It’s Monday again.
Another Monday before another Tuesday that marks another week that has passed since my artistic genius Mom (who had great hair) passed away.
It’s been 5 weeks.
And now I remember about the part where the real grief doesn’t start right after someone you love dies. No, the first few weeks are just the warm-up – the prelude, if you will – to the fucked up marathon that is grief with a capital “G”.
The first few weeks after a loss (in my limited experience) seem to be marked by surrealism. Shock. Senses dulled. Inability to comprehend the situation. Sweet sadness. The world doesn’t stop, but it does seem to understand that something has happened and some slack is cut. Understanding. A pulling together.
Then the world moves on. Things need to be done. Papers filed, people notified, accounts closed. Business taken care of. Clothes packed away. Expectations shift. Cheer up, don’t wallow, life goes on, look on the bright side.
And now the grief sneaks up on me, and it is brutal. It slices me open. It brings me to my knees.
There’s her car, her favorite color, a quote she would love, a funny story that I want to tell her, a baby she should be holding, a celebration she should be a part of, a new year she should be ringing in with me.
Oh, yes. Hello Grief. I remember you now.
And then there’s the Depression.
Everyone around me (including me, of course) has been on a sort of heightened alert for “signs” that I’m slipping into depression (Depression Watch 2012?!). Which is a little uncomfortable, but understandable, given my history and my mother’s history and my grandmother’s history and various other relatives-with-life-threatening-depression history, plus the fact that my Great Anti-Antidepressant Experiment of 2011 remains in effect.
Yesterday I thought I was fine, “just” grieving. Today I think it’s not just Grief. Depression seems to have officially joined the party.
And why did I think this wouldn’t happen?
Those of you who haven’t been blessed with the gift of debilitating and horrifying bouts of depression might be thinking that it is easy to confuse Grief with Depression.
You would be wrong.
Grief and Depression are two totally different things/experiences/phenomena.
Grief says: “My Mom died and I’m so very sad. I miss her. She was too young to die. There’s a huge hole in my life. I can’t believe she’s dead. Is she dead? I hate that she is dead. Nothing will ever be the same. I wish it hadn’t happened this way. I want to call my Mom and tell her what happened today but I can’t. My heart hurts.”
Depression says: “Your Mom died and it’s your fault. If you hadn’t asked her to come help you in the kitchen she wouldn’t have tried to get up and tripped on her dress and fallen and broken her hip and you would still be in Mexico and she would be happy and laughing with her friends and probably she would be so happy that her brain tumor would’ve stopped growing, or at least slowed down and she would’ve had more time. You suck. Also, you should have brought her straight home from the Dreaded Hospital after her hip surgery instead of taking her to the Awful and Sad Rehabilitation Center, if you had done that she would probably still be alive now. Plus you suck for being such an emotional wreck — you knew she was going to die so why are you so shocked and upset about it now? If you were any kind of a decent human being you would pull yourself together immediately and move on with your life and stop using the fact that your mother just died to excuse your incompetence. But what’s the point, really? It’s all awfulness and doom and gloom from here on out. It’s just a matter of time until you get ovarian cancer and die. Alone.”
At it’s core, Grief seems to be complicated, prolonged sadness. Depression is sadness + self-hatred + other awful things feeding on each other and spiralling out of control.
Together they could destroy me.
So I’m calling on all my superpowers to fight back. (I’m not sure what they are yet, but I am pretty sure I have some.)
And I’m going to the doctor to discuss going back on an antidepressant.
And I’m seeing my Wise Therapist as much as I can.
And I’ve now exercised Two Days In A Row.
And I just wrote a blog post, dammit.
p.s. So I’m back in Colorado (yay! home!) staying with my Aunt and Uncle for a bit and then I’m going to head to Mexico and then we are going to have a non-Memorial party for my sweet Mommy and then I’m going to miraculously figure out what the fuck I’m going to do with the rest of my life and then I’m going to go do it, somewhere.
p.s.s. OH, and please, please, please don’t think you need to write/comment and tell me that of course I’m not responsible for my Mom’s death. I know that is the Depression talking. Also, please, please, please no well-meaning advice on how I should or should not take antidepressants and which ones I should or should not take. I just need this to be a safe space to process my stuff. Out loud.
p.s.s.s. Isn’t the photograph here amazing? I love that she’s not struggling and her face is to the sun. Even though the sun is muted and filtered and weak from all the water surrounding her. The photographer is the same woman who took the photo in my Monday pulls me under post, Toni Frissell.