Ten Things You Might Experience After Losing Your Mom

There are certain things that happen after you lose your mom that you can’t prepare yourself for. If you suffer from anxiety, you have a predisposition for getting stuck in your own head, repeating thoughts that are unwanted or harmful over and over again. The following are things I have experienced, and continue to experience, in the first year after losing my mom.

The thought of moving on hurts, so you feel unable to.

Moving on would mean accepting that she’s gone, and you’re not quite there yet. But you have no choice, you can’t freeze or move back in time. So you might go in and out of moments of panic because its like you’re being slowly pushed towards the edge of a cliff, and you don’t have your mom parachute to keep you safe. Everyone will tell you that life moves on, but to you, that’s the saddest part.

Literally everything will remind you of her.

No matter where you are, what you’re doing, and how unrelated it may even be, something will remind you of her in some way. A song might come on the radio that you knew she loved. You drive by a house that you know she would have complimented. Someone says something she used to say. Literally everything elicits a “she would have loved this” or a “she would have hated that.” You constantly think about her, and the things she might have said in any given situation.

Thinking of happier times hurts. A lot. 

Whether or not you’re already a nostalgic person, you become one. Only, instead of feeling joy out of reviewing previous times and eras of your life, it burns your heart in ways you’ve never experienced. Suddenly the happy memories are hard to perceive as happy because they hurt so much. They’re dangerous to think about because they put you in a hole that is hard to climb out of. But you can’t help but think about them because you are desperate to see her again, so you think about the times you had with her. You want to go back. You want so badly to go back. Yet, at the same time, at least for that moment, you want to forget so you can stop hurting. But then that thought hurts too, because the time you had with her is so sacred and precious, you want  to hold on to the memories for dear life, but staring them in the face destroys you.

Suddenly you remember lost memories.

Conversations, interactions, events, tons of random, insignificant moments from your past that have been long since forgotten, from early childhood to present, will suddenly be remembered. They might be triggered by something, or they can come into your head at complete random.

Music hurts. 

Most music, if not all, will hurt. It doesn’t matter if it’s music you know she never heard. It will all hurt. Music you used to listen to before she got sick reminds you of happier times, and as mentioned above, that hurts to think about. Music that comes on the radio will hurt too. The lyrics in love songs stop being about romantic love, and become about the love you shared with your mom (minus any sexual content). Break up songs feel like they’re talking about your loss. New songs will come on by artists she loved, and you’ll be sad that she never got to hear them. Songs will come on by artists that she hated and you wish you could trash talk with her.

You’ll still reach for your phone

For a fraction of a second, I’m talking a very instantaneous piece of a moment, you will reach for your phone to text or call her to tell her something, and you’ll freeze in your tracks. You’ll be completely shocked that you just did that. How could you forget? Then suddenly, its like you lost her all over again.

You will have flashbacks.

Seeing your mother, your best friend, the one person on this Earth who understands you more than anyone else you’re close with, go through such a sudden onset of illness from a cancer no one knew she had, waking up every morning knowing the odds are against her in this battle, being with her in the hospital night and day, sleeping in a cot beside her, having doctor after doctor come into the room and deliver nothing but bad news after bad news. Riding in the ambulance with her as they bring her home for hospice care. Seeing her face looking at the sky when they take her out of the ambulance on a stretcher, knowing it was the first time she saw the sky in weeks, and it’ll be the last time. Then watching her take her last breath while you stroked her hair and whispered your goodbyes in her ear… all this is the darkest hell anyone could ever experience. The aftermath in your mind and soul after having lived through such a traumatic event is painful.  When its all over, you’re mind and body are still in a type of survival mode, but you’re also trying to process what just happened. Five weeks ago life was completely normal. Suddenly, you saw her suffer intensely and now she’s gone.

Your thoughts will be interrupted by intrusive images. This will happen so often, it will drive you to the brink of a whole different emotional breakdown that you don’t even have the energy to have, but you will have it anyways. They will either be triggered by something, a smell, a song, a sound, a place, or they will be completely at random. You might be brushing your teeth, or at work discussing business with a client, or ordering food. Out of nowhere, they hit you. Sometimes, they take you away from reality, and you find yourself staring off into space. Sometimes they are actively occurring in the back of your head while you are carrying a conversation, and on the outside you appear perfectly normal.

The images will be of her in the hospital, or of her in her hospice bed at home, or the look in your dad’s eyes the moment the doctor’s said there was nothing more to do but let her go. They will be of her face when there was still hope, the moment she came back home for those few days before she took a turn for the worst and went back to the hospital. They will be of the view outside the hospital room, because you looked out that window so much. They will be of the lobby of the hospital when you first walk in, or the elevator ride up to her floor. They will be of the pain scale poster in the room, or the artwork of flowers. They will be of the moment she finally cried, the one time she cried, because she was scared. You’ll never forget that one. They will often, often be of the moment she took her last breath, the sound of your own voice saying “good bye, mom, I love you so much”, then the sound of your sobbing amongst the sobs of your dad and brother.

