grief

Note: I realized as I wrote this particular blog…it started as one thing and transformed into feelings that just flowed…so it is what it is. Hope you’re able to follow.

Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance. The 5 stages of grief.

The following charts were can originally be found: https://www.washington.edu/counseling/2020/06/08/the-stages-of-grief-accepting-the-unacceptable/

Denial

can look like:can feel like:
avoidanceshock
procrastinationnumbness
forgettingconfusion
easily distractedshutting down
mindless behaviors
keeping busy all the time
thinking/saying, “I’m fine” or “it’s fine”

Anger

can look like:can feel like:
pessimismfrustration
cynicismimpatience
sarcasmresentment
irritabilityembarrassment
being aggressive or passive-aggressiverage
getting into arguments or physical fightsfeeling out of control
increased alcohol or drug use

Bargaining

can look like:can feel like:
ruminating on the future or pastguilt
over-thinking and worryingshame
comparing self to othersblame
predicting the future and assuming the worstfear, anxiety
perfectionisminsecurity
thinking/saying, “I should have…” or ”If only…”
judgment toward self and/or others

Depression

can look like:can feel like:
sleep and appetite changessadness
reduced energydespair
reduced social interesthelplessness
reduced motivationhopelessness
cryingdisappointment
increased alcohol or drug useoverwhelmed

Acceptance

can look like:can feel like:
mindful behaviors“good enough”
engaging with reality as it iscourageous
“this is how it is right now”validation
being present in the momentself-compassion
able to be vulnerable & tolerate emotionspride
assertive, non-defensive, honest communicationwisdom
adapting, coping, responding skillfully

What comes to mind when you think of grief and when we experience? For most people they associate grief with the death of a loved one.

Obviously the stages of grief after the death of someone are something that I’ve experienced. Although I’m fairly lucky in the respect of the fact that I’ve only lost a handful of people that I really grieved.

But what about those experiences in our lives that aren’t death but that require us to grieve? The friendships that were supposed to last forever that came to an abrupt end. Or the relationship that was supposed to be the one that ended before it really began. The sudden change in job that led to huge changes in your life. Moving to a new place and leaving behind everything and everyone you know. A pet that crosses the rainbow bridge.

I have known for a long time that there are things that have happened in my life that I went through the grief cycle: the death of my cousin, the death of grandparents and other family. Pets who became family. Loss of friends after falling outs. Lifestyles that I lived that changed.

Therapy this past weekend brought me a new realization…what about parts of me that no longer serve me? Did I ever grieve those parts of me? Did I know that I needed to grieve those parts of me?

For as long as I can remember, I have dealt with depression. I’ve been up and down most of my life. I’d start a medication, up the dosage until I start to feel better and then I’d take myself off (never told anyone I was doing it). Then I’d sink to low levels of depression. The kind where I’d find it hard to get out of bed and shower. I’d cry every day. I’d wish that I would go to sleep and never wake up. I’d withdraw from friends. I’d spend as much time as I could in the dark. I’d sleep for 12 hours a day and still want to sleep more. Sometimes I’d start therapy and then quit. I’d push people away, including my husband and those that I loved. Then I would get to the point where I would find myself looking at the handgun or sit with the knife in my hand…and I’d get scared.

The pattern would start over again. Looking back I can see the pattern. The cycle took approximately 1 1/2-2 years from the initial “let’s put you back on a medication” conversation with the doctor to the “the gun/knife is right there” moment. I’m sure that others noticed it, but at the time I was riding the waves that came. I didn’t think to look for patterns. I didn’t fully understand what things meant.

The last time I got to that dark place…the really dark spot has been almost 4 1/2 years. About two years ago, when we broke up with Jackie and John, I started going down that path again and we were able to increase my dosage enough that mixed with therapy kept me going. Sure, I’ve had up and down moments since then…but that is when I started a medication that has worked. I’ve increased dosage multiple times since then. I’ve added more medications in conjunction to my original and I continued seeing my therapist.

But if I’m being completely honest with myself and with the help of my therapist…I miss that feeling. I miss the feeling that I felt when I was in my darkest moments of depression. As uncomfortable as it was for me…it was comforting. I knew what to expect. I followed the same general pattern. Each and every time. Each time it got a little bit darker and a little bit scarier, but I knew what to expect.

But I miss it. I miss the familiarity of knowing what’s coming and where it’ll lead. I miss a part of me that has been with me for 25+ years.

The logical side of my brain says that it’s good that I’m doing well… the emotional side of my brain doesn’t want to let it go. I don’t talk about it with many people… I don’t know that many people would understand that I’m grieving something that is considered a disease. I’m working through my grieving process… at least I think I am.

I still feel the ups and down…they aren’t as extreme as they used to be. It’s more often and tends to be faster transitions between them. They’re still there.

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