled when it came to friendships. I remember a guy I got along so well with telling me that my emotional struggles were taking a toll on him and that he didn’t want to be my friend anymore.
He was the kind of friend who would encourage me but when the going got tough he left. So much more friends were like him but my best friend never left. She didn’t treat me any differently but she was sensitive to my depression and anxiety.
It wasn’t clear to people at school but my family struggled because I once had been strong and bubbly yet all that crumbled. Even though it was tough on everyone close to me it made us draw closer to God and seek hope in Him.
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Was there a moment when you started to turn things around?
This story is starting to feel gloomy well not to worry I got so much better that I’m no longer on medication. I’m not back to my old self but I’m a new, burned, and purified fierce fighter.
When I started recovering, I realized that I had lost myself during that time. Not in a bad way but I had lost my confidence, purpose, and hope. That was when I came across a purpose mentorship program by a Zimbabwean author, entrepreneur, and purpose mentor Ralph Kadurira who has still remained my mentor to this day.
The program was everything I needed to get back on my feet.
It was the 3 months of rebirth through searching and discovering my purpose under his guidance along with 30 other young people. Though I had been recovering physically and doing well in school for the next 4 months, this was the point I began to recover emotionally.
What steps did you take to overcome your struggle?
I think my recovery was in stages and for every stage there were different things that helped me.
At first, it was the medication that helped me. I was put on fluoxetine and sulpiride which I had to take for the rest of my life however depending on my recovery I could stop the medication even after 2 years but I stopped after 3 years. Later I changed from sulpiride to quetiapine and sometimes took clonazepam when necessary which was according to the doctor’s orders.
Being part of a mentorship program helped me to rediscover my purpose and shake off the feeling that I was worthless and would never amount to anything because of what had happened to me. There is so much stigma centered around people with lived experience which is mostly due to ignorance.
From there, my family is so prayerful that our hope and faith kept us going at times when we didn’t understand why I wasn’t getting better. I’m a strong and confident person but I had lost all that. My parents struggled to see their daughter crumble but they realized that when life brings you to your knees after having done all you can what’s left is to pray.
Doing things that I loved greatly encouraged me and excited me. In school volunteered to do presentations and would look for opportunities. While volunteering on a marketing team, my supervisor told me I could write really well and then introduced me to a freelance writer. I got the mentorship I needed to start fumbling my way through.
I started writing way back in high school by writing letters of encouragement to my friends and those who needed it. During the covid crisis, I came across an online writers' mentorship program by a Zimbabwean author and publisher Faith Chipangura. During those 3 months with other 30 young aspiring writers, she taught me how to write my story and wear my scars with pride.
I saved the best for last… My dad rears rabbits and I realized feeding rabbits and just talking to them made me feel so much better. I think having a pet is a great help too so consider getting a pet!
Have you shared any of this with people around you in real life?
Faith Chipangura taught me how to share my story comfortably and never be ashamed of my story. If not for her I wouldn’t be able to share my story. I was afraid of the stigma and my psychiatrist Doctor Ruwizhu talked to me about the benefits and downsides of sharing my story.
I felt comfortable talking to my family about my struggles though at first, I felt like I would burden them my Doc said if I don’t tell my family then who would help me? If I didn’t share it would eat me up.
The time I shared my struggles with colleagues was to encourage them and not to seek comfort or help. The thing is most people don’t know how to help so it was better not to tell them. When I did my internship I only told my supervisor who seemed to understand.
It wasn’t easy openly sharing my struggle but when I felt it would encourage someone I did.
During covid, I was invited to talk about coping with depression and anxiety that’s when I realized that behind the stigma people are struggling too.
If you could give a single piece of advice to someone else that struggles, what would that be?
I wish I had known that I could get better and learn to live with anxiety disorder. It would have made me accept myself instead of trying to get back to the person I was before the trauma.
With my head hanging low I would say I wish someone else had shared their similar story with me to give me hope sooner:(
What were your achievements despite your struggles?
I could have easily let my condition get to me but I didn’t. It wasn’t easy yet I was able to do things that made me feel proud.
Firstly, I was able to do my internship without quitting while working in a big city away from home. I stayed with my aunt but the city was way out of my comfort zone
I started freelance writing in 2020 and currently work as a ghostwriter at The Urban Writers.
Sharing this was no show-off but a way of making you realize that no matter your struggle you can do whatever you dream of. It may take you longer than other people who seem better off but it doesn’t make you any less.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, YouTube channels, or other resources for you?
Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer really helped me take a stand against the negative thoughts which threatened to crush me.
Waiting and Dating by Myles Munroe helped me manage the changing dynamics of my friendships and deal with rejection by reminding me that I was still a phenomenal woman.
Where can we go to learn more about you?
💡 By the way: If you want to start feeling better and more productive, I've condensed the information of 100's of our articles into a 10-step mental health cheat sheet here. 👇
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