Wednesday, October 10, 2007

at a loss

I've always liked hearing other people's views, especially when they seem to have perspectives that I lack. So I've been thinking about Lori's excellent suggestion that I might feel better if tried a different approach to dealing with grief. She says, "what if instead of trying so hard to feel it less, you allowed yourself to feel it more?" I'd be perfectly willing to try this if I could just figure out how. Because, as everyone's no doubt realized by now, emotions are not my strong point. I have enough trouble being certain that I feel something in the first place. I'm not sure how I would go about amplifying my feelings or even being better able to access the ones that are there.

I probably would also feel better if I had realized that I didn't have another refill for antidepressants before my supply ran out. And I if were able to find someone at the doctor's office who would would actually return my calls and write me a new prescription. Because, I think I can say pretty definitively that abruptly stopping antidepressants is not exactly what one would call A Good Idea. Quite the opposite, in fact.

edited to add: To all those who were worrying about me (you guys are so nice), please don't worry. I finally got the prescription called in and I'll pick up the meds on my way home from work.


frumiousb said...

Agreed about the antidepressants. Nastier to go off sometimes than to suffer the disease itself.

I wouldn't know how to feel more grief. I'm not sure I would identify myself as someone who has trouble with my emotions, but it is still a process that involves not just loss-- but a strange kind of dislocation about the loss.

I'm not sure what I'm mourning, really. The loss of a child? I knew her in one sense, but not in another. The loss of hope? Hope is too cruel to really ever be lost. A general sense of doom? More likely than any of the other options, but is that grief?

It's easier, I think, to recover from a loss that is easier to describe and understand. Some days I am overwhelmed with loss, other days I feel guilty for what I fail to feel. And in my dreams, I try to breastfeed-- failing miserably.

Anyhow, if you figure it out, let me know...

missing_one said...

Maybe just free-writing your feelings about the events or subsequent events might help gestalt them out of your system and allow you to work through some feelings. Just writing down whatever comes to your head. After you're done writing, you can look over what you wrote and make notes about clues to help you identify what you may be feeling? Just a thought.
I think you feel more then you give yourself credit for.
I'm sure you'll figure it out.

Artblog said...

It isn't a good idea, you're right there. call back and insist, please.

Also, you sound very much like my hubs, he find it really difficult tapping into his emotions. In one therapy session the therapist just about gave up on him! she looked as frustrated as i felt, at not being able to get anything out of him.

What I"m saying is, its not going to be easy to force you to feel more if you're not used to it.

My hubs once said that my mum and I and sometimes my sisters and I fight a lot. BUT, at least we get it out there and then instead of keeping it in, then everythings good again! He kind of agreed. Nothing is ever discussed in his family and all emotions where kept in. It's the only way he knows, so it's no wonder he has trouble being open with his emotions.

You and I vaguely talked about his together, but my point is, I once got him to cry about Gabrielle, I couldn't tell you how I did it, but I did and my therapist couldn't. But, there was a big change in him once he did, a positive change and if I'd insisted he'd have said more, but seeing a man cry is hard enough especially when its the father of your dead baby.

If you think you can get there with the help of your therapist, do so, if not how about your hubs (i remember you saying he was much like mine, so maybe not).

I wish I had the answer for you but we didn't spend enough time together that day for me to say (don't I sound like the therapist now!).

Again, refill those pills and quick, k, for me? XXX

Sunny said...

I have to say it is hard but feeling it helps you move on, not past but on. My day of truly feeling was my due date. I found myself naked in a empty tub crying my eyes out. The next day the weight had been lifted. It still hurts but it helped to grieve instead of feel numb. HUGS!

Caro said...

Agreed on the pills, definitely not a good idea to stop abruptly. As for the rest I don't know, I'm not sure we can force ourselves to be different from how we are. We just have to accept that grieving is a process that is as individual as we are.

Manda said...

I stopped my antidepressants cold turkey because I realised feeling like crap is better than not feeling at all.

I was sick of being numb, and I wanted to feel my feelings again, and feel them thoroughly so I could work through them instead of acting like they would disappear if I ignored them.

Maybe it isnt such a bad idea for you either...

cinnamon gurl said...

