Picture Illustrated Above: From the Ouside Looking In by Isabella Madrid
From the outside looking in it's hard to understand. From the inside looking out it's hard to explain. ~Anon~
I started writing this article about 8 months ago. I was keen to explore and write about mental health from a personal standpoint but, unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to finish it. You see, with the best will in the world, #Life always takes precedence over whatever things we have planned to do...
We are currently living in a time such as this, where we can only take one day at a time; things that are outside of our control, will remain so until we start getting back to our normal daily routines again. We are all impacted and restricted by so many things. This global pandemic has wreaked havoc across the entire globe and, I think it befitting now to share this post, as it comes from my personal experience and, is something that others may have or are currently experiencing, and can relate to.
The thing is, you don't realise how mental health issues affect you and your loved ones, until you've come up-close-and-personal with it and, have come through the other side with the opportunity to look back on what was happening back then, and be able to talk about the experience.
Just over 10 years ago, my mother sadly passed-away. At that time, I hadn’t realised her passing had, had such a profound effect on my daughter’s mental health and wellbeing. You see, she was the first granddaughter in our family, and the apple of my mum’s eye. From the word go, my daughter was with my mum at every opportunity available - which was most weekends.
Now, my mum could cook and Blossom's Kitchen was the place to be!
My mum's cooking and baking was well known by a lot of people in the small town where I grew up. She whipped up delectable meals and tasty bites, that got my brother's friend knocking on our door on Friday's (her baking day) under the pretext that they had come to visit him but, secretly hoping my mum would offer them some of her callaloo patties, spiced bun or bulla cakes.
As I write, the memory of the kitchen and the pantry, with the little window slightly ajar to allow the baked goods enough ventilation to cool naturally. Such wonderful memories and wonderful smells are conjured up enveloping my nostrils. From day one, my daughter was inducted into the art of seasoning and culinary skills to create wonderful and tasty food from Jamaica, one of the Caribbean islands in the West Indies. My mother would have her in the kitchen with her and my daughter was very observant, just sat and watched her until, she was old enough to try out the recipes for herself.
At the time of my mother's passing, my daughter was at college taking four A Levels and, although we knew my mother was terminally ill, it was still a total shock when she passed-away.
I was so enveloped in my own grief, that I didn't realise that it had hit my daughter hard too. I had a young son who was 2 years old at the time so, not only was I preoccupied looking after my son, I was sorting through the finite details of the memorial service being held here in the UK before we all flew to Jamaica, the land of my mother’s birth, for her homecoming service and final resting place.
It wasn't until we returned to the UK after my mother was laid to rest, that the severity of mental health issues hit me hard. It was as if my emotions had been dichotomised and stored away, so I could make the necessary funeral arrangements with my siblings. Everything else was happening, in what seemed like a parallel universe! Sounds strange and a bit like the Twilight Zone but, that is what it seemed like at the time.
Life Goes On...
The world keeps turning and life goes on...
Whilst we were away, the results for my daughter's A Levels came out and, by the time we returned to the UK, all the desired courses and colleges had been snapped up, with the remaining choices for her deemed as undesirable or unsuitable.
There's a saying... “You don't know what you don't know.” I hadn't realised that my daughter could retake her A Levels and the college would've granted it. If I had known this, I certainly would've gone straight to them and outlined the extenuating circumstances that had impacted her studies and exam. My daughter wasn't aware that she could retake her A Levels. She was so bereft at the loss of her grandmother; she couldn't function and, went into a period of silence and seclusion but, what was unbeknown to me this is where her depression manifested and utilised the solitude, she took to take hold and grow. I had no knowledge of mental health issues and just took her silence and wanting to be alone just her way of grieving for her grandmother.
Thank goodness I was able to spot the signs and speak to my daughter about how she was feeling and what I could do to help her.
I went from just being her mother to a ‘Hybrid Mum.’ You see as an emotional intelligence coach, I am used to coaching individuals around the challenges they face whether it is work related, personal or both. I use the term hybrid mum because that is what I became when dealing with my daughter’s mental health issues. I was still her mother first and foremost but, I had to work with her to support her in the best way I could and talk through with her how she was feeling and the overall impact it was having on her emotional health and wellbeing.
It is good to talk… This is a UK focused question… Do you remember the old BT advert with Maureen Lipman? She had rung her grandson congratulating him on his exams… The tagline was ‘it’s good to talk’? Yes, well it was the case here with my daughter and, it helped her immensely as, we were able to work through and get the right support she needed to help her through the space where she was held in suspended animation. She wasn’t moving forward or backwards; she was just static and felt totally helpless.
It took a good while for her to pluck up the courage and speak to someone else who could definitely help her and, when she did, the road to her facing her fears, anxieties and depression, seemed a lot less scary. She started talking a lot more about how she was feeling.
Not everyone can do that, but it seemed to work for my daughter. I asked her if I could write about her experience with mental health issues and she agreed. I am so grateful that she did open-up, speak to someone in a professional capacity, in order to get the help she desperately needed. Many will want it and need it but, will not speak to anyone about it.
A Time Such as This…
We are living in an unprecedented time. The COVID-19 pandemic has hit everyone hard globally and as restrictions are being lifted, so will the veil on people’s emotional health and wellbeing will be lifted.
Many people have lost loved ones, relatives and/or friends and, when we get back to the ‘new normal’ and whatever that looks like. There will be gaping chasms of emotions bubbling ready to burst forth. The deluge will be indescribable, because people will finally be able to grieve at the loss, the restrictions placed on them during the pandemic and lockdown process. Not being able to grieve properly; the void it leaves them with, the heavy burden and upset, not forgetting, the hurt and pain of not saying goodbye…
There is no shame in having mental health issues… Get the help you need and contact the professionals who can help you through whatever you are going through.
You don’t have to do this alone…
Jacqueline A. Hinds is a certifed Emotional Intelligence Coach & Bullying and Harassment Consultant - Author of Journey to Empowerment: Tackling the Bullies Within.