March is a Beast

So much running through my head today.

In the last month, I’ve been teetering on the verge of a full-blown depression.  I’m clawing and fighting to stay above the surface, but it’s a lot of work.

March is always hard.  March 24 was the anniversary of my dad’s suicide.  Seventeen years ago my mom and I came home from a shopping trip to an unusually empty house.  We had dinner as I prepared to drive back to school, and we both silently wondered where my brother and dad were — fearing that something wasn’t right, but having no idea of the horror we were about to discover.

Two hours later I was loading up the last of my clean clothes into my loyal VW.  I heard an engine running and assumed my dad and brother had made it home in time to see me off.  What happened next still haunts me.

I walked out of the garage to find my mom silently yet frantically gesturing for me to go back into the house.  I knew something was very wrong.  I pushed her away and walked toward the storage shed.  I could hear the truck running and all I could see was my father lying on the ground.  His feet were facing me and were fanned out — 10 and 2 o’clock.  His familiar khakis and white sneakers — his weekend wardrobe that had been a constant for as long as I had memory.  I knew, in that moment, that he was dead, and I knew that he had taken his own life.

Every year I become more and more out of touch with that twenty-year-old girl.  My life was instantly altered.  Most of the time, I convince myself that I’ve accepted my father’s death.  Honestly, I know that this horrific event has shaped me and in many ways made me the person I am today.  But every March, the anniversary KICKS MY ASS.

At the start of the month, I begin feeling a little down.  I assure myself that it’s the end-of-winter blues.  I just need some warmer weather.  It becomes gradually worse, and I start weighing the pros and cons of going back on medication.

So, this year, in the middle of my funk, my grandmother suffers another stroke and my mom informs me by text, nonetheless, that she has “lost her battle.”

Yes, my mom is the most indirect person I’ve ever met.  She only speaks of hard topics in metaphors.  It’s exasperating.  Enough with the war metaphors, Mom.  She DIED.  Just flippin’ say it!!

I’m okay, but I just need space to grieve.  Even as I type this, my words aren’t flowing as I would like.  I just feel empty — hollow and detached.

The ugliness of the world is more magnified, and I really can’t tolerate much at the moment.  I logged on to Facebook this morning, and as I mindlessly scrolled through my newsfeed I felt this rage well up inside of me.  When did we become so uncivilized?  I miss neutral interactions with people — I don’t need to know everyone’s views on everything at every moment of the day.

Without a milisecond of thought, I posted on my status that I was DONE with Facebook indefinitely.  I left it at that, and quite frankly, I feel great about it.  I’m not a huge Facebook participant — in fact, I use it more for convenience to coordinate meet-ups with friends than anything else.  I don’t know, this morning it all felt so gritty and trivial — I just couldn’t take it.

I feel strongly that I need to focus more on my writing.  It helps me feel safe and centered, particularly in these moments where I feel as though I’m sinking. I need the solace and stability that comes from making magic out of words.  I have several projects in the works, and I hope to blog more regularly as well.

March will end, and spring will begin.  I must trust and move through life.

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12 thoughts on “March is a Beast

  1. Pingback: March Sucks and I’m Sad | Grief Happens

  2. Man…it was crazy reading this post. March 22 is the anniversary of my mom’s suicide. Last February, my grandmother died. For six weeks after her death, I was having panic attacks about four times a week I felt like I completely out of control over my emotions and I didn’t know why. My grandmother was in her late 80s and hadn’t been well for sometime, so her death was no shock. I never expected to take her death so hard.

    I really didn’t know what to do with myself. It wasn’t until I talked with a friend during a panic attack that she pointed out the end of March was my mom’s death anniversary. She told me that the year before in late March, I experienced panic attacks as well. I had no memory of that. My grandmother’s death set something off in me, and my body knew it, but my mind didn’t put all the pieces together.

    I think one of your strengths is that you do let yourself feel those really dark, painful feelings, and you can express what you are going through. Awareness is so crucial. I’ll be thinking of you as spring unfolds, and I look forward to reading more of your writing.

    Thank you for your honesty.

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    • Wow — the similarities. Bizarre. It’s helpful just to know that someone else can relate, though I’m sorry you have to. I didn’t really expect my grandmother’s death to hit me so hard. So far no panic attacks — those are no fun. I had horrible ones on and off after my dad died, and it took forever for me to actually realize what was happening.

      I appreciate the compliment. I agree that allowing myself to feel dark, painful things helps me, but it has taken me YEARS to accept that I have to do this. Honestly, I think it took becoming a parent that forced me to actively get a grip and deal with my past. It’s still a process.

