A Heavy Heart

Beautiful heart

 

Hello friends. ❤

I’ve had a really tough spell the past few days. It all culminated this morning and has kinda knocked me down. I cannot believe all I have been through and am still going through, by no choosing or fault of my own.

I can’t believe my life.

I can’t believe he’s gone.

I’ve been regressing a bit emotionally. And before you tell me not to beat myself up, I’m not. I am still letting this tsunami take me where it takes me. I’m not expecting. I’m just surprised is all. Yesterday, I reached to text him twice to send him pictures of the puppies. It’s like in my mind, he’s still at work.

Anyway, all of this to say, I miss him so much. I miss him terribly. I miss him more and more with each passing day, because it’s just one more day that has passed since I’ve seen him, heard him, touched him, felt him in the room. One more day since he was plucked out of existence, leaving a vast and indescribable void in my life and my heart and my world and my everything. One more day since the only person who ever understood me has been gone.

I’ve made some decisions about his ashes, but they still live on my bedside table in the simple black box that they came in. One of the things I have wanted to do for a long time, was find a way to memorialize him. I have some plans that are private, and I will do on the one-year anniversary. But I miss him so damn bad, I really need to feel close to him. So I’ve taken a couple of steps to help. The first thing I did was order a piece of jewelry that will have his ashes infused into it. In order to do that, I need to send them some of Michael’s ashes and they will infuse it into the silver. That will take about 6 weeks. Too long.

So, I finally found my version of an urn. It just arrived yesterday. I filled it with his ashes, and I will wear it constantly. It’s a silver heart. It’s really heavy which seems so appropriate. I’m very aware that I’m wearing it and I catch myself holding it often. I can’t explain it, but it gives me peace and comfort. I’m also going to get some tattoo work done with his ashes incorporated (it wasn’t easy to find a great tat artist to agree to this, but I did and my mind is set – no advice needed). I have three appointments on the books starting in May.

Heart urn

Have you ever handled cremains? I have many times, getting urn jewelry for special pets, and when Michael and I planted trees in our backyard, we put the ashes of every dog we ever loved into the soil. We have a specific GK tree in the yard <3. So, I thought I knew what to expect. I didn’t expect it to be so emotional for me.

This grief shit is not for the weak. It’s literally the hardest, worst, most painful, most disorienting, most life-destroying event that anyone can possibly imagine, times 50.

Looking at the big picture; in the past couple of weeks, I have gone through all of his clothes, gone through a lot of his things that are in the basement, handled his ashes. I’ve also been dealing with the health insurance nightmare (I think it’s FINALLY resolved?!?) and everything else in day to day life. Things at home are good, but very emotionally charged. We are three women, all going through our own things, and there are lots of puppies with lots of energy, so the energy of the house is out of whack.  It’s no wonder that I’m emotional.

In other news, my diagnosis of Small Fiber Neuropathy is official and on the books. I passed muscle tests and had some concerning nerve tests (PS I will NEVER have an EMG again. NEVER, ever agree to this test! It blows!). I also have carpal tunnel in both hands (numbness and tingling) and days when clothing hurts my skin. I have good days, too. But a good day for me isn’t even equal to what would have been a normal day for me a year ago. I have to stop thinking about what my life was, and focus on what IS. What IS real, is that I am in a lot of pain, my husband has died, I have too many decisions to make, and I’m overwhelmed at the thought of the rest of my life without him.

In joyful news, the puppies are SO amazing and BEAUTIFUL! Just stunning, all of them. They are listed for adoption now, so they should be finding new families very soon. I love them. They have given me a purpose. I’m a little worried about what I’ll do when they leave. I really enjoy having them here and man, they’re great therapy. But, they are getting really big and it’s tough to play with them all. They’re getting spayed/neutered tomorrow! They bring so much joy to my life. I tried to upload a video but WordPress had a fit. If you want to see videos and you are on Facebook, send me a friend request and you can see the videos!

That’s all I have for today. Thank you for sticking this out with me. I’m so surprised to find myself in such a raw place so suddenly. I know I will get through it. I no longer doubt that I WILL get through it.  I just hate that I have to.

Peace,

~ Lisa

PTSD 101

PTSD is most often associated with those who have seen battle and war. But it’s a very real condition that anyone can experience after a traumatic event.

My PTSD started almost immediately after Michael passed away. My mind was flooded with images of my father and Michael in their worst dying times. My heart was overflowing with what if’s and omg when I rolled him over did I kill him and wondering if I did a good enough job caring for them. My mind raced all over the place, searching for things I didn’t say or didn’t do. Wondering if our last goodbyes were what they should have been (yes). Wondering if I helped them leave this life peacefully (I hope so). Wondering where they are. And when I would close my eyes, the haunting images and memories of very painful and difficult times overtook me. Then, the panic attacks started (first time in my life I’ve had panic attacks or anxiety). The middle of the night wake-ups to Michael screaming, even though he wasn’t there. Jolting up in bed because I think I hear him calling me. Reliving the horrific hell that was the last few weeks of Michael’s life. Images of my dad thrown into the mental slide show just for fun.

This ticker-tape slideshow runs constantly in my brain. Every time I close my eyes, the movie is playing. Even if I blink too long. The horror movie is always playing if I just pay attention.

My crazy energy is back, for now. I’m painting in the middle of the night again. PTSD. I have a hard time falling asleep unless I’m pretty medicated. I wake to horrific sounds, and then can’t sleep. Get up. Make coffee because why not. Paint. My hands can’t hold the paint brush for more than a few minutes, so I’m switching hands a lot. This woodwork is going to take me forever!

Here’s the bitch. Studies have shown that therapy and medications are the best treatments for PTSD, but nothing cures it. PTSD CHANGES your brain. First, the area of your brain that helps you make decisions, the pre-frontal cortex, is altered in people with PTSD. It’s the part of your brain that calms you down when you realize you aren’t in danger.  Cognitive therapy can teach me how to put those memories away and find a mental place for them, but I personally believe I need to experience this in order to move past it. I know I’ll never forget, nor do I want to. But I DO want to get to the happy memories and move past the pain that we all endured.

Secondly, the part of your brain that alerts you to danger, the amygdala, triggers the “fight or flight” response and is there to ensure survival.  Those with PTSD tend to have an overactive response, making it hard to think rationally.

And finally, the part of your brain that regulates memories, the hippocampus, is working to remember the event accurately and make sense of it. People with PTSD often times find they cannot stop thinking about the traumatic event because they cannot make it make sense. It’s an involuntary obsession that you can’t stop.

I think it’s important to acknowledge this component during my journey. I think people use the term PTSD too lightly. It REALLY is a real condition. It’s MORE than having bad memories of an event or struggling with understanding something tragic. It’s more than “just” an emotional condition. It’s a mental AND physical manifestation of pain and trauma that’s so unbearable, that your brain changes to help you accommodate it all. And it’s lasting. It’s not the sadness that comes after any loss. It has very little to do with Michael being gone, and everything to do with watching him and caring for him while he died. It’s deeper than grief. It’s the real deal.

And along with everything else, I take this one moment at a time. I’m doing the best I can, and that’s all I can do. I tell myself this every single day. ❤

Peace,

~ Lisa