June 21, 2012

Cannibalism in NYC

There have been recent reports of cannibals in various places across the country.  And while the idea is disturbing and grotesque, frankly, I've always considered it someone else's problem.

Not in my backyard.

That all changed for me today - upon witnessing acts of cannibalism right here in New York City.

Seriously people, stop eating each other!

June 20, 2012

Goin' through the big D

And I don't mean Dallas.

I don't mean divorce either.

Depression.  or depression. (probably the latter, though it feels much too intense for a lowercase letter to do it justice)

This is the photograph I was working on when I got the call about Mom's death.
In so many ways it symbolizes her life for me.
So it is with this experience as well.
At some point in time I will look back and see it as a refining, beautifying process.
But now it just hurts like hell.

So, depression.  (I have a theory that the more times I say it, the less scary it will become) It's too much sleep and too much country music.  It's a feeling I've never quite experienced before.  I've been sad, sure.  And I've been through hard, worrisome times.  But this is the first time in my life that I truly do not recognize myself.  Where have I gone?  

The intense grief following her funeral involved many tears and poignant memories.  Really feeling the loss of her and what that meant for me.  Swollen, stinging eyes, curled up in a ball - the whole nine yards.

Then there was a respite.  Two weeks of feeling surprisingly normal.  Feeling happy for the first time since her passing.  And it felt so good to feel good!  So good, in fact that I pushed away any thoughts of her that popped up.  I didn't want anything to ruin how wonderful I felt.  "Just one more day of being happy," I thought.  "I"ll deal with this later."  I knew the grief was not gone forever.  I knew it would cycle back.

But when it did, it did not come back as tears and memories as it had before.  It showed up as a total loss of identity.  A complete disinterest in my own life. I was still moving along, doing my routine, but I felt completely hollow inside.  Nothing there.  Numbness only.  I explained it away for quite a few days.

It will get better.
It will go away.
Your mom just died, it's probably normal.
This will pass soon.

But it just stayed.  The fog stayed for so very long.  I lost the ability to handle my normal life.  Everything my kids did was too much for me to handle.  I was terrified of my complete incapacity for patience.  Where was this resentment, this contempt coming from?  This is not the mother I wanted to be.  After watching my own mother struggle with depression her whole life, I told myself it would never be me.  I was made of different stuff.

But then I saw it.  Ellie's big eyes, searching mine intensely.  Looking for me somewhere inside the shell of my body.  Confused and perplexed.  And I remember being there.  A child, wishing with all my heart that Mom would come back to the surface.

It put me over the edge.

I finally admitted that I needed help.  I sat on the couch and cried to Joe about my deepest fears.

I am afraid of not being able to handle this grief.
This motherhood.
This life.
I am afraid of becoming her.
I am afraid of being depressed, because that is her, not me.
I am afraid of needing medication, because somewhere along the way I decided it would be my ultimate failure in life.

And you know what?  After I said those things - they weren't as scary as they were before.  I started seeing a therapist and it is making a world of difference.  Life moves on in a cyclical motion.  I am not making my way out of this grief, so much as I am navigating my time through it.

I write all this for a number of reasons.  I've always been into sharing - usually too much information - and it's so healing for me to put my experiences into words.  Also I feel I should explain why I haven't been writing here for so long.  And I hope that by being open with this experience, maybe someone reading will find the comfort that comes in knowing that none of us is ever truly alone.  

I'm going to keep talking about hard things on this blog.  Because that's what life is made of.  Smiles and laughter, yes.  Beauty and joy.  But also very hard, very meaningful things.  All of it together makes up this life that we are each experiencing.