February 6, 2010
Before I was diagnosed with MS, I was diagnosed with the depression associated with MS. Of course, they didn't know that that was the cause then - they thought it was garden variety depression and I was quite willing to accept that. Trapped in a marriage I was desperate to leave, numbed down to anger, frustration, sorrow, in pain and with weird body symptoms, I thought this was maybe the solution, and I went on and took the suggested antidepressants with hope.
They worked. They kept me from going mad, they gave me the strength to leave my marriage, to change my job, to continue confident although by then my brain was operating at 20-80 capacity, uncorrected.
MS gave more reasons for grief - losing my capacity to work, making poor judgements, financial losses, physical changes I was unable to ignore, and my change from healthy to patient. I handled it all with aplomb, rarely crying, rarely allowing myself to wallow completely until the emotions would be so strong they sent me into suicidal despair. Even then I shook myself off, wiped my slightly weepy eyes, and went on. Movement equaled coping, and as long as I didn't pause, I could think I was coping okay.
Lately, this hasn't been working for me. The numbness of my body, now total, is also matching the numbness in my heart, in my brain. I've developed such high walls around my garden of grieving that I've needed to throw all other emotions in there - joy, love, hate, adoration, belief, everything.
A couple of things have started knocking at the walls. First, my ex has decided to remarry someone who I know deep in my heart is bad for him. I am amazed that I care, and that I am so so angry at him for the way he treated me, still, and for the fact that he has found what he feels is love and I have been unable to. I don't want him back, no no no, but it is galling he has fallen in love with someone so different from myself. And that he grants her things that he denied me, without question.
Second, I lost some people very dear to me lately - a favourite aunt, a sweet uncle. Their deaths made me revisit the deaths of my parents, so long ago, and also ungrieved (see ex, above). They also made me revisit other relationships that haven't gone well, or that I have lost.
Also, a very clever woman asked me yesterday about my "well-guarded" status - and asked about grieving about the MS. Of course I started draining like a leaky faucet right there and then. Yes, I am totally guarded, that's my problem, and the thing about MS is that you have new reasons to grieve every day. Little losses, little gains that are illusory, little hopes that get crushed, and now little fears that grow up in their place. I've spent so much time pretending I am okay, with everything, that I almost believe it, but not really. I joke about losing my sensation, my continence, my balance, my ability to stand. But it isn't really funny and perhaps I just need to do some private grieving and let it go.
Maybe I'm like Yellowstone, that huge volcano in the middle of the US. If it were capped, it would build up pressure and explode, rupturing most of the US and destroying all about it. But it lets off steam, all the time, through Ol' Faithful and various other geysers and little leakages, so it will likely not explode. Maybe I should let go slowly, rather than slapping on a lid and a smile, joking my way as I fall apart.