Lately I have been feeling very defeated in terms of how heavily my trauma and mental health affect my capacity to function at a level that I am content with. And I came to a realization. A lot of people who experience trauma are able to maintain some semblance of normalcy afterward. That is impossible (quite literally) when the trauma in question is the death of a spouse. My whole world changed all at once. And to top things off, I chose to move to an entirely new state very shortly after this happened, although circumstance was a factor, this was a choice on my end. So I’m adapting to Matthew’s sudden and unexpected departure from the physical plane, moving, new culture, new people, new everything. That makes it really hard to try to find your feet after having the metaphorical carpet pulled out from underneath you.
Now I’m not talking about this because I am looking for sympathy, or empathy, or anything of that nature. Honestly I am trying to help myself, and maybe anyone in a similar situation, understand what really is at play here. I need myself and others in my life to understand what it really is that I am up against here. I am a scientist, I want to understand as well as help others understand, too.
I’m going to go back to my heart house analogy for a second here. Think about what you know about actual construction. How long does it take to build a house, a building? A long time, right? Well that’s exactly true for a mental/emotional rebuild as well. It takes time to even comprehend what happened. Let alone accept and heal. Just the comprehension takes MONTHS. Matt has been gone for almost 14 months now (how is that even possible?!) and I still struggle to even understand the reality of the situation. He’s gone, what the fuck? And I’m a person who digests emotions quickly and puts a lot of effort into this entire process! But my mind struggles to understand it all. How can a seemingly healthy person, that I spent every day with, that I lived with and loved so deeply, be that sick and I couldn’t tell? And how can someone young, vibrant, and active die… just like that? It doesn’t make sense to me. So just grasping my new reality is proving to be a challenge. I have even put so much effort into building this new life of mine (and it’s getting moderately put together at this point, actually) and still the reality of it all isn’t being fully understood on my part.
Building a new life takes a lot of emotional and physical energy. And I am a person who already struggled with energy levels due to my chronic health issues and my already existing anxiety and depression. Physical pain, the hardships of being sick, all that kind of stuff, it takes a toll. I’m more prone to fatigue. I require more sleep than an average person. And often times because of this, I find myself feeling inadequate because it makes it a lot harder for me to be the acceptable level of productivity by both my own standards and society’s standards. And there’s times where people comment that they wish they could miss work as much as I do. And I instantly get furious because it’s not like I’m sitting at home throwing a fucking party, people! I am home crying, having anxiety or panic attacks, or sleeping for hours on end no matter how hard I try to wake up. I’m stuck at home. And the whole time I am stuck at home during work hours I am emotional and upset about that fact. I’m home just trying to survive to the next day. There are times where I am so overwhelmed by it all that it takes all of my strength to just be.
I also really struggle to cope with being day to day. It’s almost impossible to make plans of any kind because I have no idea what I am going to wake up to each day. Will it be a clear day? Will I wake up on edge? Is my body going to cooperate? How long am I going to be stuck in this hell hole of constantly letting myself, my loved ones, and my coworkers down? I can’t even predict my own behavior. As someone who had consistently been reliable and dependable in the past, this feels like absolute torture the majority of the time. I can’t even get myself to reach out to people whom I love and miss deeply right now, I feel like such an awful person right now at any given time. I so desperately want to be on the mend, back on track, and it’s proving to be an extremely challenging process. This is one of the first times in my life where I cannot seem to find a way to cope or adapt to the situation at hand. The only other time something affected me to this extent (and really I mean the extent of it affecting my ability to work), was when I had severe pain from my pelvic floor issues. And that resulted in surgery and a recovery program. When you’re dealing with a mental “injury” to this degree, it takes a lot of time and energy to heal. And it’s hard because there isn’t an obvious end in sight. With surgery it’s like “you’ll be on the mend in 4-8 weeks” but with my PTSD and whatnot? No idea. I have absolutely no idea what the timeline will be. I just have to trust in the process and hope that it will all work out. And when you’re my age (26) and aware of the fact that serious important life developments are at play, it’s hard to not fear that this will negatively affect my entire future. I don’t even feel like a real adult yet, but I’m dealing with very real, very adult problems. How does one cope with that? I have no idea other than Matt’s classic saying of “very carefully”