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22 October 2020 | Story Emma Morape | Photo Supplied
Emma Morape, who battled with low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression, believes it is important to love and be kind to yourself. She urges others to remember that they are loved and appreciated.

I am Emerentia Morape, mostly known as Emma. I am 21 years old, and for as long as I can remember, I have been battling with low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression. Since Grade 7, I have had problems with my identity, body, and attempting suicide. I have spent years overdosing on pills and trying other methods to kill myself. In the darkest years of my life, I resorted to drugs and alcohol to cope with the pressures of varsity, family, wrong friendships, body changes, and getting into toxic relationships.

However, those dark years did have some light at the end of the tunnel, and that light was the very good friends that I made when I arrived on campus. For the first time in my life, I could open up to people about the pain and struggles that I am going through without feeling judged, and they advised me to see a psychologist to get professional help. So, I went to Student Counselling and Development, talked to a psychologist, and started feeling better. The only problem was that I thought depression was something that could be fixed quickly by talking to someone and then life goes back to normal. So, as quickly as I got better, I ended up in a darker depressive hole. 

I then started seeing Dr Melissa Barnaschone at Student Counselling and Development and attended well-being workshops. I attended the Self-Esteem Programme, the GROW programme, and the REBT Programme, which helped me deal with my anger. Lize Wolmarans, also from Student Counselling and Development, really helped a lot with the GROW and Self-Esteem programmes.

I was in a safe environment where I could have my own opinion and could curse and cry as much as I wanted to. I keep the book and notes from the workshops with me for when I go through horrible episodes of anxiety, self-acceptance, and those ‘I do not want to see or talk to anyone’ days; it really helps me to get back into perspective and give me a sense of hope for the future. Being able to talk to Dr Barnaschone and my lecturer, Dr Visser, about anything that I experience – personal or professional – and being able to ask for guidance and not feel judged, has been the greatest help this year, including the struggles of the pandemic.

I am also a rapper and songwriter; so, through Dr Barnaschone, I have been able to go back to my passion and write songs about my depression and growth. It has allowed me to be a better version of myself. I have been able to record and perform these songs and use them as a tool on my journey of peace.

Hope, to me, means peace through the storm, because hope does not mean that everything is perfect; it is keeping the faith when you are walking through the fire and believing that you will make it to the end. On your journey to find yourself and peace, you will be victorious. I remain hopeful, because every time I look back on my life thinking of the pain and heartache I went through, I find a glimmer of hope knowing that I have been through hell and still made it out; so, I can conquer whatever struggles come my way.

My message to the UFS community and humanity is to allow yourself to be vulnerable and feel every emotion and pain you experience. The grass is always greener on the other side, so do not be shy or scared to speak out and get help. Talk to trusted friends and family about anything that you are experiencing and is overwhelming you, even if it is just to vent. 

Talk to a psychologist or social worker, attend as many mental-health workshops as you can, read about mental health. Even though it is not something you are experiencing personally, you might be able to help someone close to you and save a life. And remember to live a healthy, balanced life, meditate as much as you can, spend time with yourself.

Most importantly, love and be kind to yourself! Remember that you are loved and appreciated, even by people that you do not know; so, keep your head up and spread light, love, and positivity.

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