Once upon time, in a time-warp far far away I had a bit of a breakdown. I remember the lead up to it clearly and I remember the morning it all went a bit pete-tong…I had been losing weight (on purpose) and was down to 35 kg’s or thereabouts. I was losing my hair (not on purpose) and my mind. I had started cutting and was finding each day a little harder to get through. On this particular Friday I had called in to work sick and said I needed a little time out, which was okayed. That almost seemed the permission I needed to drop off the edge completely.
I remember trying to get hold of my doctor and the receptionist telling me his busy. I must have called four or five times in a very short space of time. I remember grabbing the sharpest thing I could find, using it to rip into my skin. Cut after cut after cut I started feeling…what a relief. I was human after all.
Anyway to cut a long story shorter (there I go again, cutting) I ended up in a rehab clinic – booked in for depression and an addiction to over the counter pain killers and sleeping tablets. The clinic was to be home for a while. Even with this dark cloud over my head I was able to find the funny in it and I spent as much time writing a diary as I did in workshops.
I’ve been threatening for years to retell some of the stories from my days in rehab…and the time has now come.
For a long time I was Johnny Clegg’s publicist and on one occasion he mentioned how disappointed he was to find out that what he thought was a unique, one of a kind because I am so creative angst-riddled crises was actually a universal thing that all people experienced, to some or other degree. My first day, standing in line for food at the clinic I realized I wasn’t alone and that the brilliant Mr Clegg was right.
Once Mark had left and I was alone in my room, one of the nurse’s came in to check my bags for any contraband. She went through everything. She turned out my toiletry bag and opened up lipsticks and lip balms. She checked perfume bottles and deodorants. She stopped at the tampons and examined the strings. Strangulation by a Lilet? Obviously not, because she let me keep them. She removed my razor, my safety pins (which were used to keep my pants up). She took my tweezers. For the love of God I thought, did she think I was going to pluck myself to death?
She left with my safety pins, myprodols and tweezers in hand. Did she have no idea what she had just done? Not only had she left me pain killerless, with pants falling round my knees…she had left me to fate worse than death. She had left me with a UNIBROW!!!!!!