It’s Mental Health Awareness Week and it got me thinking this morning. When I’ve commented about our recovery being a mental health issue, a few people have commented that it isn’t a mental health issue, it’s grief, it’s different – as if trying to make me feel better because labelling grief as a mental health issue is incorrect and wrong?
I think it does a disservice to grief and mental health to see the two as separate things. Grief is mental health issue and that is completely okay. There should be no stigma attached to that, because there should be no stigma attached to mental health. Yet, stillbirth, grief, mental health is surrounded by hushed words and heaps of stigma.
To be grieving doesn’t have to mean you are diagnosable as having a mental health condition. It doesn’t mean you are depressed, anxious, experiencing post traumatic stress disorder or any number of conditions. But it can. It often does. And both scenarios are perfectly okay.
Talking about something with the viewpoint of recognising it as a mental health issue, facilitates a healthy approach to mental health. Mental health isn’t just about diagnosis. We should approach mental health how we (in the most part) approach physical health.
To maintain my physical health I attempt to eat healthy, I drink plenty of water, I try and move and exercise, get fresh air, look after myself. I’m not great at it, though. Why don’t we have a positive approach to maintaining mental health, and recognise that it is just that – and use the term MENTAL HEALTH?
Grief is something that teaches you or tries to teach you how to maintain your own mental health. We talk about it, because it helps. We run, because it helps. We get rid of the those who don’t serve us, because it helps. We go to support groups, because it helps. We cry when we need to, because it helps. We light candles, because it helps. Everything we do, because it helps, is us serving our own mental health. We say it helps and what we mean is it helps our own mental health. It’s quite like saying incase the worst happens as the reason we don’t reveal pregnancy until 12 weeks incase of miscarriage. Say the words people, it helps.
Supporting ourselves in a bid to feel better and not fall deeper into that hole is part of the learning curve in this world. Experimenting to find out what is beneficial. We need to do these things to protect or help our mental health, because we are grieving. Therefore, in my eyes, grief is absolutely a mental health issue.
My counsellor told me it wasn’t. But it is. That’s why you get offered counselling. I may not have a diagnosis of mental health, nor do I think I’m in a position to need one currently, but I still need to recognise grief as a mental health issue – grief affects my emotional wellbeing, my mindset, my motivation, my mental and physical health. Many tools that serve those who are affected by other mental health issues also serve those experiencing grief.
The topic of mental health is not solely about those who are ill. Just in the same way that physical health is not solely about those who are ill.
Finding what helps is a lifeline in grief. Blogging helps me so much more than I ever thought it would. It’s a necessity for my own mental health.
What helps you in your mental health whilst grieving? What doesn’t help you? Are you serving your own mental health as well as your physical health? What mental health care are your receiving, if any? Aftercare is such an important thing, yet is so lacking.