It’s Been A While
August 19, 2016
I haven’t posted anything on here in quite some time. Furthermore, I haven’t typed anything extensive that would garner being posted. The year 2016 has been a harsh one, not just for me, but also for other people whom I know.
As is standard practice, I suppose I should start at the beginning of the year. The last week of December my mom was hospitalized for a myriad of reasons, she had been ill for years and fighting a combination of heart, lung and arterial diseases. During her stay we were informed that she was dying and had a few months to live. She was released in January.
Like any family we grappled with this reality and even though we knew she had been in poor and deteriorating condition, hearing those words come from her physician’s mouth, had forced it in front of us in a way that we had not dealt with before. Even before that hospital stay I had told myself to be aware that her time was limited and that there would come a day when I would have to say goodbye.
My mom turned 71 years old this year, she and my father celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary. By early March, my mom found a strength and resilience, her condition seemed to improve and she spent most of her time crocheting and coloring in her art book. Earlier when she had been released from the hospital, we were advised to put a bed in the living room as her ability to move around would decline.
As time continued to pass and the weeks went by her condition took a turn for the worse and she spent most of her time in bed asleep, only getting out of it to use the bathroom. My mom smoked for 50 years before she finally quit. Having smoked for so long, she faced many health issues. She had a lung disease that caused a hardening of the tiny air sacks in her lungs, making it difficult to breathe, because of which she had to be permanently on oxygen. She had a heart attack some time around 2009, which resulted in congestive heart failure on the right side of her heart.
The heart attack was a result of plaque in her arteries. From 2009 through about 2013, she had numerous stents and a filter put in to prevent further blockages from either reaching her heart or being created in her heart and lungs.
In 2013, during one of her numerous hospital stays, she had a port device implanted in her chest that pumped medication directly to her heart 24 hours a day. This device helped relieve the strain on her heart, which was working double time because only half of it was functional. The strain of only being half-functional caused pulmonary hypertension and thus an enlarged heart.
So as you can see, she faced daunting conditions for years, but seldom did she ever convey how badly she felt. My mother was the type to hide those sorts of things, not wanting anyone to see her suffering. It would be true to say that I didn’t know how strong and brave my mom was, until I watched her face such devastating effects for so long.
By May, she was at her lowest point. She was supposed to go to a doctor appointment on the 16th, but she decided she should go to the hospital instead. Four days later she passed away.
Months before her January hospital visit, my mom and I had already had conversations about her condition, about how she would never get better. We never discussed the actual event of her dying, she was tough and persistent in continuing her life even though it became increasingly hard to do the most simplest of things.
I remember when her physician told her that she was indeed dying and had only months to live. She wasn’t ready to hear that from him, like all of us, she wanted to hear that there was another new treatment we could try to prolong her life further. I distinctly remember her saying, “I’m not ready yet.”
The night before she passed away, she asked to speak to all of her children as she was going to be given sedation and pain medications that would make her less coherent and thus may not be able to speak to us again. Some of her last words to me were, “You’re special to me.” Those words still echoe in my head as I think about all the moments we shared over the years of my life.
Prior to that awful experience and about the same time that she took a turn for the worse, one of my friends disappeared in a foreign country under mysterious circumstances, but his body was discovered over a week later and the case remains an open unsolved murder investigation.
I remember the day I told my mom that my friend’s body had been found. As the words came out of my mouth, I could see her reaction only in her eyes. I do not know if her reaction was because I had been telling her about the search for nearly a week and she felt the same sense of defeat and theft of hope that I had felt, or if her reaction was a reckoning to her own impending death.
Before my friend was found deceased, my nephew lost his father-in-law. After my mom died, a dear and close friend of mine lost her husband. After that, a co-worker lost his father. Death has been active in my life for several months now, too many wakes and funerals.
These events have been a catalyst for me, dragging me down quite far. I have perhaps not been this mentally and emotionally challenged for six to eights years. If you’ve read any of my previous writings on mental illness and depression, you know that I have grappled with these kinds of issues for many years in the past.
I have become quite lethargic, withdrawn, uninterested and fatigued. All signs and symptoms of depression I have dealt with in the past. I think that I would be a fool to assert that my emotional condition is directly connected to the death of my mom. Instead, I think that her death more so triggered something inside of me that had been growing and brewing over a lengthy amount of time. It brought to surface things that I’ve been pushing down and trying to ignore for a long time.
It will be three months tomorrow since she passed from this life. I have photos of her from throughout her life hung up in my apartment. I haven’t figured out if this is a good thing or a bad thing. On one hand, it keeps her spirit alive within and around me. On the other hand, it’s a constant reminder of loss, of what used to be and is no more. I’ve struggled with the decision to leave all the photos up or to take them down.