Sleep is both a friend and an enemy. 

After a day of painful thoughts, you welcome the moment you get to turn your mind off, but your dreams can be just as painful. You never know when you can escape those images because sometimes they follow you into your sleep. But, the worst, which will happen the most often, is the opposite of the painful images; you will dream that she gets cured. You will dream that she is suddenly ok, that something was figured out, and that she can go back to living a normal life. These are the dreams that will be the most vivid, the most realistic. These are the dreams where you truly think that this is real life because you can smell that familiar smell of her perfume, and you can feel her when you hug her, you cry and you feel the tears rolling down your face. The most absurd detail is projected in this dream involving all your senses. When you wake up, you experience losing her all over again.

You feel completely disconnected from your friends when they mention their mom.

This one doesn’t need too much explanation. When your friends mention their moms, you can feel your facial expression become hollow as you smile and nod and listen to their conversation while thinking how they have no idea how lucky they are. You’d never admit this to them, but you’re jealous, and you even go as far as being slightly irritated by them.

When much older people mention their still-living mom, you feel like life is incredibly unfair.

You’ll be at work, and a client you’re working with who is maybe 20 or more years older than you mentions their mom. You feel that similar feeling in your face going hollow, only this time the thought in your head is solely focusing on how unfair it is that you will never have what this person has. How could it be that you, at 29 years old, lost your mom, and this 50 year old is talking about having just had lunch with theirs as if life wasn’t fragile. Why does this person get to grow old with their mom and you can’t? Why does this person get to have their mom around to help them with their kids, her grandkids, while your mom will never get to meet yours? Life will constantly rub in your face the unfairness of it all. This will often make you angry, but will mostly just make your heart even heavier.

 

Suicide and Toxicity.

A friend of mine killed herself last Saturday. Shot herself. She suffered from severe anxiety and depression.

I think back about all the times I saw her, all of our most recent interactions, all of her facebook pictures…she looked so happy. She was happy on the outside, and only on the outside, and I, much like many who knew her, had no idea. A lot of people had no idea. It just serves as another reminder, you never know what someone is going through on the inside, so be kind. Always. 

This leads me to the topic of toxicity. One of my coworkers is a toxic person. Everyone knows who he likes and doesn’t like because he wears it on his sleeve, with no fucks given. He is the oldest person there (early 60s) and he behaves the least like a dignified adult than anyone I’ve ever met.

When he dislikes someone, he is just profusely spewing negativity in their general direction. Right now, I am one of those people.

I also happen to remember a time when my friend, the one who shot herself, was working with us. She was one of those people, too. He made her feel like shit. This makes me even more angry.

This man is the kind of man that can never be wrong, and NEVER be told no. This is why he currently can’t stand to breathe the same oxygen as I do, because he started getting uncomfortably close to me as a friend, and I told him “no.” As a friend, and as an adult man and father, instead of understanding where I’m coming from, being a young woman his daughter’s age that has a natural tendency to put up barriers due a lifetime of unsolicited sexual attention, he instead chose to be deeply, PROFOUNDLY insulted by my audacity to say “no”.

And now, I’m suffering for it. He talks shit behind my back. He insults my existence. He considers me a piece of shit and he does what he could to get others to agree with him. His feelings about me are written all over the disgusted face he makes when I so much as walk in the room.

The girl was depressed. No one knew it. He was toxic to her, and for no reason. Just because. For no reason, she wasn’t someone he felt like being kind to.

My mom died last year. I am completely broken. He knows it. Everyone knows it. He is toxic to me, for no good reason. For no good reason, I am not someone he feels like being kind to.

Instead, he gives himself his shitty little petty reason, and he tucks it tightly between his ass cheeks and his nut sack and walks with it along a path of rotting toxicity. He is too proud of himself, his ego, and is too insulted by my presence to consider getting over his petty bullshit and just being kind.

Why are the toxic ones the ones that get to determine how people should be feeling? Yes, there are plenty of people who rise above it and don’t allow them to affect the way they feel, but people with anxiety don’t have that leisure. The way we feel is heavily dependent on how others feel about us.

I wear my strength on my face every single day. I walk in to work with a smile and a positive attitude. I put my best foot forward and try to be liked by everyone. Inside, I’m screaming, I’m devastated, I’m angry, and I’ll be perfectly honest, I’ve wished to stop existing on several occasions for just a single moment. But I’d never end my own life, it would hurt too many people that don’t deserve that pain. I wish living it was easier, but I’m here to stay because I know my worth, I feel loved and valued, and as much as I suffocate, I am strong and I will beat everything that tries to take me down.

