Yesterday I heard myself on Carlton Smith’s radio show babbling on about living life filled with passion and vigor – it was my advice to other young people – and I had to smile to myself. Kidney disease sucked the life out of me, sinking me to the depths of depression, for the second serious time in my life.
How did that look? Everything I feared settled inside me like a stagnant river: loss of freedom, not being able to have children, people seeing me as sickly, having to give up my dreams.
I would duck my best friends; their successive what’s app messages went with no reply for days and weeks; their calls, unanswered; their requests to go out and do stuff, rebuffed. I just wanted to be by myself, with myself all the time. I was scared and embarrassed about how I was feeling and the last thing I wanted was to be overwhelmed by the fears of my friends and family. I formed new friendships with people who didn’t know me, so the weight of their love and concern couldn’t possibly overwhelm me.
If I had a deadline in four days, for the first three days I would binge watch Law and Order: SVU, forcing myself to deliver under the pressure of 24 hours. I struggled to have faith in the plant-based naturopathic treatments prescribed by one of my healthcare providers; she was such a believer in my inherent self-healing and I struggled to believe.
Of course, I immersed myself in work; the one thing that always gives me a sense of purpose and fulfillment. But even there I fell out of integrity with myself: I hid away from potential new clients, losing great leads in the process and I became filled with doubt and uncertainty over the dreams most dear to me.
I let a depressed energy ensnare me and shut off all the avenues in my life that could reflect the light inside of me, back to me.
I really did need a soul revival and my sisters brought that to me. They refused to let me go into surgery without my light; that inner light that would keep me alive. They called the sister circle together, which consists of an international network of intuitive healers: women initiated along with me in a different traditional African spiritual practices. They gathered together in person, on Skype, over the phone in prayer to call out my light; to wake me out of my depressed stupor.
That night I was possessed by a version of myself: That self had no sympathy for my mental condition. In fact, she chastised me for letting someone else take possession of my body. She refused to acknowledge the person I was being as me. She asked repeatedly, “who am I?”, calling me to find that radiant version of myself she knew represented me.
At first I was defiant. I had no answers in the same way a guilty child pleads the fifth: Better to say nothing than to face the consequences of the truth. But as I knelt there with a hold on my tongue, I was quietly contemplating, who am I, who am I, who am I. I didn’t answer the question outright, but I started to see my depression; with each glance it looked more and more like a sick and sad joke. I was suddenly overcome with laughter: uncontrollable laughter; laughter that brought me to tears; a belly up laughter that washed away my fears.
It went on for some time and when it stopped, I had certainty about a few things: I am not fear; I am not doubt; I am not timid; I am not defeat; I am not death. While the uncertainty about my condition remained, I knew that come what may, I am love; I am light; I am joy; I am sweetness; I am inspiration; I am compassion; I am audacity; I am fire; I am fight.
If I could find the way to be who I am, I would have the strength to navigate this new chapter of my life; I would be able to choose life over death. My fears, although they might still be present, would flow like a raging river, never to possess me with hopelessness.
When I went into surgery, my body was lighter, my mind was peaceful. I was ready to step into my future, come what may.
Thank god for sisters, and thank god I was basically unconscious for my first dialysis treatment.