24 May 2013

Adventures in Grief

Allie Brosh writes a blog entitled Hyperbole and a Half. It's creative, funny, and  gut-punch honest. Her latest post is about her depression and recovery. Go back and click on the green words and read it.

The Diaries try to be as truthful as Hyperbole and a Half. If I were sharing like Allie, I would tell you that I'm not depressed because I still feel, even if it's just mostly exhaustion and anger. But I'm not angry about my mother's death. I don't blame anyone for it. I'm not railing against God or medicine. Actually, last week I was angry about Mother's Day. Not because it made me miss my mother any more because my mother is dead every day, not just on holidays, but because I anticipated all sorts of sympathetic messages about how difficult the day must be, blah blah blah. I told the Captain I was going to type FUCK YOU in response, so I'm pretty sure he sent out a mass email warning everyone because only two people shared that sentiment with me.

This week I'm angry at apple and iTunes and their fucking "geniuses" for impudently erasing all my data, including voice mails from my mother I had stored on my phone. They made me cry, and that made me angry.

It's not that I think crying is bad or weak. In fact, I think it's the most appropriate response to losing my mother. I just want to be able to do it on my own terms. I don't want people monitoring or suggesting or prompting my grief. I don't want anyone asking me how I'm doing. I don't want sympathy or empathy unless you're my own sibling, and I don't even feel the need to talk to them because we all feel the same way. What would be the point?

Basically, I want to be left alone.

Here's what's problematic:

Firstly, I live with eight other people. Only a select few of them leave every day to go to work or school. I am never physically alone.

Secondly, I am the mother of five children. I am never psychically alone.

Thirdly, it sounds selfish and uncaring to say, "I vant to be alone." Just ask Greta Garbo. I truly appreciate how much everyone cares about me. I just don't want to see or talk to anyone right now.

Fourthly, it freaks people out when I say I want to be alone. It makes them worry about my mental health. It's a little bit like the panel in Hyperbole and a Half where she mentions suicide and it makes her mother cry and then she has to apologize for making her mother cry. I don't want to be responsible for an emotional reaction to my emotional reaction.

I don't want to take care of anyone and I don't want anyone to take care of me.

That said, this is what will really happen:

Life will go on because there is no stopping it. And I don't even want to stop it because the good moments-concerts and prom and planting flowers and summer blockbusters-outweigh the bad. I just want to keep my shit to myself (SHE SAID ON HER BLOG) because no amount of discussion with family, friends, or therapists will bring about a quicker resolution to what I'm feeling. I don't want to share about what I'm experiencing everyday. It's double work for me.

No one can help me, and that's okay.

 Don't freak out.

08 May 2013

If There's A Rocket Tie Me To It

Two weeks later, like a surplus reprieve
I found a hair the length of yours on my sleeve
I wound it round and round my finger so tight
It turned to purple and a pulse formed inside

And I knew the beat cause it matched your own beat
I still remember it from our chest to chest and feet to feet
The easy silence then was a sweet relief to this hush
Of ovens, aeroplanes and of distant car horns

A fire, a fire
You can only take what you can carry
A pulse, your pulse
It's the only thing I can remember

This is from If There's a Rocket Tie Me To It by my most favorite band, Snow Patrol. In moments of sadness I like to amplify my feelings by listening to songs of lost love and regret, and Gary Lightbody never disappoints. Oh sure, they also sing happy songs but lately it's all tear-fodder for me.

Since we last visited, Five spent four days in the hospital while the doctors ruled out any underlying medical causes for his behavior, which at the time included delusions of visiting another world populated entirely by his worst fears. CT scan, EEG, and MRI later confirmed it was  just the result of extreme anxiety. We're treating with new medication and he and I spend A LOT of time talking, talking, talking.

A week after Five was discharged Two developed a dull ache in his abdomen which became increasingly painful during the school day. I put him to bed in the afternoon and woke him later to compare his symptoms with the Mayo Clinic printout on appendicitis.

"Okay, Two, I'm going to palpate your torso now and don't be manly about it. Let me know if you're in pain."

His clenched jaw and fists confirmed my suspicions. When I went upstairs to tell the Captain, Two texted "hey lets go to the ER cuz this really kinda hurts." He shares my looks but not my verbosity.

The Captain took him to the hospital and they spent a fun-filled night in a curtained cubicle as Two drifted in and out of morphine-altered consciousness and the Captain did not. Blood was drawn, pictures were taken, and the following morning the surgeon removed Two's appendix.

Two went back to school Monday and Three stayed home sick. I had my two most needy, self-absorbed children with me all day and it didn't go well. On the loving patience spectrum I was at the opposite end of Mother Theresa, which is still better than Mommy Dearest, but not exactly empathetic or selfless.

Here's the thing: I get what Gary's saying. I've been in a fire for the last year, shedding everything I can't carry. By October my only focus was my mother and since February it's been Five. Plus, I still have to keep four other boys alive, in school, and at their various commitments. Forget about things like housekeeping, exercise, or eating right. (The chocolate covered almonds try to hide when I open the pantry. They know their days are numbered.) My life is a series of abandoned projects and messy rooms. I am worn down to my core.

I don't even want to talk about the fanciful dream of writing.

"You'll get back to it. You'll finish," my friends say. I don't necessarily believe that anymore. My focus is so narrow, my will so diminished, I'm thinking of tossing the pages in the fire. But I'm afraid to incinerate the last shred of the independent me, the part that wants success away from motherhood. The part that is very cranky right now.

Maybe that's a good sign.

 A pulse, my pulse.