Pretoria - Oscar Pistorius was a happy person, “going somewhere” and positive about the future. Then he killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
“I loved being around people, especially my family and friends. Now I am not sure about anything.”
This is how the Blade Runner described himself to clinical psychologist Melissa Femihough at Weskoppies Hospital during his month-long assessment.
Her report, handed to the North Gauteng High Court last week, said Pistorius has become a totally different person since the incident early on Valentine’s Day last year.
He told Femihough he has become depressed, avoids socialising and is frustrated with the situation he finds himself in.
Pistorius feels people look at him differently and so he chooses to isolate himself.
The report said Pistorius feels he is going nowhere and it won’t get better, despite his faith.
Femihough said the athlete was reluctant to admit to suicidal thoughts, but admitted he had lost interest in living. “He initially denied having suicide thoughts but indicated he does think that things would be easier if he were dead. But he said his family had been put through enough and this stops him.”
Femihough concluded that the Paralympian suffers from severe depression and presented symptoms of a post-traumatic stress disorder – everything was a potential trigger for him to think of Steenkamp.
He admitted to the psychologist that he had dreams and nightmares of the incident and often replayed the events in his mind.
Femihough said Pistorius’s fears and anxieties related to the guilt he feels for killing Steenkamp and the impact her death has had on her family and friends, and his own family. “He is aware that his actions resulted in the death of Ms Steenkamp and experiences much sorrow and guilt in this regard. He said ‘I find it hard to live with myself. I killed someone I love and I miss her every day’.”
Pistorius is also very concerned about the outcome of his trial.
“The uncertainty adds to his poor functioning and exacerbates his anxiety,” she said.
Femihough remarked that Pistorius’ life has changed significantly as a result of the incident.
Prior to shooting Steenkamp, Pistorius flew up to 100 times a year, mostly abroad, and his press conferences attracted more media attention than that of Olympic champion Usain Bolt. The court was told he would even be approached for autographs while in the men’s room or have a camera pushed in his face as he stepped off a plane.
Pistorius was three times voted as one of the top 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine and also received the keys to cities such as Rome and Genoa. He counted among his acquaintances presidents of countries, royalty and elite sportsmen,” the report said.
Professor Jonathan Scholtz, who also evaluated Pistorius at Weskoppies, said in his report that Pistorius’s biggest dream was to race against able-bodied athletes. “This is perhaps an attempt to give psychological credence to his mother’s position that he was not disabled.”
Scholtz noted that Pistorius had a lot of anxiety related to his career. An example was when blood clots were forming in the veins of his stumps. This was a serious stress factor for him, making him anxious as it could potentially end his career.
“It is known that the stumps of amputees deteriorate over time… in this time he became very lonely,” Scholtz said.
Being in Italy for four months of the year, Pistorius struggled to find his place in his circle of friends when he returned, Scholtz said.
“His strict training and dietary restrictions did not advance his chances of getting settled into a group of friends.
It was also difficult to share his extraordinary experiences with peers who were leading quite ordinary lives compared to him.”
Scholtz said Pistorius was instantly “taken” with Steenkamp when he met her about three months before the incident, and their relationship developed well. While they had their differences, they talked them through.
At the beginning of last year he instructed his coach to arrange for her to travel with him that year. The day before the incident Pistorius was discussing safety and other issues with an estate agent regarding a house he was buying for himself and Steenkamp.
“They were described as a loving couple. Their relationship showed none of the characteristics associated with an abusive relationship,” said Scholtz.