It should be no surprise that 2018 was a really rough year. The loss of my dad, and the grief that came with it, hit me hard. While that may seem "normal", it doesn't mean it was easy. I was also not expecting for my anxiety to go for a wild ride. The grief triggered anxiety, which triggered sadness. I speak about it now because I am tired of the stigma that surrounds mental health. And, to be quite frank, I'm tired of saying "I'm fine" or "I'm doing okay" in the rare occasion people ask how I'm doing. Mostly, I've found people don't want to talk about it.
I put immense pressure on myself to be the best daughter and wife that I could possibly be, and when I felt I had not lived up to the expectations I put on myself, I tore myself down. I got angry with myself when I saw an increase on the scale, knowing full well that I had gained a ton of muscle, but instead of believing that truth, I told myself lies about my body and my health. Also, grief can be very lonely, and I felt that. I felt it hard.
There's also the overwhelming obvious fact that my dad, my rock, is not here. Talking to him is not the same. He's not here. I can't pick up the phone and call him to share good news and to hear him say that he is proud of me. I can't call him when I need his advice. I can't get one of his hugs or look into his blue eyes. There were so many times this year when HE was the person I needed, and he wasn't here. And while it's true that he's looking out for me, and that he lives in my heart, and all those other cliche things people tell you about someone dying, it doesn't change the fact that he's. not. here.
That is not to say, though, that there were not moments where light shined through. There were, indeed, moments of healing. Which is really what I came here to talk about. I am not cured, and I may not even be "fine". But I am on my way to healing, at least a little bit, and I can recognize the people, places, and things that helped me to get to this point. I'm going to refer to them as my Grief Aids. Because, like a band aid, they did not cure me, but for a moment or two, they made me feel just a little bit better. I was trying to determine the best way to share these Grief Aids with you. I thought about making a long blog post listing all of them, but since I so rarely get comments on my blog, I am not sure that is the best way to do it anymore. So I have decided that throughout the month of December, I will post about these Grief Aids on Instagram. You will see people who have stood by me, music that has touched my heart, podcasts that served as a distraction, and more.
I have learned that it is important to hold onto the things that make you feel a little less alone. To use the tools that calm your anxieties before it gets out of hand. To turn to things that make you smile when all you want to do is cry. To grasp the things that make you feel alive, even for just a moment, when you feel numb. Life is hard, but it's possible to get through it, with little bursts of healing here and there.
Maybe the things that comforted me will bring the same to you. Maybe we can continue to share these tools, and have these conversations, instead of ignoring the pain and suffering.