My Story of Recovery from Grief, Loss and Depression and Mental Health Resources
As someone who has recovered from grief, loss and depression, this is a topic very dear to my heart.
I’m not alone in my experience — nearly 50 million adults in the United States alone manage a mental illness, even more suffer the loss of a loved one every day. And right now, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and mandates, many millions of people are suffering.
Even those who don’t have diagnosed disorders are experiencing sadness, anxiety, loneliness, loss, stress and frustration like never before.
My Story Of Grief, Loss And Depression
In 2015 my husband and I were Married. We chose Rome Italy for our ceremony. We were fortunate to travel all over Italy for an extended period of time. The trip was the experience I’d hoped for. When we had returned home from the trip, we were both really healthy.
Then, two years in, there was a huge shift with my husband. There were changes that didn't make sense to me, I started to feel my anxiety flare up. I began to see my husband dwindle into a very sick man. The man I had married had lost all reality who he was. He had lost all reality who I was. And who we were. I started worrying about how I was going to handle this, let alone how to survive it.
At first I brushed these episodes off as the kind of thing that came with older age. But I couldn’t deny that the feeling behind this was one of terror and panic. I wasn’t just concerned — I was horrified.
My anxiety got much worse
My anxiety got worse with each passing week. I couldn’t sleep. I had panic attacks. My insomnia was so bad that I needed something to help me fall asleep.
Scariest of all was the fact that when I looked at my husband, I didn’t recognize him. He was just a shell of the man I married. This disconnect plunged me into depression.
I tried to fix the problem in all kinds of ways. I called every doctor friend and wellness expert I knew of to ask for their opinion for his illness and for my depression. I was worried about taking too much medicine for anxiety and sleep, but nothing still worked. I was so sleep-deprived that I was having panic attacks regularly.
Hitting the lowest point with grief, loss and depression
I hit a new bottom in June 2017. A few days before my sons Birthday, I was so depressed, anxious and exhausted that I just froze, I could not make any decisions. I had taken too long to get honest with myself, with what was really going on- and how I couldn't stop or control what was happening to my husband, to me, or to us.
As I sat on the stairs and began to cry, I felt ashamed and beaten down as well as afraid. Finally, I knew it was time to surrender. I couldn’t go on like this any longer. I prayed for help.
That afternoon, my adult son intervened. He said he thought I had PTSD from my past loss and grief, and with all I was going through, he suggested I begin to get into a healthier place, both mentally and physically, and move on from my husbands illness, that was incurable. I had no idea what that looked like.
My son's recommendation alarmed me. But I prayed for help, so I stayed open. I made some calls and met with Doctors and Mental health professionals who specialized in my husbands illness. I also needed to take care of my own mental health while going through this loss.
I received some closure that I finally had a diagnosis for him and a healing path for me. But the wave of loss and grief came crashing over me like a tsunami, because there was no cure for him. My world came crashing down around me with anxiety, fear, loss and depression.
Accepting help and speaking up-keeping a promise to myself
I have a choice. I can stay silent and isolated — or I can speak up. As part of my spiritual practice, I have been guided to open up about this unspoken isolation in order to help others. This has also been part of my commitment to my spiritual practice to be healthy, body, mind and soul.
Today, Im posting about my most recent loss and grief journey.
Two weeks ago on Saint Patricks day, I received a late night phone call that one of my brothers was in the hospital in ICU, they told me he was unconscious, and had a bad stroke. Unfortunately, due to Covid 19, I was unable to go see him. The next day my brother suddenly passed away. I wasn't able to say goodbye. He was the first sibling to pass away in our family of 12 children. He was number 9, I am number 12.
This has been the catalyst for me speaking up now. I want to be able to serve others who have suffered with loss, grief and depression. Ive decided to be very public about my experience's. I’m committed to erasing the stigma of mental health for myself and others. No matter what the loss is you are experiencing-Whether it's a marriage that must end, a terminal illness, or a death of a loved one in your life; Loss and Grief has been the most excruciating pain I've ever had to deal with.
I’m no stranger to Loss, grief and saying goodbye. Ive said goodbye to three marriages now. Ive lost both my Mom and Dad to death. I have lost 2 nephews to death. (one to suicide, and another one to an accidental overdose). Ive learned a lot over the years and have shared very little about my experiences and how much my mental health means to me. I show up daily and continue to do the work for myself. And I continue to do it with the most recent loss of my brother 2 weeks ago. Our willingness to be vulnerable is where our true power lies.
If you’re experiencing loss, grief, anxiety and depression, I recommend seeking help. Working with a therapist is an amazing act of self care. I know we cant always control when we loose someone or when its time to say goodbye. I have a huge family and I know very much what it feels like to loose someone I love. Knowing how to get the right help is imperative to your own mental health. Staying isolated with loss and depression is not the answer. Reaching out is the first step.
Ive collected several resources from many searches and experience's, that I'll list below. In the list, I include links for treatment and support.
Once again, in 2017, my willingness to ask for help and do the work cleared my path toward healing. It wasn’t always easy, and I still had resistance. I had a hard time being patient and wanted to force myself to recover faster. I had to remember to allow my self the time I needed to grieve, and what that looked like every single day, without it swallowing me up.
Recovering is a Gift
One beautiful lesson Ive learned through my recovery is that the GOOD things can coexist with the HARD things. Im here today, And I can celebrate my resilience. Im healthy, confident and strong as a result of my willingness to seek help. And while Im on my healing journey with the loss of my brother, Ive recovered from past trauma and depression, and no longer have the stigma of mental health. Mental and physical health is a daily practice for me. And a promise I made to myself.
It doesn't matter who you are, how spiritual you are, where you come from, or what you look like. If you’re suffering with one or more of these conditions, it doesn’t mean you’re broken or inferior or weak;
Anxiety, loss, grief, depression, panic, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, personality disorders, PTSD, addiction disorders, eating disorders, and every other type and expression of mental illness.
In fact, living with these conditions requires extraordinary strength. Recovery, however it looks for you, however hard it may be, is something to be deeply proud of.
Reaching out isn't always easy, especially if you suffer from one of the more stigmatized and debilitating disorders. Loss and grief can bring on so much trauma, that it affects us so differently and most deeply.
Please be an advocate for yourself. You are worth it.
General Mental Health Resources
SAMHSA.gov has a free, confidential helpline available 24/7. The number is 1-800-662-4357. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups and community organizations.
Selected Resources for Coping with Loss
COVID—19 mental health resources
Be sure to check out resources available in your state, city or other local community, in addition to the links below.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, PHYSICAL ABUSE & SEXUAL ASSAULT
RAINN is an organization for helping sexual assault survivors. Free, confidential sexual assault hotline is available 24/7: 800-656-HOPE (800-656-4673). You can also chat online with a counselor.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline is free, confidential and available 24/7. Call 1-800-799-7233 or TTY 1-800-787-3224.
How Are You Supporting Yourself (And Others) Right Now?
I want to hear from you! If you feel called to share, leave a comment on this post and let me know how you’re supporting your own mental health during this time.
And if you’re also caring for others, whether that’s your own family/friends or the greater community, please feel free to share whatever resources you’re relying on now.