Grief… & Other Associated Stress

There is no measure of time that it will take for a person to overcome the grief of losing someone who is directly related to them; this I have learned first hand.

It has been almost four months since my Mum passed away. Four long months since I saw her face, heard her laugh, teased her with something totally inappropriate or since she commented on something she saw on one of her favourite TV shows. This seems like forever ago, yet there is a conflicting passage of time that makes it seem like yesterday that she was at full capacity and we were shopping together, having Wednesday lunches together or that I was staying at her house most nights of the week so we could watch Masterchef together where I would live tweet her hilarious commentary.

It seems like not that long ago that I was doubled over in pain, food poisoned or suffering a severe case of gastro where she was taking care of me, loaning me money to afford a “real” (non medicare) doctor at the end of my pay cycle and shuttling me to and fro and making me food until I felt better. The normal comforts of having a mother that loves you unconditionally.

It has been almost four months since my Mum passed away and all I know is that the pain of that loss has hit me with a weight that I can’t quite aptly convey to anyone else that’s in my life. No one can ever understand the love between my Mum and I because they were not part of it. I regularly dream of her and sometimes they end in nightmares and other times I wake up feeling thankful that I’ve had the chance to see her and that she hasn’t faded from my memory. I am thankful that I haven’t yet forgotten how she smelled or how it felt to be comforted by her.

Sometimes I feel that when I talk about her, people become glazed over because they kind of expect that because it’s almost been 4 months, I should be ‘almost’ over it — or that my pain should have dulled at least.

The truth is that I don’t think I will ever feel less pain about my Mum’s passing. The guilt of what I ‘could’ have or ‘should’ have said or done will never pass (despite the fact that I did a lot and I know she would never accuse me of any different). Four months may have almost passed by quickly, but the immediacy of her passing required me to be level-headed, emotion-free and diligent in planning a funeral, taking care of bits and pieces, letting everyone know, and allying everyone else’s sadness by pretending I was totally okay with the new reality of a life, motherless.

Because of the fastness in which my Mum passed, I can see how shell-shocked we all were in hindsight — perhaps that was attributed to all the denial we faced about her condition. Nevertheless, the three weeks of work that I took off didn’t really give me the time I needed. Again, in hindsight, it might have been smart to go back to work immediately and rather take the time when I began to feel the weight of losing her — like now.

I try to recall the good memories; but they even make me sad with the reality that we will never have the chance to create anymore.

Along with the other monsters in my head, intruding upon the normal functionality of a brain, I go to sleep with this sadness every single night and wake up feeling the weight of the loss as I try to turn the music up to drown it all out as I get ready for the day. When I get in the car and in those moments that I am alone, I find myself either having to listen audio books, or else endure the tears and the stupid guilt.

As a result the silly thoughts begin and I have to try to bargain with myself with a routine or compulsion just to ease it off; like a superstition. It starts with one thing and it domino effects in to a thousand things and before I know it, I can barely get out of bed, wracked with grief, depression, intrusive thoughts and feelings that not another person will ever be able to ease save for the presence of my Mum who was really the only person I trusted to tell me the truth without getting angry or frustrated with me — even if it was sometimes cutting and blunt.

It isn’t that I don’t feel like I can’t talk to people about it, my family and my friends have been so good — but I find it hard to talk about it without being aware of their discomfort or lack of words that will make me feel better. Nothing makes it better and I don’t think it ever will.

Just this week I have felt off — unsure if it is just stress of grief or genuine sickness, I took myself off to the doctors three times and each time a different outcome ensued. Yesterday I had a blood test and had to wait for the results. After hours my doctor called me back and I missed the call by around 4 minutes so she left a muffled voice message that I couldn’t distinguish and something about coming back but also the word ‘mild’ was heard somewhere — regardless of the logic that bad news wouldn’t have been allowed to be left in a voice mail, I went in to melt down. Because it was after hours, I couldn’t call back without it going to an answering message service and I lost my shit for a good hour.

I suppose the point of this is to just acknowledge the fact that there truly is no allotted time that one must adhere to when it comes to grief and its okay to lose your friggin’ marbles for as long as it takes to feel better again.

In fact, when the funeral and the flowers and the well wishes and the shock dissipates, the gravity of the loss hits hard. As funny as it is, I feel like this quote is apt and it’s from Michael Scott so I know my Mum would approve:

grief

..I mean, if we were talking about trying to put it in to words and all.

