The grieving process

Pauline Reddick

Valentine’s Day 2018 was not a day I will be able to forget in a hurry. It was the day I watched my Mum breathe her last breath on this Earth following only a 3 month battle with cancer. Only a few weeks have passed since that day and life seems somehow more abstract than before. I now consider myself the prophet of doom whenever an unsuspecting stranger makes an innocent comment about her and I am forced to tell them the sad news.

One thing stays with me however. The thought that she passed away in her sleep, maybe unknowing of what was happening to her, surrounded by people who loved her in a country she was passionate about. My hope and firm belief that this is a new chapter, not a new book and that we will meet again one day.

Grief is a very individual process but there are some things we can all do to ease the process. Below are my top 5 tips to dealing with grief

Pauline Reddick
  1. Be kind to yourself. This is true all the time but especially when we are grieving. Some people feel the need to return to normal as soon as possible but ignoring or suppressing your grief only stops the flow at that time. It will manifest somewhere else. If we deal with grief correctly in the beginning we have less chance of it festering and coming out another way. Give yourself time to properly flow through the grief process but don’t hold a stopwatch. There is no set time to grieve.
  2. Stay close to your friends. Social withdrawal can often lead to further mental illnesses and so by staying close to our friends, we can feel connected in the way we were meant to be. Having that good friend who you can vent with is worth their weight in Gold so cherish them and keep them close.
  3. Sleep. While our brain is often in overdrive while grieving, sleep is essential in problem solving, emotional stability and maintaining optimal health and well being. Make sure sleep is a solid part of your healthy lifestyle.
  4. Healthy Eating. The food  we consume gives us energy to live our lives. If the food we  eat is toxic it’s little wonder we don’t function as well. Make sure you eat well and exercise to get a healthy body and a healthy mind.
  5. Remember. Once you pass through the initial stage of grief, you will be able to talk about them and remember fond memories without it causing a negative reaction. Do what you’ve got to do to keep their memory alive. Plant some flowers, talk to them, whatever it takes to feel better, do it.


Mental Health First Aid for the Suicidal Person course as featured on the ABC

Suicide first aid: Would you know what to do if someone was thinking of taking their own life?


Image: Post-it note at the Passionate Lives mental health group.

Would you know what to do if you thought someone you love was suicidal?

It’s a complex situation best handled by professionals, but like physical emergencies, knowing mental health first aid can help.

The concept has been around since the 1990s but a new course focused on suicide is running in Perth.

Trys Reddick, an accredited Mental Health First Aid instructor, runs in person the course through his organisation Passionate Lives.

He relies on grant money to be able to deliver the service free of charge to the community.

At the moment the course is so popular he has 200 people on a waiting list.

What are the signs someone is feeling suicidal?

Ten signs to look out for

  • Threatening to hurt or kill themselves
  • Looking for ways to kill themselves
  • Talking or writing about death or suicide
  • Feeling hopeless, enraged, angry, seeking revenge
  • Acting recklessly or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking
  • Feeling trapped, as if there is no way out
  • Increasing alcohol and drug use
  • Withdrawing from friends, family, society
  • Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all the time
  • Dramatic changes in mood
  • No reason for living, no sense of purpose in life

Source: Mental Health First Aid Australia

The course teaches 10 signs to look out for.

They include feelings of hopelessness, someone threatening to hurt of kill themselves, writing a will, making amends with people or giving away possessions.

Helping someone who is suicidal is complicated, but the course suggests three key actions to take.

The first is if you think someone’s suicidal, ask them directly.

If they say yes, don’t leave them alone, and try to get them professional help. GPs are the first port of call.

One of Mr Reddicks’ students knows more about suicide than most.

Two attendees of a meeting about suicide run by Passionate Lives.

What to do

  • If you think someone may be suicidal, ask them directly
  • If they say yes, do not leave them alone. (ie stay with them, invite them to your house if appropriate, or link them with friends)
  • Link them with professional help. A GP is the first port of call

Source: Mental Health First Aid Australia 

Three years ago Paul Mallett tried to end his life.

“I don’t want to hide things, I’ve always drunk alcohol, it hasn’t been great,” Mr Mallett said.

“I probably still drink too much alcohol but ultimately a family breakdown led to a crisis for me.”

After 20 minutes, the 51-year-old called an ambulance.

If you or anyone you know needs help:

“I guess it dawned on me, if I can’t look after my kids, who’s going to do it?

“The experiences I’ve had since then are things I wouldn’t trade for the world — teaching my son to drive a car, helping with homework, just chatting, going to the movies, all those things that normal people do.”

The course Mr Reddick teaches, which was developed by Mental Health First Aid Australia, has won a big tick of approval from Beyond Blue’s Grant Blashki.

“Mental health first aid is really appropriate for anyone in the community but especially people who are in the education sector or community groups or having a lot of contact with members of the public,” he said.

For information about mental health first aid, visit Mental Health First Aid Australia.

Learn to hear a cry for help with FREE suicide prevention training

Passionate Lives recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by Emma Young from WA Today. To read the article in full please click here.

