“I like to think of it like a toolkit. Everyone’s will be different. The things that help you might not help me and vice versa. There’ll also be things that are unhealthy. I know for me, when I’m really stressed I eat more unhealthy food for comfort. So that’s something in my toolkit, but it doesn’t mean it’s helpful. A big part of it is realising the things that help. Sleep does matter. What you eat does matter. Getting natural light does matter. You know, all these things come together and they make that picture of you. ”
And there’s been times when Dr Alex has really had to rely on his toolkit. He lost his brother, Llŷr, to suicide in 2020, something that CALM knows is really hard to deal with.
“Losing my brother has been really difficult. And it’s that experience, as hard as it’s been, that’s taught me a lot. I’m stronger for it. There’s nothing that makes it right. But you have to somehow look forward. That is something I have had to learn to do. And a lot of those toolkit things have been really important to me then, and still now.”
Dealing with the loss of a loved one is always hard. And when that loss is through suicide, it can be even harder – isolating, lonely, it can bring up so many mixed emotions. Grief is so often chalked down to just sadness. But it’s so much more than that. If you’re struggling with loss you can find out more here.
“Grief is an ongoing process. There is almost an expectation that there’s a start and an end. But grief can be quite cyclical, grief can be continuous. Losing my little brother is never gonna be okay. You know, I’m never gonna say ‘I woke up today, and I’m cool with it now.’ It’s never really okay. But you learn to live with these things.”
Something that’s helped get Alex through, is knowing that whatever he’s going through, it’s only temporary. Focussing on the present, and just putting one foot in front of the other, is sometimes all you can do.
“Even the best moments in your life, those emotions, they don’t last forever. But equally, the worst moments don’t last forever. It’s how you get through those times, how you take care of yourself.
“You hear that phrase ‘wellbeing’ kind of thrown around, but all we’re really talking about is how you take care of yourself. I think sometimes there’s this badge of honour about being burnt out. All that ‘sleep when you’re dead’ stuff. It’s rubbish. If you want to live a happy life, you’ve got to look after yourself.”