My last two weeks have been dominated by a focus on sounds: the tearing of tape being removed from a box, the crackle of opening a plastic pastry box, the creaking of my office chair, breathing… Deep breaths, shallow breathing, congestion, wheezing… My own breathing.
Staggered, uncertain, labored breathing–Micah’s breathing on that last, sleepless day. Listening to my son struggling to take his next breath as I listen–watch–helplessly.
I have spent 35 of my 46 years on this planet suffering from moderate to severe asthma. I have heard breathing that scared me–that scared Cynthia–that scared strangers that did not know me. I have spent over a week inpatient in a hospital as they tried to clear my chest to the point where sufficient oxygen was reaching my bloodstream. No sound coming from my chest, my lungs, my nose and mouth–no matter how distressed–could ever match the sounds coming from my son, struggling to survive. No sounds could haunt my dreams–my nightmares, my daymares–like Micah’s life-sustaining breaths.
Time after time, people have told me that the worst thing you can do, if you feel depressed, is to isolate yourself. Over the past few months, I have experienced that desire–to not want to be around other people. I have “just not felt right,” and wanted to sit, quietly in my bedroom, in my office–even at the dining room table, ignoring the world around me. I can definitely acknowledge that isolating myself when I’ve felt down did not help buoy my mood.
So, as the lone full-time appellate attorney in my office, I am a division of one. I work regularly with one other attorney–but she also carries a half delinquency caseload that keeps her pretty busy in between appeals cases. I handle appeals from our dependency division, but I am not really part of that division. I sit on the side of the office with the delinquency attorneys, but I am not a delinquency attorney. Add in a cup of self-defeating desire to isolate myself when I start to feel depressed, and work is the perfect recipe to spend my days in my office, staring at the computer screen, printed transcripts or files–or the wall, and feel very alone.
The sound of my breathing…thinking about Micah’s breathing…thinking about our upcoming move away from the home where we lost him…added to everything else…
What does it all add up to? Lost sleep. Waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat. Dwelling on things of the past that are gone. Focusing on the changes in my life over the past two months. Wondering what I should do next.
I started with self therapy–this blog. That took me so far–until about the one-year mark from Micah’s death, and then, while it still helped, it was not nearly as therapeutic as it started out. I saw a therapist that I liked for a few months, but suddenly he was no longer covered by my insurance (and I could not get a return call from him either way when I attempted to schedule an appointment). I probably need to find a new therapist, but I’m on the verge of a change in health care providers (getting rid of UHC and going back to Cigna–finally!), and most of the decent, recommended therapists have a waiting list to get an intake appointment. So, I’m back to the blog. Back to talking about the thoughts traipsing through my conscious mind.
I don’t write this for pity. I don’t write this as a desperate cry for some kind of help. I am not contemplating any kind of self harm. I just need to try and make sense of my thoughts, and this seems to be the best available method for doing that.
In shedding as many sources of stress as possible and trying to focus more on my family and myself, I have also shed a good deal of two of my support systems. When depression hits, so does pessimism. I begin to wonder, now away from the hub of those support systems, how many friends from those systems will drift away into the ether? As time goes by, will others’ memory of Micah fade? One thing I know for certain–not mine.
I can’t stress this enough–what some people told me–about the second year after loss being tougher than the first–is so incredibly true. It saps your energy, steals your sleep, makes exciting things seem mundane, and mundane thing seem unbearable. We need so badly to get out of this house–to get away from his room and the visual memories that pop up every time we walk by his door. While Micah’s presence has been felt in so many other places–even in the actual street address of our new home (3706), he does not seem to have been able to push the builder or its contractors to get us a closing date so we can prepare to move.
Breathing. People say to “just take a deep breath” when you need to relax. That deep breath is anything but relaxing when it’s the only sound you hear…