Sometimes You Step Backward

August 19, 2016

The end of this month will mark seven years since my son died in my arms when he was only five weeks old. I have worked so hard in those years to learn what my new normal is and to raise his twin brother and little sisters. I have grown, and managed to understand what living with daily grief means. I have written time and time again about I have managed to be a living, breathing, bereaved mother. I have learned I have strength beyond what I thought possible.

But lately I have felt none of those things. This summer has brought none of the regular healing moments that the anniversary of my son’s death normally brings. I have slowly, and continually stepped backward in my journey of grieving. It feels very similar to the first year of grieving when the wounds were so fresh it was all I could do to make it through the day.

The past seven years have been kind to me, but this summer has not.

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I have stepped backward in my grief; wildly backward. It feels like uncharted territory for me because I have always felt mostly in control of my grief. It has at least made sense to me over time.

But this feeling, and these weeks have not made sense.

A few weeks ago I called my doctor and set an appointment. It was hard to admit, but I knew I needed help. I needed a way to get through this step backward. I am lucky enough to have a very supportive provider and was prescribed a daily, and as-needed medication to help me sort out my constant feeling of panic, anxiety, and sadness. She referred me to a therapist with whom I have already met with.

Related: When you realize you may need help.

This step backward was not in my plans, or the trajectory of where I thought my grief would go. This step backward was a tough pill to swallow, and a hard one to share.

I know that I will get through this. I will feel better. I will get back to being the mother and wife I want to be. I will lose the weight I have gained this summer. (Why do I have to be a stress eater?)

I’m sharing this because mental health needs to be talked about. The stigma should be a thing of the past. Struggles shouldn’t be talked about in whispers and behind closed doors.

I am proud of myself for realizing I needed it, and then asking for help. I believe I am not the only one that steps backward in grieve. I believe many of us grieving mothers follow the waves of grief in stride, but then allow ourselves to struggle wildly when our backward steps fall out of the line we thought we were on. We don’t have to, we can ask for help, and we should ask for help.

If you are struggling today, I encourage you to seek the many resources available to you:

  1. Call your doctor.
  2. Find a therapist.
  3. Go to www.mentalhealth.gov
  4. Start a conversation with your family and friends.

Taking steps backward is okay. Seeking help is okay. This journey we are on will never end and the waves will sometimes be harder than we think. I will get through this, and I hope that if you are struggling, you find ways to get through it, too.

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