Unless people have been through something similar themselves, they don’t really understand that when you’re grieving, yes you go through waves of sadness, anger and frustration at the world but there’s a huge element of anxiety too.
The anxiety affects every aspect of your life. Almost as though because the worst thing ever actually did happen, then what’s to say something else bad isn’t possible too. This heightened sense of danger makes you nervous and afraid of things that previously you wouldn’t have been concerned about.
Like this week the road outside our house was very icy and there was a time I wouldn’t have cared but I was reluctant to go outside, as I know how accident-prone I am and so the thought of falling and injuring myself was too scary to contemplate.
I find myself constantly trying to avoid risk, whereas as an entrepreneur for many years, risk and calculated odds was something I excelled in. I could easily identify what to take a chance on and what to avoid based on pure instinct. I no longer trust my own instincts.
The morning my little girl died the hospital said she was doing really well and I could see with my own eyes she was better than she had been for weeks. We were all so very happy. I messaged everyone with photos showing how well she was doing; I thanked every single God that she had turned a corner. That evening she died suddenly and I realised that my eyes and instincts could lie. Also that medical specialists don’t know everything and that deeply affects everything else in your life and makes me question it all. All of a sudden is “green” really green?
Not only do I question my instincts more but I also worry about things I never used to. I constantly question everything…
Am I doing a good job for my client? (even when they give me positive feedback!) Am I still a nice person? Have I turned bitter because of losing my child? Have I offended someone somehow because they didn’t phone me back? Does xxx still like me? What if xxx is just trying to be kind because they feel sorry for me? Have I made that person uncomfortable with my honesty? Did xxx feel awkward because I brought up a story about my daughter and they didn’t know how to react? Am I any good at my job? Can I even write? Do I actually know what I’m doing? Does anyone care about what I think? What if I burst into tears how embarrassing? What if no one wants to speak to me as they think I’ll be miserable & I’ll depress them because bad things always happen to me? Maybe xxxx is avoiding seeing me because she thinks her baby/pregnancy/kids will upset me? Perhaps xxxx doesn’t want to have to deal with any negativity as she’s all about positive thinking & I have issues? xxxx clearly doesn’t speak to me anymore or contact me because I make them sad or feel awkward? What if I drive other friends away in the same way? Am I acting odd in social situations? Am I stuttering? what if…what about…Why did that bad thing happen was it because of me?
These constant niggles and questions I now ask myself all the time and they started when Violet died and they aren’t going away. They increased even more after Arthur died as he gave us so much hope for the future and then our world became doomed once again. These thoughts now chip chip chip away at my confidence in every area of my life, so some days I almost feel like I shouldn’t even bother. I find it a real challenge to drive myself onwards, often having to give myself evidence as to why certain things aren’t true and why things aren’t the case.
I’m seeing a great counsellor, finally (as I have been through a few, some who I made cry & others that ended up being aggressive with me but that’s a post for the future!), who is trying to help me to work through these issues. You don’t usually hear people talk about confidence and anxiety when they’re grieving but I’m learning now that it is far more common than you think. Quite a few people I have spoken to who have lost a loved one have said that it has also really affected their self-confidence.
Thank you to you all for your patience with me and for helping me to believe in myself again!
Love, Sarah x