Continue to ‘LivForBetterDays’, they’re just around the corner!

I find grief to be a tricky one to explain sometimes. Normally when describing emotions and/or experiences, it’s done so in relation to the past or with an end date in sight. Something I’d never realised until it very much became my reality, was that grief is a constant rollercoaster. Grief is now my past, present and future but what’s vital to note is that light can still be found in all 3 – no matter how hopeless it can seem.

My older brother Kieran suddenly passed away in December, 4 years ago. He was 21 years old, the same age I am now and knowing that come July I’ll be older than Kieran ever got to be is another grieving experience, I never expected.

So much of my own personality is a complete extension onto who my brother is/was. And so when I lost him, I also lost myself.

During the 1st year without him, I was in total shock. I only felt numb and when I couldn’t cry or express my pain in a way I believed to be “normal” and/or expected of me… I doubted if I ever actually loved my brother enough. Now, I see how cruel and hard that was for me to have ever believed. And this is yet another part of grieving I never knew existed.

Coming into the 2nd year, the reality and pain of what had happened began to hit me a lot harder. At 19 and in my second year of college, I felt lower than I ever thought possible. I lost all hope that anything could ever get better. I had no want or care for a college degree, a dream job, new friends or any of these future life experiences that other people my age were striving for. Nothing could ever bring my brother back and in my mind there were no highs that could ever amount to or balance out the crippling heart break I was feeling.

I’ve only recently come to learn that what I was experiencing was depression.
I wasn’t going to classes, I wasn’t making new friends or meeting up with the ones I had. I wasn’t sleeping unless I’d exhausted myself from crying and at most, an appetite was non-existent. I didn’t enjoy doing any of the things I used to love doing and nothing was helping to ease the pain. There was a period of 2-3 weeks I spent in a dark bedroom and never left my house. Writing this now, I’m almost seeing what I went through for the very first time. No one ever knew and a lot still don’t know about what I was going through because I never shared it. I felt like it was just “too sad” for anyone else to have to deal with and I felt like a burden. I had completely given up and I was certain that my future was destined for nothing but a survival in darkness.

I’m so emotional to think of how much better and brighter my life is now. I met and fell in love with the most amazing friends and knowing I had people to rely on, who cared about me and accepted me showed me that there were still so many moments of love, laughter, joy and adventure to live for.
Slowly but surely, I started to care about life again. I found it hard to believe it was possible. I decided to make the best I could out of tragedy rather than punishing myself and suffering over something I never had any control over.

I created @livforbetterdays for others experiencing similar pain and darkness. We’re not destined for doom and gloom for the rest of our lives like we think. It is so unbelievably worth it to keep holding on and I want to share this fact with as many people possible. I am so grateful for my life right now and I am so grateful to be out of the darkness I felt I was drowning in.

While I’m doing the best I ever have been in 4 years, right now I’m struggling with huge amounts of anxiety. It’s something that is very new and extremely raw but I have no doubt in my mind (ironic, I know!) that it is a challenge I can face and more importantly, a challenge that is worth facing.

Life at the moment very much revolves around panic attacks, little to no sleep and racing thoughts I struggle to keep up with. I’m taking time to mind myself and I’m being a lot kinder to myself than I was 2 years ago. I’m getting professional help and support that I really do need and I made my nearest and dearest aware of my situation which I didn’t do at all 2 years ago – that’s a huge win already. It’s tough but I know I’m tougher and that I’ll feel better soon.

I am so thankful to Dan and Michal for showing so many of us that struggle with our mental health that we will be listened to and supported. It’s beyond comforting to know that there are people like them in the world. They work with nothing but love in their hearts and it has such a ripple effect.
To now be an advocate for Da Silly Heads is something I will truly cherish forever and it means so much. If I had listened to what my silly head was telling me 2/3 years ago… I’d never have had the opportunity to become part of Da family like I am now.

And that’s one thing on a very very long list of things I would have missed out on.

The world really does get brighter and while life is full of ups and downs, there will always be people, moments and opportunities to get you back up again. Surviving soon becomes thriving – I promise!

– Olivia Colgan

Instagram: LivForBetterDays

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