Learn to hear a cry for help with free suicide prevention

course in Perth

Emma Young by Emma Young



Two Perth nonprofits have been overwhelmed by “intense” community interest in their offer of free training in recognising signs that a loved one might be considering suicide.

The four-hour Mental Health First Aid for the Suicidal Person course teaches people how to see subtle signs, to approach someone they are worried about and support them in a crisis.

Its providers, Passionate Lives and Kwinana in Transition, have provided the program before but knew cost was a barrier to participation, so won funding from the City of Kwinana to offer three free workshops.

They filled the first two editions forty places in 24 hours and have now extended the invitation to wider Perth to fill the 20 places in the third workshop.

Everyone who registers interest using this link will be sent an email with the next available date; places will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

Passionate Lives owner-operator Trys Reddick said the signs of depression and suicide ideation could often be subtle, but being aware of what to look for, what to say and what not to say could be essential to intervention.

“We hope, with the information we share in the course, we can help save some lives,” he said.

“I have lost five people to suicide myself and it is always the same when you lose someone, you think about the last conversations you had and whether there is anything you could have done differently.

“That is why I am so passionate about this course.”


If you are considering suicide or are worried about someone you love right now, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. 



Mental Health First Aid Perth

Anxiety is something we all have at times in our lives. For the most part, healthy anxiety prepares you for an event or situation and, although most people hate the feelings, they are there at least to give us energy to fight or run from our fears. Whether that’s wedding day nerves, taking tests at school or having an interview for a job you really want. That swirling in the stomach and the heart racing, prepares us for our best shot.

The trouble with anxiety is when it becomes our focus. When we dwell on those thoughts and fear the fear itself, it can lead us to harmful avoidant strategies and behaviors that can lead to phobias. Instead of facing our fears, we avoid them. We run away from the area that brings us fear, we stop attending the school that’s making us anxious, we risk our future by running and hiding from our fears and as a result we stagnate. Growth rarely comes from an even road. It’s the bumps and drains on the road we encounter, that shape us and forge in us the essential ingredients it takes to become the person we’re supposed to become. That feeling of not giving life our best short, that falling short of our destiny can have even greater ramifications than the anxiety itself when we become depressed about it. The heady combination of Anxiety and Depression can become a toxic mix.

When I was living my experience of mental illness, one of my fears was crowds. I lived in the middle of a big city (Leicester, UK) and during the peak Christmas period you couldn’t move in shops because of the crowds of last minute shoppers trying to buy their Christmas gifts. It was a hard time of year for me, you had to fight for every space you could get and as someone not comfortable with confrontation, it bought out my anxiety. Towards the end of my 30’s, I had become interested in personal development and, by this time, had worked through many other fears. Crowds was my next one. In a moment of sheer madness I applied and was given a job as a Crowd Control Marshall at Leicester Tigers matches. My job included maintaining the safety of approx. 150 patrons. During my first match, I remember shaking like a leaf. Confronting your anxiety can often be challenging like that. But something important happened on that first day. I walked away unscathed. I didn’t die. The world didn’t crumble around me. I actually enjoyed it. The next match came and went and again nothing happened. My brain had either been lying to me or had been misinformed. This is anxiety. Those things we worry about rarely ever eventuate. We waste so much of our precious time on Earth, worrying about something that may never happen.

So what can you do if you have anxiety? Firstly if something is causing you anxiety and it is impacting on your life, then it’s a problem. Take ownership of that anxiety and agree to work towards conquering that fear. Imagine what you’re life would be like without the anxiety holding you back. Who would you be? What would you do? What would you’re life be like? Imagine the anxiety as a brick wall between you and your goals. You will need to take a sledgehammer to that wall and reduce it to the rubble it needs to be so you can step over it into your future. Some fears can be overcome in the way I did above but it can be a risky path. Had something happened on my first day, it could have sent me back years. Start with smaller steps. Embrace small crowds, then find bigger ones. Once you are comfortable knocking a few walls down, knock more down. Keep moving forward. Find a new challenge.

If your fears persist or if you don’t have a support person to help, then make an appointment with your GP and discuss the fears you have and how they are impacting your life. For more information on finding the right GP click here. You may need to engage in some counselling to discover the root course of your anxiety and you may also need to go on some anti-anxiety medication.

For more information on overcoming anxiety click here.

I’d love to hear your encounters with anxiety. Send me a message at and tell me what you fear most.

Listen Non Judgementally

Mental Health First Aid Perth
Mental Health First Aid Perth

Following on from our last post, we are breaking down the action plan from the Mental Health First Aid course and the next step is to listen non judgmentally.

In reality, it’s a lot harder than you think. Our brains are wired to make snap judgments about the people we meet within seconds of meeting them. For our own survival we need to rank the people we meet in terms of whether they’re a threat or someone we can benefit from. When we say listen non judgmentally, we mean having an awareness of our own snap judgement’s and learn how to suspend them so they don’t influence the way we treat people.

