Grief is a heavy, difficult thing for anyone to manage. When you already struggle with a mental illness, it can be especially taxing; those who struggle with mental illness are actually at an increased risk for developing a grief disorder upon experiencing loss.
So, how do you manage grief when you already have a difficult time getting through some days because of your mental health?
Let Yourself Grieve
The first and most important thing: let yourself have the room you need to grieve. If you try to smother your feelings, they could eventually overwhelm you. Many people try to minimize or hide their suffering for the benefit of others; this isn’t healthy.
It’s important to remember that all of your emotions are valid and that you are entitled to feel grief and everything that comes with it. Our society doesn’t like “ugly” or “uncomfortable” things, and grief fits those descriptors, but just because we’ve been taught to cover it up for the comfort of the public doesn’t mean that we should. Remember that it’s okay to put yourself first.
It may be tempting to push others away right now, but please don’t. Mental illness and grief are isolating on their own, but when combined can become unbearable. While it may seem like no one understands what you are going through, grief is a universal human experience and the people around you may understand much better than you give them credit for, even if their experiences are different from your own. There is comfort to be found in your support system; the time to activate that system is now.
Remember: Healing is Often Cyclical and Takes Time
Many people are familiar with the idea of the five stages of grief, but it’s important to remember that all healing takes time. Whether you find yourself following those basic stages or not, every person is different in what their healing journey looks like. What might take a few weeks for one person to overcome can take months or even years for another.
If you find yourself feeling that grief again after you think you’ve healed, remember that healing is cyclical; it may occasionally come back around again, but each time you will process more and more of your grief and will be able to continue moving forward.
Get Help When You Need It
If you think your grief is more than you can manage on your own, if you get the feeling that it is more extreme than it should be or that it has been prolonged for too long, it’s important to get professional help.
Knowing when you need to go to therapy can be a big step in the right direction for your healing process. Remember that you are not alone and that there are people and resources who want to be there to help and support you when you need it. At Punk Rock Saves Lives, we care about mental health; and that’s why we encourage you to make the connections you need to support your own!