You Can’t Save the Damsel if She Loves Her Distress

Surely a woman would not choose to stay unwell? Surely, if given the opportunity, a woman whose life has spiralled out of control would do what it takes if they discovered a solution? Surely addiction, mental health diagnoses, starving, purging, cutting or other conditions that prevent you living your life at all, would not be something you want to be defined by? Oh, I wish this was the truth. People who have never understood what it means to be controlled by the obsession to abuse drugs or alcohol, to hurt yourself almost daily, live with crippling eating disorders or spend years in and out of mental health units simply cannot fathom the attraction. As a woman who was once controlled by my addiction to drugs and alcohol, I can tell you that often the distress caused in your own life and the lives of those you love is sadly a comfort zone. I’ve spent more than 12 years working and living with women at Destiny Haven. Many come seeking help, but it is soon apparent they are not ready or don’t believe they need to be here. Others come, but we soon realise that they are comfortable with their illness. It is familiar and means living life with NO responsibility. They just do not want to get well and do what it takes to become responsible, healthy human beings. There is no truer statement than, “You cannot save the Damsal, if she loves her distress”. We are thankful for the ones who are grateful for the opportunity to get a life back that doctors or psychiatrists or even popular opinion has said to them they will always have. So many discover diagnoses of conditions such as bi-polar, personality disorder, chronic depression have been given because doctors/psychs were never informed of drug or alcohol use. Many mental health professionals don’t spend the necessary time to explore whether a woman has had significant unresolved childhood trauma that may cause them to be so chronically depressed with uncontrollable mood swings. I’m not saying that there are no conditions as above, but I cannot tell you how many women arrive with so much medication that they cannot experience ANY emotion, positive or negative. They are flat-lined. It brings so much joy to watch women blossom as they reduce prescription meds and discover their worth and the depths of feelings available to us all. They learn to live lives where they have faced their pasts, let go of it and reach forward for the full and rewarding future God designed for them to step into.

Janine Epere

CEO Destiny Haven