Thursday, 4 July 2013

Grief = Depression Y/N?

I've been hearing through various forms of media lately, that grief may be classified as a form of clinical depression, through some complicated form of analysis..
A part of me is happy that there is finally some recognition for grief, but the other part of me is shaking it's head and saying 'What the...?'
All too often when someone is on a grief expedition of any kind, whether it is the loss of a loved one or a job, we do get sad and depressed. How could we not? Our life has changed dramatically. Things will never be the same. We will never be the same.
As we struggle to pick up the pieces, we are told to start looking ahead, don't worry, time will heal, think about 'other stuff' or just 'get over it'.
Nobody wants to talk about grief. It makes us feel uncomfortable. After all, what can we sat to make the other person feel better? Well, lets face it, not a lot..but we could listen.
There is no easy answer to helping someone while they are in their grief bubble. The best and kindest thing we can do is to allow them to release some of their thoughts, angst and even guilt (which is usually misplaced or magnified during a grief cycle) they are carrying around.
Most people, including me, find it difficult to express the many aspects of our grief. We feel out of step with the world. It's as if we have lost our beginning and our end - we are stuck there, somewhere in the middle, unsure which direction we should travel in.
As we hold in our emotions, pain and loss, we can withdraw into ourselves as we try to work our way through it all.
After losing someone we love, we already have a feeling of disconnection and being/feeling different. So when those we depend on aren't offering us the support and encouragement we desperately need, we can spiral into the dark depths of a grief based depression. Once we are there, it can seem like a struggle to get out again.
Most of us reach for help in one for or another. If we feel we aren't getting it, we can turn to habits and addictions. I know for me, after being smoke-free for over 20 years, I turned to cigarettes. They became my best friends. They were always there, it didn't matter what time of the day or night. They were never too busy or worried they would upset me. I didn't have to explain, all I needed to do was reach for them and there they were.
It took me over four years to feel I could survive without my 'best friends'. It was a long slow process, where I discovered who I was, what I liked about me, what I didn't, what I wanted to do and what I didn't. It has been a hell of a ride and I am not the same person I once was.
I haven't 'got over' my grief, its still there. Not a day goes past without sadness, regret or pain. I accept that this is just the way it will be. For so long I fought against what I was going through. I had never seen anyone else go through grief before. I hadn't seen how it rips the rug out from underneath you and sets you on your arse, wondering how the hell you will ever stand up again. Grief had always been something that was hidden within the dark corners of 'society's laws'.
It isn't that complicated really. Grief makes you sad. It makes you depressed. It can make you feel as if you want to end your life. It can make you feel unreasonable and unrealistic guilt. It can make you feel that life isn't worth living without the person you lost. It can leave you disconnected and lonely. It can make you afraid and fearful. It can rock your world. It can make you angry with the world, with yourself, or with no one in particular. Whether we want to admit it or not, grief helps us get in touch with our emotions, especially the ones, we haven't looked at or wanted to acknowledge.
The best we can hope is to through it, to find our way through this midnight maze of sadness and torment, to find that place of peace within our hearts. For it is when we reach that point, we can begin to believe life really is 'for us' and we start to honour ourselves, our life and our place in the world.

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