Lasizwe is the larger-than-life persona we’ve all come to know and love
He’s loud, he’s outgoing and his YouTube videos are a laugh-a-minute!
But Thulasizwe Dambuze – the person we see on his reality show Fake It Till You Make It – is quite the opposite.
As the world grapples with the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic, we watch the star go through one of the toughest experiences of his life – dealing with depression during lockdown.
Season 3 of the hit show – which kicks off next Monday – delves into the raw, gripping and emotional experiences Thulasizwe has had to overcome (and is still going through) as he navigates the ‘new normal’.
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Lasizwe chatted to All4Women about his experiences, and the help that’s at hand for people going through similar experiences…
What has your experience going through depression during lockdown been like?
Lasizwe: Lockdown was something we all didn’t prepared for and came as a big shock…it was something I thought would last a month or two and then we’d all go back to normal.
But when the president announced a nationwide lockdown, I was hit hard. I was living alone, I couldn’t visit my family, I couldn’t work [with professionals] I survived by basically repeating the routine; eat, sleep, be on the phone with loved ones, and get essential items.
I realised this pandemic isn’t going to go away anytime soon and we all just need to adapt. It’s changed all of us; going out wearing a mask and social distancing. Me being a hugger, [it was hard], not being able to do that was very foreign to me.
How did you overcome this, did you receive any form of help?
Lasizwe: What’s keeping me sane through this is that I have been gifted with the ability to make people smile. Through my content I can make hundreds of people forget about their problems, and I draw from that energy where I can make my own self smile.
My fans have helped me a lot; they DM me about how they love my content and how it’s helped them – those type of messages keep me going.
How did your persona as Lasizwe help you through this ordeal?
Lasizwe: I’m very shy and even socially awkward, sometimes I get social anxiety and then I just put on the Lasizwe persona and it’s time to shine, darling!
Lasizwe is very endearing, bold and even daring, I can do whatever I want to do as him. I like to tell myself it’s not me [but when] I’m alone in my bed, it’s just me!
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What advice do you have for people who are suffering from depression, anxiety or even loneliness during lockdown?
We all have someone we can go to when we’re feeling lonely, when we need advice or just rant or even gossip to, it’s a human thing.
I would strongly recommend you reach out to those individuals who can make you feel some level of comfort.[Also\] When I’m feeling down, I take that and use it in a positive light to make something good of it.
There is still a stigma surrounding mental health, particularly in the black community. What are your thoughts?
The stigma in black households is that if you’re depressed, you must wash dishes, you must do something [to snap out of it]. It used to work back then, but now we’re so woke and aware that we know how to identify it, and treat it.
There’s also this belief that black people are not supposed to be depressed – you were already oppressed, pick a struggle!
That stigma should end because depression is real, and I went through it crying at night, it’s not a good place to be in. But it’s part of the human journey and I’m happy I went through it and I came out stronger!
Finally, what do you think about Kanye West and his mental health struggles – is it an act or totally warranted?
Personally I don’t know what he’s going through.
When you’re a public figure, there’s always that belief that whatever you’re going through is for ratings or publicity, but with Kanye going on his rants which looks bad [to the outside world], he could actually be helping someone going through something serious.
I love the guy, but whatever he’s going through has been a while coming and I’m glad it’s come to light. It’s inspired me.
Catch the premiere of Lasizwe: Fake it Till You Make It on Monday, 3 August at 9.30pm on MTV (DStv channel 130).