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?!”).


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:

  1. Denial and Shock…The initial stage. “It can’t be happening.”
  2. Anger…”How dare you do this to me?!” (either referring to God, the deceased, or oneself) Or “Why me?”
  3. Bargaining…”Just let me live to see my son graduate.”
  4. Guilt….You may find yourself feeling guilty for things you did or didn’t do prior to the loss. Forgive yourself. Accept your humanness.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.



Filed under The Stroke

3 responses to “Hurtling

  1. Grieving over the “black holes” that never use to be there; grieving over the need to have notes to remember things you use to; grieving that you are not the same person you were before the stroke; grieving over why this happened to you; why you were dealt these cards; why…why….why???

    And your past coping with anger was to turn it inward…..repressed anger usually leads to depression… it is good to be aware of that and do what you know is healthy for you to cope with that.

    We all avoid to some degree painful things. It is a coping mechanism to delay dealing with traumatic events until we are ready to discuss them, integrate them and accept them. Sometimes we end up avoiding things altogether until it bites us in the backside and the then the pain is too unbearable to avoid/deny.

    I see in your writing an acknowledgement of your feelings….an expression of them and that alone helps you integrate them (I think).

    One other thing I believe you are grieving may be time lost, time from school, time from collegues, yet it is this time (Now) that you need for yourself because it is the medium for healing and for grieving.

    We are here and listening 🙂

  2. Carol Shields opened her final novel with the observation that happiness is like a pane of glass: you don’t realize you’re looking through it until it breaks. Not that this entirely applies to you, but you were, to stretch the metaphor, looking through your mind before it “broke.” Now you understand it’s broken. So you’re angry, depressed, etc…

    In my experience, living with illness is like living in a windy land where the front gate is always banging. Sometimes it’s deafening. Sometimes you can tune it out. But it’s always there.

  3. Yep–I am learning that I’m walking a new terrain here, and am starting to accept that some things may never be the same. I can tell I’m far in my recuperation, especially after my visit to the speech therapist yesterday (more on that lter)…but that things are changed. I think I am grieving the change, because well, I am supposed to make a 100% recovery.

    Thanks all.

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