So today is Bell’s “Let’s Talk” day and, as the universe does, much has fallen in line with this day and the overall topic of mental health. I recently lost a friend who was travelling in Thailand and got into an accident on his scooter. Because loss and grief are two huge components in mental health, I wanted to share a post from my Medium page with you. Most of my creative writing and writing about mental-health is posted on that platform, but I will probably start posting more about it on this blog. Hope you guys find this helpful.
I’m am not the first person who has experienced loss or grief and I’m not pretending to be. But in my 29 years of life so far, I have experienced my fair share of losses— pets, an uncle, friends, all of my grandparents and my father. I’ve become almost accustomed to loss— not in a depressive way, although I have dealt with a lot of that too, but it has become familiar and I’ve learned the pattern and emotions I experience with it. I know what works and doesn’t work for me in order to grieve in a healthy manner and then move forward with my life. I know that sounds a little robotic and emotionless, but the thing is, once you’ve experienced your first loss, life keeps throwing them your way. The “why me?” question starts to become all too familiar when you think you have come out of the dark and then life just pushes you right back into that hole. And the more loss you experience the deeper and deeper that hole can get. So how do you get out of it then? Well, like I said, I’m not the first person who has experienced loss, but I have dealt with it enough in my life now that I’ve started to notice a pattern and that is what I think the first step for me was.
Emotions can be seen as physical, whole beings and if we learn enough about them and how they manifest and take hold of us, we have a better chance of overcoming them. I think the first thing to note is that you need to allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling. Being in touch with your emotions and having personal check-ins isn’t something that is appealing to most people because vulnerability is seen as weakness and no one wants to feel weak. I’m thankful that I grew up in a household where being in touch with your emotions and talking about them openly was something that was often practiced and I always felt safe. My mom is an empath so even when I couldn’t say what I felt, she just knew. But I realize a lot of people didn’t grow up like that or didn’t have a safe space to talk about their feelings, and if that wasn’t something that was ingrained or taught to you as a child, it makes it all the more difficult to learn as an adult. Empathy is an emotion that is super important to me, I think because of how I experienced it growing up. Still, to this day, I find it challenging when others aren’t as empathetic as me or what I’m use to. But it’s just one of those emotions that can’t be taught. You have to experience it, in order to learn it. So, finding a safe space where you can talk about your feelings within a group or even just one person who is empathetic, is sort of my “first step” to healing.
The next thing I find helpful, which leads to me why you’re reading this today, is writing. For me, I’ve always found writing therapeutic, but being able to sit down and write a post or anything for that matter when you’re incredibly sad isn’t always easy. That’s why I think, first, you need to be able to allow yourself to experience the wave of emotions that follow a loss. Because although they can drag you out and pull you under, and you can feel like you’re drowning, they inevitably bring you back to shore. It’s at that point where you have the power to choose how you want to move forward. You may not have had control or a choice in losing a loved one, but you are responsible for how you deal with it.
It’s taken me a very long time to get to this point, I really need to stress that. And I still struggle— often. But I’ve found some things that make the burden a little less heavy and it’s always been important for me to share my experiences with others in the hopes that it can make a difference. So, if you’re still reading this, I wanted to share with you a little bit about my friend, Tyler…
Recently, a close friend of mine lost his life while traveling in Thailand. Tyler was such a positive person. I know, I hear that all the time when people remember those who have died, but he really was. He would always throw parties and want to include everyone. He never invested his energy in drama and he was always the life of the party. He was kind and caring. When I was 18, he was one of my best friends. We hung out with each other often and he always had me laughing. He was half Ukrainian and half Fijian and we joked that he was my “Ukrainian brother from another mother”. We grew apart years later as friends do, but three years ago when I moved into Vancouver, we reconnected and started seeing each other again every once in a while. Although things weren’t exactly like how they once were, he was still just as funny, loveable and still threw huge parties. In November, I went to see one of my favourite artists, Odesza, perform. I met up with Tyler at the venue and we had the best time dancing, drinking and stayed up all night after with a bunch of his friends. I never had a bad time with him. It just shows how many people’s lives he affected by the flood of pictures and posts that are popping up all over my social media feeds. He truly was the best person, and although his life ended way too fucking soon, I know he would want all of his friends to get together and celebrate his life. To Tyler’s family— I will never know the extreme heartache you are experiencing. It’s unbearable. My deepest and sincere condolences go out to you. Tyler, I love you.