What if you just showed up at your dr's office? Surely someone could do something for you?

Casey said...

You can also have your pharmacy fax a request to the dr's office. Most offices respond within a couple hours.

Eva said...

I hope you can get your refill! Along with the pills, are you getting some good therapy? I can't tell you how much I recommend it for, you know, "getting in touch with your feelings." The stuff you learn with a good therapist, with whom you have chemistry and with whom you spend real time talking, can really improve things. In my experience. They key is to find the right person, the right setting, the right approach for you.

thirtysomething said...

Hmmm. Maybe you could actually allow yourself to feel through the grief if you stay off the antidepressants for a little while, as they tend to mask the hard emotions and push them away... then, after awhile, see if you really even need them to continue on? Just a thought hon...

Lou Lou said...

Write about it. You are a writer. Write. Not for the blog but for yourself. I used to laugh at the idea of writing things out "to process my feelings" (processing is for chickens; I despise the word feelings) but after my son's death I wrote. There was something about converting the experience into words and putting them on the page that made me feel worse for about a day and then much, much better. Frumiousb mentions the sense of dislocation about such a loss, and I completely agree: sometimes I think if it were just plain grief, life would be a melancholy cakewalk, but (for me at least) my son's stillbirth is all mixed up with guilt at his death, guilt for still feeling the loss (people are so keen for you to be! better! now!), the creeping notion that he was a figment of my imagination, fear that people think I did something wrong, an evangelical need NOT to weed all mentions of him from my speech no matter how some people might prefer it, and oh my god such longing for him still. For a long time all these emotions were just rattling their chains in the back of my head. Writing threw light on them so I could see what they were: pretty damn terrifying, but not as terrifying as their mere shadows.

Beruriah said...

Abruptly stopping antidepressants without supervision is not safe. What is the matter with the doc's office not calling you back? You may "feel more" off of them, but the transition should be gradual. I'm sure you know that.

Lori's advice is right on. Just read your response to the comments in the last post. Telling yourself your loss wasn't significant is not going to work - of that I am sure. Your twins were real. When I asked if you'd think we'd done something to deserve our losses, I knew you wouldn't. But, frankly, it's ridiculous to think the rules of the universe are different for you than everyone else. Ms. G and I are as different from one another and other grieving moms as are you. You're still looking for reasons - so am I even as I know I'll never find them.

Magpie said...

Get the drugs! You know all the reasons why.

My shrink used to tell me that depression was anger turned inward. I find that a useful thing to hold onto - though I can't quite say why.

LawMommy said...

Quitting an SSRI cold turkey was (for me) roughly equivalent to being in hell. Don't do it. The dizziness and shaking were so not worth it.


ms. G said...

Once again, I think Beruriah made some good points. :) I may be totally off here, and (Lori, feel free to correct me) but the way I interpret Lori's comment is more letting whatever you feel to come naturally, whether that be feeling it more or not. This is said with no judgment, Niobe, but I interpret some of the what you do as truly trying to go the other way in terms of grief. The "quotes", trying not to think of the twins as "real", etc. These actions seem to me to be a very conscious and true effort on your part, not your "natural" self. So to "approach your grief differently" in your case, maybe you don't have to access emotions, try to get in touch with them, or try to feel them more. Just don't run the other way and try to feel them less. Am I making sense here? Let what you feel happen. Even in my early days of grief, I did not grieve HARD every day. Some days were actually pretty close to normal. And that is okay. To sound sound like a hippie, go with the flow, man. :)

Personally, from what you have shared about your family, I totally blame them. They have given you several messages telling you it isn't okay to grieve. If you around people who tell you that, it becomes more okay and safer to not think of anything about your grief as "real"

Just my two cents.

NotSoSage said...

My god, that's irresponsible of the people in your doctor's office. Appalling, actually.

I don't know much about you, Niobe, but I will say that our reactions to loss are very alike. I don't know that there's one path to finding some form of healing. But I hope that you find yours.

slouching mom said...

Good God, don't go cold turkey, woman. Step down if you must. It's dangerous to withraw abruptly from SSRIs.

