When Grief Affected My Mental Health

As most of you know it was world mental health day yesterday so I think its time I talk about my mental health and how grief has affected it.

For the majority of my life, I’ve always been a happy positive person and I really do think that life’s to short not to be positive but because of this mindset over the years, I’ve subconsciously been putting pressure on myself to be ok or at least put on an act when truthfully I’ve not always been ok.

As you all know I lost my mum when I was 15 years old and even then and for many years after I always said I was ok. Reality check Emma ‘your mum had just unexpectedly died in front of you if anything you shouldn’t have been ok’. I’m also someone that has always been labeled ‘strong’ and this is a label I’ve tried to live up to, even at times this meant putting up a front. I’m quite good at this ‘yes I’m fine or I’ll be fine’ because I don’t want people to that rely on/look up to me for being strong to worry.

But recently I’ve come to realise we need to stop labeling people ‘strong’ because it puts pressure on people and it’s most likely stopping them from speaking out if struggling due to the fear of letting people down or making people worry. This year it took a pandemic and a lockdown for people to check in on friends and family, check in on how they were really doing. Lockdown heightened a lot of people’s feelings and unfortunately, the rise in suicides increased as well of the direct impact of the large number of deaths due to the virus meaning there’s a whole lot of people joining the grief community in the space of 6 months.

Anyway, the aim of this post isn’t to shock people, isn’t for attention, its simply just part of my grief journey that I feel I need to share. After all, I did make this blog to make grief a less awkward and more open subject to talk about and that also means talking about how grief can affect your mental health because it would be mad and not normal to be completely fine after losing someone.

Grief is a crazy thing and for the first few years after my mum passing I honestly went into this mindset of ‘I’M FINE’ and I think I kind of tricked myself into believing this. I wouldn’t think about my mum in the first year or so I would just keep busy to keep my mind off things. I kind of just shut down any emotion when it came to the death of my mum, it had happened and we all just needed to get on with our lives we couldn’t sit around feeling sorry for ourselves. Looking back this is such a bizarre mindset, all our lives had just been turned upside down and no one wanted to talk about it, no one showed they were having a bad day.

It wasn’t until roughly 4 years after my mum had died, I was in my second year of uni when my mental health took a turn. My friends and family may be reading this and thinking ‘huh you’ve never spoken about this’ but like I said I was very good at putting on a front and where I was living in bristol it was very easily done to family and friends back home. I was living in a great city with so many great new friends…how could I tell them I was feeling so low? I didn’t want to feel like a failure and I felt there only response would be to tell me to come home for a while but I loved the life I was living, my mental health was just struggling. In hindsight yes I probably should have spoken to my friends and family but its all been part of my grief journey and how I got to this open and honest place today. I wasn’t suffering alone, I had the support I just didn’t want to stress any of my family out, they were grieving and the last thing I wanted was for them to be worried about me considering I was living the other side of the country to them.

To be honest to this day I’m not sure what triggered/started my sad thoughts, if it was due to uni stress, drinking too much, and being constantly hungover, if it was just simply delayed grief I couldn’t tell you but I would just lie in bed and cry my self to sleep. Writing this makes me super sad and emotional because I really wasn’t in a good place some days but then I was so good the next day. Like it was a constant battle in my mind when I was sad because I would always question myself ‘why’ i shouldn’t of been feeling like this, I was living a great life with great people around me but this is the thing with mental health even the people with the perfect life may still be struggling. This is very hard for me to write but I remember when I finally got to my lowest when I was sat in bed and thought ‘maybe it would be easier if I wasn’t here’. This was just one thought I had one night, I never thought about acting on that thought nothing more but if I’m going to talk about this openly I wanted to be as honest as possible. This was when I thought I might actually need help now, so I made the brave step of contacting the uni doctors to only be sent a form and asked if I was ok to be put on a 6-month waiting list to see someone. 6 months honestly it’s crazy that there isn’t funding that goes into making these waiting lists shorter. 6 months might be too long for some people!

I would just like to mention an old friend who was there for me through all of this, Dylan if your reading this, yes you may have done something that crushed me (friends with benefits are never plain sailing, yes we can laugh about it now) but you were also a shoulder to cry on even when you were in a rough place with your mental health you always sat up for hours listening to my problems. You were the first and only person I openly admitted to about feeling depressed. So just a little thank you for being there in what I would say was my darkest time.

I worked through how I was feeling and went on to have some of the best years of my life since.

It was only recently in lockdown like many others I felt like I was struggling with my mind again. However, I realised a good coping mechanism for me is writing so I started journaling before bed each night, and then this led me on to starting the girl with grief. I also put a lot of time into exercising over lockdown which really does help me clear your mind, de-stress, and lower any anxiety I’m feeling. So find your way of coping, whether that’s talking, writing, exercise, crying just let your emotions out somehow and better days will follow however hard that is to believe at the time.

The Girl with Grief is a place I want to be fully honest and open with the reader so anyone that is at a low point in there grieving journey can see they’re not alone we all have our ups and down days but I just want to say please please seek help or reach out if your suffering alone. I no my family would have been so supportive and so will yours. a problem shared is a problem halved and tbh if id opened up then id already off been on my way to making grief a less awkward and more open subject to talk about but here I am 6 years on from my lowest point learning from all these emotions and sharing them with the world in the hope I can help at least one person on there grief journey.

I do feel it’s very easy for people to come on here and say ‘speak up’ but its a lot harder and nerve-racking than some people may feel. Mental health, depression, and grief are all still taboo subjects but the more awareness, money, and time put into things like therapy and support groups, etc, the less taboo they will get! I am proud that we are a generation that has started these conversations so publicly.

I know its cliche but I am always here if anyone wants a chat.

Love the Girl with Grief

xx

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