It’s hardly a new feeling for me: I have felt sadness every single day of every single week since Hugo died.
‘Sad’ has been in contention as the word to sum up my week for some months now. While I have always been open and honest about my feelings in my posts I have always hesitated to title a post ‘sad’. I have often replaced it with a more positive word.
So, why a ‘sad’ post now? I am no more sad than I was than when I began blogging about Hugo; nor am I less sad.
The difference is I am now feel more able to say I am feeling sad. I know that might seem strange to read: of course I am sad about my baby’s death, and why should I not say I am sad?
The answer is complex. Hugo was born so prematurely, which led to his death, because I was so sick. I nearly died: my sadness is interlinked with my guilt about failing to protect my son (however irrational that may be). I also feel guilty about being sad, thinking that giving myself over to sadness means ‘wasting’ days because when I give myself over to that feeling I am no use to man or beast. Nearly dying, as well as my son’s death means that I feel I cannot waste a day feeling sorry for myself. Paradoxically, I can also feel guilty about being happy.
What a mess.
A long-awaited appointment with a psychologist is helping me review this sentiment. I was apprehensive before the first appointment because of having to explain my story to the gazillionth professional (believe me, there is only a small amount of exaggeration here), but she cleverly teased the story out of me without me feeling like I was recounting it all over again (though it is not to say the process was easy).
I have some goals that she is going to help me achieve, which include working towards feeling comfortable with whatever I am feeling. Feeling comfortable about feeling sad without feeling guilty. Feeling comfortable about feeling happy without feeling guilty. And feeling comfortable about everything in between.
The sessions and the work involved will be challenging as it means returning to moments from February and March that remain terrifying and heartbreaking. My brain has been hiding the worst of the trauma to protect me, but little snippets – flashbacks – pop out every now and then. I quickly put these flashbacks back in my brain because they are so upsetting and scary.
The psychologist, and the psychiatrist I saw this week (as a welcome relief from my last psychiatrist appointment, this one was kind, compassionate, made eye contact, was reassuring, listened to me and answered my questions) have gone to great lengths to explain to me that everything I am feeling is understandable and natural in the circumstances.
I know that rationally, but the first psychiatrist telling me I am ‘unwell’ and saying that my initial refusal to take medication, and not feeling suicidal was not sufficient grounds to section me has been ringing in my ears. In retrospect, I think he meant that last comment in a light-hearted way, but I was not in the mood for jokes. I felt like I was broken, that something was wrong with me, and in response felt I had to be strong.
Now, I am being encouraged to see that saying I am sad is not bad, nor is it a weakness. It is a natural part of grief, of course, and I need to not feel guilty about experiencing it.
Feeling comfortable about these feelings will not be achieved by tomorrow, next week or next months. It is all about small steps.
This post is the first.