The other things I’ve learned about grief and loss is that people do say some stupid shit to you. The nurse taking care of my Mum immediately after her passing told me this as she comforted me and I knew it was true in the moment but I didn’t know just how true until someone tried to tell me to stop talking about my Mum because I was torturing myself.

I’ve learned that talking does help sometimes but in my case, writing is a release too and so if you are reading this wondering why I’ve done a violent overshare of emotions, then I will tell you it is because it is good for me and at this point in time, I am taking care of myself because unfortunately despite my age, my mother isn’t here to help me do that anymore.

Also, grief sometimes doesn’t show up immediately. For me, I didn’t feel it; didn’t get it. I didn’t cry after leaving her that night. I didn’t cry at her funeral, really. I was able to smile and laugh and joke and continually tell everybody how chill I was about my Mum dying. And for a little while, I truly believed my own hype.

Until of course, the grief did hit…

Moving on from the loss of someone is actually impossible, but adjusting your life to a lifetime without an important person in it, is possible with time. The pain won’t ever pass, I don’t think. And there are days that I’m sure in 10 years time that I will take to just cry and remember her, but I am hoping that what I am going through currently will pass in its due course.

But right now, I miss my Mum so much that it is painful to think about her and thinking about her makes it literally hard for me to breathe.

(She is probably wishing she could give me “a clip ’round the earhole” as I write this).

So yeah, that’s where I am at. Now I’m off to avoid life by nose diving in to yet another book.

5 Things That Aren't Always In My Control

1. Weight and Looks

We can’t all look as unrealistically inproportionate as Kim Kardashian and have everyone fawning all over someone’s brazen and natural photoshop skills.

I have struggled with my weight for almost four years now. I feel rude saying that given that I haven’t ever hit the 70kilograms mark, but I am also less than 5ft tall and unfortunately when you have curves and you don’t have access to a ‘waist trainer’ and a bunch of people to prepare and feed you the exact right thing to ensure you don’t shed any less than a kilogram a week, you end up just looking like a chubby short chick.

Its infuriating to me each time I step on the scales after doing two weeks of solidly clean-eating and exercising on a daily basis and I see that nothing has changed. It might fluctuate up and down over a couple of days, but the number always ends up around the same. Infuriating because I am saturated over Facebook with how well all these diets/life style changes work for other people.

When nothing changes, I go back to eating good stuff, you know, food that I don’t have to pretend that I like; food that I actually like. And then I go back to being sad about my appearance.

funny_weight_loss_pic

Really, I should be focusing on the important thing; and that is that my heart is healthy. Anyone who has a heart issue is told that they should be walking a minimum of 30 minutes per day on top of their regular daily movement (so its cheating to count that in to your walking around the house, etc). I also should eat healthier because I don’t want a premature clogged artery (and I don’t eat that badly for the record). So instead of counting calories and freaking out about going over, and feeling the tips of depression when I don’t reach some insane goal weight, I’ve decided to do away with the scales. They are my biggest enemy.

I am exercising daily through a couple of different measures and I am eating healthily. That isn’t to say that when I want something a little bit, shall we say, less healthy, I am going to pass it up. I think that’s the issue with diets, the part where you binge eat because you haven’t had fun food in awhile.

Each time I walk in to the bathroom, I am slightly tempted to step on the scales, but I keep resisting. Hopefully when I get a bit more fit and carry all the exercise out as routine, I will start seeing the changes in my body, but until then, the scales need to be left alone.

 

2. Other People’s Actions

You ever met someone that you know you instantly are not going to get along with? And its unfortunate because that person is going to be a big part of your life? And you can’t control their actions, their words, their dealings despite the fact that they are a part of your life? Yeah. Ignoring someone’s stupid and infuriating habits is one of the hardest things that I’ve had to learn to do as an adult. Its so hard not to take on someone else’s stress, guilting-tactics and attitude.

I made a decision this week, however, that a wall needs to be built so that I, myself, don’t end up as insane. I can’t deal with it. I don’t want to deal with it, and I am going to adopt a “today is not the day” to mess with me tactic, every single day. That way, I don’t have to be rude, mean or nasty, I can just go about my business being polite but firm and making the person understand that I am not a punching bag, a gossip line or a counsellor nor will I agree to wear any other hat that has been chosen for me.

Game over.

 

3. Mental Health Issues

I really debate whether or not to mention this here. Like all people who suffer mental health issues, we have a tendency to keep them at bay; well-hidden, so that no one can treat us any different nor will they see us as weak or embarrassing for sharing struggles.

