0

Grieving and Mental Illness

Writing by Sinead Simpkins // Photograph by Laiz Azevedo // Although I see a psychologist and take medication to help me cope with my mental illness, there are still days where I feel anxious about leaving the house or days where I lay in bed, not wanting today to happen at all.

Writing by Sinead Simpkins // Photograph by Laiz Azevedo

At the start of this year I lost my older sister to cancer. This hit me extremely hard because I lost someone who I have always looked up to and was inspired by. The effects of this death has hit all those around her in multiple ways, but I wanted to talk about how I handled this and how it effected my mental health. I have dealt with grief before with my dad passing away ten years ago–I was 12 and he passed away from a sudden heart attack. Both of these deaths have shaped me and the grieving process has not gotten any easier.

To cope with the recent death, I started going to see a psychologist. She is the most wonderful person and she understands exactly what I am going through. I am fortunate enough to live in Australia where we have Medicare and seeing a doctor or a psychologist is free. I was initially diagnosed with mild depression at 13 and mild anxiety at 17, which explained a lot when I was growing up. At 23, I saw my psychologist to double check if I still had those mental illnesses and I was told that at that point that I had severe anxiety and moderate depression. This was due to the grieving I had about the loss of someone special. I was put on medication for anxiety and depression and my psychologist, and as well as my other older sister have repeatedly told me this is entirely normal because of the grieving process. I was reassured that I was purely “normal” (whatever that really means) and if I wasn’t acting in this way, then it would be a major concern.

Although I see a psychologist and take medication to help me cope with my mental illness, there are still days where I feel anxious about leaving the house or days where I lay in bed, not wanting today to happen at all. I am still lacking energy and find it hard to enjoy things I previously did. I quit hockey because it reminded me too much of the times when my sister or my dad took me to games or training and I purposely avoid places I went to with dad or my sister because it reminded me too much of them. I notice it will be hard to make my life as normal as it previously was. However, in the meantime, with the help of my family and friends, I decid to find new hobbies. I start walking in the morning and in the afternoon around the block, I pick up writing, and start reading again. I try and write a to do list so I can focus on being busy or aiming to do something that will get me out of my bed–even if it’s just going to my post office box to get my mail. It gets me out of my bed.

My advice for people going through a similar situation as me is to seek help. Reach out to people, whether it is friends or a helpline. Mental illnesses won’t cure themselves over night (although, I am sure that I am not the only one saying that I wish it could!). We need to learn how to deal with it and do whatever we are capable of that day.

Leave a Reply