This is my personal story of me talking about my depression, that I had for over 12 months. Grief can take over your life and the biggest learning for me was not to park it… but talk about it.
Anyone who is reading this who has never suffered or experienced grief, then I understand that you may not be able to relate to this blogpost. And also knowing that perhaps you seek my blog more for fashion and style related content, then again I fully get if you don’t want to read this either, so you have my blessing to close off this post and move on.
But some of my readers may be suffering right now with grief and after years of reading my blog I hope you will trust me to tell you, that I fully understand how you feel. And this open and frank blogpost gives you reassurance that you are not alone and perhaps I may go as far to say there is far more to me than just what’s available this season and how to style it.
HOW DID IT ALL START?
My symptoms of grief started soon after my failed IVF. After two miscarriages and a whole year of tests I was finally able to go through a cycle of IVF, but it didn’t work. A topic I am sure I’ll write about in the future – but after being pregnant and then losing, there is an element of grief for the loss. This snowballed for me when we had a number of family deaths, two on my husband’s side and two on mine.
The one that took hold of me, and not surprisingly, was the unexpected death of my father. Admittedly he was not in the best of health, but it was unexpected nonetheless and definitely not right on that particularly day – you see he was 9 days away from celebrating his birthday, something he loved to do. It broke my heart.
GRIEVING NOT ONCE…BUT TWICE
So you see in my 40th year of life, a time when everything should be so perfect; I was grieving for a child I could not have and a Dad I loved very much. And the hardest thing you can do with so much being thrown at you, is to get on up, get dressed and get on with the day.
And I for one, as much as it was difficult to do – Got up, got dressed and met the day head on. Now that’s not to say that was easy for anyone who was around me – the crying… the negativity… the inability to do very simple tasks. I realise now that I must have been very difficult to have been around, worked with and lived with, but when depression kicks in, it’s just not an easy journey for anyone.
What I was told by medical professionals is that I could get over this depression. Grieving is not a permanent state of mind, but you do need to allow yourself to go through the stages. And although I am quite open about what I wear, how I spend my days etc as it is all on social media – the grief and the depression for me was not for talking, well not openly anyway.
DON’T PARK YOUR GRIEF!
This blogpost is about support for grief – if you suffer with any other type of depression then this may not be for you. I am not medically trained, I can only tell you what I did and what I learnt, and that still may not work for you. But the most important point I want to get across is not to park your grief; find someone, find a community, find some kind of help – just don’t go through it all on your own.
I’m two years on from the point in my life when I knew the grief had gone. Did it go overnight? No. But there was a distinctive change in me and it was a time to say ‘Right I am over that, let’s get on with things‘. During my depression I had put in place some important practices to help me get over it and it’s these points I want to share with you.
1 – ACCEPT THAT’S THE PLACE YOU ARE AT
I made the decision that I didn’t want to mask my pain. Maybe it’s an age thing or perhaps experience of life has taught me that there has to be times in your life that you are not happy, and so it’s ok to cry, it’s ok to feel sad. Rather than masking the pain by ignoring it or trying to avoid accepting my situation, I decided I would feel whatever it was I needed to feel to help me get over it. I believe this has made me stronger; I still have bad days now, but they don’t ‘feel’ as bad, so I seem to get over it much quicker. I was also gifted this quote by a colleague and it has so helped me too:
“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”
2 – GIRL POWER
Women find courage when they are around other women. Sisterhood is a positive and a rewarding element of life. Being around your girlfriends, even if it’s just simply coffee and chat, this can be the best medicine in world. People who are prepared to give up their time, whether that’s in person or over the phone, you should take them up on it. I know there are days where you really cannot face it, and you don’t really want to hear about how they’ve overcome child number 3 and their potty habits. But these people are giving you their precious time because they care.
And if you are the girlfriend that is helping a sad friend, keep the chat normal… don’t let them go round and round in circles talking through the same stuff, real life shit is good medicine, it reminds them that normal life goes on!
3 – LEARN TO SWITCH YOUR MIND OFF
Everyone has their own way of doing this. For some it’s running, a spa day, hitting the gym or getting your hair done. If I need to switch my mind off, stop it racing, get my positivity back, then I head to a matinee at my local cinema.
I buy the biggest box of popcorn and I let the movie take over me. I don’t go with anyone because I don’t want the chat…. I want the darkness, the peace of being on my own and the experience itself is going to preoccupy my mind. I can’t achieve this same state of mind watching a movie at home – but I’ve never left the cinema feeling like it’s not worked. It’s my kind of happiness.
Learn to find yours, do it, don’t apologies for it – you need your own ‘switching off’ time.
4 – TALK TO SOMEONE
In the early days of my depression, I was chatting my issues through on a weekly basis to a professional… after a few months it was fortnightly and before I knew it my appointments were six weekly. Sometimes you do need to talk and it just can’t be to family and friends. Chatting issues through and looking at the problem in different ways helps you to see things much clearer. When you can see clearly, you have the control.
5 – HUG A FURRY FRIEND
My dog, Alfonso, has saved me many a day! I’ve cried all over him, I’ve squeezed every hug out of him and he still bounces back for more. I realise not everyone can have a pet or perhaps even likes to be around animals. But even a trip to the zoo where you have no contact, I am sure will give you a warm feeling, especially when that Gorilla gives you a wink whilst eating a banana! Animals are so caring and simply stroking them can really reduce your stress levels.
6 – WHO’S YOUR ICON?
A good way to get your to focus on new and different things is to find a icon, someone who inspires you. What is it about them that you love? Is it their focus and determination, their creativity, or perhaps they are charitable and it’s something you would like to do. Having one or even two icons that you admire can help you start to evaluate what is important for you. I’ve found reading or watching biographies often leave me feeling like my life is a lot easier, or it reminds me that everyone has their own problems too – and they may just give you nuggets of how they have overcome their problems.
7 – FIND YOUR ANTHEM!
My last tip is to sing! And sing at the top of your voice… with the car window down and not giving a shit. You will feel fabulous and who cares if you are not in tune!!! Or go back to your childhood, get your hairbrush out and dance and sing around your bedroom – again who gives a shit if someone sees you… I think they would be happy to see that you are HAPPY!
Two of my favourites are ‘Bitch’ by Meredith Brooks and ‘Sing your own kind of music’ by Paloma Faith. I have many more by Pink, Lady Gaga and Dolly Parton… have you noticed a link? They are all strong, independent women and who doesn’t love that!!
Depression, grieving, mental health – words people try and avoid. Don’t avoid your own. Take control by seeking help, supporting yourself and surround yourself with people who want to help you get back on track. Suffering in silence and alone will make the journey a lot harder, and longer. Owning your issues, accepting your state of mind is so powerful and can be the hardest hurdle, and as the saying goes ‘a problem shared is a problem halved!’ And I personally think a cup of tea and a chat is the best medicine ever!! (Just add cake 😉 )
All the photos in this post were taken by Sarah Rider Photography