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Grieving

I think grieving is weird. They say there are five stages: denial/isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. They say that everyone experiences these stages differently or out of order. I don’t know where I am, or if I have experienced any of them.

Let me take you back to July 3, 2018. I got a phone call from my aunt. She told me that Donna, my legal mother – the lady who adopted me and never told me, was on hospice and gave me a number to call a guy named Clint. So I called. I got the information and we left the next day. When we got there, she was unresponsive. We were told that she had went in for surgery to remove cancerous tumors in her brain. One was behind her ear, they got that one, and one was at the base of her brain, they couldn’t get that one. They suggested hospice to her, she agreed. The nurses said that she was up and talking to them when she got there, but she was going down fast and probably wouldn’t last but maybe a few more hours…maybe days.

I stayed. I stayed most of the day, every day for a week. I called every morning before I went up there and every night before I went to bed.

One week turned into two. Two weeks turned into three.

At one point, I remember that she opened her eyes and she saw me. The look on her face said one of two things. I’m not sure which one really. But that was the day they brought in a therapy dog. She tried to talk to me, but you have to understand that from her previous run in with cancer, she doesn’t have the roof of her mouth, it makes it really hard to understand her. Semi-consciousness doesn’t help either. So I did most of the talking. I apologized for the way things ended the last time. She said she forgave me. I forgave her for all the things that happened.

At some point, we decided we had to get back home and back to work. She didn’t seem to be doing any worse, and we had bills to pay. I didn’t want to leave her, I didn’t want her to die alone. I wanted to be there in a way she never was for me. I wanted her to know that I was there for her. But we had to go. But I had been out there for four weeks already. The nurses said that they would call with any changes. The day that we went back to work, they were going to lay us off. I had to explain what happened, I told them where we were and what was going on. The manager went and talked to the higher ups, and we got to work. That day…That day was the day that I had 6 missed calls and I knew, I felt it. She passed away with a nurse and an aide by her side. I told the manager that I was leaving and I didn’t know when I would be back.

We got there just in time. They were getting ready to call the funeral services, but they had been waiting for us to get there so we could see her. I cried. I was sad and scared. As a CNA, I’ve seen death. But it was different being someone I knew so personally. She looked so small and fragile. She didn’t look like the woman I grew up with. The woman would was out for herself, who demanded love that she didn’t know how to return, who expected perfection in everything… She finally looked at peace. And peace looked good on her.

I didn’t expect it to hurt. After everything that happened in my life with her, I kinda thought that this would have been a peaceful transition for me. But it hurt. It actually broke my heart. I guess because I don’t know how to hate, I never have. There are plenty of people that I don’t like, but I don’t hate them. I don’t hate her, I still love her. At her funeral, I comforted others while they were crying.

I went through her storage building. I kept some of her clothing, but I got rid of a lot of her things. Doing that kinda helped. Unfortunately, a lot of her things were damaged in storage anyway. I cried a few times going through her things. I could remember where she had them in the house. The more things we went through, the more things we got rid of, the more I came to terms with her death. It was hard, but I accepted her death.

I had a few times where I would randomly remember somethings that she would have said to me or something she would do. Or I would remember seeing her in the hospice bed, and it would make me cry. I did isolate myself for a bit, but not for long. I was good. I moved on.

Then I was watching a new episode of Grey’s Anatomy, they mentioned that Thatcher Grey was on hospice. That’s all they said, they said he was sick and on hospice, and let me tell you that I lost it. I had to clear the room. I got to the bedroom quick and started crying and hyperventilating. Fortunately, I have a great husband who stepped in and got me to calm down. We didn’t watch the rest of the episode until the next week. We watched it from the beginning, and when they said something about being on hospice, I wanted to cry but the feeling passed quickly without incident. I’m glad, at this point, that everyone talked me out of trying to work hospice care.

Anyhow, the point of this post is that grieving comes as it comes. People have told me that I’m still grieving, and I didn’t really believe them until the Grey’s Anatomy thing happened. I never really went through the 5 stages. I do believe that I did some isolation, there was some anger, some denial, and acceptance. But I’m thinking that it’s a cycle that takes time. And what is important is you, you grieve in your own way and don’t let anyone rush you.

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Recovery

I hate that recovery isn’t a straight line. That you can go up and up and then something happens and you fall down. Down into the deep pits of hell and you have a choice to either climb out or just give up.

I feel like for most people, it’s like driving a car. Everything is going good and you hit a pot hole. There’s no damage to your car, so you just keep driving. For me, it’s when I hit that pot hole that my car breaks in half and I’m left stranded. I have no idea how to pick the pieces up and put them back together and start driving again.

Of course, logically, I know that I’ve been here before. I’ve been through worse before. I can overcome this little set back and come out on top again. I can pick my journey up where I left off.

But right now, I feel like I’m in the middle of the freeway with a busted up car and no ideas how to put it together again.

A Hard Time

I’ve been away from the blog for a while; I’ve had nothing to say.

Recently, I’ve been having a hard time with my anxiety and depression. I can’t tell you which one is worse.

