Sep 23, 2020 in Therapy

Overcome grief, depression & anxiety.

Learn from someone who defeated all of it!

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Amelia Van Zyl is an Online Life Coach and Therapist who is dedicated to helping Clients to empower them to become the people they want to be. She has a passion for helping those who are in need of healing. Amelia gained personal experience and insight into anxiety and depression after the loss of her son. Now, she helps others who are suffering from grief, bereavement, trauma, depression, anxiety and more. She also specializes in couples counseling. Let's get to know more about Amelia:

WikiExpert: From your experience, what are the biggest challenges that cause depression and anxiety?

Amelia Van Zyl: I believe that if we do not address issues during our lives, we start getting anxious, and that will lead to depression and with saying this, I do not neglect or ignore the possible genes that are carried over through generations. It is when we judge ourselves that we put too much pressure on ourselves and that, over the years, cause anxiety and depression. I further believe that 90% of illnesses are caused by stress and what we say to ourselves. (our self-speech).

WikiExpert: You have also dealt with both depression and anxiety. Tell us what your typical day looked like when you were dealing with this?

Amelia Van Zyl: It is extremely difficult to start the day and try to get yourself out of bed. The smallest tasks feel like a huge barrier that you cannot overcome. I choose not to use medication, but I knew that if that is my choice, I need to take the responsibility to manage the disease. Therefore before I get out of bed, I tried to get five things for which I can be grateful for the day. It can be small things; however, it needs to resonate with you. Therefore no one can decide on your behalf what those things should be, for instance, some like rain, others like the sun. So if it is a sunny day and you love it, thank God or the Universe for it.

Furthermore, I allow myself to feel even though it hurt a lot. I just did what I could and acknowledge myself for small achievements. There is a fine balance between allowing feelings but still be productive. I did my job, but when traveling home after work, I allowed myself to cry in the safe space of my car. I also exercise as that helped with the mood swings. Any form of meditation or breathing exercise is excellent for managing anxiety.

WikiExpert: How did you overcome your grief?

Amelia Van Zyl: I start working on my emotions (it was very hard work), professional help (hypnotherapy), and intuitive massage. Many believe that skilled people will not be able to help them because they cannot bring your deceased child back. I was one of those, even though I am a professional myself. Their value is that it allows you to vent and say things out loud that you dare not tell your partner or your friend, and they will not be shocked. It is "normal" for them to hear "shocking" things. They can also give a different perspective on a matter that you were unable to see yourself.

Taking it one day at a time is not always good advice. Sometimes I had to take it 30 min at a time as one day seems to feel too long to be able to make it through the day.

You need to train your mind like you train your body on a treadmill or other exercise equipment. It will help if you tell yourself that this happened not to punish you, but that you can learn from it, that it was allowed and that something wonderful can come from it. The lesser you can focus on negative self-speech, the quicker you will be able to change your energy levels, and the Universe or God will come and support you. But it would be best if you make that decision. You need to put your mind on this treadmill and change negative thinking patterns. And obviously, you cannot be in the beginning training for an hour without stopping. Just start to get your mind fit by becoming aware of your negative self-speech.

WikiExpert: You published an article about your loss on WikiExpert. It was an interesting but also an emotional article, thank you for sharing this. What advice would you give to other parents who have lost a child?

Amelia Van Zyl: I published my first book: God Abba Me – through the pain after the suicide of our child. The article is an introduction to the content of the book. You are correct; it is an emotional matter. The book is about the initial coping mechanism after such a horrific incident. I am busy with a follow up on the book with the title: How to cope when life sucks – spiritual awakening. In this book, I discuss coping mechanisms in more detail. Therefore the first book will be about initial coping strategies, and the follow up (will be published on Amazon towards the end of the year) is more about coping and spiritual awakening after such a loss. The abovementioned is background information, but I would like to answer your question.

There is no quick fix. I am sorry, but it will take effort from you working through the loss of your child. Time does not heal. It is how we use the time that will heal us. Firstly I would advise that you be soft with yourself and do what is best for you. Few people can understand what you are going through if they have not lost a child themselves. Do not judge yourself or others. 

Secondly, I would urge you to allow all the negative emotions and feel sorry for yourself after such a great loss. It would be best if you had empathy for yourself. Only then can you start facing the facts and end the denial phase and going through other stages of the loss process. And thirdly, do not be scared to go and speak to a professional person.

