The Therapy Of Writing

They say writing stuff down is therapeutic right? Well here goes…

I’m not the same person I was at the start of this week.

At the start of the week I was happy – well as happy as I get on a good day anyway. My biggest hurdle was to try to get everything I could done at work due to the short week. My scariest moment was when I was told at the optometrist that I was being referred to a specialist because I was likely to need laser surgery to cut into my iris (not as bad as it sounds to be honest)… that was until Wednesday night, when my world was rocked to its core.

Just to preface, I am not going to share exactly what has happened because that is not my story to tell but I will say that I was totally unprepared for the news and I have just felt sad ever since. ‘Sad’ and ‘shocked’ are the two words best to describe how I feel even now.

Also I need to say that this post may bring up emotions that you don’t want to think about right now – if that’s the case, you should stop reading now. I do not want to cause anyone any unnecessary angst.

My world has been rocked exactly 4 times in my life up to this point:

  1. When I was 18 my best friend died. Even now, nearly 30 years later I don’t think I’ve come to terms with her passing away. When I go passed the hospital in Christchurch where she spent her last six months, I still think I should go visit her. I think because she died so quickly after being diagnosed with leukemia, I still haven’t come to terms with her passing away. I mean, she was in remission.. it just doesn’t make sense to me.
  2. When I was 36 my dad died. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, prepares you for the death of a parent. I mean you know it’s coming eventually and even though dad had a few strokes in the preceding couple of years, nothing at all prepared me for that moment my life changed for ever. I will forever cherish the 36 years I had with my dad but of course in hindsight I wish I talked to him more about his life.
  3. In 2010 I was in Christchurch when the September 4th 7.1 earthquake hit. That was scary but nothing compared to the 6.3 one the city happened in February 2011, which I watched from the safety of Brisbane. Even though it was smaller, the depth of the 2nd quake was shallower and as a result about 85% of the central city was damaged or destroyed completely. Christchurch will forever and always be my hometown and to see it like that has been hard, to say the least.
  4. In 2013 I nearly lost my mum. It was scary.. very, very scary. We were told she had a 20% survival rate. I was on the plane home when I heard that news. I like to think me arriving is what helped her recover but really it’s because my mum is an extraordinary person and the world clearly needs her around for a while longer.

So as you can see, for my world to be rocked to its core something pretty major has to have happened.

I have to admit, I’m not dealing with this news very well.. oh I am calm (ish) when I am at work and surrounded by people but when I am alone, sitting in my room or even on the bus when I only have my thoughts for company.. well yeah, it’s been a struggle.

This is the type of scenario that you hear happening time & time again but because you never think you’ll be affected by it, you really don’t prepare yourself for the possibility. And even though this is all happening to someone else, its human nature, I think, to turn it around and make it about you (not in a narcissistic way at all!).

They say there are five stages of grief:

  • denial
  • anger
  • bargaining
  • depression
  • acceptance

I would argue that you never ‘accept’ those bad things in life. I don’t accept that my dad is no longer here – he just isn’t. That is the fact. I don’t accept that Christchurch was destroyed by an earthquake – it just was. That is the fact.

I don’t agree with the bargaining stage – what are you bargaining for? When my dad died I couldn’t try to get him back in return for something else. When my mum was sick, I couldn’t say “Oh I’ll take this one mum”.. you can’t bargain your way out of these situations.

Yes, you spend your time in the land of denial – this couldn’t possibly be happening to this person. How on earth could my best friend get leukemia for crying out loud… she was only 18 years old! She hadn’t even lived her life! She only just started working – how on earth could something like that happen, with her whole life in front of her, to get so sick, so quickly.

And yes, anger comes into play. Why the hell did Christchurch get hit by a bloody earthquake – everyone thought Wellington was going to be the city that got struck first. I mean Wellington is the city that sits on two damn tectonic plates – it’s the obvious choice for a natural disaster to happen. As I am writing this, I am getting angrier!

Lets not forget depression. But everyone does forget about depression because it’s not a real feeling is it? You’re just sad aren’t you? No! I am never, ever going to speak to my dad again. I am never, ever going to hear his crazy loud laugh or his scary, out of nowhere sneezes that shook the house. I am never, ever going to hear him say “you silly moo” to me again. He’s gone forever and that is damn well depressing.

So how do we deal with these moments in life? How do we get through the day, and the next day and the one after that and so on.

We talk about it. We write about it. We don’t ignore it.

When my dad died, I turned to 2 amazing women in my life who had gone through similar situations. Both had lost a parent. One had lost her mother not long before my dad died. And the other had lost her dad 10 years previously. We talked. We laughed. We cried. I got to hear their stories and see how they dealt with grief – not one shoe fits all you know.

How you deal with grief and tragic news is not the same way as someone else.

I can remember when the February 2011 earthquake happened.  I was at work. I read the news about the cathedral. I rang my mum. I went into shock. My boss, however thought it was ridiculous that I was upset about a building being damaged and basically told me to get over it. To be fair to her, we hadn’t been working together that long so she didn’t really know me and my, lets say ‘quirks’. (apparently I am a ‘dramatic’ person but that can be another story for another day).

So where am I now, after writing these 1100+ words? Well I am not sure. I am still sad and I don’t know how long I am going to feel sad for. I haven’t been on social media for the past few days (not that I think I’ve been missed). The only reason I’m writing this is that I am hoping it will help in some small way.

Nothing is bringing me joy at the moment.

It’s the Easter long weekend and I had some exciting stuff planned. I am having a ‘staycation’ in the city. I was going to go to some different places and take photos etc. I am still going to do that but my heart is not in it right now.

I really don’t know where I am going to go from here. Has writing this post helped? I don’t know to be honest. Maybe.

Maybe it has made me sit and actually think about how I’m feeling. Maybe I will go off today and forget about things for a few hours. Maybe I will start feeling excited about my little mini adventure. Or maybe I will just go sit in my hotel room and eat Maltesers all weekend & wallow in my own self pity…

Anything is possible really. Well.. almost anything apparently.

“Grief is like an ocean; it comes in ebbs and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.” Vicki Harrison

Post Script..

I wrote the above on Good Friday morning. It is now Easter Sunday. Do I feel differently from 2 days ago? Yes, no, maybe.

I’m still in shock about everything to be honest. But I did come to my small staycation in the centre of Brisbane & I did have a good time. I didn’t do everything I wanted to do but at the same time I feel somewhat more relaxed.

I even posted some photos to Instagram & Facebook because I actually wanted to share what I was doing.

Maybe it helped being away from my ‘normal life’ despite only being about 6km from home. Maybe it was because I was able to witness a couple of pretty cool sunsets and a sunrise (kind of anyway). Maybe it helped put a lot of things in perspective.

Or maybe it just gave me a couple of days away from a situation that will continue to be bad for the forseeable future.

Oh and Happy Easter… yada yada yada



2 thoughts on “The Therapy Of Writing

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