How I cope with grief and depression

This last week hasn’t been the best.

Early on Friday morning we received awful news that two family friends had been involved in a tragic accident on the night before and that one had died. Memories of a similarly tragic accident involving a very close friend some years ago came flooding back and I was wading knee deep through rekindled grief. There’s nothing that can prepare you for sudden death – no defense mechanisms, just incredible sadness for the friendship you’ve lost and the helplessness you feel as you see their family trying to make sense out of senselessness. It’s as if time stands still.

When my friend, Celia, died in a road traffic accident some years back now I was bereft. I still miss her jovial wisdom, her understanding and encouragement of my artistic endeavours and her support in difficult times. No one can take her place; it’s an empty space in my heart. The grief, coupled with the aftermath of coping with two divorces (my new husband’s and my own), tipped me into an abyss. I had a breakdown and was off work for six months. It was a dark time. I wouldn’t leave the house alone other than to see my counsellor. I accepted help from only those I really, really trusted.

Eventually I healed.

A few years later, quite unexpectedly, I was hit by an overwhelming sense of inadequacy and down I went again. Ongoing problems with an ex-partner, over-work and possibly remnants of previous issues sent me into the abyss again. I had the support of my workmates, my bosses, my doctor and my family so my recovery was quicker. I allowed more people to help me this time, although I succumbed to anti-depressants, something I had never wanted to do.

Not long after this I started running.

Running has given me a fresh perspective. Yes, I get depressed at times, everyone does. Yes, there are times of despair when everything is going wrong. Yes, I still sometimes feel overwhelmed, but this time I have a strategy.

I run.

It cures nothing. It hurts sometimes. It doesn’t solve anything. Instead it clears my head, makes me focus on something else and I’m always moving forward. Not backward and not downward, just forward. I run and it gives me time and space to play out scenarios and allows me to get things into proper perspective. Sometimes it gives me an answer, something to try out later when I’m home and showered and my mind is more open.

I’m about to go running again.  This week hasn’t been the best.



2 thoughts on “How I cope with grief and depression

  1. Sorry to read of your latest bereavement and, having lost a dear brother to the dreaded cancer just before Christmas, I can empathize with much of what you write.
    It’s hard to recover from such a loss. I still haven’t come to terms with mine, can’t bear to talk about it or put myself in situations I might have to. My partner is very understanding and never mentions it. I couldn’t even go to Church though I did on one occasion but sat at the back and made a hasty exit when the service was over, before anyone could sympathize or ask questions.
    Just now I’m happy to run alone in wide open spaces, focusing on beautiful things and shapes and sounds to blot out, for a short time at least, all those things that hurt. As an artist you’ll understand that.
    Eventually time, the great healer, will see us back on track, hopefully sooner rather than later. Best wishes….

    1. Oh, Gordon. Please accept my sincere condolences for your loss. It seems that all I’ve heard about lately is bereavement. Time is, as you say, a great healer. Running, seeing nature at its finest and sharing that with my wee dog is incredibly therapeutic and I’m thankful for that. Take care, my friend.

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