My Self Help Journey So Far…

So how do you help yourself through this journey, when baby loss happens to you? For me at first, it was journaling and going to different baby loss groups. Some of these groups I “clicked” with, and others I did not. And I moved on from the ones that just did not help me. Reading other mothers stories on Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope also helped. Seeing the faces of these women, and reading their words – and relating – helped me so much. And I could do this at any time of the day. Most of the time I did this when the boys were asleep. I do recall that being the hardest time of the day, night time. Sometimes I would just go to sleep when the boys did because I did not want to “face” these sad feelings. But I did find some comfort in reading these stories when I chose to stay awake. Whether it was online or a book. And to face my feelings, and let the tears fall. 

Over time that changed. It was still the groups. I found a couple that really made a difference for me. And then of course, seeing my counselor monthly. We could talk about anything for that hour set aside for just me. Then after our second loss, I deserted prayer life. And looking back, that probably did not help. I mean, I still prayed. But not as much. And my heart was definitely not in it. That was a time when my anxiety increased quite a bit. So much that I had an anxiety attack. I thought I was having a stroke. I felt so out-of-control, and that was scary. I remember the nurse at the ER saying, “Maybe you are having an anxiety attack. My sister-in-law has them.” I remember with not finding any answers up to that point replying, “I would be happy to hear that was going on with me.” I mean when you are thinking you are having a stroke, a panic attack sounds pretty good. That was when I realized I needed to “step up” the self care. I started meditating every day. Walking or jogging on my treadmill. And I journaled every day. And at the start of the day I would write where I was at with my anxiety on a scale of 1-10, and at the end of the day do the same. At first I felt weird, different for having gone through an anxiety attack. “How could I have let this happen?” I read about these sorts of things during my counseling days. I thought, “That would never be me.” But the more I talked openly about my struggles with anxiety, the more mothers (even just women in general) came out too with their struggles. Or that they themselves, had suffered from an anxiety attack. Or more than one. And again, I did not feel so alone. That is why I am being open on here. Because one may look at this website or read my blog, and perhaps think, “She seems to have it all together and figured out from Day One of her first loss.” Wrong. So how did these mothers feel vulnerable to share their difficult moments? In just having one-on-one conversations with these mothers. About loss and anxiety. Many times it came up in simple play dates that I set up to try and help Matthew and Ryan make some friends. I ended up making friends too. It would come up randomly, “I had a loss too.” Women that you wouldn't even think could possibly experience something like this. And sometimes you would hear, “I went through that more than once also.” 

And then time went on. I started to feel a (tad) bit better about losing Emily and Michael. Like it wasn't constantly in the back of my head. I was moving into the “Acceptance” stage. Or so I thought. Then about a year ago, I started having tightness in my throat. Like all of the time. The doctors thought that it was GERD. I thought okay, maybe it is. So I cut out all of the foods that could upset the stomach and digestive tract. That was so… hard. I mean, really hard to do during the holiday time when all of the yummy goodies are out. I did it though. I cut out coffee too. And didn't have my good ol' Guiness as much either. And took some medication. Whew — but it did not really get rid of my symptoms. Darn. So, a throat scope was scheduled for February. Not my most happiest time of the year with that month being the month that Emily and Michael died. Or maybe it was January that they died. I will never know. But February 5th was the start of it all. February 5, 2013 when I found out that Emily had no heartbeat. My life was different from that day forward. So anyhow, when they said that the end of February would be the date scheduled for that throat thing, I thought, “Great. Just add another thing to February.” I had it done. And the doctor found NOTHING! Thank you, God. Everything looked normal. The GI doctor then said, “90% of our serotonin receptors are in the GI tract.” What the heck does that all mean?!? It means those SSRI pills are what I needed to help “fix” the tightness in my throat. My anxiety was causing physical symptoms now. Great… And I thought I was doing okay. 

I thought I was “weak” again. How could this now happen? Now I need to go on some medication to help fix my throat?! But the more research I did, I realized that sometimes things are inevitable. Depression and anxiety run on both sides of my family. And when you go through a very difficult point in your life, these “things” can be set off. The after effects of “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder” if you will. So, I took the medication to help my anxiety. And looking back, I may have been going through a mild depression with losing Emily and Michael. But it for sure was more anxiety. Again, the more I talked with other bereaved mothers, they were on some sort of medication too at some point in their lives. Actually, it wasn't even bereaved mothers. It was all kinds of mothers that suffered from anxiety or depression, and had to go on something to help it. Again, I was not alone. 

So now, at the present day, almost a year later… my throat feels much better. I still see my counselor, though not as often. Maybe every 6-8 weeks. I journal. I exercise. I meditate AND pray. And I have learned to laugh, and not take life too seriously. I have found other mothers that like to laugh as well. And to just try and take one day at a time. And ones that are open about their struggles. And aren't perfect, and do not pretend to be. And are open books that want to share to help others (including me). And that is why I am sharing all of this. To help others. To help any bereaved mother, mother, or woman out there not feel alone. Because you're not.