It isn’t all in my head

I was alone in my humble apartment when I fell just the other day whilst on the phone with my assistant, trying to make a cup of tea. I had been struggling to sleep well for a few days, even with the aid of prescribed sleeping pills. So after a very taxing weekend of driving, singing gigs and the usual struggles of “adulting” I took a much anticipated nap. I took my pills as prescribed and climbed into bed, savouring roughly two hours of decent slumber. I woke up and picked up my phone to inform a few close friends that I had managed to get some sleep even though I woke up to a pounding headache. This isn’t unusual. I suffer from migraines now and then mainly due to tension. The hamster wheel in my mind is running on a V8 engine of late, therapy and calming agents aside.

The kettle was boiling and I mentioned to my assistant that I would climb back into bed as soon as I had used the bathroom which I desperately needed. I remembered feeling light headed and telling Vuyo that I would call her back in two minutes. I had convinced myself that two minutes was all I needed for my bathroom visit, pouring of the water into the already prepared cup and sliding comfortably back into bed. I repeated the phrase to Vuyo and whilst questioning why I had in all of 30 seconds forgotten that I had already pardoned myself I heard my phone fall. When I came to I realised that I had fallen with it. I sat in a daze and used my more sober voice to convince my self that it was safer to stay on the floor until my eyes weren’t cloudy and my head did not feel like I was hit by an unruly Putco bus. A quick scan of my body once I made it to the pillow confirmed that I wasn’t physically hurt. My mind however was in turmoil; Is this normal? Would it happen again? Should I call my psychiatrist?

Truth is that I was exhausted and had jumped back into work prematurely. My fear of going hungry due to insufficient funds had trumped the doctors orders to take it easy after my discharge. That and something I am not quite ready to share (keep reading, I will divulge the juicy details in due time).

My discharge from Vista Clinic in Centurion, a psychiatric and wellness hospital, was followed by rather vile tasting events. I was coming to terms with the reaffirmation of my existing disorders; anxiety, ocd and the likes but had two more to wrap my already clustered head around. The more pressing one being MDD.

MDD is the abbreviation for Major Depressive Disorder. I discovered that depression at this level may be caused or exasperated by events, circumstances and trauma but the main cause is a chemical imbalance. Therapy is a wonderful aid but medication (let me stress, the right kind for your body’s make up and other affiliated disorders) is necessary to alleviate the sometimes crippling symptoms. Symptoms range from instrusive thoughts, crying spells, fatigue to body aches and numbness. Insomnia and more frequent anxiety and panick attacks may also form part of this list of unpleasant symptoms if you have also been diagnosed with anxiety. Take note that only a psychiatrist can diagnosis and prescribe appropriately for this disorder.

I had lost a month of work during my admission and there were people who needed my assistance with pressing matters.

Why not top it all off with a flimsy, misinformed and quite honestly annoying newspaper article. Being in the public eye is not all that it is cut out to be, trust me. It’s crazy what the art of writing and journalism has been turned into a playground for sensationalism. And how carelessly we speak about people, their lives and families, around issues that society formerly deemed as both personal and delicate. I guess this “comes with the job” but one can’t help but wish humans would be a little more sensible and considerate of the effects, especially on the extended members of our circles who did not choose to dabble in this industry.

I am not writing this to complain about the pros and cons of celebrity status (a status I honestly believe I have not personally reached in any case) but rather about the lack of awareness, knowledge and understanding of mental health issues. How they can affect one physically, how they are not a “white peoples sickness” and how I’ve realised just how many people don’t know how to treat it because they can not call it by name.

I would love to collaborate with professionals to better explain the issues around mental health. I mainly have my own experiences and those of family members and close friends to share at this point. I do not wish to overwhelm you so we will take it a post at a time.

Keep this in mind in the meantime; YOU ARE NOT CRAZY. You are simply human burdened with a force most persons do not understand. You are allowed to ask for help, in fact you should. Asking for help does not make you a burden, it makes you brave. Brave enough to find ways to survive, overcome and conquer. You are not alone and you are amazing. Waking up to face the world with any or many of the mental health issues we suffer from is almost supernatural.

Take time out. If you need a minute, take it. I needed a month and found some quiet during my visit at the Clinic. Feel free to email me for more info regarding the clinic and other institutions that are setup to help, sometimes with the simple burden of being an adult.