This may be WAY off base, so take it with the grainiest of a grain of salt, but sometimes how you describe your personality reminds me of how someone with Asperger's sees the world. Not, mind you, at a clinical level, but subclinically, here or there. I'm in no way trying to diagnose you -- it simply came to mind. I think I remember you writing about having some texture sensitivities, is that right?

Does that resonate at all with you?

niobe said...

Everyone: At some time in the future, I might, with medical supervision, try tapering my meds a bit to see how it goes. Right now, though, (if I can ever reach an actual live person at my doctor's office) I'm going to refill my prescription, because, for me, going cold turkey is *really* not a good option.

Slouching Mom: That's very acute of you. Especially as a child, I definitely had some quirks similar to what people with Asperger's experience: extreme texture sensitivites and all-encompassing interests in narrow topics (for example, dinosaurs or Greek mythology or the American Civil War).

Furrow said...

Oh, yes. I've never felt so horrible as when I've abruptly stopped taking antidepressants. This last time I stopped them, I tapered off over 2 whole months. That's how bad my other experiences had been with quitting.

The Asperber's theory is interesting. Definitely something to think about. But it seems that your fashion sense is too good to have Aspergers, from what I've read about it. No, seriously.

AJW5403 said...

I am not sure how you could feel more it more. I mean you feel what you feel. Some just feel the grief more then others. I don't believe that the more grief you feel the better you deal with it. Because eveybody is differnt.

I mean is it bothering you that you don't feel more grief then what you do? And if it is bothering you maybe you could find a professional to talk to.

Sorry I wish I had a better answer for you. Becuase with me my grief at one point just overwhelmed me and almost took me out. So I am on the complete other side.

Aurelia said...

The only way to feel it more, I think, is to experience it more.

And the only way to do that is to face the things you don't want to face. In your case that's their names, and their graves, and their birth and death certificates. And any other concrete items that tell you they existed.

In my case, it's other things, like writing it about my last loss on my blog.

Pick one thing that is hard, and do it a little bit. Like in whisper, or a sideways glance. Then feel the pain, let it wash over you, and let it go. Then do it more directly.

Do it with a therapist, or do it with me in person. Or someone, like Julia, or one of us who lives near you. Just do it.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. You've tried not facing your pain, and the question is, how is it working out? Is it time to do something different?

Amelie said...

Or perhaps you could try to accept that this is the way you handle these feelings, these events (for now)? It seems painful to make yourself feel guilty for not feeling "enough" about your babies' death, unnecessarily painful.

Becky said...

Going off antidepressants like that is a hard, hard thing to do. I hope that you can get a new supply soon. I've seen several people that I adore in similar situations and it's so hard to watch them.

Bon said...

i don't know what will help, in terms of finding a way through or even to your grief...but i will say that it seems, from what you write, that you ARE feeling. sorrow, sadness, betrayal by family and even by whatever gods there be - that's how i see that feeling of deserving worse than others do.

but you also come across - again, only through your words - as an inherently analytical person, one who stands back from things and observes. this may have a connection to some form of Asperger's or somesuch, as Slouching Mom mentioned, or not...but it does permeate your online persona, at least. and thus, in your writing, you don't tend towards the sentimental or even the narrative, as many of us who blog our grief do. thus maybe you feel different (from us) not because you lack feeling, but because you order it and express it differently.

but that isn't a full picture, perhaps, of who "the rest of us" are. it isn't of me, at least. in reality, except to those absolutely closest to me, i've shown very little outward grief since Finn's death. i have a deeply discordant relationship to performing my own feelings in that regard, except with Dave, and even then except in extreme moments. so while on the blog i can narrativize the experience of that loss, and do find it incredibly cathartic, in person and in the moment i observe myself and am awkward and know neither how i feel, exactly, nor what to do about it, how to react. it confuses me, more than anything. just so you know, so you don't imagine yourself as more different than perhaps you really are.

i didn't start the blog until almost exactly a year later, and had been blogging for almost ten months when i really began to risk narrativizing my experience of grief. it was only when i found that narrative voice that i was able to stop being so wounded. i haven't stopped grieving, but it has stopped defining me to myself, and handicapping me.

i wish the same for you, however you get there.
and i am here to read/listen, whatever and however you want to say it.

now go yell at your doc for some friggin' antidepressants.

