I’ve talked a lot about how this has affected my girls on a day to day basis, some of the things they now have to deal with. Many have asked how it has affected me. It’s affected me immensely obviously and in so many different ways, although it’s hard to put into words. I’ve shared some of how it’s impacted me emotionally, so I’m going to try to explain the mental and physical toll.
It’s crazy how grief and stress can affect your mind and body. For the first week, I literally could not eat. I had no appetite. My stomach didn’t even growl. I didn’t want anything. I also couldn’t sleep. I would lay in bed holding both girls because they refused to be away from me but I would just stare at the ceiling or scroll through my phone all night except for maybe the 2 hours that I was in and out. That all lasted about ten days. It was weird. I didn’t even feel that tired until a few days after the funeral. And even then it didn’t entirely hit me until a few weeks after that. It was so strange to have no desire to eat or sleep. No need to even. I lost 12 pounds in that week. Grief is a great weight loss plan.
Now it’s different. Now I’m always tired. I still don’t sleep a lot though. My girls continue to insist they sleep in my bed which makes sleeping difficult. But I’m at least getting 4-5 or so hours a night. Even when I’m exhausted though, it takes me a while to wind down. I can’t just fall asleep after closing my eyes like I used to. I am eating more normally, but I still have to remind myself to eat every few hours on most days if there isn’t snack food sitting on the counter.
Another way it’s affected me physically is my appearance. I force myself to shower every day even if it’s the last thing I want to do. But no matter how much makeup I put on, you can see the dark circles under my eyes. You can see how tired I am. There are fine lines starting to show up around my eyes. I even have a tiny spot where all my hair is falling out. Ask me, I’ll show it to you.
My brain is definitely not functioning normally. I am so scatterbrained. I can write everything down on a calendar and still have no idea what the date is, what is happening that day, or what I need to get done. I’m a planner. Pretty organized in my natural state. Right now I feel like I cannot get it together. I forget things constantly. I’ve never been a great “texter,” but now even if someone texts me with the need for an immediate response, I forget for days (or I just forget). Someone calls me and they’re lucky if I ever call them back, not because I don’t want to, I just forget.
I’m aloof. I’ve never been an aloof person. I cannot keep on one topic of conversation or finish a story. And the most obnoxious is how I lose my train of thought constantly. It was worst during the first week, but still happens often. I will be in the middle of doing or saying something and my mind goes completely blank. Nothing. No idea what was just happening. I’ll be telling someone about Winnie and my trail of thinking takes me right off a cliff.
Is this from stress? Grief? Dealing with trauma? I have no idea. I’m assuming it’s probably pretty normal given the situation. But it is super frustrating. I feel like I’ve gotten a lot done over the last few weeks. But it’s a miracle because my brain is not working well.
Some things I know come from dealing with trauma is my level of self-awareness, my ability to be logical, and my need to laugh and to make jokes during hard times. All of these things are apparent despite my lack of brain function. Several friends have mentioned I’m doing so much better than they thought I would be, or “You’re dealing with this so well,” or “How are you not a disaster right now?”
Most importantly, just because it looks like I’m fine doesn’t mean I’m fine. But I do look like I’m doing better than expected right now. There are several reasons for this, I think. I’ve dealt with a lot of “traumas” in my life. Think of a Military Vet, just on a lesser scale. That’s the only thing I can think of to compare it to although I can’t even fathom the amount of trauma these heroes go through. They become almost desensitized to things, right? I have lived in chaos for many years on and off. I have become really good at dealing with trauma. I’ve shared a lot of those things already and will share more of what I’ve dealt with over time. But I become more capable of handling things with each one. If this were my first really hard thing, of course I would be so much worse. But it’s not. It’s the worst thing I’ve ever dealt with by far. But I’ve had many other things unknowingly prepare me for this.
These things have caused me to be more self-aware and logical over the years. As a teenager, I overreacted to everything, as teenagers do. But now it’s hard to get me to react strongly to something. It’s hard for someone else to make me angry or offend me. Its hard to upset me because I know there are worse things. I can make logical decisions and I know when I’m doing well versus when I’m struggling.
The other night, I had some people say some hurtful things that made me feel crazy. They came into my home and told me what I should or shouldn’t be doing/saying/feeling/thinking. The rest of the evening, I felt unsure and confused. But the thing is, I recognized that my feelings and thoughts were not rational. Does that make sense? I knew it was depression and grief talking, and it wasn’t really me.
I also have to laugh a lot. I make somewhat inappropriate jokes or say something that someone might say is “too soon.” Well, first of all, you have to realize I was married to Denny. We were together 5.5 years and married for almost 5 of them. We went through so much over those years and the King of Inappropriate and “Too Soon” was my rock and what got me through it. I learned how to laugh and to make jokes to get through stuff. It helps a lot. It keeps depression at bay that would be so easy to fall into right now.
I hope this doesn’t come across as me complaining. I know that I can complain all that I want. I have a right to. But I don’t want to. The reason I share this is because it is my reality. It is what happens to someone after losing their spouse to suicide. Do you think Denny wanted to put me under this much stress? Do you think he wanted me to deal with these thing? Never. He thought he would be relieving me of stress. He thought he was a burden. He thought he was causing us so much pain. No matter what he had going on and how it affected us, I promise you this is 10,000 times worse. You are not doing anyone a favor. Don’t do this. Choose to stay. Choose to fight. No matter how much of a burden/hassle/problem you think you are, I promise you this is so much worse. If you’re considering suicide because you think they’ll be better off without you, YOU ARE WRONG. Talk to someone immediately. Go look at my page of resources. Please stay.