I was checking my email one day like I often do and my phone rang. Nobody calls me; everybody texts, so I felt in my gut that something was wrong. It was my mom so I answered right away and she first asked me if I was at home (I was) and then she told me my stepdad died. My first thought was worry and immediate sorrow for my youngest sister because he was her biological dad and she was only 16.
It took a few minutes before it really sank in and I realized that this greatly affects me too. He and my mom got married when I was 8 and he played a big part in my childhood.
Once his passing started to sink in, I laid in my bed and cried for 3 days straight — not an exaggeration. Thank God for my husband so our kids could have at least one functioning parent.
Mike’s death was a sudden shock. He was in Las Vegas celebrating with his new wife for their one year anniversary and he was only 47. His funeral was on their first wedding anniversary. Nobody saw this coming. I was definitely unprepared and the aftermath was nothing I had ever experienced before. One thing that really helped me in this grief was writing him an unsent letter.
I’m finally opening up about this and sharing what I experienced because I believe there are others out there who will be able to relate. Grieving is such a hard process and while you’re going through it, life may get messy. I know mine was as you’ll soon see.
In no particular order:
Had a mental breakdown
My stepdad died on April 7th, 2015 (our family bulldog Diesel passed just 3 months before) but my mental breakdown did not occur until September 20th of that same year. This happened to be the anniversary of my sexual assault in 1998. I know it’s weird to think of it as an anniversary but it just is and obviously a tough one. I wish I could erase the dates from my brain.
I wasn’t even actively thinking about it but that tells me my subconscious would say otherwise. The only way I can explain how I knew I was experiencing a mental breakdown is because I could literally not do or focus on anything other than crying. I was barely functioning. I didn’t even feel strong enough to be a mom, I just felt like I was completely broken.
Dove deeper into debt
My brain knows money doesn’t buy happiness. I have zero clues where my brain was during this time of great overspending. Online shopping became a serious habit. I’d get excited after placing an order and be so anxious for the package to arrive. But then once packages began arriving with the items I’d ordered, I’d leave them on the counter unopened. I was no longer interested.
Sometimes I’d end up sending the items back to get my money back (buyer’s remorse), other times I just hung up clothes or threw shoes in the closet with tags still on them. Total disaster. And then I’d get frustrated because there’d be shit everywhere that I bought and it was my own fault.
Became a serious emotional eater
When I knew I was having a mental breakdown I got my butt in to see a psychiatrist and therapist as soon as I could. I knew I was gonna need extra help. My mental breakdown felt like I was physically broken inside; like my brain was barely functioning. My husband actually called and made an appointment for me because I absolutely couldn’t. I knew I needed to give the antidepressant treatment a shot…again.
Lexapro does help me with depression and anxiety but I have a love/hate relationship with it because I have a really hard time with the side effects (mainly related to sexual and weight gain). In case you’re interested, Lexapro Diary: Part 1 and Part 2 are me documenting the first 4 weeks on Lexapro.
Gained 30 pounds
I know my emotional eating played a role in this as well but that coupled with taking Lexapro helped me put on 30 pounds pretty quickly. I’d guess maybe one pound went to my boobs (which I’m thankful for, ha.) but the rest is right around the middle or sitting on my hips.
At the height of my weight gain, I weighed 165 pounds. That’s more than I weighed the day I delivered my first-born son. The thing that really devastated me though? Not being able to fit into my usual clothes. That stung badly.
Felt like I “lost a soldier”
This might sound weird, but hear me out. No matter what my relationships have been like with my parents at any given time, I’ve always known that they have my back. After experiencing the passing of one, for me, it felt like my “army” was weakened by the loss of one.
I remember in the days shortly after his passing, my mom would text me to see how I was doing and one of my replies was something along the lines of, “I feel like I lost a soldier that was fighting for me”. It was just an incredibly lonely feeling that I haven’t ever felt in that way until Mike died.
Completely lost all motivation to workout
This has gotten better over time but I’m still struggling to get back on track. I’ve been keeping my mind busy by completing house projects and I haven’t been leaving much room for myself and my workouts. I know how important they are and I’m still working on my comeback.
*I initially wrote this blog post on December 15th, 2016 but I never published it. I decided to go ahead and publish it today in case somebody out there is experiencing the loss of a parent or somebody super close and feels like they’re in a downward spiral. While all of these things were “bad”, it does get easier over time. It’s important to recognize where your issues are (shopping, debt, overeating, etc.) so that you can work through them and come out even stronger for it.
Much love and my condolences to you.