As I sit here on a chilly Saturday evening with a warm cup of tea and my pup on my lap, I find myself reflecting on my healing journey, acknowledging how far I’ve come and having hope for what’s yet to come.
I was thinking the other day and realized that if I had to share one lesson about what I’ve learned about Mental Health & Healing, it would be that your body is always communicating. Even if you’re not aware of how you feel or know what triggers your emotions, your body will still communicate with you. Sometimes you choose to ignore what your body tells you but this usually results in a full-on breakdown or the start of physical symptoms. Truthfully, I feel like this was a lesson that I had to learn over, and over, and over again until there was a point where I became physically sick and therefore had no other choice but to put everything on pause and listen to my body.
After losing a loved one, your body enters a state of shock; a state that is so unfamiliar and scary. Your body starts to surprise and confuse you by showing symptoms, even without your consent. These symptoms may include tension headaches, an upset stomach, insomnia, loss of appetite, lack of energy, feeling off, or feeling so anxious that you can’t get out of bed. I remember that there were days where I would be sitting in class and then all of a sudden, my hands and feet would go completely numb. I also remember days where I felt so anxious and nauseous that I couldn’t get out of bed. These days were filled with extreme anxiety, useless worries, and un-ending questions & doubts. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced this (I hope you haven’t), but there were times where I felt like I just couldn’t breathe properly. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize until years later, that the more I buried and swallowed my thoughts and feelings, the more my body would suffer and show physical pain. I mean I somewhat understood that my mind and body were going through a lot but I definitely failed to take action and help myself for years. The year after my dad passed, I recall being very stubborn and I didn’t want to even think about seeing a counsellor or taking meds. Why in the world would I unravel all the pain and hurt when I could just focus on other things like, I don’t know, school? And why would I take medication for anxiety and depression if they have side effects that could make things worse? Oh, and my schedule is SO busy. I’m already feeling overwhelmed so I really don’t have time to talk about my feelings. Meds? Uhm… no thanks.
Let’s just say that I rage at my old self for thinking this way and making – what seemed to be at the moment – more important things first before my health. If I’m being straight forward here, counselling has not only changed my life but it has saved my life. To be able to talk to someone about anything and everything without being judged and feeling safe, is honestly an amazing feeling. Sometimes we just need to vent to someone outside our circle. Yes stepping out of my comfort zone wasn’t easy and was very uncomfortable but slowly and surely, I felt more and more comfortable talking about how my dad died. I also came to realize that I had been holding onto baggage that kept weighing me down. With time, I got to the point where I could talk about my Dad passing to others without crying. This step of acceptance and understanding played such a crucial part of my healing journey. I remember some counselling sessions were much more difficult than others but what I love about counselling is that I am able to reflect and make realizations that I wouldn’t be able to make on my own. After only a couple months of receiving therapy, I could see improvements in my physical health. It took time and a lot of patience but I was starting to cope better, respond to stress better, sleep better, and get myself wanting to do fun things again. I was able to get out of bed at a decent time, make myself healthier meals, I even started going to the gym again. Not only did I start to feel more motivated to take on each day but I was starting to be ME again.
It’s evident that counselling continues to change many lives, including mine, for the better. Although it may take some time to find the right fit, it is 110% worth it – especially in the long run. It may seem daunting and uncomfortable at first but you’ve got to remind yourself that you are only human which means that you are a social being that needs to let things out and work through them in order to thrive.
So I ask you to ask yourself, how are you feeling today? How have you been feeling overall lately? How is your body responding to things? IS there something your body is trying to tell you? You know, it’s during times like these – where we are living through a pandemic and asked to quarantine in our homes for months – that we shouldn’t be afraid to reach out and let others know that we need help or are struggling. It’s times like these where we need to also play a part in asking our friends and family members how they are doing. We need to do our part to encourage one another and help build each other up!
Moral of the story? Life is not easy. Life is pretty complex and confusing. Life can become so intimidating. If I didn’t look to my family, my friends, my faith, my resources, I really don’t know where I would be right now. So, just because we are hurt about the past and aren’t certain about what tomorrow brings, doesn’t mean that we should lose all hope. Make your mental health a priority and become more aware of what your body tells you. Your overall health relies on the wellness of your mental and emotional health. It relies on how you cope, deal, and work through the tough times. I certainly could not and can not do it alone – and neither should you!
Some Helpful Mental Health Resources
– I am only human and I am allowed to feel the way that I do.
– I accept and do not judge myself for feeling sad or upset.
– I allow myself to take time & space to heal.
– I will be gentle with myself through this healing process.
– I believe in my ability to manifest happiness, forgiveness & healing.
– I choose to allow myself to heal.
– I know that only I can help myself and take action.
– Everything in my life is working out just the way it should be.
– I am loved by many. I am not alone.
Verse of the day
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble – Psalm 46:1
Finding Mental Health Support
As I emphasized, Mental health is just as important as your physical health. Learn about supports available to you & how to get help when you need it!
– Online: https://www.betterhelp.com/helpme/
– Those who live in Ontario, Canada: https://www.ontario.ca/page/find-mental-health-support
– Need Prayer? https://crossroads.ca/247prayer/
– Global Mental Health Resources: https://checkpointorg.com/global/