A brave and compassionate creative @mluart had a conversation with me which resulted in an agreement to take a more creative route in creating awareness around mental health.

Follow my Instagram page @mathunzimacdonald for more on this and other awareness projects to follow in the near future.

My email address is info@mathunzi.com. Open for more information, sharing and support, business and collaboration enquiries and bucket loads of love.

I only deal in love. Let’s leave the negativity to Black Twitter.

Strength, Love and all things beautiful

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Hello Google?

Timelines are flooded with the instruction to Google search “Squatter Camps South Africa”. I complied, after a friend expressed her incomparable disgust to what she had found when she made the search.

I have not laughed this much in a very long time. Responding to the first ten or so images, my lungs filled up with enough air to send rigorous vibrations through my voice box to create numerous loud and genuine boughts of laughter through the room.

The alternative was rage. The tear filled kind? The kind where you wake up mid month scrapping together money for cellphone repairs after hurling it across the wrong in anger. How was this almost perfect misrepresentation conjured up? How could what I see and what I know fail to meet at any point in agreement? How many actors or posers of caucasian decent lived in South Africa and agreed to be part of this gut wrenching showcase? Could I ever trust google again?

Maybe I don’t travel enough, that must be it. Maybe my own black and coloured family members living in informal settlements are but a handful of poverty stricken beings in this country. Black squatter camps are but a dream we all seem to slip into so as to have something to complain about and blame the white man for. Blacks must live in wealth and run endless food and blanket drives for their fellow poverty stricken, squatter camp living, caucasian countrymen.

Painful.

How the truth has been neatly buried with deliberate photo ops and catchy titles.

May I kindly leave this here post right here. Maybe we will wake up to an apology regarding a distasteful and inhumane joke and begin to read and see about the actual reality of the South African population of colour.

Please do not misunderstand. I am not arguing that there are no white families living in poverty. We are simply asking how such an obvious truth, heavily populated by black and coloured persons can be so beautifully masked?

Maybe if we search placing the words in a different order? Maybe?

The pain and shame

The pain and shame of showing up alone

You can’t understand it until your body and soul was meshed into one with another in the name of love

The pain and shame

Weddings and funerals, parties and lunch dates

The pain and shame of showing up alone

Doctors appointments and surgery, recovery and holidays

The pain and shame

Of lying while smiling, protecting while crying, burning in the pit of your stomach because your value, time and efforts together cannot be matched to that of a stray dog.

The pain and shame

Of phone calls and texts that go unaswered and put on affection only when in want

The pain and shame

When a stranger decides if you get a yes or a no then laughs about it with your friends

The pain and the shame of showing up alone both at the dawn and dusk of your birthday

And now you look like pain and shame and somebody else must show up? For broken old you?

What soap does one use to scrub of the pain and the shame of showing up alone

Image Nigel Sibisi

On my mind 30/03

22:12

The pockets of my universe are spilling all at once.

The peices of my heart are dropping all at once.

The gaps in the passage ways of my mind are widening all at once.

My laughter invited my tears to travel on the path that runs through my lips all at once.

The spoils in my bank account have depleted all at once.

Weeds of resentment and restoration grow all at once.

Oh how I wish you could have loved me all at once and not in pockets that broke the stitches that held my happiness bound

The short of it

I have successfully failed at crafting an introductory lifestyle blog whilst utilising my more common style of writing. With each paragraph I felt more like a raging fisherman’s wife rather than a blooming and contemporary lifestyle blogger. Boy did I complain about the demise of my former lifestyle city living glory and the real hacks my problematic skin has afforded me since primary school.

But, in 2018 we know better, so we do better. So here I am to very briefly share a little bit about my city life and the commencement of my wellness journey. And yes, you may raise your glasses to the more detailed blog posts that will follow because I do promise not to slack.

Before the anticipated ramble do remember to visit http://www.mathunzi.com for a look at who I am and what I do. And in future search Mathunzi Macdonald on your YouTube app for video footage of my journey, music and experiences.

Let’s begin with my beautiful addiction. Well, it isn’t contributing much to the beauty of my skin or immune system but work with me; Coffee.

You may have spotted me or notice that I spend a lot of time at Starbucks. Thankfully my addictions do not extend to WiFi even though I appreciate the uninterrupted Apple updates and music downloads that come with having my feet up on their couches. The gingerbread latte always hits the spot but nothing quite does it like their food and desserts. I can’t complain about the Jazz that plays overhead and I am grateful to have graced the Starbucks Rosebank stage performing my own music with The Verse.