WikiExpert: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many have lost their loved ones. How do you advise them to get through this?

Amelia Van Zyl: Yes, that is true and what makes it worse is that depending on which country you are, you may not even go and visit and share the last moments of your loved one's life. That can delay the closure and mourning process. I believe that you can still talk with your deceased love one by writing a letter (specific method in doing so) and reading it out loud at their grave or go to their favorite place and read it. I know that our loved ones are around for a  while after they passed on. You can "see" it, for example, when a door opens or closes, and there is no wind, or if a photograph is skewed against the wall or some people even smell their loved one. There are often signs of them being around us, but we are so grief-struck that we miss it. Please also read a recent article on WikiExpert about this matter.

WikiExpert: You offer "personal healing". Tell us about this? What does it mean and how can Clients heal from pain and suffering?

Amelia Van Zyl: I believe that even though we share the same incidents in our lives, for example, the death of a child, each and everyone's story is unique. Because of this, there are differences, as there are other circumstances, cultures, value systems, etc. My approach is client-centered; therefore, your opinion and information are most important to me. That implies that the solution for your pain can differ from mine. It is my task to ask the client questions and together find answers on how to cope with pain, loss, or trauma. So during my assessment and other sessions, I listen carefully to things that my Client is not saying to get to the core of the problem the quickest. Sometimes Clients want to heal; however, they do not realize that they do not allow themselves to heal, as grieving is the only connection left with the deceased.

WikiExpert: One of the services you offer is overcoming trauma. Tell us about this? What is your approach to handling this?

Amelia Van Zyl: I follow the TIR (trauma incident reduction) model, which is merely based on desensitizing. It is an excellent approach that originates in America after the Vietnam War. The model assists Therapists in supporting soldiers with the trauma they witness and experience in a war situation. In South Africa, we deal with many different trauma situations like rape, hijacking, murder, gangsterism, and even survivors of human trafficking. TIR is an excellent method to use for any trauma situation.

WikiExpert: In your opinion, what is the biggest factor that holds people back with becoming who they want to be?

Amelia Van Zyl: Wow, what an excellent question with a long answer. The short answer is that people do not love themselves. Maybe they have self-confidence, however, not enough self-love. We are scared of success.

WikiExpert: Another one of your services is helping Clients to prevent stress and burnout. How do you help with this?

Amelia Van Zyl: Firstly I will assess if they do have symptoms of stress and burnout. If yes, I will point out what I think is the main cause of their anxiety, and then we discuss the different methods of how to cope and manage it. Stress in itself is good. It is when it becomes too much that it can harm our bodies and impact our health. Typical stress management skills will be exercising, eating healthy, drinking enough water, meditate, setting boundaries, etc. 

WikiExpert: What is the first step that every individual should take to have better control of their lives?

Amelia Van Zyl: They need to find out what or who causes them to lose control. Therefore individuals need to listen carefully to what their inner child is saying to them. In saying that, sometimes it will be good to "loose" control and to trust in God and the Universe; to trust the process of life.

WikiExpert: You also specialize in helping couples. What are the most common relationship issues that you deal with?

Amelia Van Zyl: Yes, Willie (my husband) and I even do couples counseling as a couple, which benefits the Clients. Couples usually struggle with how to solve conflict and how to communicate honestly and clearly. As a result, they will fight, for example, about money, sex, children, in-laws, and cannot express the emotions behind the reasoning.

WikiExpert: Do you prefer working with both partners in your online sessions or just one at a time?

Amelia Van Zyl: I prefer working with both from the start and will encourage and teach them to speak openly with each other without judging the opinion of their partner. However, I am flexible, and if a Client cannot express himself/herself in front of the other partner, I will accommodate their needs. The aim is to have everything in the open and be honest with each other, even though it hurts to hear the “truth."

Now, let's get to know more about Amelia:

WikiExpert: When you're not helping others, where can we find you? What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Amelia Van Zyl: I love camping and hiking and being outdoors someplace in Africa. Especially where there is quiet and serenity. Nature is, for me, an excellent way of balancing my energies and recoup.

WikiExpert: What was the biggest lesson you've learned from life?

Amelia Van Zyl: To stop judging myself and others. To have fun and enjoy life. To trust the process of life.

WikiExpert: Name 3 things you cannot live without?

Amelia Van Zyl: God, tranquillity and WiFi.

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