Happy(?) Holidays

I include the question mark because so many people struggle this time of year.  For me, issues with deep grief and ritualistic trauma frequently permeate the lighter side of the season.  This year I have made a concerted effort to participate, rather than hide myself away somewhere.  I have gone Christmas shopping and made plans for both Christmas and Chanukah celebrations.  This has helped, to some extent, but I find my agita spiralling as the holidays near.

My sister’s death from suicide on 7 December 2000 is the most painful thing I’ve ever been through, and its sting is still just as sharp as it was that day.  I have had quite a few other losses, and they all still sting. My sister’s death, however, still drops me to my knees sometimes.  She was my second self.  We were rarely separated, and I still hold myself partially at fault for not seeing the signs in her.  That day was just as painful as ever this year, and it started my mind down the spiral of grief and fear.  I’m trying to bring it back up.

If you are struggling this month, please hold on.  Somewhere out there, someone needs you more than you know.

In the UK & Ireland: Contact the Samaritans  116 123

In the US:  1-800-784-2433;  TTY:  1-800-799-4889

 

 

 

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Feeling Disconnected

Everything feels unreal to me at the moment.  The holiday season is so bittersweet, and whilst I’ve had a few triumphs this year, I still feel overwhelmed by it all.  I’m really trying this year, but I truly do not feel connected to a single person, pet, deity, or object.  I feel like I’ve settled in to nothingness.  On the outside, things look fine.  I function as I always have, stand in for friends when they need me, and take care of all the practical things that make a life.  Inside, though, I feel a sense of blackness and nonexistence that’s so deep it’s almost an ache.  Whatever this is, I just hope it passes soon.

2013: Looking Ahead

So we survived the Mayan apocalypse and are spiralling quickly towards 2013.  This year certainly brought changes for me in terms of mental health.  I started with a new psychiatrist and re-started with quite possibly the most amazing therapist in the US.  That took effort and financial debt I’m currently paying back through ‘volunteer’ work.  It’s been worth the difficulties, though.

Therapy took a few twists and turns along the way.  There were milestones; sharing the name of the cult that my family belonged to, exploring some of the darker SRA memories, expressing strong and open emotion.  There were also major setbacks; a relapse of bulimia, the ‘formal’ attitude to distance therapy, the consideration of abandoning therapy as a whole.  All of those, however, average out to what has probably been my most extensive and forward-moving therapy experience to date.  I’ll keep moving forward.  Very little has changed in other terms.

Friday was the Long Nights Moon, the most powerful Full Moon of the year.  During my rite, I considered what I might need for the upcoming year.  The answer was simple: peace, healing, and fruitful endeavours for myself and my FOC.  I need to focus more on physical, spiritual and mental health for myself, and I need to learn more about how to project energy to those I love.  We’re scattered about in two different countries, afterall.

Wishing peace and happiness to all of your for the upcoming year.  May we all work together with love and harmony as a global society.  We can still fix this bit we call the Universe.  It’s all in our power.

Lights of Memory

Not long after my mother died, I went on a spiritual quest of sorts.  I talked to clergy from many denominations, telling them I didn’t even know whether I believed in a deity.  The one person who responded in a way of comfort was a rabbi.  He answered my statement by saying I didn’t have to believe in a deity.  Rather, I had to live my life the way I believed in fairness and compassion to others.  Having done that, he said, there will be no worry about what’s on the other side.

We talked for hours that day.  The sanctuary truly felt like a holy place, and I relaxed my control more than I intended.  After that, I went through the process of conversion classes, set before the beit din in what was a very uncomfortable judgement period, and joined the congregation.  It was an extremely personal experience.  I kept it relatively quiet.

Whilst I no longer follow that path, I do hold some of the beliefs quite dear.  Chanukah is still very much a holiday of peace and light to me, and I still observe it every year.  This year, on the last night, I lit memorial candles alongside the menorah.  The lights surrounded my daughter’s urn and the little angel statue, making a beautiful glow.  Beauty out of tragedy.  Lights of memory in every sense of the word.

Day Eight Memorial Distance

Reminders

My holiday depression has reared its ugly head, and it is bringing a renewed problem with cutting.  This is something I’ve had more of a problem with this year than in a while.  Right now, it’s particularly bad.  The cuts are deeper than typical, as I’ve had trouble actually *feeling* the blade, even when I could hear it cut through.  It’s a focus– something to stop my mind spinning.  Cuts are deepened, scars are re-opened, and proof of my life is there on my arms.

My feelings vacillate between absolute numbness and complete overwhelm.  It’s chaotic.  SI breaks the numbness through the pain and blood.  In the day, the pain of bending my arm and the feeling of the cuts rubbing on my sleeves gives me a focus other than what’s going on around me.  When things get far too overwhelming, I can just concentrate on the pain, the one constant in my life right now.

It’s That Time Again!

