After the death of my husband Craig I knew I needed help.
It wasn’t even a question of ‘if’ I would seek help, but more so ‘when’.
Actually it wasn’t even a matter of ‘when’.
I wanted help immediately.
After Craig’s death, I honestly felt like I had a brain injury, it was a wonder I could even remember my name sometimes. Everything that took place the night he died, along with subsequent events, has been incredibly intense. I felt like I had been knocked sideways – mentally, emotionally and physically.
So began a new journey for me. Aptly titled ‘mental as anything’.
By nature, I am a problem solver, and finally I had some huge problems I wanted to be solved!
So away I went.
Throughout the last 16 months I have talked very openly about my experiences with my own mental health and how I have approached it. There is absolutely no shame (and I mean no shame) in my ‘mental as anything’ game. In fact I’ve embraced it wholeheartedly. I’ve tried a lot of things, and I still have a lot more I’m sure I will try.
I’ve tried psychology, counselling, kinesiology, osteopathy. I’ve seen an a medium, an intuitive reader, had my angel cards read and dabbled in reiki. At one point I was seeing a counselor at the same time as a psychologist with quite a funny result. I’d see a psychologist on a Monday and follow up with the counsellor on a Tuesday. Of course after a psychology session I’d often be feeling great and reassured. I’d turn up to the counsellor feeling on top of the world. He thought I was most well-adjusted widow he’d met – so he gave me the sack after four sessions!
I’ve always been a bit fascinated by the brain, our emotions and the links to our physical body.
Following Craig’s death I was very concerned for my mental and emotional health. Seeking help had been on my mind literally since the day after his death. Because I knew that I was up for a pretty huge fight and it was a fight on two fronts.
- Grief – my husband had died. In the space of a few hours, my whole life had been tipped on its head and the magnitude of this loss in my life was going to have some big repercussions as I faced a new world alone as a single mum of a precious four year old daughter.
- Trauma – He died of an asthma attack right before my very eyes – and on the scale of messed up stuff to witness, I’m pretty sure it’s up there. You can’t play a role in that kind of event and expect that you can just go back to your normal life.
Initially after Craig’s death I focused on my mental health by seeing a psychologist. It has been quite the journey and I will share more about my experiences with this and EMDR therapy at a later point. But I adore my psychologist, I really do. My time with her has been invaluable.
While addressing my mental health was a good start, there were other parts of me that were not being addressed. I needed emotional help, and maybe a little spiritual help and guidance too. This is probably the part where you think I’m a bit hippy dippy. But I’m a firm believer that you really should give anything a go. I’ve loved this part of this journey. It has provided some good laughs and some incredible moments that I will be sure to share.
But I severely underestimated my physical health. My brain has been under immense pressure and I didn’t realise that it would soon play out in me physically. I have always had a relatively healthy body. I’ve never broken a bone, never experienced any type of ongoing pain or health issue. But suddenly I was. An inability to sleep, constant jaw pain, inexplicable back and neck pain. My body was breaking down and sometimes it still does. And it’s hard not to feel frustrated, angry and depressed when this is occuring. So I’ve had to really focus on this aspect of my life too.
Ultimately though, I see this as a three pronged attack. If I address and keep on top of my mental, emotional and physical health then I’m allowing myself the best chance to heal and to live a good life. So why wouldn’t I invest my time, energy and let’s face it, my dollars in achieving this. Pay now, or pay later.
Not everything works, and that’s ok. What works for me, might not work for you. What makes me feel good might not make you feel good. But trying, is a step in the right direction. What is the worst that can happen?
So keep an eye on this one. And of course, if you have suggestions of anything to try that has helped you, let me know, I’m always curious.
Please note I have no formal qualifications in these areas, except my own experience. Always seek professional help and advice if you’re struggling.
Want to know more about Jo’s mental health journey? Read her post Psyched up.