But then came Naked Coffee. I think I may be in love! In support of black business and beautiful souls, Gorge Sandton will be a spor to visit. Owned by actress Mapaseka Koetle-Nyokong and her husband, an experience there has already confirmed it as my other home. At home we stick to our green packaged bestie Jacob’s K and bitterly weep over the loss of my Nespresso machine.

4th avenue in Parkhurst is ideal for easy Sunday living and seriously good food. I was also introduced to Miss Salon London on this street and has my first ever tattoo done here. I don’t frequent it as much since Menlyn Maine came to existence boasting culinary beauties such as Ribs & Burgers but it is always a safe bet if anyone were to ask where to dine in Johannesburg.

Be it a grocery cart or sit in at the cafe, Woolies stays winning. May I argue that contrary to popular belief, their regular food and household products are priced in the same category as most other popular supermarkets. Free tip; Grab a green smoothie to get regular. It gets the job done but tastes way better than green juice.

Host your breakfast and brunch meetings at Lucky bread 7. Wives and in house honeys, the breadsticks are a winner for your partner’s snack time or lunch box.

I stumbled upon a growing collaboration opportunity with The Laser Beautique Irene branch and this is where I will begin my new skin journey and continue my much needed pamper sessions. Look out for #MakeupIsOptional and more excitingly #MathunziAndFriends as I will have a few old and new friends join me at TLB from time to time. My hair care will continue at Candi & Co. Reasonable prices aside they serve free drinks and have decent WiFi like Miss Salon London does too. (Sucker for bottomless cappuccinos).

#IAmMyOwnBodyGoals Therefore, most exercise (if I successfully work through this laziness) will take place in the comfort of my home.

Speaking of collaborations, I recently discovered that a primary school companion Muhle Matthews works for one of Joburg’s most popular hubs, Maboneng. A few years before this I discovered her singing ability which is rather sweet in comparison to her husky speaking voice loaded with a strong twang, which leans more to sexy. Muhle, my photographic and digital guru Nigel and myself sat down and curated the inception of my more intentional exploration of Maboneng and the spaces with it. Let’s just say a lot of my time will be wasted there in 2018. Oh! I will glady welcome a surprise party at the Living Room, any time of the year, I’m not picky.

I think I have far superceded the confines of being “short” so let’s speed this up.

Nouveau over commercial movies anyday. Theatre is undoubtedly the most authentic way to experience the art of acting. Live music never fails to elevate the soul. Markets and rooftop events are ideal to quench YOLO and FOMO. Hiking at Hennops is all of R70 (totally worth it) considering all the zonkey’s you’ll see. Yes! Zonkey! Hahaha.

Is it considered saucy when you clarify that pumps are not ballet flats? Consider it pay back for the giggles that taunt me for shopping in the junior sneaker section because my foot freakishly shrunk to nothingness in 2009. I declare 2018 the year of pumps and sneakers and finally affording goodies at Zara out of sale season. Don’t be fooled by the TopShop merch in my closet, I have my ways that rescue my pocket from constant emptiness.

As I wrap this up, let me share what I genuinely am burdened to share in my journey; The true meaning of being kind. We preach a lot on showing kindness to others and seemingly forget to show ourselves even a smidgen of it. Listen, you cannot give what you do not have so be kind to your self. Forgive yourself, love yourself and spoil yourself rotten when the means allow. You really only get to do this life thing once, do it well; kindly.

I am no Saint 

I am no delinquent neither.

How do you confess an ill that carries the potential to topple you as the narrator before it hits anyone else? Confessions don’t begin with the person who has been wronged or situation that you have mishandled, no. There is a conversation with self that is usually held off because it begs the question, how on God’s good earth are you this person?

