Oh, it’s okay to be
A little broken and beat
But I’m alright with that
You’re with me, relax
And you call it weak
Baby, you’re just unique
Come out of the black
Never hold it back
It’s amazing to read such positive blogs/reports/research on mental health recently. I guess it’s another topic that has been unspoken for such a long time. I had no idea that 1 in 4 people will experience mental health problems each year. I did not know that PTSD was more common than Depression.
Since Jason died I have battled with my own mental health/grief and for me they both come hand in hand. I have always had anxiety issues but they got much worse. My anxieties would come from nights out, meeting new people but I now find I get anxious when I am meeting friends, family parties and sometimes even going to work can cause me to feel anxious. I don’t suffer as much as others, I don’t see it as a “problem” because I know about it. Sometimes I do let it consume me, I cancel plans or find excuses not to see people but that is for my own mental health not because I am letting my anxiety win. I force myself to go to work because if I don’t, I never will and then yes it has won. I pick my battles and have learnt to take care of myself before taking care of others needs (sometimes!)
Since Jason died my mind has been opened to so much more than my own mental health. I have seen loved ones suffer, because of MY body, because I couldn’t do anything to keep my son alive. I have seen loved ones fight battles they should never have to fight. I have pushed my own husband to live a “normal” life. I have made him go to work when he physically couldn’t and I have had to pick up the pieces when things have completely snapped. I have been left feeling overwhelmed at taking care of myself, my family, a living and a non-living child and I have been left feeling worried about them; wondering just how bad their own mental health is and how far they can really go.
Mental health can take a huge toll on relationships; it is so hard to understand when the person suffering is unable to talk about it or make sense of it themselves but it is also frustrating; to feel like you are walking on eggshells, worrying about whether to talk about something or just let it go, wanting to share news with them but being unsure how they will take it. It is a difficult path that is surely going to make some cracks in the foundations eventually but the way I look at it is that nothing is ever perfect and you have to work at relationships all the time and this is no different.
You got such sad eyes, turn blue to grey
And it hurts me to see you hurt this way
It has taken me a long time to find ways to support my husband. Sometimes I feel like I am helping and other times I don’t. He is very withdrawn a lot of the time and doesn’t like to talk about it more often than not so it is hard to know what to do.
I compiled a list of strategies that I have found have helped me in the past when dealing with my own anxieties but also ways I have found to understand my loved ones mental health too and if I am honest the only reason I am writing this is because if it helps one person support someone they know it will help make mental health a much easier topic to discuss and overcome.
1) Don’t force them to talk about it: I have always made it known that I will always listen but it has to be on their terms otherwise it can do more damage than good.
2) Be patient: it has taken 3 years for us to get to a point where we are able to support each other, there is no timeline and mental health, like grief, doesn’t work in a straight line, you can’t just magically be cured over night.
3) Be calm yourself: if I am stressed and worked-up I know I am no help to anyone.
4) Listen: being a good listener means you don’t need to give advice but just be there. My husband doesn’t talk about his PTSD however I would never force him to either. It can be hard to listen to, especially with a topic such as baby loss as it can affect you both however listening and showing them you are respectful of what they are saying will ensure they don’t feel like they cannot discuss the topic again.
5) Managing triggers or being able to see a trigger before it happens can help. For us, Fathers Day, birthdays, christmas are all huge triggers and can cause an attack but sometimes it isn’t always easy to spot the trigger until it is too late.
There are so many support groups locally and online who can also offer advice/support to those suffering or those living with sufferers too. It is so hard to lose yourself in the spiral. I know for me, I must take care of myself first otherwise I am useless to my husband when he is having a “bad day” as we call it.