December is a dark month for me, and things have happened in recent years to make it even darker.  Still, every year since I started this blog, I’ve redecorated with this lovely festive snowy background at the start of each December.    It brightens the look of this collection of thoughts that can sometimes be so black.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Unexplained Panic

I’m dealing with something I do not understand and hoping some of you who read this blog can give me some insight.  This is a rough time of year, of course.  We’re coming on the first anniversary of my daughter’s death, just passed the 11th anniversary of my sister’s death, and are in the middle of the holiday season to boot.  My anxiety level is so high it’s literally making me ill at times, and things are relatively unpleasant at the best.

The bit I’m not understanding is panic.  Recently, my best friend and I had to make a change of plans.  The small change in our routine really set me off.  I just had this assumption that he was out of my life.  That *used* to be a response– I would assume that spending time with others would make him realise how horrible I was, and he’d want me out of his life forever.  That has *not* been a reaction for a few years now, though.

Even more recently, he found himself a bit under the weather.  Nothing serious at all.  Just the typical pre-winter cold.  Again, I panicked.  Would he get enough rest?  Would we be able to see each other?  Would he, knowing how much changes were upsetting me, push himself to do something he wasn’t quite up to?  A million unpleasant thoughts popped about in my head, and I was literally worried sick.

Today, he got a bit of nausea.  Again, nothing serious.  Likely, it’s just lunch that didn’t feel as though it spent enough time with him the first go round.  That brought the panic to a full-on attack.  My mind immediately went to the idea that my best friend would die, and I’d never see him again.  That quickly led into the thought of not being able to spend any time with him at all over the next week, even if he did survive.  He has plans the next two Saturdays, so Fridays seem almost critical.

I am *not* one to panic.  As a matter of fact, I’m typically the one who stays calm whilst everyone else panics.  Why, then, are simple changes in plan or status making me panic?  Today, my reaction to my best friend’s stomach issue was a full-on panic attack.  He isn’t aware of that; it’s not his responsibility.  Still, I phoned him to hear his voice, so I know he *sounds* fine.  He says he’s a bit tired and has some lingering nausea, all perfectly normal.  I’ll be pacing the floors until I know for definite I’ll see him tonight, though.  Every minute of not seeing him seems to count double right now- it’s like my mind is registering the fact that every minute could be the last minute.

So what’s going on with this panic?  PTSD involving grief issues?  I have no idea what to call it, how to frame it, or how to work with it.  I also have no access to a decent therapist to help.  This is making what’s already a difficult time of year much, much worse.

Redecorating

In the spirit of tradition and the hope that, perhaps, I will add a tinge of cheery to this dreary blog, I am redecorating it with this holiday theme.  With any luck, it will be the start of a more tolerable time.  If nothing else, it’s a small way to contribute to the holidays without expending a great deal of energy.  My enthusiasm is lacking.

I wish happiness and cheer to those celebrating, gentle comfort to those in pain, and peace to everyone, regardless of place or circumstance.  Peace is, in the end, the only thing that will get us through.

Holidays Suck

We’re headed in to the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, and I am feeling anything but festive.  In fact, I just want to duck my head until it’s over.  But that brings 2012, apocalyptic crap & other fun with SRA.  Back to holidays…

My daughter’s stillbirth happened on 27 Dec.  I’m already anticipating that anniversary.  Now, actually, I keep thinking of things in terms of last year.  My best friend and I are doing our typical jaunt to Nashville to celebrate his birthday, and, being rather selfish about things, I can’t keep my mind off of last year.  When we were in Nashville last year, I bought some maternity clothes.  I felt the baby kicking on and off all day, and that evening, my best friend’s mother got to feel her kick strong against my side.  I thought of those as her tiny way of participating in the celebration.

This year feels hollow.  I should have a six-month-old hanging about.  She probably wouldn’t have gone with us for the shopping trip, but we definitely would have brought things back for her.  I picture what I think she would look like, what I think her giggle would sound like, and how she would look all excited for the holidays.  Then, I think of how thankful I am that at least I still have her urn and the things from the memorial.  My beautiful baby who will never see a holiday.

I’m guessing she heard the noise of my best friend’s family Christmas celebration.  I’m guessing, too, that she was happy, because she was definitely active.  That celebration was probably her last memory, for lack of better terms.  I felt sick that day, but nothing major.  Just a little like I had a stomach virus.  It’s hard, still, to believe that the baby was gone a day and a half later.

So, yes.  I am not feeling festive.  I might not even go to the holiday celebration this year.  My mind is filled with memories of last year.  The joy I felt when I found out I was pregnant, the love we all had already for that child, and the anticipation of what our lives would be like.  The terrible end of the holiday season last year haunts me, though.  I’d rather this year’s holidays pass without having to give them a nod.

A Toast to Old Friends

Cé go bhfuil mé i Meiriceá anois, beidh mo chroí i gcónaí a bhaineann glas na cnoic i bhfad ar shiúl. Mo chuid fola beidh sé ar siúl i gcónaí leis na cathanna throid fada ó shin. Beidh mo aigne cuimhneamh ar an streachailt agus misneach. Agus beidh mo chroí at gcónaí le mórtas d’Éirinn, i Sasana, don bhaile.

Beannacht Lá Fhéile Pádraig