As I keep joking with a friend; the struggle is real, son.

I’ve always had issues with anxiety before I was even a teenager and unfortunately it sometimes spirals out of control and then the issue of obsessive compulsive tendencies come in to play. I am lucky to be a very logical-thinking person that can discern emotional logic from intellectual logic. I know people always joke about OCD or when you mention an OCD tendency, they will try to tell you something that they do that is “OCD”, but no. It makes me want to punch them, actually, lol. You don’t have OCD unless that one obsessive thought is dominating your entire day to the point that you are awake in the middle of the night. I’ve driven back home before after making it around halfway to work just to triple check all the power points in case something happens while I’m gone.

When I leave the house, my little “security detail” game can take up to 20 minutes (or more) if I am feeling particularly anxious. OCD is not essentially about cleaning or counting or opening and closing doors a certain amount of times (though it most certainly can be) but it is more about an obsessive thought or behaviour that makes us feel like if we don’t engage it, the outcome will end in something unspeakable. Or at least that’s how it is in my case. It’s like having the responsibility of every single person that you love and care about on your shoulders and if you don’t carry something out correctly, you are compromising them. It’s irrational, its insane but its just the very nature of the illness.

Again, thankfully I am logical enough to talk myself around it on most days, or I have other people around to assure me when I’m being irrational. These things only occur for me when I’m feeling anxious, it all seems to go hand-in-hand.

Another great one that joins the anxiety & OCD party is depression. Someone once questioned the existence of depression in my life but really I’ve kept that part of me very well hidden for a very long time as most people who suffer depression do. I know the difference between being ‘down’ and being depressed. When you lay in bed and cry for days over nothing or, really something you can’t place your finger on, something is not normal. When you feel numb and have no emotion or no real concern one way or another about anything that is going on, you are depressed. When it lasts for longer than few days with no end in sight, you are depressed.

Again, I am lucky to be a logical thinking person who understands the cycle of depression, or at least my own cycle with it. It can be fleeting for me, I used to think it was hormones because I could set a clock by it at times, however, it comes with anxiety and the OCD and I didn’t link those two together before. I know that my depression bouts last for a couple weeks and there is always a tipping point where things feel okay again. Its almost like magic. For the past three weepy weeks, I went to bed three nights ago feeling upbeat and purposeful and relieved knowing its gone again and hopefully the periods between get longer and longer apart as they have been for the past few years.

But unfortunately I have no control over when or where or how my illnesses hit me, and its something that I have to accept. I am not embarrassed, I am not ashamed, but I really do need support during those awful, dark times that seem to take over me for short spells.

I really believe in voicing mental health issues, they are too isolating to deal with alone.

 

4. Insects.

I have come to live in fear of the constant surprise of spiders all over my house. Do I want to kill them? Yes. Am I afraid they are going to crawl through my mouth and hair and body while I sleep? Absolutely. Did I just see the largest cockroach in existence last night out in the yard? Why yes, yes I did.

Do I regret being an Australian for this very reason?

Sometimes.

 

5. Other people’s opinions.

Can’t pay people to think logically these days, can you? And I tell you, its a true shame. I have witnessed so much good shit on facebook this week, and by that, I don’t really mean good as much as I mean entertaining.

A nasty fight between two people over… well, I’m not totally sure. F-bombs were dropped, empty threats were made, a plague upon one’s house sworn by another… And I laugh. Laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh. But the ones that rile me up the most are the inexperienced, incapable of opinion people who start shooting down those who follow professional advice/practices. I read a scary infuriating rant toward a person for taking a chemotherapy avenue. Cancer doesn’t exist, big pharma are out to get us, I know this because I saw the Michael Moore documentary once and so now I’m suspicious of everything because Michael Moore is a raging leftwing pinko with an one-eyed opinion so it must be true. Someone who needs chemo doesn’t need your opinion on what you think it does, that you think its killing them.

Cancer kills too as so evidenced by the millions of people who have died from it.

And anti-vaxers… I know I have no control over them, but I wish I could take them and their so-called google-founded research to a place huge field full children who have suffered communicable and fatal diseases and show them what their harmful opinions cause.

Arghhh.

 

And now that I’ve vented my spleen, I feel better and have to go to work. Be good, if you’re not okay, don’t be afraid to say it (but don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to hear whinging and complaining all my life, ain’t nobody got time for that).