“The only difference between myself, and other people who suffer from bipolar, is that my grandeur is not a delusion” – Emperor Shana Genever
The last month has been an absolute rollercoaster. I say this, fully aware of the danger-zone I enter of corny clichés and ou-mens gesprekkies. I do not live in fear of your spilt milk, aunty Merle. Spilled semen is far more daunting.
But like the broken condoms of my youth, I bring a dire conclusion that may rub you up the wrong way.
So I shall offer a disclaimer first, before telling you this series of unfortunate events.
Yes, Ek le mennie jiek-its.
Cos my flaring blister clump is aggravated by the one medication I can take to silence my mind.
I am Bipolar, and that isn’t a joke about 7nde Laan.
And as last week I stood in JafMed in Ottery for my new prescription, and an update on my herpes meds too…
Realising that I was now on chronic pills for both ends of my body, and to be honest, both sides of my personality [my head and my poes], the Muslim-farmstall hybrid retarded cousin that works the counter at the pharmacy gave me a look that said “Haha, if you have an STD and Bipolar… Does that make you the true definition of a Mal-Naai?”
Yes. It certainly does, Tariq.
Now please ring up my Xanex, and this Fruity-bubbalicious.
But, Felicia, I have not even touched on what has had me in and out of therapy since my last letter to you.
[You know, the one about the boyfriend, the love boat and the diarrhoea- I will address this, hold on]
And in the true spirit of obsessive compulsive disorder, which also lurks in the chambers of my mind…
And to answer the questions in your mind, about where I have been, where I am going….
And why the fuck I keep calling you Felicia…..
First, I have to offer you the usual:
Now Felicia, please bear in mind that my offering this time is of a different nature. You may have to digest the many points and tangents piece by piece. I am going to be long-winded, more so than usual.
But I feel I owe you an explanation.
I owe a lot of my healing to you.
I hid in the bathroom, muffling my receiver.
“Hi, I’d like an appointment with Dr. George. Yes, Wednesday is fine. No, I am on a new medical aid. Yes, Bipolar…”
The door squeaked and I kept quiet, obviously confusing Fagmieda the medical secretary. But she was used to talking to taaties.
“Sorry, I lost reception… Which is funny because, you know… you’re a receptionist”.
“Sorry. Never mind“, I was talking a klom nervous kak.
I was in the bathroom at the office.
You know you’re embarrassed when you operate under the guise of taking a professional kak.
Okay, let’s back track.
- I cannot perfect the art of public bowel movements, like the popular girls did at high school. I vividly remember the “Do you popo? Im not bung to say I popo” conversations I had to endure, from the bitches who were cool about everything. Too hip to be virgins.
2. I was diagnosed with Bipolar and OCD in 2008. This is years before post-natal depression kicked in, but definitely related.
I have mused about my time in Crescent Clinic, and the life thereafter of potential-less suitors I endured in my bouts of medicated/Un-medicated bliss[ters].
And was put back on my medication when on a particular evening in 2011, my dad caught me addressing myself in the mirror: Honourable Shana. I do not recognise you.
Sidney was 1.
I was lonely.
Then, I met Lyle.
And the rollercoaster experienced turbulence, Felicia.
I Iost my mind.
I lost myself.
Somebody wanted me.
I did not want Sidney.
I fell pregnant with Syria-Rose at the end of 2013.
This meant two things:
- I had purposefully impregnated myself less than six months after having an abortion.
I laid for many nights dreaming of sitting in Mitchell’s Plain’s MOU, spread eagle in the morgue, getting the life sucked out of me.
When I woke up in cold sweats, I didn’t blame my bipolar. I blamed my conscience.
It has taken me years to enjoy eating biltong again without gagging at the smell.
“Mommy, I need to tell you something. Please don’t laugh”.
My mother lifted the eyebrow of judgement.
“Mommy… it’s happening again. The window is talking to me and it wants me to throw Rose out of it.”
- I had to stop taking my bipolar medicine.
When Rose was born, and I was left alone with her in the three months of maternity leave, I had relapsed to the point of supergluing all our upstairs windows shut.
Lyle and I had broken up for the last time, when he gave me a hiding at her baptism and I had made my last excuse through swollen lips.
[He also stole Bob Martins from Hyper, which was the actual last straw that broke my back, before he did.]
And then, I started blogging.
And we met, Felicia.
And I had someone to listen to me.
Someone to help me remove the screwdriver from my heart.
And we took a break from each other when I couldn’t bear to see the sun come up on a day that Lyle didn’t exist.
And in the midst of all of the silent commotion, and trying to be a mother, woven together… I left you Felicia… And found the love of my life.
[But mainly, the love of my life…]
And this, brings us to the present day.
This is where our story actually begins.
And Felicia, I am here to tell you that is where our journey together must end.
“Shana Genever, you are cordially invited to join me aboard the blah blah boat for a Valentine’s Day Couple’s Cruise…Do you accept my invitation?”