I’ve lost two friends over the years, both of which I at one point dated, but this is the first loss I’ve experienced with someone I’ve known my entire life and I think that only someone who has lost a spouse, parent, sibling or child can understand the strange emptiness and vacancy that follows such a loss. Because these people are so integrated into your life and then suddenly are gone, coming to terms with that is so difficult. Oddly I sometimes forget that she is dead and then it hits me… she’s dead. Practically three months later and those words still sound wrong on my tongue, bizarre and unbelievable… my mom is dead.
No more phone calls from her, no more visits to her house and seeing her sitting at the kitchen table. I remember after her death, the day I realized that I would never again hear her voice. I felt a sense of panic at that thought and I quickly reached for my phone, hoping that I still had an old voicemail message from her that I could listen to. But I didn’t, thanks to my OCD nature, I always delete all my voicemail messages and emails.
Panic is something I’ve been experiencing a lot lately. Every night to be more accurate. I have not been able to sleep much, I typically get about four hours a night during the week. My mind and body fight against me and refuse to let me go to bed. I literally tell myself to get up off the couch and go to bed, but my body doesn’t respond, it’s like my subconscious mind is telling me to fuck off. When I do finally get into bed, I have panic attacks while laying there, they typically happen right as I fall asleep and I abruptly awaken gasping for air and my heart racing or beating erratically and irregularly. Sometimes it seems as though I stop breathing just as I fall asleep… sleep apnea. If I lay on my side, it doesn’t seem to happen though.
On the weekends or days during the week that I take off work and I don’t have to set my alarm, I tend to sleep longer and when I do wake up, I’m unable to get out of bed. It’s common for me to lay awake in bed for hours and hours. Sometimes just laying there, sometimes passing in and out of wakefulness with no desire to get up and start my day. This has become a problem as I’ve been late to work and social events for this very reason.
I have no desire to talk to other people, friends or family. I do not want to socialize or go places, even messaging or texting people requires extra effort to accomplish. All I want to do is lay in bed or on my couch and watch a show called Naruto, of which I am in love with.
It’s been a very long time since my mind has wandered so deeply into the darkness that I have suicidal thoughts and feelings, but I’m there now. As I said earlier, it’s not just about my mom dying, her death was a trigger for other things I’ve been trying to blissfully ignore about myself and my life. I think it’s accurate to say that her death caused me to take a good long, hard look at my own life, evaluating what I’ve done over the years, what I’ve accomplished and where I want my life to go. The results of that self-assessment were anything but positive and hopeful.
From my personal life to my professional life, I’m a walking failed attempt at an adult. I’m a college dropout, working a low paying, dead end job that brings me no joy or sense of fulfillment at all whatsoever. I’m constantly worried about money and being able to pay bills.
When it comes to my personal life, well it’s pretty pathetic. I really think that I must be the shittiest friend anyone could ever have. It’s no lie, I’m heavily concerned with myself and my own problems, resulting in me being mostly vacant from other people’s lives. It doesn’t help that I feel little to no common connection with other people anymore, especially right now that I’m so withdrawn and uninterested in nearly everything that I used to be interested in. I truly have no ambition or goals and when I encounter individuals who are ambitious and want to talk about their goals, I just get disgusted by them and have no desire to communicate further. I suppose it’s because it reminds me of everything that I am not.
And then there’s romance. Or to be more accurate, what the fuck is romance? Cause I’m definitely not familiar with it. The last time I was dating someone it was still 2013, and the last time I had sex was 2014 and it ended horribly. Honestly, I couldn’t care less about the sex part. The part I miss is feeling emotionlly connected to someone. I no longer know what it’s like to be in a relationship of any kind with anyone. The last few people I involved myself with wanted only friendship and nothing more, or they just used me to get attention, money, food and when I told them what I wanted – I was thrown away as inconvenient and no longer useful.
I’ve really just become a bitter, broken, failure who cannot see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel or even a reason to look for it. If I were a weaker man, I think I would have turned to substance abuse by now or some other self-harming avenue to avoid my feelings and problems.
There are times I’m very self-aware of my thoughts and actions and I shake my head at myself in disgust and anger. I say things to myself such as, “You pathetic fucking loser,” “Look at you in your petty worries,” “What a piece of shit you are,” “Why are you so fucking lazy,” “Get the fuck over it,” “Why don’t you do something useful for once,” “Look how other people are out living their life while you sit here depressed, lazy and getting old and fat,” “Get up and work out you piece of shit,” “You’re nothing but a fuck up, you ruin everything,” “You’ll never go anywhere in life, just give up like you always do, failure,” “Nobody likes you, nobody cares about you, you wouldn’t be missed.”