In December 2017, I learnt what real, core-shaking grief felt like.
I had never expected to feel any grief or loss so early in my life (but then again, who does?) and I was literally falling down a rabbit hole of tears, stress, shock and anger.
After about a week or so, I had to go back to work. I had already used 2 weeks of a sick pay that I didn’t really have, and simply couldn’t afford to be not working any longer.
I thought I was okay, and could handle things. I drove back to Cairns without a hitch, and felt calm on the commute into work. I was able to speak about the funeral when asked, and genuinely thought that I was handling things well.
Until I opened up my emails, and saw several clients questioning why the hell things weren’t actioned 2 weeks ago.
There was so many fucking emails, and as I read each one all I could think was “Tonii died, isn’t that more important than your fucking business cards? She DIED.”
Annnnd, I broke down in tears at my desk.
I like to think that I can hold my emotions in check at work, but on that day I was a total mess.
I walked out the door and decided that I had to do something. The sadness was too intense. I was questioning every aspect of my life and wondering what the hell I was doing with it.
Thankfully, we have a headspace office just around the corner from work. I’ve always looked at headspace as this cool offering that would’ve been brilliant when I was a teenager – but little did I know that they happily service patients up to 25 years old.
I didn’t want to go. I really didn’t.
I didn’t want to admit defeat, and acknowledge that I was coping worse than James was. I felt guilty because she wasn’t my mother, and yet I was mourning as if she was.
Like I said, I was a mess.
Thankfully, the staff were lovely and saw my blotchy, teary face and immediately got me in for a 1 hour consultation session.
I felt silly confessing to all of my thoughts, and answering questions about different relationships and my upbringing, but by the end of it, I felt SO relieved.
Plus, it was nice to hear that I wasn’t in fact crazy or selfish, but acting completely normally for a gal in my situation.
From there, I had to go to a bullshit doctor at the bulk billing clinic and convince him to give me a mental health plan. He wrote “bereavement” on that letter and didn’t give me a second glance. Ugh.
I’m now 7 months into visiting headspace, and my god has it been a cathartic and eye opening experience.
Just by talking to a single professional once a month (who is fantastic and one of the smartest women I’ve ever met) my perspective, mindset and overall mental calmness has improved drastically.
Not only did she give me the knowledge to deal with my grief, but explained to me why I was reacting in this specific way and related that back to certain experiences in my childhood.
Now, I knew I had skeletons, but I didn’t realise they like to dance so much.
It’s a strange feeling, knowing that you’ve got shit going on but always telling yourself it’s not really that bad. That other people have it worse. That you don’t need to seek professional help.
There’s still such a bullshit stigma around reaching out to those who are actually qualified to help you. We’re happy to whinge to our girlfriends over a drink or five, but shudder at the idea of “being in therapy”.
Well, I’m in therapy. And I’m healing. And I’m getting educated on how to remove stressors from my life so I can feel calmer and happier.
I wanted to put this out there in case anyone is currently feeling shit and not sure how to handle it.
All I can say is this: there’s no shame AT ALL in reaching out, and it will be the best fucking investment you ever make in yourself.
Also, headspace is free – so take advantage of that while you can 🙂
Until next time,