      I think I’m doing well and then something slams into me out of nowhere. Usually it’s death — My FIL died unexpectedly nearly three years ago and it was like reliving my own dad’s death. I kind of understood that because he was like another father to me. Like yours, my grandmother was in her late 80s and suffered a debilitating stroke two years ago, so she had been really sick and her death was no shock. I guess the timing (anniversary of my dad’s suicide) made it hard.

      I have felt like a new person since March ended. The biggest lesson I’ve learned in dealing with my own depression is that is does not last. The more I resist feeling my emotions, the worse it gets. If I can just sit with it but not wallow in it, I’ll eventually feel better.

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  3. I am sorry that so much has happened to you. This time of year must be so hard for you. I know the feeling. Everyone around me seems to love Spring. If I could get rid of April to June or reset my mind I would. Hoping things get better as time goes on.

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    • Thank you. I’m feeling better. It’s crazy how anniversaries serve as triggers. I usually start feeling better around April, but then September to March is just all-around rough. I’m sorry this is your hard time. I’ll send some healing thoughts your way as you work through the next few months.

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  4. I am sorry for your grief – for both your father and your grandmother. It is good that you are focusing on your writing more. I understand what you mean by feeling “safe and centered” when you write. There is nothing that I have found more healing and stabilizing than writing. When I write, I am less likely to turn my emotions inward and isolate myself. There is something very liberating about turning all those thoughts and feelings into concrete words that tell my story in a way my voice could never speak it.

    So bring on the Spring and the warmth…and the writing.

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    • So well said. Thank you. You put my feelings about writing in to words — perfectly and beautifully. I also struggle with turning my emotions inward. It’s especially hard these days, but I have to remind myself how far I’ve come, even on the darkest days. Peace and love to you. 🙂

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  5. I’m so sorry for your loss and your suffering, GH! Big hugs.

    On another note, I think what you did with FB was a stroke of genius. Seriously, FB is kind of ridiculous most of the time, isn’t it? I know (and am related to!) people who post at least a dozen times a day. That’s completely nuts! (Did I NEED a photo of your last batch of cookies that didn’t turn out right?) My 14 year-old daughter says FB is only for old people (i.e. anyone over 20), anyway. She’s all about the Tweets.

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    • Thanks, Honey! I’m gradually coming out of my funk. That is SO funny that your daughter said that about FB. I think Tweeting might wear me out, too, but I might need to jump on if it’s the wave of the future. 🙂 I’m nowhere near concise enough for Twitter! Big hugs to you — bizarre, but I was worried about you and was actually searching for your email when your latest post popped up. Wow — lots going on I see. More on that in a bit, but please know you’re in my thoughts, and I’m cheering you on big time!

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  6. I’m so sorry you had to experience loss like that with your father. Taking ones own life is such a selfish act. My father died on Dec 28, 2011 almost exactly one month after I discovered my husband had been in a long term affair. My father had been sick for a long time, he was an alcoholic and a severe agoraphobic. He would go very few places and only at certain times. He was filled with anger, I assume because he had no control over his mental illness, as a result he attempted to control everyone else. When he got sick my Mom, my sister and I all tried to reason with him to go to the dr. He refused, he finally became bed ridden, he knew he was going to die. My brother in law called the police to have him baker acted (involuntarily committed) he was taken to the hospital where he had to be sedated to be examined. It was one of the most horrific nights of my life and his, I’m sure. We were told by Dr’s that he had severe gangrene that started with a small sore, it would have been treatable if he’d only gone to the Dr. Instead his options were to have mass parts of his body cut out with a small hope of survival or to die. He chose to die. We had him taken home where he passed a few weeks later. It was a horrible death and it felt to me like he was committing a slow suicide. I was relieved when it was over.

    On the one year anniversary of his death my mom, sis and I all got together to celebrate the good things about him, our happy memories. His death does not haunt me like I thought it would. It’s final, it’s something we will all eventually have in common.

    I hope that with spring and warmer temps that you start to feel better.

    Just remember, this too shall pass.

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    • Thanks for the kind words. It’s weird — I always think I’ve dealt with his death, but anniversaries hit me hard, as well as random reminders. I suppose those are clues that I still haven’t accepted his death, and more specifically, his suicide. Your description of you, your mom & sis coming together to talk about the good times on the anniversary of your father’s death sounds wonderful and very healing. I like that idea and think I must take a more active approach to confronting some of these anniversaries. So sorry for your loss — and what dreadful timing after learning of your husband’s infidelities. Sending you good energy as you continue to work through your emotionally complex process. 🙂

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