I am pretty good at a number of things, including playful banter right down to calculated self serving manipulation (Aries are made this way). At some point in my life I could drive almost any decision to suit and serve my wants, not needs, and sometimes I could achieve this in complete silence. Before the age of 21  I was well aware of the power of the mind and how malleable emotions can be, and I used this knowledge as a tool to chisel a world I thought I preferred. My older sister became aware of my not so pretty side very early in our childhood. For a couple of years she would not exclusively enjoy a birthday celebrations birthday gift. If I liked what she had, I would seek it and best believe I would get it. I loved her deeply and sometimes envied her “girly” disposition, her less husky and hard voice, curvy body and well manicured hands. But, I would literally die before she was dubbed “the favourite”. To combat this I learnt to pick locks so as to gain access to her diary which I offered to my mom for her early evening reading, precisely marked pages and all. I hated the boarding school we both attended and had convinced myself that it was her fault that I had grown so miserable and was subject to an openly lesbian stalker who pushed me to the verge of suspension twice, so I “retaliated”. I slow brewed the tears, called my father and went on a desperate rant about my deep worries for her spiritual life after discovering that she planned to get her tongue pierced. My father was livid. She has no piercings to date. I had my tongue pierced a year later.

My parents seem to have known about my unique personality almost from birth, but apparently had more faith in how it would shape a resilience and determined spirit that would later fuel my more noble strengths. My father is intelligent and insightful. My mother? Let’s just say she has her God on speed dial and He seems to drop what ever information or remedy she may need or want as soon as she mutters, “Hello, it’s about these children again…”. I learnt the art and gift of confession and forgiveness from my parents and through religious teachings. Confession to self, confession to whom you have wronged and confession to God. There was a greater teacher, who’s methods were not supported by cushions of grace. Her name? Karma.

Karma may force you to do one of these three things, if not all three at the same time;

• Suffer in kind, tenfold

• Take a long hard look in the mirror and see a part of you that you may not have known to exist. A part that is not easy to look at

• Announce her arrival, be visible during her stay and leave a parting card noted “That was me sharing what you deserve. Kindly do not mistake me for that boring guy called Unfair”

In my life, karma was not responsive towards my flawed personality traits. Those were handled by my ability to love to a fault, my swift call to empathy, my anxiety and God. Karma answered to mistakes, bad decisions and carelessness. I mention mistakes before decisions because a repeated mistake is a choice. If you are of sound mind with a reasonable level of common sense, there is truly no sense in a second time. A second time breeds a third, the fourth may begin to numb your guilt and the filth will suffocate your conscious. Then comes habit, weak friends called lies and the most pathetic, meaningless and over used phrase; I am sorry. Sorry? As meaningless as saying grace at a table stacked with fuel before mass indulgence in fornication.

Consequence does not bow to apologies. Consequence will have it’s day.

There are things I will take to my grave, that I only mutter when my room is dark and my windows are sealed. But please know this, I am no saint. I don’t wish to be remembered as one. I am flawed, beautifully so and that has moulded me into a being who constantly seeks to become better.

My greatest sin? The breaking of a heart. Both unintentionally and once with the greatest will. This is why the response matters more than the cause. See pain changes you, shifts you to an unrecognisable state and the easiest way to respond is to inflict it as far as your mind allows you to stretch your constructive imaginings. And when we fear facing this pain, we mask, we soothe. We give of our bodies, our time, our money. We change how we talk and switch the music we listen to. We download messager apps for easier access to the bodies that will climb us and squeeze the life out of our moral graces. We have conversations with boring minds and schedule dates in dark spaces. And when we are found out our tongues trickle the words I am sorry but sadly or hearts are streaked with cobwebs of sinful stone.

I have been afraid of a shift in perspective that could be birthed by the telling of my shortcomings. Then it stopped, the being afraid of external perspectives; How did I perceive me? I walked into the shower barely breathing, bitterly sobbing as though someone had died. I felt dirty. I felt false. I was burdened with a weighted apology but I couldn’t make one until I confessed to self, to him, to God. Perspective.

These days, I am more afraid of laughing about what should sicken me. I am afraid of the texts that are welcomed on my phone after the sun sets. I am afraid of the hearts I may have left bleeding only because mine was gushing. I am afraid of lies and smiles that hide them. I am afraid of the words “I love you”.

I am not proud of my lack but I am pleased that the extreme opposite exists and by grace, it currently dominates my being. I am no delinquent.
My sister calls me loving now and I lock her secrets in my heart. My mom still dials Jesus for intel and dad? Still shakes his head quietly when I fib about the mismanagement of my monthly budget.

And I? I am Sorry

And scene (2017).