Searching said...

Oy! Did you find someone to get a script? I would say that would constitue an emergency when you call the front desk. Missing a day or two of those can be pretty nasty. I know I personally have a 2-day limit on which if I don't have my meds I will be sobbing on the floor in the hallway wanting to kill myself. 3 days is on the verge on needing hospitalization. Yup, I'm a freak, but I've (finally) learned my limits and to just let it go. My brain chemistry just needs a little help. I REALLY hope you were able to get through to someone!!! Now I shall worry about you till I hear you are properly doped up.

Are there any books or movies that just pull at your heart? Sometimes I'll go that route just to open up the floodgates so I can cry about whatever it is I need to cry about. It's hard to have to be strong all day and sometimes it all just gets dammed up and you CAN'T let yourself feel it. So it builds up and then the next day you don't let it out and eventually that dam turns to stone. Hard as heck to break it down then. I love that you write. I hope that it helps you. Write about all the unfair crap the universe/God has thrown at you and how it pisses you off and ruined your life. Whatever it is you feel. I think you are amazing. You don't have to be strong or get over the death of your babies ASAP or any of that stuff. Just who you are, Niobe, you are an awesome person.

Lori said...

Niobe- I feel confident that you understood the intention behind my comment, but I did want to clarify that my point was to allow yourself to feel more what comes naturally, rather than trying to squash it. In your previous post you mentioned having some very dark feelings, and your sadness has been evident in other posts. So, my point was that instead of trying to analyze and convince yourself why you shouldn't feel sad, to go ahead and feel sad. I would never advocate you try and *make* yourself feel something you genuinely do not feel.

I also think Bon's point is an excellent one. I am about a thousand times more transparent about my grief on my blog, than I am in "real life." Even in the first year following my twins' death, I rarely spoke of them to anyone beyond my husband and counselor. I have a very hard time expressing my feelings about them to those around me, which is one of the reasons for my blog, and my writing.

Tash said...

Ok, I'm v. new here and don't think I could say much about how you grieve now (I've read the front story, and the now story, but not so much the middle story). But I can say this: my husband had a similar problem. He used this analogy (which you may get as a photographer as well): if you are constantly behind the lens, taking pictures, you start missing out on the experience. You tend to analyze a bit more -- decide if the light is right, if things are lined up correctly, how it will look afterwards, and suddenly you find that the experience is past and you missed feeling it because you were behind the camera. Sometimes, you just need to put the camera down and experience the moment, no matter how awful. Don't try to analyze it, or interpret it, or subject it to any internal criticism for a blog or a therapy session, just be in the moment. Wherever it may take you. He found it quite liberating, and while I can't claim he's totally "feeling" everything, it's certainly improved.

I decided to ditch my zoloft because the memory loss was making me more anxious than my depression. I purposefully did every-other-day for two weeks before quitting, and didn't have any of the yuk kicking-it fx I hear of from others. One day shouldn't be too horrible, but make sure you get the refill stat if you're not up to letting it go yet! Hugs.

missing_one said...

Hi Niobe, just checking in with you today. I hope to hell you got ahold of someone to write you another prescription. You usually post everyday and since I don't see one today yet, I am kind of worried.
I can be very dangerous going off antidepressants even for a day after having been taking them. When you get a chance, could you just post something saying you're ok?

Anonymous said...

I tried to wean myself off my anti-depressants because one of the side effects of Z0loft is weight gain. It backfired miserably.

Ms. Planner said...

Just thinking of you. That's all.

Wishing I could do or say just one little thing to make it one tiny bit better for you my friend.

Grad3 said...

Grief is a difficult thing to work through. It's a very individualized experience... deeply personal.

I struggle to feel saddness, it's a dangerous feeling for me. But like you I was encouraged to just let myself feel it- by my therpaist. It was freaking hard, I still have trouble now.

I have to say music can really bring it out in me- as well as words. You will find what works for you when you are ready... you will get there in your own way in your own time.

Not to get all therapy on you (even though it is my 'job' ;) email me if you are interested in some techniques- I have lots of resources.

I am glad that you were able to get the pills filled...

