Today marksBell’s Let’s Talk Daywith national efforts to remove the stigma of mental health. It really is a great thing to have in our society, this constant push to talk about our feelings. But how many times do you really talk about stuff? About the self-loathing, self-doubt, about weird feelings you don’t even know how to articulate let alone deal with? That stuff is hard. There is no abundance of professionals to help you through plus there is a societal stigma looming over you with a bubble that says “you are a lesser human being” for having them – where do you begin?
With so many areas of mental illness to cover I decided to pick just one: Grief. Today marks the anniversary of my brother’s death. Stephen died, 3 years ago from Pneumonia. It devastated my family; my parents haven’t been quite the same. Nor really have any of us. We had to deal with this loss and with feelings we were not familiar with, together and as a family. Was this mental illness? Certainly, situational yes; long-term, it could have been. A normal and important part of life, death has to be dealt with, however uncomfortable. As well as lots of personal reflection, tears, and of course time, here is how my family dealt with it:
You don’t have to be a journalist to know how to write, it doesn’t even have to make sense or be spell checked, but you can pour your heart out into the pages and feel the relief.
Move your words towards a positive viewpoint, entry by entry.
Look back to see how far you’ve come, if you think you have not progressed, write about it. Keep writing until nothing else comes to mind, then you’ve had enough — until the next entry
Really Talk it Out
Seek out a grief counsellor, many Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) can help in this area with referrals, reference material and support groups.
Talk to your family, and friends — really talk to them — be vulnerable, be honest, they will still love you, and your feelings will dissipate.
Take a Step Outside
Get physical, grief can affect our whole body, it is a physical and mental loss. One of my siblings had so much rage he hung a punching bag in his garage and punched until he could no more.
Take the dog out — again, and again until you too are ‘dog tired’. Sleep will come easier and deeper that way. Your subconscious will be able process your feelings, a two in one kind of deal!
Allow yourself to feel sad, don’t push the feelings away and don’t self-medicate with drugs and/or alcohol. Keep a healthy menu on hand and give yourself time. Perhaps for my family the one biggest thing that got us through was our sense of humour and sharing stories of Stephen. My heart still breaks but now I know ways to deal with that.