“I’m sorry, can you say that again?”
As I began my journey with grief, I fully expected to feel sad. I knew there would also be times when I felt anxious, angry, or depressed, but I didn’t anticipate how it would affect my brain.
The first time I noticed it was about six weeks after Aria’s birth. Brian and I decided to use shopping as a way to get out of the house. As I browsed through the racks of clothes, I suddenly felt like I had just woken up.
What am I doing in this store? I don’t remember walking in here. What am I even looking at? I looked at Brian, who was scrolling through his phone while standing next to me. He seemed normal, so I figured it was safe to assume I hadn’t done anything crazy in the last few minutes. I just couldn’t remember it. I chalked it up to forgetfulness or stress and went about my day.
I found these events kept happening as the weeks went by. I would lose tiny bits of time here and there. It was never an extended period of time, only three to five minutes, and it wasn’t threatening my safety in any way. I just went on autopilot as my mind tried to process the intense emotional trauma I experienced after losing my daughter. I didn’t do anything crazy, or stop dead in my tracks, I was just so focused on my wandering thoughts that I wasn’t focused on what I was doing – at all.
I kept it to myself for fear of being labeled or stigmatized. I didn’t want someone to tell me I needed medication, because I was coping just fine on my own.
And then it started affecting my marriage. My mind often wandered during conversations and I would often “wake up” in the middle of my husband’s sentence and have no idea what was going on. I tried playing it off, but I never had an appropriate response, so he just assumed I was ignoring him. He really resented that, and started feeling like I didn’t care to communicate with him. I realized I needed to figure out a solution because I didn’t want my husband to feel this way.
At my next counseling session, I brought it up with my therapist. She agreed it wasn’t so serious that I needed to be medicated, but that I had to let Brian in on this – so he understood where I was coming from.
Once I shared this with Brian, I could tell he was relieved. It felt like a weight off of my shoulders as well. Afterwards, I would look at Brian as soon as I had a “wake up” moment and tell him my mind had trailed off, and politely ask him to repeat himself. Sometimes it’s frustrating for him to backtrack like that, but at least we are communicating – Even if I check out for a moment.
Thankfully, those moments have slowly started to come to a stop and my mental clarity has gotten much better. I am so glad I decided to be honest with myself, and the people around me because otherwise I wouldn’t have found the tools to work through it.