No one saved me. I saved myself.

umzila kawulandelwa
5 min readMar 31, 2021
Photo by Jane Palash on Unsplash

Symptoms of depression are well documented by now however one effect of it I underestimated was how it could impair one’s judgment. I still get random, “did I really do THAT?” moments whenever I remember a bad decision I made cos of a brain completely ravished by depression. I made such terrible financial decisions that I still can’t bring myself to talk out loud about. Ha! I really thought my only ways out of my miserable situation would be either winning the lotto, marrying a rich man or literally dying.

I’ve been feeling off partly because of PMS and well, some unresolved emotions which I couldn’t contain anymore. So I did the most logical thing for me to do yesterday. Doing a Shape of emotion guided meditation. The one type of meditation that has carried me through the worst of times. I visualized the emotions I was struggling with. It was a fear of relapsing and making the same bad decisions all over again. In the meditation they ask you to describe the shape of that emotion to yourself. It was a big, black, concrete block that was threatening to crush me under its massive weight. They go on to ask you to say to yourself where in your body that emotion sits. It was in my chest, tummy and shoulders.

After three repeats of that then you move on to a “dial up” where you talk about a feeling you want to open up and embrace. Mine were trust, surrender and faith. They aren’t really “feelings” but that’s what I wanted to open up and embrace in my life. As we keep repeating those things following the steps provided the emotions shift. I felt myself really open up to those 3 and got to see my big, black, concrete block disappear. I cried through that meditation because I was releasing a very heavy burden and that’s just one of the many reasons I love that particular guided meditation.

After my session I started thinking more clearly. I’d best describe the past 5yrs as swimming in the ocean for me. Many times I thought I would drown. I went for therapy, took medication, journaled amongst other things to try and keep myself afloat. Most days were HARD. I often wrote about how I felt like I was trying to breathe under water, not seeing a way out of my situation. I was miserable, frustrated and desperate.

I wondered if I’d dream of the winning lotto numbers or if I’d bump into a rich man that would marry me on the spot or if I’d quietly pass away in my sleep leaving the bank to figure out my debt situation. None of those things happened, thankfully. I fought tooth and nail and a windfall landed on me. Talk about God and the ancestors working overtime. The first thing I did before I even bought myself anything was settle ALL my debt. I mean down to the last R300 I owed anyone. For the first time in a long time I felt like I could breathe. My lungs really love the taste of air hey!

But in spite of all of that I still carried this fear of me losing it all one day and going back to my old situation. I wasn’t consciously thinking of that but it was sitting at the back of my mind. I recently bought a new car, my precious baby Okuhle. I cried the day I got her. It’s a little baby with SO much meaning to me. I desperately wanted a new car but just couldn’t afford one. My old, nameless car was a bit battered cos I bought it from a dodgy dealership. (PSA: DO NOT BUY A CAR FROM DEALERSHIPS IN TOWN!!!!!!)

I also HATED my old place. I only stayed there for so long cos the rent was dirt cheap but I hated it. I moved into my new place in August last year. I’ll only move out when I move in with my boyfriend. Rent at my current place makes financial sense to me and it affords me the privacy and security I could only dream of before. I also started a new job in Jan. I won’t lie, my life is pretty good right now. That thought has always scared me even if it’s something I write in my journal every day that I really have a good life. “Foreboding joy”, Brene Brown calls it.

I’ve been SO terrified of the other shoe dropping. My life kinda feels too good to be true. No man saved me. In fact NO ONE can lay claim to any of my successes. It sometimes doesn’t feel like it but I did THAT. I got myself into that mess but it didn’t end there. I also got myself out. The day I got my car I sent my therapist pictures. She sent me this text which still makes me tear up each time. “Congratulations!!!! What a special moment. You’ve worked so hard and I’m proud of you. So excited to share this with you!” Anyone could have sent me that message and it wouldn’t mean as much to me. My therapist is the one person I shared EVERY. SINGLE. DETAIL of my misery with so her saying she was proud of me meant SO much to me. She knows exactly what it took to get there.

She doesn’t work on weekends or in the evenings but she’s had to make exceptions for me before because that’s just how bad things were for me. I made it out. I did more than just survive, “I ran as far as I could in the direction of my best and happiest dreams across the bridge that was built by my own desire to heal”- Chery Strayed. I remember when dawn was starting to crack for me I gave my psychiatrist, my therapist and my boyfriend the credit until a friend sent me the below.

You save yourself every time you think someone has saved you. You are your own god. Remember this every time you want to give someone more power over you than they deserve. You have always saved yourself. They may have been there to hold you through your many winter nights, their ears wide open, their words gentle on your skin like a newborn’s touch, they may have heard you when you didn’t say a word, they may have been the only ones who saw you when you were disappearing, gone, helped lead you back home to yourself, they may have arrived just when you needed them and loved you softly, quietly and loudly, anything you needed but they didn’t save you, you have always saved yourself. So learn to thank people for their help and not their saving you.- Sizakele

Thank you to those who helped me along the way but no one saved me, I saved myself. What an empowering and liberating thought! I am my own god.



umzila kawulandelwa

I tell stories about my experience of being alive. Perpetually day dreaming of reading and writing by the beach