I’ve been a little worried about myself lately.
For a couple of weeks now I’ve felt anxious and depressed in the mornings, which doesn’t last throughout the day but is concerning to me. I am rarely if ever depressed during the summer; usually I’m fighting off mania and staying up all night, and that’s just not happening this year. But as glad as I am to not be waiting for the other shoe to drop, I don’t welcome mania’s opposite number either.
And then I remembered: This is July. And this coming Saturday will be the third anniversary of my husband Will’s passing. Actually, the night of the 12th is the most difficult time to get through, because that’s when he was in such agony and it killed my soul to watch him suffer; his official TOD was 3:10 AM. I even pronounced him—unofficially—as the nurse wasn’t in the room when it happened. It’s the time that went on the death certificate, anyway.
I can’t believe it’s been three years already. My doctor and others have said that this is the approximate point when grief is lessened, if not resolved (and is it EVER resolved? I don’t think so) and life returns to some semblance of normality. Yes, it’s a different normality because something deep inside us has changed forever with the loss of our loved one, but we generally have settled into what remains of our own lives with a measure of equanimity. For me that point came somewhat earlier, when I fully accepted the fact that Will was gone and I had to carry on by myself. It helped a great deal that I was surrounded by so much love from my family and friends; in fact, I think that was why I adjusted relatively quickly after my loss. Besides, I had my kids to think of, it wouldn’t have been right to add my sorrow to theirs as they too had lost someone very important to them. And they, too, have adjusted.
Three years. It’s been three years since I last heard his voice and felt his strong arms around me; three years since I’ve had one of his wonderful back massages that kept me out of severe pain; three years since I saw him sitting out on the deck smoking his medicine in his traffic-cone orange shirt and plaid pajama bottoms. He had more fashion sense than that, of course, but toward the end it just didn’t matter—comfort was of the utmost importance.
So I’m a little off-kilter, and somehow knowing what’s causing these uncomfortable feelings (and believing that they will end soon) makes me feel a little less undone. Self-awareness is such a gift…and I’m pretty sure I would never have found it if I hadn’t developed bipolar disorder. I was still somewhat emotionally immature when I was diagnosed, even though I was 53 years old and a grandmother several times over; the medications and therapy have gone far toward making me slow down and actually look at things before acting on them.
This is why I’m not panicking at the idea of having a bit of a downswing at a time when I’m usually up. Summer hasn’t really begun yet anyway; the weather has been uncooperative and we’re lucky if we have a few bright, sunny days in between the cloudy and cool ones. I’ve just got to get through the next week. I can do this.