As the Pendulum Swings

Last week was the third year mark of A’s death.  As in previous years, my kids, their significant others, and I all got together for a few days to remember him as a family unit. As I mentioned previously, I have been so prickly and sensitive lately, and I felt that this looming anniversary was at the core of it all.  Recent events lead me to wonder if I was mistaken and there is something more chronic at the core.

It seems I read far too much into things and cause myself (and S) unnecessary anxiety and distress. Little things become colossal worries in my mind, and he is left to deal with the fallout.  Although wildly unfair to him, and despite my logical brain knowing it is unreasonable, I seem powerless to stop the madness.

And madness it is.  Jumping to conclusions?  Nah… it’s more like leapfrogging from Exhibit A to a life sentence.  There seems to be no rational connection from an event to my conclusion about what it means.  Talk about non sequiturs.

A recent such event resulted in a conversation with S where he gently suggested I may have depression.  I initially pushed back and balked at this because one of the main things I understand about depression is that people have difficulty enjoying activities they once enjoyed and they sleep a lot.  At least that’s what all the television ads want us to think.

I don’t have time to sleep a lot, and even when I should be asleep (aka 2 a.m.), I find myself either unable to, or sleeping restlessly.  Neither is ideal.  And I also enjoy many activities – some new, some old.  I mean truly enjoy them.  There generally tends to be a lot of laughter and joy as a result of doing things.  I recently began a belly dancing class thanks to Groupon, and despite being uncoordinated and having no rhythm, I am able to laugh at myself and am grateful for the opportunity to move and shimmy (albeit poorly) with the rest of the women in the class.

S and I frequently attend live music events in the area.  We’ve seen cover bands as well as the “real” ones and (save one ugly evening where I broke down and we had to leave early) generally have a good time.  He’s been teaching me about his favorite band (Pink Floyd) and I’ve been learning that they aren’t who I thought they were when I was in 8th grade and dismissed them as a potential listening favorite.

I’ve heard numerous times of the past several months – so often, I wouldn’t even begin to try and count the number – how happy I look.  And how great it is to see my smile again.  In so many ways, I am actually living again.  And happy.  (Unless I’m not…)

So I don’t exhibit the “typical” symptoms of being depressed.  But upon researching the disorder, there are many symptoms of depression that resonate with me.  Aside from the sadness and lethargy people seem to equate with someone who is depressed, I was somewhat surprised to find symptoms such as irritability, insomnia, and self-blame.  Those I can relate to more easily.

Upon further research, however, I think I may exhibit more closely the symptoms of Complicated Grief, a very specific type of “depression” related to grieving.  Complicated Grief, or CG (and believe me, the irony that this disorder shares the same initials as mine is not lost on me), is specifically related to the inability to get past grief and into normal life functioning and relationships again.  The key word here being “normal”.

The dichotomy of my moods is a constant source of concern within our relationship.  Occasionally, I’ll joke with S that life with me will never be boring.  Or that I like to keep him on his toes.  And although he’s so good-natured about it all, in the back of my mind I constantly worry that the next time I go into my dark place will be the final straw for him.  Who wants to consider a future with someone who can’t keep it together or questions the motive of every move you make?

My emotional pendulum tends to swing from one end of the spectrum to the other fairly frequently (and sometimes far too quickly) these days.  In the early stages of grief, I was numb and essentially had only one mood.  The more I heal (and despite all of “this”, I do believe I am healing), the wider my range of emotions tends to be; my highs are often higher, my lows are often lower.  I’m hoping that with enough momentum from the mood swings, at some point I will finally breach the summit and have a more emotionally balanced life without the constant extremes. Sort of like when as a child you push an empty swing so hard that it finally wraps around the top bar, which results in a more restricted range of motion.  Although I don’t want the monomaniacal straight line of numbed senses I knew early on, neither do I want this emotionally frenzied state of late.  Somewhere in the middle would be ideal.

I had believed I was handling grief fairly well and have, in fact, enjoyed many activities lately, but I’m starting to rethink the validity of that belief.  And I have taken the first step toward “fixing” myself.  (I use the quotation marks because I don’t think I’m actually “broken” in this sense, but clearly something needs to be resolved.)  So I will (finally) speak to a professional and get some help with my grieving.

Sometimes the best thing we can do for ourselves is allow someone else to do it for us… or with us.

© Many Faces of Cheri G 2019

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