Hello Grief? Meet Depression. Happy Monday.

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. 

(Which I’ve written about here and here and here and then I named it “Oscar” here and more here… )

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.

Heavy sigh.


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.




Filed under grief, The Caregiver with the Dragon Tattoo, The Great Anti-Antidepressant Experiment of 2011

13 responses to “Hello Grief? Meet Depression. Happy Monday.

  1. Hey Kim, Okay – I won’t say any of the stuff you don’t want us to say. Just process away, girl! And yes, I do love that picture. My first thought was “if I could look that glamorous drowning, perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad.” Kinda like all the artistically drowning people in the Titanic movie.

    Arg! (Yes, I know that sounded like a pirate) – I want so badly to say something helpful here! Just keep posting what helps you feel better. As my daughter is fond of saying “Let your freak flag fly!” (And I mean that in a good way.)

  2. Hope

    Beautifully written, Kim. The poignancy speaks for all of us who endured devastating loss. Thank you for the courage in expressing it.

  3. Kim, Thanks for sharing the differentiation between Grief and Depression… although my depression was never as articulate. Listen, I’ve found it helpful to stop thinking/saying things like “the rest of my life…” and just focus on today. It’s all we ever have any way and, for all we know, beautiful magic and Serendipity is waiting for us around the next corner. You don’t need to hurry, just keep breathing and putting one foot in front of the next. And definitely make a funny face at your self each time you pass a mirror!

    I hope you don’t mind my sharing another poem:

    I have a feeling that my boat
    Has struck, down there in the depths,
    Against a great thing.
    And nothing happens!
    –Nothing happens?
    Or has everything Happened,
    And are we standing now, quietly, in the new life?

    – Juan Ramon Jimenez, “Oceans”

  4. Whatever you need to do, just do it. Glad you have this space to tell it all out loud, as you said.

  5. chantal

    I wrote this awhile after my mom died. I know what it’s like, i took antidepressants for awhile. The only thing that kept me sane was looking at pictures of french bulldog puppies on the internet. It does get easier, with time. http://soundcloud.com/morningwoodrocks/mom

  6. Sue T

    Dear Oscar,
    I suggest you leave our friend Kim alone, especially right now. You’re stealing some words from Grief. And you’re using others that are not true. Or are combined with facts in a way that makes them not true. Kim already knows the facts, so in both cases you are lying to her. That is mean, and it’s not OK.

    Dear Kim,
    Toni Frisell is indeed amazing!
    Glad you are home.

  7. Kim,
    I think it’s amazing that you can filter the difference between grief and depression and describe them so well. I hope the antidepressants do their job so you can have your space to grieve. Because you DO deserve that.

  8. —And now the grief sneaks up on me, and it is brutal. It slices me open. It brings me to my knees—

    Kim, I Understand. I am so very sorry about your dear mother….

    I am mourning, too. My heart has been ripped out, but I’m still alive.

    The murder of my sister is so GIGANTIC that I need to catch my breath some day (most days)

    & I still find it difficult to get out of bed.

    I LOVE that you are writing about it……releasing the words, sorrow, pain.

    Thinking about you today, dear.

    Beautiful, heartbreaking post. x

    Love, Kim

  9. VickiB

    Kim, sending support and hugs (if you want them) and encouragement…

  10. Sara

    It’s been almost 5 weeks since my mom died. I really liked your post. I hope time has healed you a bit as people say it does…I know for me it seems to be getting worse, not better…your post really struck a chord with me though, thank you

  11. Tom

    Hi Kim, just read this. Perfectly sums up my recent experience, except, sadly the depression kinda won and dragged me way down low, because I never took it seriously. But anyway, knowledge is power and at least I can go forward and do the right things now. Hope you’re well. 😀

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