Bottle it up, expect to explode.
Updated: Jul 15, 2021
This blog is a very personal one to me, about my experience of learning how to cope with the loss of someone very significant in my life. Accepting it and pulling myself together again.
Recently, I was shocked with the sudden news that I would never see or talk to the closest person to me in the world. As you would expect, this threw me into a state of agonising pain and exhausting anxiety. My brain couldn’t switch off for one second from panicking about the future and replaying the vivid memories that existed only in my head. The world around me felt like it was collapsing and my reality as I knew it, had ceased to exist.
The anxiety was so intense that it was severely affecting both my sleep and appetite as my body was going into an adrenaline-fuelled hysteria. I was desperately crying out for something I could do that would stop the pain. When speaking to people about the situation, the most common advice that would crop up again and again was that ‘time heals everything’ or ‘you need to distract yourself’. Of course, I do agree with such comments but waiting for ‘time’ to pass wasn’t going to be useful for helping the present me, distractions were only brief solutions where I was living in short moments of normality before the inevitable anxious thoughts would creep back in.
After a week had passed, I woke up one day with such intense anxiety that I got up right away at 6am (not a time I’m known for being awake at) and sat down at my desk. I opened a blank pad of paper and began writing an exhaustive list of everything I could think about, all the anxieties in my mind, fears, my feelings, positive thoughts and so on. My method was to write each thought as a bullet point and then move onto the next one until I couldn’t think of anything else. It left me feeling mentally exhausted, but in a good way.
Once I had ran out of things to write, there was this strange, unexpected sense of relief that I hadn’t felt since everything happened. I felt as though my anxious thoughts had been physically stripped from my mind and laid out in front of me as ink on a page. My thoughts had been expressed into the physical world to the point where there were nothing else for me to say or think. I had no reason to revisit them anymore because I had nothing else to add.
Of course, this didn’t make me feel completely okay, but it was an extremely cathartic experience that eased my mind surprisingly well. It made me feel far more relaxed knowing that I had a solution in those moments when my mind begins to spiral out of control.
I repeated this reflective thought writing exercise every morning after waking up when the anxiety was always at its worst - always feeling better immediately after. As days went by, I could see the shifts in my thoughts and perspective as each day went past. My focus was directed at bettering myself and finding hope in the future that life will work itself out in whatever way the universe decides.
This difficult experience helped me appreciate the importance of expressing my emotions and managing how to deal with grief. Writing down my thoughts turned out to be an unexpectedly useful way of ridding my mind of toxic and unmanageable thoughts. Now I have the experience to know what to expect, and what I can do, when I meet the next inevitable setback that life brings to me. I would genuinely recommend anyone to have a go at writing their own thoughts and reflections if you find yourself in similar times of uncontrollable thinking and overanalysing. I hope you can find it to be as effective as it has been for me.