The following is the opinion and personal experience of the writer.
People grieve in so many different ways. And many people who are grieving are unaware that there is help. To have a mind of your own is a blessing, yet a heartache at the same time. You can quickly become a victim of your own thoughts if you don’t address individual traumas. Unresolved trauma is like a sponge, it can soak up all your spirits if you let it.
I remember the day I scheduled an appointment with a psychiatrist. The only people who knew that I was seeking help were myself and my therapist. Previously I had been against seeking out a professional for this type of support. It was a taboo thing to do, and I felt something was wrong with me if I reached out for help. Yet, going to talk therapy for the last year and a half had done little to ease my mind. As I walked to my appointment, tears were slowly running down my cheek. “I am going to be okay,” I told myself, and “there is nothing wrong with you.” But there was.
Dealing with the loss of my siblings Dusty and Kimbo had affected me for years. But I had dealt with my feelings by getting drunk, using drugs, and simply numbing my heart. But no matter what I did, there was still a feeling of emptiness, loneliness. And the nightmares that started 14 years ago were still there.
To avoid the nightmares, I was living off of 3-4 hours of sleep. I would go about my days tired and fatigued. I’d be yawning all day, but as soon as I lay in bed, I would be wide awake. “Go to bed,” I’d tell myself, but it was much easier said than done. At night the anticipation would start. My mind would start wandering and when I was finally able to sleep, I kept having these dreams that what happened to my brother and sister was happening to me. I had many restless nights, yet it all seemed normal.
It seemed as if I was irate, yet kind and sweet. I had a temper but also a heart of compassion. I was raised to be caring, but death had made me bitter. It felt as if I was always on a see-saw, experiencing emotional highs and lows. Yet, I believed that I was okay. I recognized this odd behavior when I sobered up, and all I wanted was peace. Peace to raise my kids lovingly and gently, but I wasn’t able to let go of my mood swings.
Sitting down with a psychiatrist allowed me to explain my trauma and reflect on my behavior as an individual struggling with grief and wanting to live life abundantly. But I couldn’t, my mind wouldn’t settle. It continuously ran with worry and feeling as if everything wrong that happened was all my fault. Surely it was not, but how to get myself to understand that was an everyday battle.
To be completely honest with the psychiatrist and get things off of my chest was a confusing experience. I kept trying to clarify that I wasn’t crazy. Yet hearing myself talking and crying about the difficulty of being happy and sad simultaneously was a little exhilarating.
What was more disheartening was to be done and sit there, wiping tears away and trying to fix my makeup and not laugh because that was what I tended to do when I was anxious. It was very tense, you could hear the clock ticking, and I felt like a complete idiot. But the words that this psychiatrist said to me next was very optimistic.
The psychiatrist told me that everything I was dealing with was expected and was healthy. Of course, my brain was all over the place; after all, I was human. When we struggle with trauma, the mind reacts in the only way it knows how: survival mode. It doesn’t know how to respond; it merely does.
I was prescribed medication to help me sleep and for the nightmares and my mood swings. And although I felt like there was a problem with me, I was okay with that. I began to accept that this was a part of being a person affected by murder.
This account is just a glimpse into my personal experience, and I encourage anyone who is struggling with the loss of a loved one to reach out. Whether you reach out to Homicide Survivors, Inc., or another mental health agency, know that there are help and support. You are not alone, for I am with you.
There are many ways to cope with grief, even if it means merely acknowledging that we are impacted. Because yes, it hurts as much as we want to bring our loved ones back, we know that is not an option. But we can heal together, and we can lean on one another for comfort.
NOBODY DESERVES TO ENDURE THE MURDER OF A LOVED ONE ALONE
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