Hugs and peace to you

Road Blocks and Roller Coasters said...

I hate when that happens with my pills. I have to beg and plead just to get a call back. And I always run out when I feel the worst.

I'm thinking of you. HUGS.

brenda said...

Ohhhh I have a few terrible moments of stopping my 'happy pills' cold turkey. Terrible, terrible things to do.
Im glad you got another script.


Carole said...

This is something I've struggled with as well. For the longest time I didn't allow myself to feel anything. For me it was because I was too afraid of what would happen. It's something I've been working on in therapy. Sometimes I do a better job than others. One thing she had me do was set a time limit of 5 minutes. I could let my feelings go...but not worry about control.

Thinking of you...

LeRoy Dissing said...

You have some good advise from everyone Niobe. I wouldn't go cold turkey either off the anti-depressants since that lead to an adverse reaction depending on what you are taking. Just from what I know, I'd say you have gone through a great deal of trauma. So much of this could be post traumatic stress syndrome as much as working through the grief. I'd suggest seeing someone who specializes in EMDR because it generally is brief and effective in dealing with PTSD. Just my opinion from people I have seen going through trauma. Sending you good vibes from Wisconsin - always!

missing_one said...

oh good! thanks!

niobe said...

Leroy: I am currently trying to find someone in my area who specializes in EMDR. While my experiences in the past with it have not been great, I am hopeful that if I find the right person, it will be a huge help. I know it's helped others. Including (I think, Meg).

Grad3: Though I haven't been too successful in finding your email, I'd love to hear more about your techniques and resources. You know where my email button is.

Monica said...

Glad you got your meds. I agree that some form of therapy might be helpful, but not necessarily for grieving, but for your issues ABOUT grieving.

I get the Asperger's thing, but your photos are some damn evocative, it's hard for me to say that you have trouble emoting. I think you just maybe trying to rationalize your emoting too much and perhaps, like others have written, you should just, "let go".

Ruby said...

When I need to deal with emotions about my loss, I go through her things, play her songs, reminisce and have a good cry. I always feel much better afterward.

I hope you find whatever it is that works for you.

Artblog said...

EMDR, it was very helpful to me too. It's not easy to do and you have to be willing to re live every moment in order to gain full effect.


Anonymous said...

I know you always say you have trouble with your emotions, that you don't seem to feel the same way that other grieving mothers do... that you are blank or cold. But your grief in this blog was shattering. When I first stumbleed across your site, it stunned me. I felt haunted by you.
I watched my sister die and while she lay dying, I thought I had no feelings. In the aftermath, I sometimes felt shattered, but more often, I felt absolutely nothing at all. Sometimes when you try to examine a feeling, it is like peering into the night sky. What is there to see? What in that shapeless blackness can be quantified or explained? But perhaps the lesson is not to peer at all.
I don't think you have trouble feeling, your blog is a testament to that. But perhaps you have trouble with accepting that what you feel is enough. That your grief is enough for the children that you lost. It is as though you are, by calling yourself cold or uncaring, paying a painful penance for the sin of having lost them.


msfitzita said...

I think there's always a tendency to worry about how we grieve - if it's enough, if it's too much, if it's exactly like someone else who has gone through a similar experience. But the problem is, no one really knows WHAT to feel when something this horrendous happens. So I'm betting that whatever you're feeling is perfectly normal for you, just as what I feel is perfectly normal for me. We react, think, feel, grieve the only way we know how under the circumstances.

What the poster above me said, so very eloquently, is very true. I see profound grief in your blog, both when you're writing about your loss and when you're not.

When I miscarried my twins this summer I went through a disturbing period where I felt better than I had since before my son died. I was full of life and happiness and promise and joy, despite having miscarried twins just weeks earlier.

It's just what I did to protect myself, I think. I knew it was odd at the time, but I couldn't help how I was feeling (and it was so nice to feel so good) so I just ran with it.

I eventually crashed when, I suspect, my poor addled brain could properly deal with what had happened.

I'm so sorry you're feeling the way you are. As I said, I see love and grief and a tremendous amount of feeling in your words and photographs. I don't for one second see a cold, unfeeling woman. I never have.