I’m going to be talking about grief after losing a second baby, medication, and how I feel. FLEE WHILE YOU CAN.
I’m on these low dose antidepressants, which we asked for because I couldn’t afford to fall apart. I started on them practically immediately after Brandon died. It’s been 8 months.
They kind of helped to begin with. They deadened my emotions enough so that I could keep moving. They didn’t stop the worst of the soul-destroying pain, but I don’t think anything short of a coma can really stop that. I still cry storms of tears. I remain sleepless at night, because that’s when my brain decides to hit me with horrific nightmares that I jolt awake from, and then I spend the rest of the night having flashbacks to that horrible day.
I’ve been quiet on the blogs for the last few months because one of the side effects taking these meds has been it’s difficult for me to well, give a crap about much. I’ve never taken mood-altering drugs before so I really didn’t know what to expect. Most of the time, my depression manifests itself in wanting to sleep for hours and hours on end, my waking hours being either numb or hating being awake, and fleeing back to sleep. That wrecked my sleep schedule something awful. Which is bad when you’re trying to do …well, life. No matter how you feel, there’s still things that must be done. Fortunately my eldest daughter handles things like laundry, dishes and the lunchboxes; but I do need to do things like make sure there’s food for them to make lunches with, and the house stays supplied. I’m very lucky that the kids are old enough to be doing chores; but I’m not happy with how the house is. I feel great discontent… which is followed very quickly with ‘meh.’ It’s not a pigsty, but it’s rather cluttered. I’ve fixed that a few times over the last few months but afterward I descend into this apathy of everything.
I’ll have bursts of very strange wanting to focus on something, but not long enough to actually get something done. Writing and drawing suffer the worst, as well as my desire to cook delicious food. Writing fiction has me staring at the screen while the words sort of… drift, like leaves that landed on seawater, then get pulled underwater to be lost in the depths of the ocean. Drawing art comes and goes, and the most frustrating part of all this is I have plenty of scenes and pictures in my mind but when I sit in front of my Cintiq, my brain is as blank as the empty screen.
Other days I’ll be completely unable to concentrate on any one thing. The mental version of channel surfing.
These things all have one thing in common: I don’t get anything done, I’m apathetic about everything, and NOTHING feels good or makes me happy for long. Or things I know I enjoy, feels and tastes as flat as an open can of cola forgotten on my desk for a week.
This horrible numbness feels actualy worse than my being in agony. I don’t like it; at least when I’m in pain I know I can feel, that as much as it hurts so bad I wish sometimes I could sleep and never wake up I know that I am capable of feeling the opposite of that. That I felt that joy.
The meds took away my passion and joy, my words, my art, my ability to think. I’m only able to write this right now because I haven’t yet taken the meds and I’m looking at the pill sheet and wondering if I should. Because if I take it, after a little while my brain will feel like it’s wrapped in dust bunnies and cobwebs, I’ll feel tired in a few hours after that, and even playing games feels like too much effort. That being awake is too much effort. That eating is too much effort. That sitting down is too much effort. I am having difficulty feeling positive emotions but the negative ones seem to be all I feel now. I have moments where I’m so angry that I want to smash everything around me, but my first thought after that is ‘meh. too much effort…’ before my inner chibi says “and you’d be very upset with losing thousands of dollars of irreplaceable equipment and anime figures afterward, and feel worse. Not worth it.’
I need off these things. I’m tempted to stop cold but I’m told that’s bad. I understand the biochemical reasoning behind it, but I really hate being on them. I’m constantly craving comfort food, and I understand why: because comfort food makes one feel happier, and I feel like I have no capability for even the smallest joys.
This stuff doesn’t even stop me from having fits of abject despair. I had a long talk with Rhys lately, about how, as much as I want to have more children, I’m terrified of losing the next baby again. What right have I to ask that of Rhys, or the kids and Aff, to go through that horrible loss? With the trauma that Aff is going through now, and that I’m going through now, what right, I asked, do I have to be so selfish as to make us all go through that, even though I know the alternative is feeling empty and lost for the rest of my life? Dare we risk finding out how life will get creative in coming up with another horrible way to gut us, to see if we can stand up again, to keep trying to break us? I keep thinking of how much worse than this it could be. That after the stillbirth of Damien, after the hope that it’ll be okay, Brandon suddenly just died in his sleep, that okay, we try again, and we’d have a baby who’s damaged somehow, born without a brain, or born with a brain that has no folds, or some other defect that will force us to watch that baby die eventually. I have no illusions that things can NOT go badly, because that’s what my life is often like – seeing what life will decide to hit us with, to see if we can still drag ourselves away, heal enough to pull ourselves to our feet, and stumble forward until life decides ‘hey, that’s a really great place to drop a boulder on her again.’ (For the record, both Rhys AND Aff didn’t believe me till they lived through several disasters that hit me and are completely out of my control to prevent.)
Rhys pointed out that Aff said that he hoped we weren’t going to give up and that he hoped to see us with another baby because he thinks we are wonderful parents the evening after we came home from the hospital without Brandon, because Brandon had to go to the coroner’s. The children asked the day afterward if we’ll have another baby, and we asked them if they would like another baby sibling. Yeah, because babies are wonderful and cute.
Rhys says he doesn’t want to think about the ‘what if’ something goes wrong. “Yeah, we could lose another bubby,” he said. “But… on the other hand… bubby. And we make really cute and awesome bubbies.”
And all at once, all that fear began to melt away. It just began to fade, like mist in the sunlight.
I told Rhys about some stories that really hurt me to read; like the one of the baby girl they found buried alive by the bicycle path in Condon, California. Its so stupid and unnecessary to do that, because California is one of the places where you can ‘safely abandon’ a baby in say, a hospital, or a police station, or church, and the parents won’t be charged with a crime. I told him that when I read that, I said, “You don’t want that beautiful baby, I do… give me that baby. I’ll love it, cherish it and raise it like my own.”
Aff said in his In Memory essay that I needed to spread my love to another child. I’d never thought of it like that but it’s the perfect way to describe it. I’d always wanted a large family, and I still do. Several friends back in the forum gaming days said that Rhys and I should have lots and lots of kids because we raise children right. I said “Sure, but will you help finance that?” Rhys is just one guy and while he really wouldn’t mind a large family either, the realistic aspect of things is, money. That’s the only thing that keeps us from aiming for five or more children. Well, that and if that was going to happen, we should have started after Vincent was born. I’m getting older, and while I want more kids, I’m not sure how long I could go on and keep trying, and Rhys and I think four would be our maximum financially.
Going back a little bit, after we lost Damien, I actively hauled myself out of the pit of despair – I refused, I didn’t want to be crippled by grief for longer than six months. It felt like if I did that, my spirit would heal wrong, if I envision my loss as a wound. I think, personally, that the drugs have delayed my healing and I’m worrying now if the long term results would be detrimental to my emotional and mental health. I’m seeing signs that the apathy is making me heal wrong, but I couldn’t explain exactly how.
I will forever carry the scars of our losing Damien and Brandon in my heart. They’ll ache, and sometimes bleed, but that is how I know how much I love them still. But my heart shouldn’t be filled with this grey ash. That’s not how my boys knew their Mummy, and that’s not how I want to be. That’s not me.