Its so infuriating how people like this can really do a number on one’s spirit. Toxic people can easily keep someone just below the surface of okayness, just enough to drown them a little. It so sad and even terrifying to know that you won’t always be able to tell who is drowning because on the outside there is a smile.

You never know what someone is going through. BE KIND. ALWAYS. 

And if you do know what someone is going through and you still choose to be an asshole, then you can go fuck yourself.

 

 

A pretty generic post about social anxiety

One of the biggest issues I suffer with is caring too much what others think of me. I know, you don’t have to say anything. I just need to let this out.

Its one of the biggest issues people with social anxiety deal with, and its one of the most easily dismissed by non-anxiety sufferers. “Who cares what other people think!” Right? We’ve heard it far too many times. People with good intentions love to tell us these things and, we get it, you mean well, but that doesn’t help. It’s not that simple.

If it were, we would absolutely love to just turn that off. It really is so exhausting to be constantly thinking about literally everything happening around you, and happening in your head, how you think you’re acting, and how you’re being perceived all while trying to just fit in and be normal.

Am I being normal?

Are they looking at me weird?

Does he think I’m lying?

Does she think I’m awkward?

Did I just say something that could have been taken as offensive?

Did I just sound like I’m trying to too hard to participate in this discussion?

Do they think I’m not intelligent?

Are they judging me?

And then commence the over-compensation in your personality to make sure you’re coming off as nice (because on the inside you’re severely in distress), which really makes you come off as having too much personality, then comes the fear of having too much personality, yadda yadda yadda downwards spiral yadda yadda.

We don’t like to talk about this, though, because non-anxiety sufferers don’t always get it. In fact, most of them don’t, and we’re afraid of that. We’re afraid of admitting and explaining what is going on in our heads because if they don’t understand it, then they can’t relate to it, which just further isolates us from them. We also fear that we won’t be taken seriously, and if we aren’t taken seriously, we fear the judgement of being considered weak or dramatic.

I don’t really know where else to go with this other than to say that it sucks thinking this way. Every waking moment of the day. It sucks that this is accepted as normal life, going around and having the mechanisms in my brain go on over-drive every time someone talks to me.

All this “we” and “us” talk is really just me being too ashamed to say “me” and “I”. Even under a mask of anonymity, I’m still incapable of it. Don’t even ask how many times I’ve read this damn thing and how much I’ve struggled over whether or not to post it.

That’s just stupid. This is my blog. Post it already. No one knows who you are and…. WHO CARES WHAT THEY THINK.

Save as draft.

Here we go…

I’m way too anxious to put myself out there because someone I know, out of an entire internet of people, will totally find this random and incredibly unpopular blog and immediately recognize me… YOU NEVER KNOW.

Here is the general stuff: I’m female, I’m in my early 30’s. I’m married without kids. I am a supervisor at my job. This is my first managing position.

Here is the why-I’m-here-stuff: I’ll keep it short and simple so I don’t lose you, if I haven’t already.

As you can see from my totally unoriginal blog title above, I have general and social anxiety disorder. I am high functioning, but my brain doesn’t stop, my thoughts are intrusive, I worry about a thousand things at once, sometimes to the point where I shut down.

My mom is my counterpart, my sage, my best friend, my go-to for everything in life. I always describe her as my twin sister that happens to be 30 years older than me. She has her own issues with anxiety, so together we share everything. We are each other’s therapists, although really she is just mine because she is experienced in life and I’m just a sprout in this big world.

She passed away suddenly a few months ago. It was unexpected.

So here I am, clinging on to the debris of a shipwreck. I wear my strength on my face as I smile and pretend like my life isn’t in chaos, but inside I’m drowning. I’m way too anxious to cry in public, let alone give off the impression that something is wrong. God forbid someone comes up to me and asks me if I’m ok.

My husband is amazing, but the last thing I want to do is cry to him every single day. I have a marriage to support, and I’d rather he be a source of positivity than a worried tear sponge.

I avoid grieving with my dad and brother because I can’t bear to see them sad. My brain takes profound photographic images of their mourning faces and later shoves them into my consciousness at any given moment to remind me how much they are sad, and how much it hurts me that they are sad.

Therefore, a lot of my grief is spent in private or behind a fake smile that is also masking overwhelming anxiety and fear of how I’m being perceived, how I’m contributing to my job, my marriage, my life, etc etc etc.

In the mean time, I’m a new manager and I’m suddenly tasked with having to delegate tasks and point out errors to people. Sometimes this involves doing this with employees that are 3 times my age, and 3 times more experienced. Those same employees have made it abundantly clear that they strongly dislike me. My work life is basically every socially anxious person’s idea of pure hell.

So! A blog seemed like a good place to put some of my thoughts out there. I’m not sure what I’m trying to get out of this… although catching the attention of like-minded people would actually be really rewarding, whether you have anxiety, are going through grief, or both. Regardless, I’m doing this for me. I could use a peaceful place to release.

Ok, blog post #1 done.