We can also listen non judgementally by using open body language, paraphrasing back to our friends and really listening to whats being said rather than listening to respond.

If we are to get someone to disclose deep feelings of emotional turbulence such as Depression and Anxiety, they need to feel relaxed and comfortable enough with us. If they feel we’re not interested or making judgements about the, the conversation will quickly end and they will not open up to us.



Approach and Assist

Mental Health First Aid Perth

In this series of blog posts, we’re breaking down the Action Plan which forms a pivotal part of the Mental Health First Aid Course and we kick off with probably the most important step, the approach.

The steps are not unlike building a wall. We need to lay down a solid foundation if we want the wall to withstand some elements. That is, we have identified a friend may be feeling Depressed so we need to plan an approach that will allow our friend to feel comfortable to disclose their feelings. If we don’t, chances are the conversation will not end well.

Imagine you are in the office kitchen, surrounded by your colleagues and with an appointment you need to attend in 10 minutes. If you approached them now it is unlikely they would open up to you. They would probably say they are fine and if they did open up, you would have to cut them short to attend your appointment anyway. This would be counterproductive.

So choose a time and place that are conducive to a long conversation. Maybe take them away from the office and keep the phones off so you wont be disturbed. Let them know you are concerned about them and that you want to help. Don’t expect them to respond well the first time. They maybe in denial or they may turn on you. These types of reactions are all normal and to be expected. Just ensure you let them know you will be available if they want to talk and keep the door of communication open.

If in doubt, you can ring the crisis team on 1800 676 822



Break the Habit of Depression

There are some who have criticized the title of my book “Break the Habit of Depression” citing the school of thought that says Depression is caused by a chemical imbalance to the brain.

I would just like to clarify the reason why I named my book that and why I stand by the thought that Depression is a habit.

If you believe that Depression is caused by a chemical imbalance, there is only one obvious solution to your mental health issues and that is to redress the imbalance by more chemicals and that means getting anti-depressant medication. While there are times when this is an option, it shouldn’t be your first option. Many people take medication and believe their problems are solved. Medication is a band aid, which should be used to reduce anxiety to get you to a point where you can engage in counselling.

What if the Depression is caused by habitually thinking / dwelling on an issue, person or situation that you have no control over. As our brains and bodies are linked, emotions such as hopelessness, sadness, guilt and shame cause a chemical reaction in our bodies which then causes the Depression. This means that while the chemical imbalance does cause Depression, the root cause is our thinking.

Why the difference? The differentiation between the two shifts the obvious treatment of the Depression from medication to focusing on our thoughts and all of a sudden we are empowered to be the instigators of our own recovery.


Live with Passion

Mental Health First Aid
Mental Health First Aid Training Perth

Live with Passion

You either have it or you don’t and those that have it, can’t stop talking about it. So what is it? It’s Passion. That thing you have whether it’s a business or a hobby that you love to do, you join groups about it, you talk to people who are passionate about the same things as you. You have no other choice but to live it, it consumes you.

Having worked alongside many entrepreneurs one thing struck me – they’re all soo passionate about their businesses. They work 20 hour days but don’t feel they work a second because they’re so involved in what they do, it never feels like work because they have that passion that keeps them going.

Having also worked alongside many people with mental health issues, what also struck me is the lack of passion with people with Depression.

I have just published my first book entitled “Passionate People”. The book aims to raise awareness of mental illness by showcasing over 30 entrepreneurs in WA who share their secrets of success and failures along the way. Be inspired by ordinary people who have taken action and are now living their dreams, just as you can too.

For further information “Passionate People” and other books I’ve published click here

Are you the 1 in 5?

Mental Health First Aid Training Perth
Mental Health First Aid Training Perth

Are you the 1 in 5?

According to a survey in 2007 by the Australian Beureau of Statistics, 1 in 5 Australians aged 16-85 had a mental illness that year. The survey while indicative of the spread of the problem, didn’t count people in prisons, hostels for the homeless and refugees, homeless, hospitals or aged care facilities. It would be fair to say that a larger percentage amongst these groups of people had some form of mental illness compared to people living in their own homes so the figure is more likely to be 1 in 3.

To make these figures real, think about how many friends you have, how many relatives you have, how many people in your workplace and neighbourhood. Chances are altogether, you know more than 5 people and that means statistically everyone in Australia will know someone who has a diagnosable mental illness. In every workplace where there’s 5 or more employees there will probably be someone with a diagnosable mental illness. Do you know which ones? Can you tell? Would you know what to look for if you did?


The Mental Health First Aid course covers the warning signs and risk factors of Depression, Anxiety, Psychosis, Suicide Ideation, Non Suicidal Self Injury and Substance Use Disorders. It blows away some common myths about mental illness and attempts to inform and educate people in how to support a friend or stranger who’s having a mental health crisis.

Most people have done a First Aid course at some point in their lives just in case we need to call upon it in an emergency. With the growing rise in people struggling with mental illness, it would make sense to do the Mental Health First Aid course too. Email me on or click the link here for further information