I peeled off my legendary  ‘mask of composure’ for all of two seconds but the tears continued dropping for roughly an hour. I had my Samsung in hand, plotting via Whatsapp text, the moves and manoeuvres I have prepared to carry into January 2018. Most of the faces on the other end of the line will not be able to tell that on some days my heart still shatters. On some days, I really don’t have it all together.

The year 2017 has been far more gracious than the two years that preceed it.  Thank God! So much so, I finally caught a glimpse of my not so familiar “happy weight” and I remember to eat at least twice a day. Again, there are earthly angels who have held my hand through even these things, that seem small, like chewing and swallowing more than one spoonful.

My Montessori practicals brought about routine, which was necessary.  I had forgotten that my best days are Mondays, just before sunrise. Should I tell you about Mondays? The promise they carry? Maybe another time.  I am so beautifully privileged to live, learn, grow and love amongst children in the Montessori environment.  These humans cleanse my spirit. They are God’s tangible reminder that He can make anything new. And that when He creates He does this with great delicacy coupled only with the agape kind of love. That even through challenged speech, crooked walks and difficult tantrums there is so much beauty and potential. So so much.

I laid my favourite uncle Stephan to rest on my birthday, 06-04-2017.  I walked into my parent’s living room and my father held me as if he would never let go again. My mother tried to break the news as gently as possible; This birthday like a few others would be heavy.  I smiled, genuinely on that Thursday afternoon.  Every mother who raised me, remembered that their little girl was growing up, painfully yes, but growing still. One mother sang quietly whilst holding me in the warmest embrace at the gravesite. Oh the joy.  My cousin sister Phumzile loved to sing. She had a stunning contra alto and was so humerous. She has 3 young children who with us bid her farewell about a month before. Death snatched her before her very own birthday.  The Wednesday after her passing, my mother would lose her cousin, my maternal uncle. I could continue with this morbid list but rather not. I will share this however; Never have I anticipated and yearned for a text from the being who became a stranger as I did during that time. If not for my comfort, just to know that they are still breathing.

I got rid of those dreadlocks that most of you had come to appreciate. And they will not make a return in the new year, or ever. There were a few lessons locked in those loose curl locs though, such as patience. Could we learn to be just a bit more patient with ourselves? Allow ourselves to break down so we can build bigger canvases for the masterpieces we were born to become. We are made of so much, to be so much, so why the rush? Who are you pitted against except you, that you must hurry sometimes with no plan or pleasure in the moments pocketed in your journey?

I am realising that if I attempt to breakdown every pivotal piece in 2017, I may lose you half way through this blog. We can’t risk this in case I have some epic one liner to share right at the end. So please stay with me, almost there.

Music. We are still an “old married couple”. We bicker quite a bit but the love? Endless. I placed The Verse on a partial hiatus for many reasons, including seriously not having enough time to be as dedicated to the music and management affairs as I should be. Also because I am exhausted of coming home with only enough to cover petrol for a night and squeeze in those horrid burgers from that place which is closely matched to my surname. I have the pleasure however of working with the most talented artists, who constantly feed my soul and mind with their art. I am grateful for this. Theatre fits into the neat bag of goodies carrying the better part of my year. What a beautiful medium. Stories that break your heart and mend it all at the same time. Have you seen Masasa Mbangeni on stage? You should.

“You need to own the fact that you are an actress” said the director after the acting workshop. “You are magic” said my gorgeous Tess after the shooting of a pilot with our mutual friend Kabomo. I had completely forgotten this. I became so familiar with appreciating what was around me, what was inside me was brutally silenced. I reach into the bag of better things and scream chants of gratitude to the angels that walk in dust as humans do because I am now AWAKE.

I can not call you all by name but know that the God who sees me, sees you.

I’ve stopped crying, for now. I have things to giggle about. I have things to sit in praise about. I have stuff to pray for and pray about.  Because I want laugh as I did in this year; tenfold at the break of a new season. I want to blush and bite my lip while my eyelashes fall in a dry(tearless) curl. I want to make you laugh too. I want to be strong for you. So I cry when life asks me to, so that I better understand your tears and gently drag you to a place of quiet.  You can then choose to burrow and break so that you can begin to rebuild but if you need a bit more time for it to make sense, that is okay too. I have been here.

Mondays are full of promise. So is a new year. The 1st of January is just another day, if you choose to see it that way. I thankfully have OCD, hahaha, so the first of anything is brilliant really. Ask me personally about this

Happy New Year

@Mluart