Is die bra befok?
I couldn’t find my land legs when that message came through.
If only he knew last year I spent the day with Diarrhoea, nursing a broken heart and rectum. Now he wanted to throw me in the deep-end, off the love boat.
We got onto the vessel at 9pm, arms intertwined.
I felt my chastity belt loosen beneath my belly button.
The sermon from the Passion concert the night before resonated in my conscience…
And in silence, I recollected every single romantic gesture a man has ever executed… That took about seven seconds… of coming up empty.
“Die is n man van die here…. Die is n man van die here…..” I repeated in my head… Suddenly realising that my inner voice sounded a hell of a lot like my mother…
[Which was contraception enough]
And I went through the motion [Yes, of the ocean] in awe of seeing a man pull out all the stops with no expectation.
Pity he didn’t try though, those bands would have made me dance.
I was ready to sneak down into the captain’s toilet and bend over the basin.
There was hoekal turbulence…
And then he looked at me and said the words that made me know that this wasn’t like anything I had ever experienced before.
I sipped the non-alcoholic champagne, looking through the window. Why was I shy for a man that I had known for six years?
We were friends. We weren’t supposed to be smiling this much.
With a very messy launching pad, we were on dangerous ground [or waters, shut the fuck up].
But it never felt wrong.
“Would you be the Rose Dewitt Bukater to my Jack Dawson?”
“Huh?” I destroyed the corny moment, as expected of course.
Oh. I get it. Boat reference. Fuck.
“Would you stand at the helm of this vessel called us and navigate this ocean of life with me?”
I could have drowned in my own cum.
The next week I found out I had herpes and phoned him at work to cry, but in essence, still a lovely little moment.
When trying to be absolutely edgy it is counterproductive to be absolutely in love. I learnt this the other day staring into the very brown eyes of my other 1/4. [I am now split into four, not two.., that’s what you get for having multiple children out of gridlock… or something].
“Shana, I love you so much I want to take clouds out of the sky for you… “
My immediate reaction precipitated out from my parted lips… “You a bunny ma se poes”.
… Like Celine Dion scripted my life, with the help of her father, or uncle-husband or whatever the fuck we are pretending that relationship wasn’t.
I burst out laughing.
This fucking man is ready to contribute to global warming if it pleases me. When did I get here?
It is a good place to be.
I sat on my knees in my room, looking at my children.
I couldn’t stop crying.
But when I saw Doctor George, and he medicated the fuck out of me, I gained a new perspective on what I needed to do to take the next step in my Life.
I needed to Let Go.
The Hoe is a time-capsule, and I have had to say goodbye to her, to Lyle, to the bad memories. I have to take my meds, raise my kids, and I have to look forward.
But Felicia, writing to you, I am looking back.
And I have figured it out.
Felicia, the last thing that has to go is you.
This is my new life now, and if I don’t give it the chance it deserves, or the privacy it is owed, I fear it may not go as God intended.
I need to let you go.
And you also need to grow.
You’re the aunty that no one eats from. The old lady drinking with the owner at Atmosphere.
[I remember thinking that these women are the same age as my mother. I firmly believe if the people in the club feel weird lighting their entjies in front of you, out of respect, you probably shouldn’t be there. Atmosphere came with many perks, however. My little group from Pelican Heights was well known, and I was thin and young and desirable. [We will not discuss the one occasion my mom dropped me in front of the doors, and shouted ‘take care of my baby’ as she drove off– or after the foam party when I walked into Narrans, not knowing that I had foam on my boots, and wondering why Sulaiman kept giving me the ‘haai shame’ side eye over the counter]. But like Atmosphere, and my teens, and my days of Jintu, everything must come to an end].
And now Felicia, this is where we stand.
FOMO and all.
It’s not you, it’s me.
I am just not the same anymore.
Dad: “…Nou wiet Riyaahd jy’t herpes?’
Me: “Yes daddy, he knows”.
Mom: “En die Bipolar goed?”
Me: “Yes mommy.
Silence. They stare at each other.
Dad: “Jy bieter nie met die man trou nie, hy klink befok”.
You ladies better get your PHDs
Get off the internet, your life is waiting for you.
You are better.
You are stronger.
[I want you all to know that you have been my rock, my family and my support system through this entire journey. Being ‘The Hoe’ has become bigger than I ever imagined, and before my ego is dependent on the attention I have received from my journey, and my need to help women, I feel the need to retract. I am no longer in my dark space. I want to look forward, and find new avenues that focus on women who are.
And I want my work to include Jesus.
This is why I can no longer use the platform of my old life, I have been renewed, mentally , spiritually and physically, and it is time to pay it forward.
Am I still going to write?
But as Shana.
And when I do decide to give Shana her debut, I hope all of you are there to listen to her.
If not and my journey has ended with you right here, I still want to extend my utmost gratitude, for your shares, and likes and all your love.
I hope my story shows you that you are never too deep in the dark to see the light.
I love you.