Tshenolo’s journey to Self Awareness

Posted / 30 September 2020

My name is Tshenolo “Mopheme”Lekopa. I am a Columba alumnus, a facilitator, educator/tutor, Second year Mathematics and Statistics student, writer and poet. Since I became aware of social and emotional learning and how it drives development in children I have developed the love for teaching with the intention of changing how things are currently done in schools. I was diagnosed with mild depression back in 2017 following a very rough three years at varsity, but I turned a blind eye to it. I struggled to cope with everyday challenges, found myself with an immense lack of motivation and drive to just function on a daily basis. After aborting a plan to commit suicide I turned to alcohol and that was my daily escape from a reality I did not want face until I once again became suicidal. This time I heeded the call from my mentors and began therapy and was soon prescribed medication to manage the depression, and that was a major turning point. Through therapy I gained tools on how to self-regulate, be aware of my behaviour when I am in a good headspace and also when I am in a depressed state or anxious. I developed better coping mechanisms and I am really glad this all happened before Covid-19 hit us. I have noticed that through this unfortunate period the number of people facing depression and anxiety increased, and this was accompanied by a number of suicides. I could have easily been one of those people had I not addressed my psychological challenges earlier on. As a freelancer, working primarily with school children, I lost my income when schools were closed indefinitely, and subsequently my livelihood, and that was followed by constant financial challenges. All of that is a good recipe for a mental breakdown, but because of the coping mechanisms I learnt through therapy I was able to overcome that. Being a Columba alumnus is one of the greatest blessings. The network of people I have access to is one that not every young person is lucky enough to have. One goes from cramming definitions of our core values to living them and through this dark period, the Columba expressive arts program kept me busy. Self-awareness is key. Be aware of your emotions and how they affect your actions. Notice little behavioural patterns about yourself under normal circumstance and also when you’re overwhelmed. You will know when you need help, and do not be afraid to seek help. A healthy mind is a productive mind.

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