I really thought I had a grasp on my father's death. The more I tried not to think about it, the more it consumed every thought I had. It got to the point where sleeping was hard to do and concentrating on anything was nearly impossible.
On Monday night, I felt ok. Climbed into bed and was struck with a feeling of confusion and panic. I took some deep breaths and told myself I would be okay and try to sleep. I would doze off and my arm would jerk and I would go through the same cycle of trying to relax and go back to sleep. With every little noise and every breath I took, I could not shake the feeling something was wrong with me. Almost like a feeling that someone was watching me. Then the pains started. My chest got tight, I got shooting pains in my arms and legs. I was freaking out.
Tuesday, I called in sick to work. The lack of sleep and the constant feeling that I was on the verge of having a breakdown, I couldn't go to work like that. So I tried watching TV, I tried playing around on the computer, I slept in tiny increments, but nothing solid. I fell asleep that night pretty easy, probably because I was so tired from the night before.
Wednesday, I woke up and was having heat flashes, more pains in the arms and chest, shaky and nauseous. I talked myself out of going to the hospital, I would go after work. I don't want my new co-workers thinking I'm a wimp and already calling in after two months. I get to work, log in, and start crying. I couldn't stop. I know I said at some point, I think I am freaking out. I vaguely remember getting to the emergency room. I do remember telling the lady inside I was having a heart attack and crying. They put a bracelet on my wrist and asked me a million questions that I don't even remember.
I was taken to a room in the back where I got to wear a nice hospital gown and "watch" some NCIS show. I couldn't stop crying. Someone would come in and ask what has happened in the last few months and each nurse was surprised I hadn't been in sooner. Then they called in the mental health manager. She held my hand, reassured me I wasn't crazy, and I was normal. Let me talk and cry it out. She even gave me a hug, which I desperately needed. She told me I am internalizing too much and it is ok to reach out to others for help. Something I am not terribly good at. I don't want people to feel sorry for me or pity me. But I am realizing after several talks with my mom, that it is okay to reach out and have someone on my side. I wish it wasn't so hard for me to do that.
After two hours of monitoring me to make sure I didn't have a heart attack, they gave me a prescription for an anti-anxiety medicine, gave me a booklet on grief, a phone number for grief counseling, and a note to skip work for another day. The physical pains are subsiding a bit, I still feel a little weird, but I know I will be okay after taking some deep breaths and letting myself grieve my loss over again.
I am doing okay for right now. I am mostly during the day, but when it gets dark and quiet, my brain won't let me turn it off. That's when I take a pill. I can mellow out and just sleep. The truth is, I am more angry at my father than sad he is gone. I mean, he had been gone from my life for nearly 20 years. I accepted that he was gone. I mourned him then. I didn't expect or want to mourn him again.
What really is pissing me off is my father was mentally ill. To what extent I don't know yet. But people keep saying to me that his leaving was the best thing he could have ever done for me, knowing how abusive he was to me. And as an adult, I get that. As a daughter, I don't know if I will be able to understand why.
My whole life I wanted to know why my father left. I will never hear the answer I want or deserve and that has pissed me off. I am also holding a lot of guilt. The thought of my father suffering with his demons alone, dying alone, and being buried alone haunts me. I have that gene that wants to help and fix everyone. I couldn't fix my father, nor did I get a chance to try. Logically I know that I couldn't fix him, I couldn't help him, and it is certainly not my fault he was alone. But as his daughter, it's a harsh reality and a very hard pill to swallow.
In all this, I had one moment of complete peace. I had just returned home from the pharmacy and on the railing heading up to my upstairs neighbor was a hawk or eagle of some sort. It was the largest bird I had ever seen outside a zoo. I stopped walking and just stared at him and he stared at me. And my mind was quiet. As silly as it sounds I started talking to him. Asking him to hold still so I could take his picture and I just thought he was so amazing. He cocked his head from side to side like he was listening to me. After I took his picture, I told him thank you and walked away, looking back to see if he flew off. But he just sat there and watched me leave. That three to five minutes I stood there with this bird, I may sound nuts to some of you, but it was an amazing silence and I could finally breath.