A few days ago, I wrote about my embarrassment and puzzlement over my current emotional state(s). What was up with my moodiness? Why did I spend the first month of my stroke recovery in blissful ignorance, weirdly optimistic and upbeat? I supposed it was my own inability to process what was going on, but at the same time, with the exception of my reflexive crying (random crying without sadness) I was not very sad at all. That was replaced with a torrent of anger and rage and now…depression.
The emotional pain has by now greatly outpaced my physical limitations. Worse, my emotional pain is now something I can no longer ignore. And something I should not ignore given my history of depression. (But of course, my history of depression has caused my own set of weird behaviors around depression).
One of my readers, Leroy Dissing commented:
What I read sounds more like a grieving process you are going through. As I look back on your entries, there was the denial, the anger, numbness or sadness and slowly you are working toward patience or acceptance.
The comment was striking–I had not realized I was going through a grieving process. Until then, I’d felt crazy and alone, wondering why I was going through all those…FEELINGS, and feeling very very scared for myself. Was I entering an endless pit of despair? I had clawed at the rim of this black well, refusing the sensation of hopelessness and anger and resentment and self pity and sadness. All the while, of course, still falling in, my railing arms ineffective against the inevitable slump of depression.
As soon as I’d realized that I was going through something NORMAL, I let into my feelings. Knowing I was grieving, somehow, made the whole thing more acceptable in my mind (even though I did wonder, “What the HECK am I grieving about?!”).
Ah, I am not DEPRESSED–I am…GRIEVING!
And so these days I’ve been sitting, willingly, on that train of grieving. Of course, being typical me, doing research on the stages of grieving (what are they? Where am I in the process? What is my “progress?” Am I near the end? What are the steps? What should I check off? Yes, I know this is silly but this is how I am). I learned that one does not necessarily go through every step, nor does one have to follow them in precise order:
- Denial and Shock…The initial stage. “It can’t be happening.”
- Anger…”How dare you do this to me?!” (either referring to God, the deceased, or oneself) Or “Why me?”
- Bargaining…”Just let me live to see my son graduate.”
- Guilt….You may find yourself feeling guilty for things you did or didn’t do prior to the loss. Forgive yourself. Accept your humanness.
- Depression…You may at first experience a sense of great loss. Mood fluctuations and feelings of isolation and withdrawal may follow. Please note that encouragement and reassurance to the bereaved will not be helpful in this stage.
- Loneliness…As you go through changes in your social life because of the loss, you may feel lonely and afraid. The more you are able to reach out to others and make new friends, the more this feeling lessens.
- Acceptance…Acceptance does not mean happiness. Instead you accept and deal with the reality of the situation.
I don’t know if I’ve written it before, but I really do set my emotions aside in times of crisis, and instead tend to tasks at hand. It does make sense that now that I’m physically better, my psyche has stepped forward to take its turn. Now I wonder what it is I’m grieving about, all the things that are causing me pain (including the whole idea and practice of confronting my pain).
What do I feel I have lost? That’s the underlying question in my head these days.