I Don’t Know

*TW: Suicide

I need to write…but I can’t. Why is this so hard. My OCD is ratcheted way up; I’ve been struggling with resurgence of strength of symptoms for a few years now. I guess the Zoloft’s efficacy was waning so gradually I didn’t realize what was happening at first. I thought it was just like stress…namely Trump’s disastrous election to office, and all the accompanying fact deficient bullshit it’s emboldened. Existential stress over climate change and Congress’s inaction. And then the Covid pandemic that, much as some would like to pretend otherwise, is STILL going on, and is quite serious. Worries about my daughter’s safety in a red state, the majority of whose politicians and residents have bucked every safety, mask, and vaccine mandate, whenever possible, despite their relatives and friend dying in record numbers. Money woes, because it feels like one step forward, two steps back so much of the time. When I finally accepted that it wasn’t getting better, I started working with a new doctor to change medications and get me back to an “even” keel. Anyone who has been treated long term for anxiety is probably familiar with the ebbs and flows of these particular afflictions. And the rollercoaster that is “Med changes.”

See, this isn’t what I intended to write about. It just seemed worth mentioning that I’ve already been struggling a bit with my own personal demons. I’m not trying to whine, because I don’t need validation. I’m just setting up the background, so to speak. Because I’ve been feeling ill in one way or another for at least three months. UTI. Sinus infection. Something that feels like GERD or an ulcer, for the past month and a half that persists despite RX strength medical intervention. The chest pain was such that I would have thought it was my heart (heart issues are a family legacy and thus always in the back of my mind whenever I get chest pain) if not for the belching that accompanied it so frequently.

And then about three weeks ago my mother committed suicide. It’s hard to write about, and not just because it’s still fresh. There’s a stigma to suicide. It’s not something you tell everyone, and naturally people’s first response when you mention your mother has “passed” is condolences. Well meant and appreciated, but also uncomfortable, because you want to explain to them, yes it sucks, but it sucks even more than they realize, because of HOW she went…what she did to herself. But that’s not something you just blurt out to anybody. It’s “private.” Both because society says it’s “supposed” to be, and because you’re still trying to convince yourself it happened some days. Sometimes multiple times in the same day. You say it in your head over and over again, trying to wrap your mind around it. “My mother killed herself.” And then when you do tell someone the quiet part, the “taboo” secret, the next predictable reaction is an uncomfortable sympathy that comes with an implicit idea that she was just another victim of suicidal depression. And she was. But…but they don’t know about the manipulation and the lashing out, the years and years you’ve suffered as a result of her mental issues, all while still trying to manage your own shit. They don’t know that her final act seemed not just one of desperation but one of vindictiveness, and it breaks your heart. And you feel guilty telling them anything about that, because it feels like badmouthing. It feels like “speaking ill of the dead.” But it’s just the truth.

“Were you close?” What difference does it make? My mother killed herself. Besides, how do I answer that. We talked all the time. We also argued all the time. I worried about her. I needed “breaks” from her. I tried to help her, but she couldn’t help herself.
“Why?” Why does anybody do this sort of thing? Why are you asking me???

“It’s not your fault.” No it’s not. Intellectually I know it. Emotionally I’m still not sure how much that matters.

How much information is too much? What’s mine to keep and mine to give away (because I have to have respect for my sister’s privacy as well as mine?) Then there’s the constant push and pull of me grilling myself over what my motivations are for talking about this. I don’t want to be one of those people that talks about things for attention. And I don’t want to be the gossipy topic of other people’s discussions either, but still that mantra in my head “My mother killed herself” and some times it feels like it’s screaming to get out.

And when it’s complicated with family drama and bad feelings, then you get to hear other people (namely other family members) opinions about “why” they think it happened, and who they blame. I try to remind myself they are also grieving, but then I get pissed. She was MY MOTHER. I lived with her for almost twenty years before moving out. And even when they manage not to piss me off, I feel like I have to console their grief as well. And it’s exhausting. I want to be selfish. The only person I don’t seem to mind “consoling” and commiserating with is my sister. And she’s the only relative whose opinion I care to hear about Mom’s death, because she’s been through the shit with me. We aren’t close, but she knows all the facts leading up to Mom’s death, the good, bad, and the ugly. And some of it was really ugly. But I can’t talk about that yet.

We still haven’t had a memorial, because the funeral home is so backed up with COVID deaths that her ashes will take some time to process. And when I do have to go “home” for the service, it’s entirely possible I’ll lose my shit on the next relative that gives me an unsolicited opinion about my mother’s death.

Aside from any attending guilt over my mothers suicide, I also have this guilt about not doing things. Not using my talents. Not writing. Not drawing. But the anxiety I feel when I think about starting a new writing or art project is immobilizing. I have even stopped taking clients (dog training) for an indefinite period of time. Sometimes I feel immobilized by choices, caught between two choices. Even simple ones. Which show to watch. Should I write about this? What to title it. Sometimes I just force myself to make a choice. That’s why the title of this post is “I Don’t Know”. Because I fucking don’t, but I know if I just sit here worrying over a title, I’ll never write the post. I know some of this is a symptom of my anxiety disorder. The indecision. The anxiety about decisions. That’s normal, but lately I’m in a fairly constant state of low grade anxiety. It’s always there, thrumming in my body like a low note plucked on a string instrument. Sometimes I just force myself to make a choice and I tell myself it doesn’t matter which choice I make, as long as I make one. I can’t sit here immobilized forever.

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