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Grief can come from many different losses. The loss of a friend, the loss of a job, the loss of a home, the loss of a pet, the loss of a loved one and so on. Grief can send anyone into depression, but can be doubled when you’re already suffering with a mental illness. It can send someone with mental illness to the point of crisis or to the hospital. Those overwhelming feelings flood a sick person with more emotions than he or she can handle. If you’re in recovery, it can trigger your illness and send you into the dark hole once again.
When I was in eighth grade and my Uncle Tim was killed by a drunk driver, I was numb, but later when my cousin died in a car accident, I fell to the deepest part of the dark hole. I had, for many years, been struggling with a deep sadness and when my cousin died, the sadness became unbearable. I became suicidal, I started injuring, and I became victim to an abusive relationship, I couldn’t keep food down and I couldn’t stop crying. I felt as if the person I once was died and all that was left was a walking carcass. I couldn’t handle living.
Many years later, when I fell back into my depression, a friend told me she could not handle my illness and ended our friendship, I fell apart. I cried endlessly and began injuring more often. I blamed myself for the end of our friendship and I punished myself not only physically but mentally. The feelings rushed through my body becoming devastating and I found it almost impossible to let go. I wrote her notes some pleading for her friendship back and some filled with anger and distorted thoughts.
I even grieved the loss of my abusive ex-boyfriend. I thought I was going to live the rest of my life with him. When he packed up my stuff and told me I had to leave, I lost it and stuck my hand through a window. I couldn’t handle the loss and ended up in the hospital. I wasn’t sure if I was grieving for him or the realization I was a victim of another abusive relationship. I hated God and myself. I couldn’t handle life and the thought of even existing another day. My parents and I thought the hospital was the best place for me to be.
In therapy I had to learn how to handle grief without going into a crisis. I had to realize I could survive loss and continue to go on. It did not mean that my life had ended. I also learned to turn to others for support instead of hiding my pain. My therapist taught me to feel the pain, but not let the pain take control of me. She taught me many other steps that helped me work through grief without hitting rock bottom and steps to recover from a loss. She told me I could continue to live my life after a loss. I didn’t need to shut down and give up.
Grief is a powerful trigger to mental illness, but it doesn’t mean it is the end of your life. It is a major change in your life, but you can go on. Learn healthy ways to deal with grief and ways to find the road to recovery without hitting rock bottom.
Since I learned ways to deal with grief I am much stronger. I struggle with loss like everyone else, but I no longer let it push me down the hole. I now stand in the light with confidence.