Anxiety is making me leave work, throw up, panic, and pace. Depression leaves me feeling drained, empty, alone in my struggle, and makes me think of scary things. Having both of them at the same time has just been hell.

I’ve been isolating as much as I can, which probably isn’t healthy… But it keeps me from hurting people. At the same time I’ve been trying to reach out to my support system, my mom, my aunt, my husband. I’ve leaned so hard on my husband that I’ve been worried about breaking us, breaking him.

In my hell, I hear things. That I’m better off alone away from people, better off dead, better off going to the hospital. And I seriously considered calling the crisis line to get help, because it got that bad. I thought I needed to go inpatient.

What triggered this episode of hell for me? One of my triggers is stress at work. And work decided that I could move to day shift. I thought, maybe, I was stable enough to handle it. But working in a nursing home during the day is a different beast entirely. For 12 hours you’re on your feet, answering call lights, transferring patients, changing patients, feeding patients, doing things that a normal CNA does. However, I am not stable enough to handle that environment. And then, the girl who’s supposed to be my partner, the girl I rely on to make it through the day told me she’s going part time. I understand why she needs to, and there’s nothing wrong with her leaving, but I relied heavily on her. Too heavily, I think. This, and the general stress of day shift, triggered the snowball that rolled into an avalanche.

So I called in a few times, left work early. Got in trouble for leaving and not coming to work. Was told that I needed to work on my attendance. Was told that the director has my back and will be my biggest cheerleader, but I have to show up.

Thursday was particularly hard for me. My husband and I just moved into a new place and I was unpacking things. I like to decorate, but the nails wouldn’t go into the wall. And I couldn’t leave because I didn’t have the car or a house key. So I got frustrated. By the time my husband picked me up, I was getting into a funk. By that night I was depressed and trying to find ways to avoid going to work. I wanted to smash my arm with a hammer, cut myself with the kitchen knife I found unpacking, overdose on pills. Anything to avoid going to work the next day. I took an Ativan to make the noise stop, the thoughts slow down. I got some sleep.

The next morning, I got up for work and I cried. I was panicking. I called in.

Later that day I called my boss and told her that this wasn’t working. I asked if maybe I could work less hours a day, or switch to nights. The compromise was to move back to night shift working 8 hours a night. That’s going to cut my pay some. But I think I can handle doing that better than I can the twelve hours. Something has to give. I have to work. And I can’t be in panic mode everyday. I can’t be suicidal over going to work.

I’m afraid that it bothered my husband more than he let on. He said he was upset, because when I made the call I wasn’t thinking clearly. But he says he’s fine now and he just wants me to be happy. Two years ago when this happened I just quit, so I’m making progress. I’m still working, just not as much.

Things can only get better from here, right?

When Depression Makes Me Care Less

The last time I blogged, I was manic, I was on top of the world.

Then came the crash.

They say the higher you go, the lower you fall, well I believe it. I crashed hard.

I’ve been noticing some things about myself lately, that I really don’t like. And I’ve come to realize that my self care has taken a backseat to everything. There are other things, little things, like not watching what I say before I speak, or not eating properly. But the self care, that’s a big red flag that needs to be addressed. It shows me that I’m getting bad again.

I’ve noticed that my depression makes me not care. I couldn’t careless that I haven’t showered in a week. Meaning that I, literally, stink; my hair is an oily, greasy mess that hasn’t been brushed in days; my face is oily and dirty. I don’t remember the last time I brushed my teeth or put on deodorant. I’m just going through the motions of making it through the day.

I’ve noticed that I was doing these things even while I was having my manic episode, but I think I showered that day, I can’t honestly remember.

I know that I’m not eating like I’m supposed to, if I even eat at all. I’m surviving on caffeine and water. But not enough water at that. Because I simply don’t care to take enough care of myself.

I’ve been so busy working, or trying to work – as I haven’t been doing a fair job at my job, just enough to keep up appearances – and trying to take care of everyone else that I don’t care what happens to me. I’m not suicidal or anything like that. I simply don’t care.

When you get to this point, you have to start caring, which is hard. But no one is going to take care of you but you. And you can’t care of others if you don’t take care of yourself. So I’m starting to try again. Picking myself up, dusting off everything and trying again. Because I’m a caregiver to many, it’s my job, but it’s also my reality. And I know that I can’t pour from an empty cup.

So if that means that I have to take an hour for myself, to center and refocus, I’m going to have to start doing it. And I’m going to have to start showering again, because this has gone on long enough.

If you’re at this point, I want you to know, it’s ok. But you need to take care of yourself. It’s one of the hardest things to do, especially if you’re taking care of others. But you matter, and that means you have to matter to yourself too. Get up, get showered, brush your teeth and your hair, meet the day. Or just sit out in the sun for a bit. Take the time to recenter yourself, meditate, read, relax. But come back to self care. Realize that you’re not alone in this fight, and many others are going through the same exact thing you are. It’s ok. And you’re going to be ok.

With peace and love.