Finding Purpose in Mental Health After Suicide Loss with Michelle Anhang

*Content warning: grief and suicide loss.

Today I’m talking with Michelle Anhang, a Certified Life Coach who specializes in supporting individuals and families living with mental health challenges as well as those moving forward after loss. In this episode, she shares what it was like growing up in a household that was very shame-driven, building a life with her husband and losing him to suicide after his struggles with bipolar disorder. She holds nothing back as she talks of the aftermath of his death, the story they told instead, and the feelings that were constantly threatening to bubble up no matter how hard she pushed them down. You won’t want to miss this story of how finding and living her truth and healing past traumas has put her on this path to help others do the same.

What to Listen For:

  • Her life before loss

“It all seemed okay until it didn’t.”

  • Not knowing the signs of her husband’s mental illness until later
  • Watching her husband decline after diagnosis
  • How he hid his symptoms
  • All the ways the whole family covered for his illness while he was alive
  • His final phone call to her before he took his life
  • The decision the family made after his death

“They suggested, ‘why don’t we say it was an accident?’ It was like, okay, yeah, let’s do that. And so, we just went forward with that story.”

  • Not being able to grieve the way she needed to grieve
  • Feeling anger and abandonment
  • Internalizing all of it due to shame
  • Stopping herself from feeling and halting her healing
  • How repressed grief leaked out
  • Being afraid of what would happen if she opened the box
  • Stepping into a very toxic way of living and what pulled her out of this way of life

“I just had this moment of like, ‘oh, my God, I am the common denominator in everything that’s wrong in my life. And you know, that aha moment was like totally devastating. And at the same time, completely liberating because I knew, okay, if it’s me, I can change me.”

  • The realization she had on her 45th birthday
  • Deep diving into her trauma
  • Finding a new community of people and adopting new ways of thinking
  • The process of processing

“It was honestly eight months of crying all day, every day. And I went to work and it was just like, okay, finish work, sit at my desk like, oh, I’m feeling the tears rising, running to the bathroom, bawling my eyes out, touching up my makeup, going back, and keep going until the next burst.”

  • Feeling like she was grieving for three
  • Getting ready to share her truth
  • Starting with telling her kids even though she was terrified

“All of my fears were completely wrong. I always say like, fear is a liar.”

  • The realization of how she needed to show up and help people
  • Putting the truth out into the world via a Facebook post
  • The flow of support and love she received after telling the truth
  • Understanding there’s no such thing as perfect and allowing things to be messy
  • Learning to lean into trusting herself and her intuition
  • Making a commitment to doing this work
  • What motivates her to keep going on this path
  • The things that dropped into alignment once she shared her truth
  • The role support plays in moving through grief
  • What she wishes she knew about shame when she was younger

About Michelle Anhang:

Michelle Anhang, BA, PCC, CPCC, is a Certified Life Coach who specializes in supporting individuals and families living with mental health challenges as well as those moving forward after loss. In addition to coaching, Michelle is a motivational speaker who shares her story of becoming widowed at the age of 34 when her husband died by suicide, and how she navigated her way through stigma, shame, and her own mental health challenges to rebuild her life intentionally.

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